Editorial – April 2021

A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional

I’m sure you’ve heard that little bit of wisdom before. I have many times, and it’s true. When you have a sure thing going, why ignore it to chase after a not-so-sure thing? But we do it all the time in our business. Well, at least before the pandemic hit. Now that the diving and travel industries are returning to being active, Dive Industry Professionals are looking at their customers, the market, and the marketing tools we use to reach the market, a little differently now . So many ways of doing business in the past are not going to work in the new post-pandemic economy.

Welcome to the new era of smart recreational dive businesses. We have so many options to consider now and Entrepreneurs wishing to be successful in the future are listening to business advice that makes sense. Actually, Dollars and Cents. We are tired of being told to pay for clicks. We couldn’t care less how many “likes” we get. Conversions are where it’s at but only if it converts to sales. So who’s buying?

Dive Industry Association is a trade organization that brings Buyers and Sellers together. Our Members have diving related equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products to sell and we are referring them to buyers who need, want and can afford their products. We know of a few tried-and-true methods that work and we want to leave you with some ideas that will work if you give them a chance.

If you are a supplier of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products, we will start with the fact that you are selling the right product, at the right price, in the right market. If you are doing that already, take one step forward and analyze your customers now. Think of your customer base as three different types of customers; Current Customers, Former Customers and Future Customers. For greatest success in a shorter period of time, focus on your current customers. They are the people who have bought from you within the past 12 months. Contact your current customers now and get them to engage with you. It could be a sale, or a new class or a dive trip. Give them a reason to come in and buy from you again.

If contacting your current customers doesn’t fill up your dance card, design a campaign to contact your former customers and do your best to reactivate them into current customers. Former customers are people who have not purchased anything from you in the past 12 months. They know who you are, they have done business with you before, and they are likely to do business with you again. All that’s left to do is ask them.

The last group of customers is the new customer. They have never bought anything from you before. They probably don’t know who you are, don’t know what you sell, and at this point have no reason to do business with you. This is the most expensive and time consuming type of customer to reach. In this post-pandemic recovery period, be very careful about focusing too much on this group. True, new customers are the lifeblood of every business, but we only say that you should be very calculated when planning and budgeting for campaigns to reach this type of customer. Especially if you still have “acres of diamonds” in your backyard.

There is one way to find new customers that have a higher potential to be successful for you. It’s called “Referrals.” Our Association is in the referral business. As I said before, we bring Buyers & Sellers together. We have business relationships with both sides and we actively put programs and opportunities together to benefit the buyers and the sellers. Commerce is what keeps our industry working. Knowing about leads, hot leads and potential buyers is not an exact science, but if you know how and why good business relationships are formed and nurtured, you may be on the right track.

In the past few months, our Association has been reaching out to Dive Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies, and Dive Travel Businesses. We let them know how we refer potential buyers to sellers of dive equipment, training and travel products. I am very pleased and encourage by the number of sellers who have listened and taken our advice but I am in total disbelief with the companies who have no idea how a product referral program could help their business. We have been running referral campaigns for both the industry trade and the general public for years now. Here are just two examples.

DIA_TRAVEL_LOGO

Our Association participates in FAM Trips for Qualified Dive Travel Specialists. Most of the time they are dive store owners who run group dive travel programs. The FAM Trips are sponsored by Tourism Boards, Dive Resort Destinations or Dive Travel Wholesalers. Having relationships with Dive Retailers across the country, we can offer them a FAM Trip that is interesting and could lead them to a new travel destination they can offer to their customers. After a few FAM Trips we realized that Dive Travel Specialists might need a few products on the trip that would make their travel experience more enjoyable. We also realized there were a number of suppliers that were looking for new accounts to sell to. The idea of offering a SWAG Bag to each Dive Store Participant was born.

We put out a memo to our Membership base that we were participating in a FAM Trip to the new Dive Resort in Belize, Belize Dive Haven, and were looking for gift items our participants could use. We raised over $9,000 in SWAG Bag Gifts that included a travel bag from Roatan Charter, EcoConscious Sunscreen from Stream2Sea, Insect Repellent from Lita’s All Natural, Metal Water Bottle from 4Ocean, Sunglasses & Lanyards from RipTide Scuba, and Custom Mouthpieces from Sea Cure Custom Mouthpieces. The Dive Retailers were delighted to receive such useful samples on their dive trip. It was very unexpected and heavily appreciated.

When we run FAM Trips to resort destinations, it’s not only the 35 Dive Stores Owners we bring with us, but the number of Dive Operators and Resorts we visit on the trip. Two years earlier I participated in a FAM Trip to Saint Lucia that was sponsored by the St Lucia Tourism Authority. On that trip we visited nine Resorts and Dive Operations. When was the last time your Caribbean Sales Rep visited nine resort accounts on one island plus had a week to spend with 35 Dealers from the United States? The possibilities here are endless.

