Oyster-Sat Tech interview: Getting TV on tour

Julian talks us through the changes of touring habits

By William Coleman

We caught up with Oyster’s managing director, Julian Preston, to discuss the new world of touring and the ever-growing demand for onboard entertainment now that the entire industry is on the upswing.

Over the years, the technology inside the caravan and motorhome has come on leaps and bounds, no more moving the aerial to get good reception on Eastenders. In today’s world, the touring community wants all the mod cons in their leisure vehicle that they would have at home.

Since 2017, there has been a real boom within the tourism industry in the UK and we are seeing a huge increase in people staying home for their leisure time. Initially, the whole Brexit thing affected people’s decisions, but now it is very much a COVID-related choice. As more uncertainty grows, sites start to fill.

As the industry expands and welcomes a lot of new blood, the need for TV while away has grown with it. One thing that we know is that the winter season is already shaping up to be a lot busier than previous years. This means that TV is going to be one thing everyone wants when the weather turns cold and potentially wet.

There are a lot of options available for TV on the go, but very few are as easy as pressing one button. Forget taking all your DVDs and box sets away with you, try an Oyster system instead.

It has been a while since we saw or spoke to the Oyster team and now seems like the perfect time for a catch-up.

CT- We last saw you at the NEC show in February, since then the world has changed a bit. How has Oyster been since we last spoke?

Julien- Things have changed dramatically since the show in February. What looked like the start to a promising season came to an abrupt halt at the end of March. Almost all of our dealer network was forced to close for two months. I furloughed our staff, but carried on myself to keep the office ticking over during this time.

CT- Since things have started to reopen, have you seen a rise in demand for the product?

Julien- From the end of May, I began to see an upturn in business and, as the dealerships began to reopen in June, the whole industry saw a dramatic surge as many newcomers began to look at motorhomes and caravans as an alternative to their usual holidays. ‘Staycation’ became the new buzzword.

CT- Is there a particular product that is becoming popular?

Julien- As the British weather can be, at best, unpredictable, TV in the van provides a welcome distraction on a rainy day or a chilly evening and the rise in demand for leisure vehicles has also seen our sales increase in line with industry trends. We have also seen a rise in demand for our Sky Q compatible systems, as people want to take their home comforts with them on their travels.

We’ve also been watching the increasing popularity of wi-fi & 4G antennas, and I’m excited to say that our German parent company has now developed their own wi-fi/4G antenna unit and specially-engineered router, which can also combine with our new Smart TV.

These will be available from the beginning of 2021 and were very well received at the recent Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf.

CT- It seems that the touring holiday option is going through a boom at the moment. That is a silver lining to this year is it not?

Julien- You’re right, the recent surge in interest and demand across our industry provides something of a silver lining in what has been the most difficult of years.

We can only hope that this upturn has a longer-lasting effect, as we see new generations and younger families taking to motorhomes and caravans for a newfound leisure experience.

CT- Do you think that moving forward a lot more people will be seeking more onboard entertainment for extended trips?

Julien- As the continent begins to open up again, those who’ve made the investment in a leisure vehicle can once again (or for the first time) venture further afield and will want to take some of their home luxuries with them, such as UK TV and internet access. Oyster is the best-known brand in this field and we look forward to what will, hopefully, be a brighter future.