Alan Rogers Guides
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|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Headquarters location||East Grinstead, Sussex|
|Distribution||The Book Service|
|Publication types||travel guides|
The Alan Rogers Guides were started in Britain in 1968 by camp enthusiast Alan Rogers. The guides place utmost importance on the quality of the campsites; campsites cannot pay to be in the guide. The range now has expanded to include six country guide titles covering 27 countries, four themed guides and ten miniguides covering regions of France.
How the campsites are chosen
The guides rely on a dedicated team of Site Assessors, all of whom are experienced cottagers, caravanners or motorcaravanners, to visit and recommend parks. The popularity of the guides is based their impartiality and supported by the enthusiasm, diligence and integrity of the Site Assessors.
The most important criteria used when inspecting and selecting parks is quality. The Assessors consider and evaluate:
- The welcome
- The pitches
- The sanitary facilities
- The cleanliness
- The general maintenance
- The location
The guides try to cater for a wide variety of preferences; from those seeking a small peaceful campsite in the heart of the countryside, to visitors looking for an 'all singing, all dancing' park in a popular seaside resort.
The first guide (Alan Rogers' selected sites for caravanning and camping in Europe) sold for four shillings (20p). In the introduction to the first guide Alan wrote "I would like to stress that the camps which are included in this book have been chosen entirely on merit and no payment of any sort is made by them for their inclusion."
Alan Rogers continued to expand until 1986 when Alan Rogers, aged 70, decided to seek retirement. The publishing company Deneway Guides and Travel Ltd was purchased by Clive and Lois Edwards until the Mark Hammerton Group took over in 2001 shortly after Alan Rogers death just a year earlier.
Clive Edwards remembers the negotiations with Alan Rogers clearly. "The actual business negotiations were conducted quickly. What Alan was really concerned about was that we would maintain the philosophy and the impartiality of the Guides. Following Alan's retirement we found that he was always willing to offer us advice and guidance".
In 2004 the whole business moved to its current premises in the Kent countryside.
Originally there was just a single guide to campsites in Europe featuring only 100 sites. A separate guide to Britain followed in 1989 featuring just short of 700 sites and in the same year a similar edition for France was introduced. The first Britain guide to include Ireland was published in 1997 followed by All Year Round and Rented Accommodation guides in 1998 and the first guide to be published in Dutch in 2002. Further editions including separate guides for Italy, Croatia & Slovenia and Spain & Portugal were launched in 2004 along with a guide for Central Europe in 2005 although this was dropped in 2008. A guide for the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg was added in 2011 but dropped for the 2016 season.
The themed '101' guides were put into motion in 2011 each featuring 101 campsites covering one of nine specific hobbies, pastimes and passions including best campsites for children, fishing, golf, spas, nature, walking and cycling, beach, dogs and active families. The series was slimmed down to just four core titles in 2014 with the edition of two German titles before being phased out for the 2016 season. The Rented Accommodation, All Year Round, Award Winners and Naturist guides continue to be published.
In 2012 the Mark Hammerton Group was acquired by The Caravan Club under the brand Alan Rogers Travel Group along with its subsidiary company Belle France. The guides continue to recommend campsites based on strict criteria and independent assessments. Sites are added where appropriate and removed if standards have fallen.
After the acquisition, the BIG Selection guide was introduced featuring 900 selected campsites in 22 European countries. An introduction to glamping guide was also produced.
2012 also saw the launch of digital guides for use on tablets and mobile devices.
The guides have been influential in the rise in popularity of camping; for example, drawing attention to the number of overseas sites that were providing mains electricity hook-ups. Alan Rogers suggested that British caravanners and motor caravanners should take advantage of this by having their units wired to take mains electricity; in 1968 no standard British caravan was supplied with mains electricity wiring.
One measure of the guides' success is that many of the things he called for in the original guide have now become reality:
- Mains electricity connections in caravans and motor caravans
- Marked pitches of a minimum size
- Hot water freely available in the amenity blocks
- British style toilets on French campsites
- The use of trees and bushes to mark pitches
- An end to the practice of over-crowding of sites during the peak summer holiday times
Many of the sites - like Camping du Pavillon at Bidarte in the Pyrenees recommended by him in 1968 - are still recommended in the current guides, although all the sites have developed along the lines originally recommended by Alan Rogers.
- AlanRogers.com - Official website for the guides