Motorhome & Caravan Show 2014 Opens At NEC

motorhome and caravan show oct 2014

The Motorhome & Caravan Show is the UK’s largest motorhome and caravanning event. It is also the one opportunity in the year for the public to see all of the new 2015 caravan, motorhome, holiday home, folding camper and trailer tent models from the leading UK and European manufacturers.

The show was first launched as a National Caravan Council (NCC) event, in 2011, and is supported by industry members, as well as the Caravan Club and The Camping & Caravanning Club.

Along with its sister show; The Camping, Caravan and Motorhome Show, it accounts for some 20% of total UK sales of caravans and motorhomes each year. With over 350 exhibitors, across 11 halls, it offers the widest possible choice, all under the one roof.

The show was opened, at 10am, by racing legend, and caravan enthusiast, Nigel Mansel, who also did a Q & A session in the afternoon as well. There are a number of other celebrities attending the show, through its duration. Full details of these are available on the Show’s Web Site.

The Numbers

The caravan and motorhome industry is responsible for generating £6bn each year, for the national economy. In Britain, there are currently:

  • 550,000 touring caravans
  • 350,000 ‘static’ caravan holiday homes
  • 205,000 motorhomes

Each year there are:

  • 20,000 new touring caravans registered
  • 7,400 new motorhomes registered
  • 15,000 caravan holiday homes registered

Based on average values, that equates to:

  • £325 million, per annum – new tourer market in the UK
  • £464 million per annum – new motorhome market in the UK
  • £600 million per annum – new caravan holiday home market in the UK

The caravan industry employs more than 100,000 people in the UK, including seasonal staff. 95% of caravans and 75% of motorhomes seen on UK roads are actually manufactured in the UK.

Whilst on holiday, caravanners, generally, spend £2 billion in the UK alone, thereby helping to support local businesses and attractions.

The Show.

MCS.

As mentioned above, the show covers 11 halls in the NEC, and that’s a lot of display space. I arrived at 10am, and at 1.30pm, I was still in the first hall (though, to be fair, that was the hall containing all of the folding campers, trailer tents, and most of the accessories, so it was the main one I had come to see).

Even at 10am, the queues were pretty extensive, which did make me reconsider my original decision not to bother buying tickets online, but, to be fair, it was all dealt with very efficiently, and even with very significant queues, I had my ticket in a little less than 10 minutes, which, for opening time, on day one of a show, wasn’t too bad. I then helped myself to a map and guide book, and made my way into the show. Tickets were £8 in advance, and are now £10 on the door (over 60’s £9, and kids free) Personally, I think this is extremely good value, especially when you bear in mind it covers parking, and a free show guide.

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What can I say? It’s all there; caravans, motor homes, statics, trailer tents / folding campers, accessories, equipment, camp sites and holiday destinations, just about anything you can think of is represented there (and quite a few things you wouldn’t think of in a million years). I have to say though that, bearing in mind, Blue Sky deals, primarily, in folding campers, the representation there was pretty low, but, then again, when you think about it, that’s not surprising, when you bear in mind that there are only, really, two current UK folding camper manufacturers I can think of (Pennine Outdoor Leisure and Opus). Most of the main trailer tent brands were represented, including Trigano, Raclet, Camp-Let, Jamet, and Cabanon, as well as my personal favourite, the Camp Master Air (more on that later).

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The show was very well organised, and laid out between the various halls, with most of the key categories being grouped together. For example, the folding campers and trailer tents were all categorised as ‘trailer tents’ (Hmmmm!!!) and placed adjacent to each other, in Hall 12. The Overview Show Map was very well colour coded, and made planning the whole day an absolute dream.

Talking of planning, if you are travelling a good way to get there, and / or you are on a limited timescale, I would strongly recommend having, at least, a partial idea of they key things you want to look at, as there is so much to distract you, once you get there, and it’s easy to miss loads.

The organisers have clearly spent a lot of time and money putting the website together, and I have no intention of re doing all of that here, so some of the key links are as follow:

Experts’ Theatre. The Experts’ Theatre offers an array of live shows covering many aspects of the Motorhome and Caravan industry. There will be a packed timetable of events including live cookery shows, product launches and Q & A sessions with leading experts in the field. Checkout the timetable using the link above.

Towing Experience. Free one to one sessions are being offered by The Camping and Caravanning Club where you can learn to tow a touring caravan safely. This session will help you whether you’re a newcomer or an old hand. The specially trained tutors are all experts and will show you how to get the most out of your vehicle and your travels.

