A look back at 2020 – who saw that coming, eh?
Nathalie’s personal review of 2020 and life at Buttercup Bus Vintage Campers…. a hard look to find the gems amongst the duffness, in a year that could never have been anticipated. However – Buttercup Bus was born to sparkle…. read on to find out how we have blazed our way through this year, with lots of great things to sing about!
Working across different industries, with a broad range of services, has been our saving grace
Buttercup Bus have been trading for over a decade… in the early days, I juggled running my company along with another career as a Business consultant. I clearly remember the days working at Procter Consulting (an Imparta company) specialising in service excellence and culture change. We would often look at the true meaning of words applied to context – and one that stuck with me was “problem” vs “challenge”. Yes, it is blimmin’ tempting to call the whole of 2020 a whopping Buttercup Bus problem…. but no…. let’s be more generous…. “Challenge” it is… and here is why….
We were fortunate to also work in the holiday hire rental and commercial media hire sector….
2020: The Great British Staycation
Fashion, PR and music video commercial PR work
Classic Campervan holiday rental from London
Staying in the UK for a holiday became increasingly popular in 2020, as people steered away from the unpredictability of travel plans overseas. Terms like “Elopement” and “Van Life” became the eutopia and a classic campervan rental leant itself to this concept perfectly – be it a family holiday, a couple’s glamping trip or a whimsical meander through the countryside.
We have two campervans specifically insured for the special usage of classic campervan self-drive rental – and these vehicles were out, pootling about on hire for a total of 199 days this summer – the glorious hot weather certainly helped!
Covid safe campervan rental
Delivering a Covid safe service was critical – and so we had to reserach and develop thorough cleaning and sanitisation practices. Essentially, I spent a HUGE amount of time cleaning this summer…. and this was not just in relation to campervans – I was also sanitising detachable 3×3 awnings (big tents) and all their components (from tent pegs and mallets, to rods to inner sleeping tents and ground sheets).
I found efficient ways to sanitise our kit, after each thorough clean, using my good friend, X-Mist, fully tested to British Standards BS EN 1276 & BS EN 1650. … This sanitiser is up to 99.9998% effective and will destroy the coronavirus. I even had a special, dedicated cleaning shed, which I would suspend each tent, and lock them in to fog with the product, turning several times in between sprays.
QR codes and checkout videos
For the checkout process, as standard, we provided our one hour checkout – but hirers had to maintain social distancing – so, to consolidate the checkout, we invested in detailed instructional videos for each campervan. These were broken down into chapters for each element of driving and operating the campervan. I then linked these to QR codes, and placed them in the campervan, as video prompts to support our hirers – something that I am sure will prove to be a great training material even after current COVID times.
Classic VW Camper for a celebrity fashion shoot
One thing I love about my role is the variety of jobs we get to do with media and PR clients. This year we got to work with celebrity actress, Michelle Keegn, who was promoting her new range of clothing with fashion retailer, “Very”. Our campervan was a key prop for the fashion shoot – and the results were amazing. The images were published far and wide, across mainstream press and social media platforms – from Hello magazine to The Sun.
Branded and technology kitted out campervan for EE
We pride ourselves in working with major brands, providing branded campervans for promotional tours, exhibition stands and PR and media campaigns. Cake Ltd agency delivered a fantastic, COVID safe campaign, with one of our custom built VW campervans with full vinyl wrap, bespoke interior and logistics included. The full EE branded campervan cinema and gaming station case study is detailed under the branded campervan section of our website.
You can read an example of the media write up from this EE branded campervan campaign here.
Looking right back to January and February, we also provided branded campervan hire for a small business advice national tour with the Start-Up Van, and also a hotel company, Little Hotelier. (Case studies pending me writing them up!)
Hip hop music video with our campervan as a prop
During the summer of 2020, we were approached by music talent, Kuda-Kwashé. He was looking for a campervan to feature in his music video for “Bullet Train”, from the upcoming debut album ‘Casanova’s Comicbook’.
We have worked on many music videos in the past – and were able to quickly offer advice to ensure a safe and professional service.
Launched new campervan and beetle services for the year ahead
Three new popup glitter bars in our campervan and VW Beetle
Much of 2020 was spent talking to our lovely wedding couples, who bravely faced the news that they had to change their wedding plans. A heartbreaking thing to have to do – and our sympathy goes out to them, as many deferred into 2021.
