THE GREAT AND the good of the motorhome industry gathered in Manchester today to discover which manufacturers and supplying dealers topped our annual Owner Satisfaction Awards, once again generously supported by Coast, the specialist motorhome insurer.
The overall winner for new motorhomes was Concorde, the German manufacturer best known for its luxury liners, which can be customised to include things like car storage.
The highest-placed UK volume manufacturer was Escape, Swift Group’s budget brand. Bailey came next, in third place overall. Swift and Bailey were the only manufacturers to win back-to-back Gold Awards, for this year and last year.
In the survey, Gold Awards reflect a score of between 85-100%; Silver Awards go to those scoring 70-84%.
Knaus was the highest-placed Gold Award winner for Best Manufacturer of Pre-owned Motorhomes, polling 98.9%. German marques Hobby, Dethleffs and Hymer took the next few places, with Swift Group’s Ace brand the highest-placed UK manufacturer.
The awards ceremony took place in the World Room at the Caravan and Motorhome Show at EventCity in Manchester, in front of 60 representatives of manufacturers and dealers.
Ben Tosspell, sales manager of Southdowns Motorhome Centre, collected the trophy for Concorde (Southdowns is Concorde’s sole UK dealer).
"Concorde is our halo brand, one we are privileged to represent in the UK," he said. "If we can maintain that representation through satisfied customers, then we can’t ask for anything else.
"It’s great that it’s coming from customers, people who are living it, touching it, breathing it – that’s the critical thing. If you upset a customer, you’d be surprised how quickly word gets around."
Practical Motorhome's Rob Ganley (left) and Coast MD Robert Tuke (right) present Concorde's prize to Ben Tosspell
Commenting on his win, Swift Group Commercial Director Nick Page praised the quality of the survey’s feedback. "When Swift asks one of our customers for feedback, it may be tainted," he said.
"When Practical Motorhome asks its audience for feedback, they’re far more likely to share their experiences, warts and all. So it’s great feedback for us, and vindicates what we’re doing."
Best motorhome dealers in the UK
On the retail side of the industry, things were just as hotly contested. West Country Motorhomes took top spot as Best Supplying Dealer for New Motorhomes by one per cent, just pipping consistently solid performer Heart of England Motorhomes.
West Country Motorhomes' sales manager Peter Shaw was delighted with the company's win. "It gives us kudos and lets prospective customers know that we work to a high standard," he said.
"It makes us feel very proud, too. We strive to give the best buying experience possible to our customers, so when they show their appreciation by voting for us it is particularly rewarding."
West Country Motorhomes won Best Supplying Dealer for New Motorhomes and owner Stephen Pike picked up the award
For Pre-owned Motorhomes, MDG (Three Counties/Countrywide/VW Kamper Centre) topped the table. Rob Kirk, managing director, said: “This is great news, especially as it's from the most important factor of our business – our customers. We've been fortunate enough to be the outright winner of this award since 2011 and the whole team will be delighted to retain the trophy. We are extremely pleased.”
MDG's MD Rob Kirk collects the firm's award from Coast Insurance MD Robert Tuke and Practical Motorhome's Rob Ganley
The Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards is the best in the business. This year, 783 votes were cast; a rise of 7.85%. To leave their feedback, readers fill in forms in the magazine, or enter online, via www.practicalmotorhome.com. The awards have been going for 10 years, and it’s the only reliability survey that includes pre-owned vans.
Here are just some of the key trends from this year’s data:
• The Sevel X250 (aka Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer/Citroën Relay) underpins over 79% of all new motorcaravans sold
• We’ve said it many times, but price is not necessarily a guarantee of, or even allied to, a particular level of satisfaction. This year first- and second-placed ranges (Concorde and Escape) are at opposite ends of the price spectrum
• Well-proven layouts, built in a traditional overcab style, to a tight budget, can still press all the right buttons
• The Germans are coming! After some years in the doldrums, Germany was once again the most popular country of origin for European-built motorcaravans bought by respondents
• After a brilliant performance this year and following the recent launch of a great campervan on the new Ford Torneo Custom, Gentleman Jack thinks that Wellhouse Leisure will be the ones to watch!
• In addition to the enhanced value for money, many respondents reported that that the purchasing experience when buying pre-owned is much less stressful
• Purchasers of pre-owned motorhomes from all European and domestic volume producers are more satisfied than those who bought similar vans when they were new
You can read the results in full, comprising 12 pages of expert analysis and insight, in the April 2014 issue of Practical Motorhome, published on 13 February, 2014.
Niall Hampton, Editor, Practical Motorhome
23 January 2014