Motorhome Manoeuvring. Become a motor caravan manoeuvring master! The Caravan Club is offering free expert tuition at the show. These sessions will improve your skills and help build confidence. You’ll be driving a motorhome alongside a fully qualified Caravan Club instructor.

Bookings will be taken for the courses on The Caravan Club Stand in hall 20 during the show. Slots are 20 minutes long and don’t forget to bring your driving licence.

Plan Your Visit. Plenty of information here, to help you plan your day out, and the route there.

FAQ’s. A few common questions can be viewed here.

The show offers overnight camping as well, which, based on my experience today, is well worth taking advantage of, as, especially if you want to check out all of the caravans and / or motorhomes at the show, one day just wont be enough.

The Folding Camper Bit

We are, after all, folding camper specialists, so I think it’s appropriate that we look at that aspect of the show in some detail. The show classifies folding campers under the same heading as trailer tents, and all are situated in Hall 12, adjacent to each other. Let’s face it, current UK folding camper manufacturers are numbered at around half the number of fingers on my left hand, so this was never going to be a huge showing. There were two stands of relevance here, those of Pennine Outdoor Leisure / Camping International (the new owners of the brand) and Opus Campers.

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Opus have only one key model in the range (although the options are quite extensive). Made famous, originally, by the television show; The Apprentice, these campers continue to attract considerable attention, in spite of their slightly higher price tag. That said, they had a show only offer of the standard Opus Camper (normally £11,995 on its own) with a number of extras, totaling almost a couple of grand (including the leatherette interior, which is, normally, £995 on its own) for £11,995, all in. Possibly worth a look, especially if the proposed Pennine price hikes come into force next year.

Talking of Pennine, theirs is the other key folding camper stand at the show, and, to be fair, it is, by far, the main one.

Pennine have all four models in the range on display at the show. Three of them; the Conway Countryman, the Pennine Fiesta Q2 and the Pathfinder Q6 are all set up for viewings. The Conway Crusader is not set up, as it appears to be there to (a) show how they look when folded, and (b) so as to give demonstrations as to setting up and folding away. The Crusader disappeared from the Pennine web site last month, and reappeared, again, last week, with a special show promotion. Speaking to Pennine, today, it would appear that this model is due to be discontinued, but the last few stock items are being sold off on a special promotional basis, so might be worth taking a look, if you fancy an end of season bargain.

We are currently in the process of writing The Folding Camper & Trailer Tent Definitive Guide, which will give pictures, videos, technical specs, and, wherever possible, downloadable manuals and brochures for every folding camper and trailer tent, ever sold in the UK. This will include many of the models seen in the show today, but there is one, I think, which is really worthy of mention, as, for me, it stood out as something really that little bit different, and I was very impressed with the way it had been conceived and put together.

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The model in question is the Camp Master Air, a brilliant concept that is unlike any other trailer tent on the market today. The basic premise is that you take the standard Camp Master trailer (so small, as it was, originally designed to be towed by a motorcycle) with an inbuilt foam mattress, which makes a very comfortable double bed. You then take a Vango Air tent, inflate it in a matter of minutes, and push the trailer into it, to form your double bed.

Tent inners then make a separate toilet / changing room, and, in a matter of 15 – 20 minutes, you have a comfortable, spacious accommodation that can be towed by the smallest of vehicles, and set up by just one person, with absolute ease. The product is new for 2015, so information is still a little sketchy, but you can check them out at the Camperlands Web Site.

Summary

The Motorhome and Caravan Show is a great day (or two) out with loads to see and do. I spent a whole day there today, and I didn’t even look inside a single caravan or motor home, or attend one of the many activities and presentations. Some of the ancillary services and products provided are way outside the box, and, even if you have no intentions of changing your current unit, the mind boggling array of equipment and accessories will keep you occupied for at least a day. There’s a large selection of food and refreshments available, and all manner of attractions in addition to the myriad of products on display. I’m off, again, tomorrow, and thoroughly looking forward to it. All in all, and excellent day’s entertainment, and phenomenally good value, as well. Go on. Check it out. (You know you want to).

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About Alan Young

MD and owner of the Woodhurst Group, including Praxis Accountancy Limited and Blue Sky Recreation Limited. Also Commercial Director of The Sky visor Group
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