The history of the Top Caravan
The first planning meeting for the Top Caravan was held on 21 February 1998 at the Ramada Hotel Tampere meeting room. The participants of the meeting was SF-Caravan president Seppo Pietiläinen, Tuula Nieminen and Lars Andersson all from SF-Caravan. Antti Lindfors frm the Camping Committee of the SF-Caravan and Airi Sahrakorpi from the SF-Caravan association’s office acted as secretary. The other participants were Kari Asikainen from SF-C Sisä-Savo ry, Arto Ranta from SF-C Pohjanmaa ry and Pentti Groth from SF-C Turku ry. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a co-operating way of work for marketing SFC camping places. The starting point was that more customers should be visiting SFC camping places, this meant that opening the camping areas for non-members of SF-Caravan. This would also provide new members for the local SFC-associations and earning more money for developing the camping places and keeping the standard quality on high level. As a first practical step, it was agreed that SF-Caravan would send a questionnaire to all local associations on the willingness to cooperate. The SF-Caravan as umbrella association would finance the start phase of the Top Caravan and the money would be paid back later as a membership fees. The working committee would work as a board of the association until the chain began to operate normally. In the beginning phase it was expected that about 15 local associations would have been joined the Top Caravan. The next meeting was held on April 18, 1998 in Hartola, Koskenniemi. Participants: Seppo Pietiläinen, Lars Andersson, Tuula Nieminen, Kari Asikainen, Arto Ranta, Pentti Groth and Timo Piilonen. As a result of the local association survey, it was found that 15 local associations were interested of joining Top caravan. Those 15 local associations were working on 20 camping places around Finland. The final conclusion of the meeting was to create the general rating system for the camping places. The camping places would have twin pricing system for the customers. The tent camping would be allowed, even if there would not be possible to support or allowed tent camping. The organization of the marketing chain was found to be important and the chain should have a very marketing oriented name, which is inspired by quality, openness and internationality. The working committee collected name suggestions from all around the marketing chain: Good Service Places, Caravan Stars, Caravan Units, Caravan Camping, Star Caravan, and Top Caravan. The name issue was left to raise up later. The chain’s decision-making takes place in ‘marketing chain meetings’ with majority decisions. Pietiläinen and Piilonen agreed to make the regulation proposal for the marketing chain. We discussed the sales brockures and distribution of them and investigated the printing of 24 pages four-color brochure in 20,000 copies. The brochure should be ready in January 1999. The next meeting was held on 23 May 1998 in Kuopio in connection with the Caravan Days and the Chain Meeting for all who are interested in Heinola on 13 June 1998. 23.5.1998 Participants: Seppo Pietiläinen, Tuula Nieminen, Kari Asikainen, Arto Ranta, Pentti Groth and Timo Piilonen. At the meeting, Mr Pietiläinen and Mr Piilonen presented the draft of regulation and discussed the brochure. The first place for the first chain meeting was discussed too and the place was decided to be in Heinola at 23.3.1998. The meeting was participated by Seppo Pietiläinen, Tuula Nieminen, Kari Asikainen, Arto Ranta, Pentti Groth and Timo Piilonen. 27 different local associations were represented. The head of the meeting was Seppo Pietiläinen as a Chairman. Arto Ranta presented ‘Why I would market a SFC camping places.’ Kari Asikainen presented ‘Financial investment and output of marketing.’ Pentti Groth presented ‘Does the marketing of SFC camping places change the concept of SFC camping area. and Antti Lindfors presented ‘Camping place standards and how to reach them.’ In the meeting was decided to start the marketing cooperation of SFC camping places. The first meeting of Top Caravan marketing chain was on October 11, 1998 in Hämeenlinna, in Hotel Vaakuna with participants of Seppo Pietiläinen, Tuula Nieminen, Antti Lindfors from SF-Caravan and Kari Asikainen, Arto Ranta, Pentti Groth and Timo Piilonen from local associations. The camping places which joined in the meeting on 30th of September 1998 were Kesäniemi, Kallionokka, Purho, Etuniemi, Kuturanta, Mussalo, Savikoski, Maisansalo, Vankkurimänn, Kalajärvi, Lukkuhaka and Krapuranta. After the opening speech, no representative of the general association SF-Caravan ry participated in the meeting. Mr Arto Ranta was elected as the first president of the chain and Kari Asikainen and Pentti Groth were elected to the board. The first meeting confirmed the Action Plan, the budget and administration. It was also decided on a brochure plan for the future. In the year 1999 the marketing chain started to work as the Top Caravan, developing its own operations. In year 2000 3rd member Mr Risto Hakala was elected to the Board. Pentti Groth was elected as a Chairman of the Board and the bank accounts was in the bank of Vaasa OP. There was discussion of the official legal organization ie. association. The founding meeting of the association Caravan Huiput ry was held on May 20, 2006 in Rauhanlahti Manor.