Caravanning and the Coronavirus crisis
How is the caravan industry coping?
I’d like to know how the caravan industry, from manufacturers to retailers and park operators, is coping with the coronavirus and the sudden impact this is having on everyone’s life and the wider economy around the whole world. Just as many thought the UK market would pick-up after Brexit, this new crisis comes as bad timing for both consumers and the industry.
Initially, I thought this crisis would be good for UK tourism as people would be put off going abroad and stay in the UK instead, but at the moment, I’m not so sure.
There’s currently a lot of online debate about whether going away in a caravan or motorhome is still possible or appropriate (to self isolate, mental health, etc) or an irresponsible decision that ignores the Government’s guidelines on non-essential travel and puts unnecessary pressure on the NHS.
Some can’t believe the major Clubs haven’t closed their sites networks, while others are grateful for somewhere to escape to where they can still keep away from other people.
While some are adamant they’re still going to use their caravans and motorhomes at Easter, many, for financial reasons as well, are cancelling their bookings.
I was really looking forward to my own caravan trip to Belgium for Easter, but that won’t be possible now unless the current travel restrictions in the country are lifted. That isn’t likely to happen in time. My wife works in the NHS and could really do with a break at Easter. We’ve thought about heading to Cornwall instead, but with the situation changing daily, it feels impossible to make a decision at the moment. She may have to work instead.
Last week, I was part of the Bailey of Bristol team that towed a couple of caravans (and a motorhome) back from Portugal via Spain and France after its exciting Sahara Challenge trip had to be aborted following the sea borders to Morocco closing to travellers from Spain. I had first hand experience of campsites and border crossings closing, but we were relieved to have the freedom to be able to change our plans and be self contained in the caravans and motorhome.
There were plenty of motorhome and camper owners leaving Spain and heading home, but once we were back in the UK, daily life seemed to be carrying on as normal – for the timebeing, at least. We met up with Shaun and Lizzy from the A Bus and Beyond YouTube channel and we got a mention in their live vlog about their experience in France during the Coronavirus crisis: https://youtu.be/zjxkPblXJts
New restrictions are being enforced daily, and we may soon catch up with the travel restrictions being enforced in many other European countries in an attempt to stop the virus spreading. That could put a stop to any caravan or motorhome holidays.
Manufacturers need a healthy workforce and a good supply chain from the many suppliers across Europe to be able to continue production and deliveries to retailers. Many car manufacturers have already announced stopping production for at least a couple of weeks, often more.
Retailers need customers to bring their vehicles in for pre-season servicing and to be browsing new and used models to purchase.
Campsites and holiday parks need people to be able to go on holiday.
At the moment, normal life seems to have been put on hold and the Government is underlining how serious this situation could become. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
But the desire to go caravanning won’t go away and customers will return. In the meantime, while business might be slower, as there will be more people staying at home surfing the internet, it’s a good opportunity to make sure your customers have some good content to look at.
How is your business reacting to the coronavirus crisis? If you are short of staff and I can be any help with your communications, please let me know.