On the Move at Home

Interview with Sandra Tüter, Managing Director of SOMA Caravaning Center Bremen

Sandra Tüter, Managing Director of SOMA Caravaning Center Bremen
Sandra Tüter, Managing Director of SOMA Caravaning Center Bremen

The pandemic has given the market for mobile travel a sustainable boost. Initially driven by the fear of contagion, many people have since discovered the advantages and allure of mobile vacationing. SOMA Caravaning Center GmbH, with its two locations in Bremen and Warendorf, has been on the market for many years and convinces its customers with a versatile caravan portfolio, solid expertise, and a pronounced understanding of service.

Economic Forum: Mrs. Tüter, you are operating in a market environment that is currently very dynamic. What distinguishes SOMA Caravaning from other providers?

Sandra Tüter: There are currently many new competitors in the market. They have to first establish themselves and gain experience. We already have this experience, know the market, and know how to react if something does not go smoothly. Many of the newcomers underestimate the market. Basically, with a caravan, you have a chassis on which a house is built.

A look at the company headquarters in Bremen

There, the challenges arise on their own. Even when everything runs smoothly, our customers appreciate our long-standing experience in after-sales service.

Economic Forum: How is your portfolio structured? Which market segments do you cover?

Sandra Tüter: We cover all segments, from the entry-level segment to the middle-class segment and the premium segment. With the Sunlight brand, we target the entry-level market. The brands Dethleffs and LMC are positioned in the middle-class segment, while Carthago covers the premium and Concorde the luxury segment. In addition, we offer many price advantages and good equipment with our own brand SOMA Camp. Beyond sales, we also offer caravans of all segments for rent. Our SOMA Rent rental station is a partner of the McRent rental. We constantly have around 60 to 70 vehicles for rent.

Economic Forum: How important is the issue of sustainability to your customers when purchasing a caravan?

Sandra Tüter: Actually, the issue plays a rather subordinate role in customer inquiries. E-mobility is a difficult topic for caravans. It starts with the weight. The solutions that have been offered so far are not yet mature. However, as a company, we strive to reduce our ecological footprint wherever possible, through the use of LEDs, photovoltaics, and also electric cars.

SOMA Caravanning Motorhomes at the Warendorf location
At its locations in Warendorf and Bremen, the company has a large caravan fleet for different market segments

Sandra Tüter: There are always customers for all areas. During the pandemic, business exploded, but at the same time, there were supply bottlenecks. The rental business also saw significant growth. With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, we are experiencing caution in the market. Vehicle prices have since increased by 20 to 40%, however, interest rates and inflation are high. We still observe a strong interest in the market, but purchases are no longer made as carelessly.

Economic Forum: Who opts for a holiday with a caravan, or for buying one?

Sandra Tüter: Today, our target group is broader. This includes many families, but also more and more young and very young people. In addition, many retirees are among our customers, who want to enjoy their free time or even fulfill a dream of living for a few years without a fixed residence, traveling the world with a caravan.

Economic Forum: Where do your customers come from?

Sandra Tüter: In the new vehicle sector, the clientele is rather regional, coming from an area with around a two-hour drive. The used car business, on the other hand, is national. Sometimes customers even come from abroad.

Economic Forum: Do you also sell online?

Sandra Tüter: Of course, we also distribute our caravans over the Internet. We are present on various platforms and have our own website. But a caravan is a big purchase. Therefore, a large part of the sales still occur at our locations, where customers can be personally advised and experience the models.

Economic Forum: What are your plans for the year 2024?

Sandra Tüter: Given the challenging overall situation, we will not initiate any big projects for the time being. It is important now to get through this difficult time in a stable manner, improve our efficiency, and above all, continue to satisfy our customers. We always plan solidly and for the long term and do not make hasty steps.