‘Camping is all about perception’
Camping is timeless; but the way in which we do it is subject to trends. At the Vakantiebeurs (Tourism & Leisure Show), held in Utrecht at the start of this year, this once again became apparent. In the Camping by Night pavilion, in Hall 12, visitors were able to find out about the latest developments in tents. There were caravan awnings from Isabella, Dorema and Reda on the caravan terrain, trailer tents from Trigano and others on the trailer tent area, and family tents, arched tents and inflatable tents from Karsten on the family terrain. Providing access to the pavilion was a huge tent made of TenCate outdoor fabric, which stood an impressive 23 metres wide and 10 metres high. Two accesses with zippers formed the entrance.
The organization wanted to ‘inspire a feeling’ by creating different ambiences, Herman Klompenmaker (marketing and sales manager, TenCate Outdoor Fabrics) tells us. ‘The focus was on camping in the dark. People were given a lamp to test this very special camping ambience and to try out various forms of camping, with a setting sun in the background. It was all about perception. Anyone wanting to try out one of these forms of camping can contact tour operators like Rent-a-Tent and VacanSoleil, who rent out these tents in various countries.
Exhibitions and shows
Herman Klompenmaker is a confirmed caravan and tent exhibition-goer. He represents TenCate on customers’ stands at the annual Kampeer & Caravan Jaarbeurs, Vakantiebeurs and Caravana. He visits local tent shows in the Netherlands and puts in an appearance at shows in Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Birmingham, Le Bourget, Rimini or Barcelona. He visits the major European exhibitions together with sales manager Paul Suthof. ‘Every country has its own exhibition and we visit them all because we’ve got customers in every country.’ In between, he provides assistance to the Dutch TV series ‘We Love Camping’ and ‘Campinglife’.
There is nothing like direct contact with the customer and end-user; it enables you to pick up the latest trends in the camping world. One of these is that tent and caravan sales personnel are attracting more and more people from their own region. People don’t buy a tent as readily as they used to; they prefer to have a good look round first. A second, more significant trend is glamour camping, or ‘glamping’. This is probably an abomination for many seasoned campers, but increasing numbers of people want to combine the natural aspect of a canvas tent with the luxury of a fully-equipped tent – including a comfortable bed, shower, toilet and sofas to lounge on. Mobile homes are increasingly often being replaced by glamping tents. The caravan seems in any case to be losing ground to trailer tents, inflatable tents, arched tents and campers. Whereas in 2004, there were still 24,000 new caravans being bought in the Netherlands, in 2013 this figure had dropped to less than 7,000. ‘People prefer to buy a second-hand caravan, which they then fit with a new awning.’ Nevertheless, the Netherlands still has the largest number of caravans in Europe, with well over 500,000.
Comfortable and fireproof
The third trend is fireproof tentcloth. Cooking in a tent is not without risk, as open fire can soon spread. TenCate Campshield® is an inherently fire-resistant fabric for tents. ‘It is made of four different fibres, which all combine to give it the right characteristics.’ It is not only tour operators and scout groups who are making ever more use of this protective fabric for their group tents, private individuals too are increasingly combining comfort with fireproof qualities.
‘In fact, we supply the entire world with caravan awnings using just two basic fabrics’, explains Herman Klompenmaker: ‘TenCate Touring® and TenCate Residential®. And yet, with these two fabrics in certain colours and designs, we are able to give our customers a distinctive profile. This is why the purchase of the digital inkjet machine is so important: it enables us to offer customers exclusive designs in small production runs and within a short timeframe. We also support them with promotions and at presentations or by inviting their dealers here. Aart Kok Tenten and its dealers visited us in February to learn about the spinning, weaving and finishing of tentcloth. De Vrijbuiter would also like its sales personnel to come to us for a day and be provided with this information. In this way we given them more ammunition and they can provide the customer with technical data.’
TenCate Outdoor Fabrics is the launch customer for digital inkjet technology. ‘We now say to the customer: “What do you want your cloth to look like and in which series?” For the theme parks Plopsaland (in the Netherlands and Belgium), tents are made in the shape of a toadstool with a ‘Plopsa door’. These are made in China for De Vrijbuiter. Five different doors have been designed and the customer can choose the one he wants. We have also shown Brand and Isabella what we can do and that we can rapidly switch over. You can’t see it from the outside, but there is a great deal of know-how and countless functionalities in the outdoor fabrics from TenCate Outdoor Fabrics. During guided tours the tentmakers and dealers see what is involved in the production of outdoor fabrics. TenCate Outdoor Fabrics is also “Protecting people”. We protect them from sun, UV radiation, rain, fire and wind, and we ensure their privacy.’