We want you to get the most from your caravan holidays, which means helping ensure you buy the best caravans for trouble-free, fun-filled touring.
That is why we established our Owner Satisfaction Awards. Now in their fifth year, and for 2017 brought to you by Practical Caravan with our new partner, The Camping and Caravanning Club, and sponsored by Club Care Insurance, our independent, rigorous survey delivers results you can trust to help you buy better – and to show the industry where it is falling short.
Whether you’ve spent £1500 or £50,000 on your tourer, you deserve the best-possible products and service. That’s why we asked you to tell us about the new and used caravans you’ve bought, and the supplying dealers of both.
Now you’ve had your say and your responses have been analysed, who’s come out on top?
Which new caravans do you think are the best?
Let’s start with new caravans. And, as we revealed the morning after the awards, Swift Group’s Sprite has come out on top for the second year on the bounce, this year with a satisfaction rating of 87.5% from respondents to our survey.
Although that is 3.3% down on its 2016 score, this is still an impressive result. Will it be a hat-trick in 2018?
Also scooping a Gold award for new vans this year is Lunar’s Venus brand (86.2%), the entry-level line-ups seemingly popular with the readers of Practical Caravan and members of The Camping and Caravanning Club.
The top-performing Silver-award-winning manufacturer was Adria (83.3%), just sneaking ahead of Coachman (83%) and The Explorer Group’s Compass brand (82.6%). Bailey and Swift were level-pegging with a satisfaction score of 81.3%, ahead of Lunar (80.4%).
This is a slight drop for Adria, Coachman and Bailey, who all took Gold awards in this category in 2016.
For the full list of winners, see the table above.
Salop bounces back
When it comes to supplying dealers of new caravans, three companies achieved satisfaction scores that earned them Gold awards: Duncan Caravans (85.1%), Kimberley Caravans (87.3%) and Salop Leisure (91.1%).
For Salop Leisure, that’s a return to the top spot it last held in 2015, while Kimberley Caravans has clearly been working hard over the past 12 months, adding 11.9% to its rating to turn last year’s Silver into the runner-up spot.
At the head of our Silver awards table with a strong 84.9% rating is Chichester Caravans, scoring just 0.2% more than Broad Lane Leisure, with White Arches Caravans (84.3%), Lady Bailey Caravans (84.2%) and Newport Caravans (84.1%) in hot pursuit.
Indeed, the wide range of dealers represented in our survey is astonishing, although this year some of the major players didn’t garner sufficient responses to give a true representation of how they performed. We hope to see them in next year’s awards.
An unexpected winner
When it comes to pre-owned caravans, Eriba was a real surprise story, coming from nowhere into the top spot with a 91.3% satisfaction score among respondents to our survey.
There was just one other Gold award winner in the used tourers category, former Swift Group brand Abbey, which achieved 85.6%.
Last year’s winner, Bailey, just drops into the Silver places, head-to-head with Coachman, both scoring 84.9%.
Where to go for the best used caravans?
The best-rated supplying dealer of used caravans for sale in our 2017 Owner Satisfaction Awards, with a score of 89.1%, was Swindon Caravans Group – just 0.4% clear of Chichester Caravans. Well done to both.
Four dealers took home Silver awards at this year’s ceremony, and top was The Caravan Company (82.7%), building on last year’s performance.
Last year’s highest-placed supplying dealer, Highbridge, slipped 15.3% to 75.3%, putting it into joint second place in terms of Silver dealers with Lowdham Leisureworld, the latter improving on its 2016 showing.
Digging into the data
So, what other interesting information can we extract from your responses?
Among our respondents, 59% bought their caravans new, with the remaining 41% having bought pre-owned. The latter figure has increased significantly over 2016, when just 32% weren’t their tourers’ first owners.
Are you loyal buyers of British brands? In terms of new vans, compared to last year, Continental manufacturers made slight inroads into the British market, with sales up by 1.6%. However, the ‘buy British’ trend continues among respondents, 97.7% staying loyal to these shores.
There was a slight drop in the number of those buying Continental marques among the respondents with pre-owned caravans, down to 5.3% from 6.2% last year.
And are you one of the 82.6% of respondents to have a motor mover fitted to their caravan? This figure has risen by 6.5% since last year.
On a fault-finding mission
As in previous years, we saw a higher percentage of fault-free used caravans than among new models purchased by respondents to our survey.
Our data suggests that between 17.4% and 66.7% of new caravans can be expected to be fault-free, depending on your choice of manufacturer, although the higher figure reflects units that sell in much lower volumes than mainstream offerings.
Among these brands, the highest figure was achieved by the Swift Group, at 23.6%, and the general trend was a decrease across the board. So our respondents have reported owning fewer fault-free new caravans than they did last year.
The figures read slightly better for used caravans, though. Between 36.8% and 44.4% of respondents said that their caravans were free from faults.
Wet, wet, wet...
Sadly, some 16.5% of respondents complained of water ingress, which affected every UK manufacturer – and some apparently upmarket Continental vans, too.
This figure was higher than in our 2016 survey, so despite progress being made by the industry in the adoption of new bodyshell construction technologies, water is still getting in. This is not good enough; caravanners deserve better.
So thank you for having your say. Using your real-world feedback, fellow caravanners know which brands and dealers are the ones to trust, giving them them confidence to buy better.
Don’t agree with our results? Make sure you get involved in our Owner Satisfaction Survey 2018, which is now live – click here to have your say!
Want to read more? Grab a copy of the March 2017 issue of Practical Caravan.