Formed in 1907, The Caravan Club has a membership of more than 375,000 families, and represents the views of more than a million largely UK-based caravan, motorhome owners and trailer-tent owners.
The Club owns and operates the UK’s largest privately-owned sites network, and offers an additional 2,500 small 5-van sites, owned by third parties. In addition, the Club offers its members a wide range of benefits, discounts, information and advice, and the chance to meet up at live events.
Creating the business strategy
The project kicked off with course of business strategy workshops with key internal stakeholders to explore objectives, audience, content, engagement and prioritisation. The workshops examined how the Club might utilise feedback from the community to increase membership, improve internal and external communication, leverage existing products and services, and drive new revenue across the organization. They also dealt with key operational challenges and how they might be mitigated, critical success factors and KPIs, community management, roles and responsibilities and the launch schedule.
The output from the workshops was externally validated using a combination of survey and face-to-face interviews with Club members and the findings incorporated into the strategy.
We were also commissioned to supply user experience, creative and build the site templates. The creative was a unique challenge – the new community had to fit in with the existing Caravan Club site while giving a fresh new outlook. We approached the project as a sub-brand of the Caravan Club, introducing new type styles and elements on top of an eye-catching full screen background image to create a unique look and feel that invites engagement.
The community’s design went down so well that The Caravan Club asked us to make some updates to their main site to bring it more up-to-date – the result is a vastly improved user experience that has been very well received by Club members.
Embedding best practice community management and encouraging engagement
Creating the ground for engagement, and good community management are key to a successful community. Having helped recruit a community manager, we worked with the Club to lay down best practice community management and train internal champions to engage successfully with members. A three week online training course, facilitated by our community experts, inducted the community manager and internal champions into the principle of best practice community management and offered scenario-based exercises, backed by blogs, examples and expert advice.
We worked with The Club to recruit external champions, prepare community guidelines and create champion agreements, which spelled out what The Club could expect of champions and what champions could expect from The Club.
We also worked closely with the community manager to seed engagement by creating a content and engagement plan, including contributors and deadlines.
Natasha Macdonald, Head of Product Development at The Caravan Club, shared her feedback on the project with us:
The Club set out on a journey to launch a new community for its members. Although we had seen communities in action we had never had to develop something like this ourselves and knew was not something we could do alone. When we spoke to many agencies we realised that some had great design and usability credentials but most were as new to communities as The Club so we set about finding an agency with real community experience. We were delighted to find Sift Digital who had been building communities for 15 years and even better had been very focused in the membership sector.
Sift Digital have a fantastic process of workshops that they guided us through, getting buy in from Directors right though The Club staff to approval of the business case. After getting the go ahead to deliver the community we then had to put all our learning’s into action. Sift Digital guided us through the development, design, usability and community management and ensured we were fully prepared for launch and what lies ahead.
We have been astounded by the early success of Club Together, the level of engagement is superb and we have already seem some tangible results and look forward to it growing and growing and the support Sift Digital can give The Club to ensure its continued success.