I am so grateful to those that deferred rather than cancelled – but it did leave us with a business challenge. With a finite amount of campervans and beetles available (7), and dates filling up with deferrals, we were quickly losing capacity to generate new revenue in the year ahead.
We needed to increase our scope of services, making use of existing assets. Drawing on our branded campervan popup glitter bar tour for LOL last year, we decided to roll out our popup eco glitter bars in the rear of our campervan photobooths as a nice bolt-on service.
We then took that one step further, putting our own stance on the Glitter Bug concept, originally provided by Oh Snap UK, offering a VW Beetle glitter bar with the option of an extra handheld selfie mirror booth and instant prints.
An indoor campervan themed popup glitter bar – meet Barnaby
Back in the early winter of 2020, I was taking welding lessons to built my own indoor popup campervan glitter bar. Sadly, COVID restrictions meant that this project needed to go on hold. (I have two late bay styled 1970s popup campervan front face indoor bars, that will get finished in better times ahead – watch this space!). Determined to see the dream come to fruition, we aquired Barnaby the red and white campervan themed popup bar. I used my lockdown time in the summer to make the wooden backdrop frame, and the floral swags to hang from them. We also got a custom logo laser cut from metal (taken from the flower in our logo) to put on the front. This popup indoor glitter bar offers a nice alternative for couples forced to defer their summer wedding to the winter – and it comes with options for a NEW selfie printer station too. Guests can use their own devices to take selfies, and then share them on our print station at our campervan popup glitter bar.
Coming soon – Campervan prosecco bar and draft beers
Alongside the two new indoor popup campervan bars, I am planning to build on our years of experience providing branded campervan popup drinks bar managed services, and start to offer popup prosecco and draft beer services with our popup front face campervans. Keep an eye on our social media!
Behind the scenes….
This year, we have kept ourselves in tune with the wedding industry, despite there not being many actual wedding bookings. We have taken part in LOTS of styled shoots, to showcase our various campervan and beetle services, in a range of styles – from 70s, to festival vibes, classic to tropical and let’s not forget the popular Boho styling.
These styled shoots have enabled us to meet an incredible network of talented wedding suppliers who complement our services. These people have become friends and we all support each other on social media.
The resulting images from these shoots have provided us with beautiful social media content (check out our Instagram feed!). Many of the shoots resulted in publication both in print and digital in some of the best industry blogs and magazines out there.
Below are a few of the images from these styled shoots!
I have been working on an ongoing project to update the website. This winter, I did a server migration to a new hosting supplier, and took the opportunity to give the website a design refresh myself. With all the case studies, blogs and shop pages, this was in the region of 200 pages – and is an ongoing project, that I will chip away at over the next few months – may as well, as our base in Croydon finds itself in tier 4 at the time of writing – so this is somthing productive I can do whilst at home! The images from the shoots have been very helpful in pulling the new site together and I have credited the photographers below.
A very exciting, top secret project with Lily Jones Events
Ahem – this project is so top secret, that I can’t say much more for now. There is a whole new website and some super branding to kickstart this new project – we have spent months chipping away at it – keep tuned into our social media, and all will be revealed in good time. It’s a big one!!
I would like to thank:
- all the business advisers we have worked with and professional services who guided us through these months;
- our lovely team who have only had limited work this year – but have supported us and been brilliant;
- business networking groups for morale support;
- fellow industry suppliers for friendship and inspiration and teamwork;
- our own suppliers for all the services you provide from mechanics to paintwork, accounting to telephony;
- and indeed… OUR LOVELY CLIENTS that have trusted us with their bookings this year.
It has been a challenging year for everyone – and I am so greatful for all the support! Here is to better times ahead in 2021 – but for now, stay safe and well.
- Header picture:
- Photographer and concept @byheathersham
- Videographer and concept @hanhmadefilms
- Music Video:
- Kuda-Kwashé – click on the video to reach is YouTube channel
- PIcture of me in pink jumpsuit and disco helmet (which I hand grouted with mirror tiles!!)
- Kate Boston Photography
- VW Beetle popup glitter bar
- Barnaby the indoor popup campervan themed glitter bar
- Gallery grid of images at the bottom:
- concept, organisation & photography: @pierragphotography_
Co organiser & videographer: @russellkentnicholls
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