Now, more so than ever will JUCY have to crank up its social media presence as it takes a bite at the UK’s luxury campervan market, rising on the coat tail of the 2015 Rugby World Cup there.
Tim Alpe, who co-founded JUCY with his brother Dan in 2001, has grown the company in a rapid way. Tim is also one of 6 recipients of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership award.
The UK campervan and motorhome market have had their share of grief, post global financial crisis. The Olympics gave the market a lift with an influx of tourists but industry observers are unsure whether the market’s growth will be robust or tentative.
But JUCY is certain the time is right. Alpe says the company has undertaken extensive market research on the UK motorhome market, with the help of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. “We have also drawn on our successful launches in Australia and USA.”
Alpe says the company's growth has been consistently strong with sales up 21%, and 2015 is the right year to continue its international expansion, especially in the UK motorhome market, where the rugby tournament will be a draw card for tourism.
How will JUCY tackle the big boys in the UK market? Alpe says: “The company will be building on its strengths to take on the UK competitors including our unique and brand new product offering, our strong brand, established network of contacts and a loyal customer base as UK and European customers are a large part of the JUCY NZ, Australia and USA businesses.”
Social media will be pivotal as the company to engage its wide community across the world. “We are dedicated to focussing on our followers in the online community and have had a social media manager for the past five years. We have over two million You Tube views, 28,000 Facebook followers and over 8,000 Twitter followers and engage them with regular contact, special offers and quick and relevant feedback to their queries.”
JUCY’s social media engagement will resonate with the camper van community. According to a report by Leisure Rentals Direct (UK Leisure Accommodation Market End of Year Report 2012), younger customers are definitely flocking to social media and online channels to seek for and book accommodation rentals.
The “hippy van” is appealing to the younger folks who are more open to rental camper vans as for holidays and to move around, it says.
But it is not only the younger generation who are using online sources to search for information. “All age groups are now searching online for leisure accommodation at all stages of their holiday, with signs that many are now also engaging more with social media with regard to their interest in leisure accommodation.”
In the UK for instance site traffic is being generated from the US (14.9%), Australia (11.78), Ireland (8.26%), France (6.31%), Spain (6.27%).
Alpe adds: “Social media has enabled our community to have a voice and the need for a quick response. We have adapted by having a fulltime social media manager to ensure fast responses at all times. We have also introduced innovations such as Live Chat, to ensure the customer experience is seamless.”
JUCY will be investing about $5 million on a fleet of new luxury campervans which will be rented to tourists in both New Zealand and the UK.
That higher standard of accommodation will see the new multi-million dollar Lucy Class fleet of campervans introduced into the UK and New Zealand markets next year - under the JUCY brand umbrella.
The new four berth JUCY Casa high-spec 2014 Fiat Ducato motorhomes come with a custom Italian-built interior including a shower and bathroom facilities, and are the first vehicles in the new class, targeted at travellers looking for a more premium road trip experience but still at a competitive price-point, Alpe adds.
As a result of its UK expansion, JUCY will be able to offer its own staff the big OE experience in the UK.
Alpe says JUCY will be based in the greater London area. “There will be between 6 – 10 JUCY crew. The numbers who will go on their OE will depend on demand from current JUCY crew but we already have two current staff members in the UK that relocated from the NZ office to be part of the current UK based JUCY call centre (which allows us to offer 24 hour customer service).”
JUCY has over 240 staff across New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the UK and US and 300,000 customers annually. It now has 2900 rental cars and campervans in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
It also has a hotel in Auckland, a campervan manufacturing and design business called JUCY By Design in Auckland and Los Angeles, a cruise company in Milford Sound called JUCY Cruise, and New Zealand’s first and only environmentally friendly car-share business, JUCY CityHop.
He is confident the company’s innovative products and the uniqueness of the JUCY brand will underpin the business.