Buying A Motorhome At A Show

Mercedes Sprinter campervan

Buying A Motorhome At A Show

October is a big month in the calendar, it’s the start of a new season and we’re not talking about fashion!  This is the time of year when the manufacturers of anything remotely camper related, take to the road. All promote their offerings for the following year at the biggest UK show.  The main event, otherwise known as The Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC, Birmingham. Here’s our guide to buying a motorhome at a show.

As I write, those halls of the NEC will be full of the latest van models from across the UK and Europe.  We’ve bought every caravan, motorhome and camper that we’ve owned from the NEC show. There’s something about it that we just love. However, our current van, we bought from the Stuttgart Show in Germany, just to be correct here.

We definitely enjoy a day at a show, even if we’re not buying. Having been to quite a few over the past 20 years. Usually, we find there is no better place to seal that deal!

Let’s get to grips on the whole show experience and coming away with that dream van! 

Buying a motorhome at a show

Before A Show

  • We research lots. With so much choice out there, just turning up at a show can be overwhelming.
  • Blogs or other online resources are ideal. Also, magazines such as Practical Motorhome Magazine.
  • If planning a self-build, a show is a good way to get ideas of layouts, fitments and technology.
  • Budget is key for us on deciding a base vehicle and the size. Deciding on a layout is also really important.
  • We establish a short-list of vans suitable for us, thinking about where and who will be using it and what for. This was particularly important when we had our hire business. Also, it depends on if you’re going to be using it in the UK only, or  will there be extremes of hot and cold climates? Will you want to ship it worldwide? Possible use it for short trips only or maybe you’ll be full-time or somewhere in-between. These are all considerations.
  • Thinking about what suits us best, for example, is making a bed up every night what we really want or is a fixed bed better.
  • What about storage for skies, bikes, kayaks, golf bags etc..the list goes on!
  • There’s the functional elements, such as heating options, as well as water tanks, battery sizes and insulation.
  • Think about weights and payloads. If it’s over 3.5 tonne, is the driver licence of the driver covered? Homework is key!
  • Some smaller vans can be as functional as larger ones. It’s often getting the model and layout right, along with good storage options that make a difference.
  • Off-grid or using campsites? Self-sufficient or plugging in every couple of days? What appeals most will determine the fitments needed to sustain the camper lifestyle that’s trying to be achieved.
  • Shows are a great way for us to see everything under the one roof. Saving time and money travelling to individual dealerships in the long run.

Buying a motorhome At The Show

  • We pick up a show guide on arrival and go to the area that best suits us.  These shows can be huge and it’s easy to end up in the wrong hall.
  • Sometimes, we like to have more than one day at a show to absorb everything.
  • Taking time to Look at everything that’s on our shortlist. If we haven’t done a shortlist we start doing one and use the show as homework.
  • Look and look again, we don’t feel pressurised and certainly don’t feel as if we’re wasting the sales persons time.
  • It’s good to take a coffee break, pause and re-think. Reading again any checklist of requirements, checking we haven’t forgotten a vital point.
  • We ask lots of questions and if the sales team don’t know the answer or if we are in doubt of the reply, we ask again or ask them to find out for us.
  • Lead times are important, adding on from what we’ve been told, as manufacturers can go over.
  • Browsing at our leisure. If we don’t want to be pestered we just blend in with the crowds until we’re ready to make contact.
  • Sales staff are there to sell, we’re a little cautious on them being experts on all the vans they are selling or the wider industry! They may also be from dealerships across the country and just on a particular stand for the show.
  • The actual manufacturer may have staff present, so may be from Europe, for example, if a non-UK manufacturer. This can be very useful as they tend to be very knowledgable about their own product.
  • Show offers are usually pretty good and are there to tempt people into buying during the show itself. They probably won’t be available once the dealers go back to their dealerships.  However, we don’t rush into a decision just because we’ll get a TV and an an awning thrown in! Instead we ask if they’ll keep an offer available for us post show and if so for how long.
  • We ask exactly what’s standard, the show model may be full of extra’s and £’s over the basic van.
  • We’re not afraid to haggle, at least we know we’ve tried even if it doesn’t work!
  • We carefully look at build quality both exterior and interior of fitments, furniture, everywhere!
  • When choosing colour schemes, think practically, is that light cream seating practical, is it a colour that we really like and can live with?
  • If we’re ready to do that deal, we just check on where the dealer is located, are we prepared to collect from anywhere in the country or do we have a maximum distance in mind.
  • Finally, if there isn’t the right van at the right price for us, we’re prepared to walk away, thinking of it as a homework exercise in preparation for next time or for when we’re ready.

Enjoy the Show!

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