TAPPING INTO HAPPY CAMPERS

Written on the 10 October 2012

TAPPING INTO HAPPY CAMPERS

REVAMPING its internet reservation systems has attracted more younger customers to a prominent motorhome manufacturer.

As much as it has changed the way we do business, the internet also is changing how we spend our leisure time.

That’s proving a boost for a thriving local motorhome manufacturer and exporter, which also rents the vehicles it makes.

Luke Trouchet (pictured), the CEO of Apollo Motorhome Holidays (AMH), ranked 46th Top Private Company in 2012, confirms that internet reservations generated $24.6 million for the company last financial year.

That represents 22 per cent of revenue.

“Motor homes used to get booked by local travel agents, but we have found a massive switch to people booking through the internet. We think that will accelerate even further,” says Trouchet, who co-owns the company with his brother Karl.

“Our rental demographics show the average person renting is 35 years or older with kids. There was a perception they were suitable for retirees, but those who buy are retirees while those who rent are young.”

AMH has invested $5 million in its information technology (IT) systems, including scheduling, logistical, pricing and client relationship management components.

The company has also opted for Google’s pay-per-click listings and finds its share of local customers has grown faster than its overseas traveller segment.

“Our jump in online sales revenue was primarily driven by that,” says Trouchet.

“The way people make bookings is changing but, if people cannot find you, you will miss out. It is a bit like not being in the Yellow Pages.”

AMH also customdesigned its own Vibe vehicle-leasing program after Trouchet struggled to find an off-the-shelf product that fit the bill.

The final product incorporates scheduling functions from the government-funded Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) to better replenish stock and calculate journey times.

“We had thousands of vehicles, but they were never in the right place and at the right time. The program was intended to minimise gaps by moving vehicles and satisfying bookings,” says Trouchet.

“Someone can go online and check for a trip, from Perth to Broome, the available dates and vehicle types. The CSIRO scheduling program handles the mathematical queries.”

The company also has a big advertising and marketing budget.

“We are targeting caravan and motor home-specific publications and TV programs,” says Trouchet.

“Apollo recently appeared on the competitive cooking TV show My Kitchen Rules. It also appeared in some of the women’s magazines.

“Magazines are extremely useful [to gain exposure] as the people purchasing them are interested in the product and going to be making a purchase sometime in the future.”


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