SWAG

We are running a FAM Trip to Curacao on May 7-11, 2021 and are including a SWAG Gift Bag for each Retail Store Participant. So far we have items from Roatan Charter, Stream2Sea, Lita’s All Natural and DAN. We have sample bags of Sunscreen, Mask Defog and Hand Sanitizer from Stream2Sea – Anti-itch and insect repellent from Lita’s all Natural – and Refillable Water Flasks from DAN. All we need now are ball caps, T-shirts, and sunglasses. But you get the idea. The Retail Travel Buyers are being introduced to new travel products and new vendors and the Suppliers are being introduced to new Dive Store Buyers. It’s a WIN-WIN for everyone. Dive store owners are professional resellers. They are in the business of buying inventory and reselling it. Why would a supplier not want to connect with them? I guarantee you that if I told Las Vegas Casinos that I was bringing 35 Travel Agents who run group trip for gamblers to Las Vegas for a FAM Trip, they would be all over me with incentives to come visit them.

The second kind of referral we run is to introduce dive travelers to destinations they have plans to visit. Our neighbors are going to Cozumel with a group of divers. They asked for referrals to hotels, restaurants and dive operators. What better way to introduce likely buyers to local businesses at their destination? They are visiting your local destination. They will be spending money on vacations. Why not entice them to visit you? Especially if we can refer them to you.

I once received a $200 American Express Travelers Check from the Tourism Bureau of the U.S. Virgin Islands for diving with our local Dive Operators. I thought that was a great idea and of course, I spent it while on the trip. That gave us some ideas about incentives we could introduce to our FAB Trip participants.

Most Resorts offer a $500 discount on future trips booked with them. That help pay for last FAM Trip and gives you an incentive to return. The same idea applies if a Tourism Bureau offers a $200 credit voucher on your next visit to their destination. That gives you a reason to return. You see, in our business, it’s our job to get Dive Travel Buyers to visit a dive destination. It’s the dive destinations job to get the Dive Travel Buyers to return. With a group, of course.

Now I hope you see the logic in working together. Buyers and Sellers are in the same boat. Sometimes all they need is the proper introduction.

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Editorial – March 2021

Do Your Customers Still Remember You?
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional

The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us but thankfully, people are starting to travel again.  I’m participating in a FAM Trip to Curacao in May and I’m all excited about getting back in the water.   Ask Debbie Helms, at Roatan Charter about the Curacao FAM Trip.  We are in the process of contacting Qualified Travel Buyers from our database of current Dive Stores and the ones that we kept in touch with during the pandemic will be the first ones on our list to contact.  What about the others? Well, they didn’t keep in touch with us and I have no idea if they are still in business.  Out of sight – Out of mind.  Maybe even Out of Business!  One of our Members has a FAM Trip going to the Maldives in September.  We’ll do our best to contact active Dive Travel Buyers, but the same situation applies.  Which ones are open for business?  Which ones are booking trips again?  It’s time to focus on the dive businesses that have stayed active during the pandemic and have kept in touch with their customers along the way.  When you are advertising a FAM Trip to the Maldives that is so spectacular, you want to make sure you are offering it to the best of the best Dive Travel Specialists.  Contact Mark Potter at www.massdiving.com for information about the Maldives FAM Trip.

The same concept applies for Dive Resorts and Liveaboards.  Which ones are we booking and which ones are we doing FAM Trips for?  You got it.  The ones we’ve kept in contact with all along and have kept in contact with us.  Now, I don’t want to sound harsh or vindictive.  It’s human nature to do business with people that you know.  People you like.  And people you have a good working relationship with.  When you are in the business of bringing Buyers and Sellers together, you owe it to both parties to hook up the best buyers to the best sellers.  That’s the business we are in.

As you are easing back into the recreational dive business, we have some pointers that we’ve picked up from our Members.   Let’s look at the sellers of Dive Equipment, Training and Travel.

Dive Equipment Manufacturers:  Above all, know your vendors.  Do you see any changes in their selling approach?  Do they still adhere to the traditional “Channels of Distribution?” i.e. Manufacturer – Sales Rep – Retailer – Customer.  Do they still support you or are they thinking about by-passing you and going directly to the final consumer?  If they are still your supply channel partner, do they have sufficient inventory and adequate service and training?  It’s time to renew your relationship with them and get your inventory up to speed.

Training Agency:  How many Training Agencies are you paying dues to?  It’s not about offering every certification from all 50+ Training Agencies anymore.  It’s about offering your customers the best program that’s out there and cutting back on your expenses and marketing efforts.  You can’t be all things to all people anymore.   You have  to choose what is best for you, your business and your customers.  Look at your certification history and your training programs.  Who do you need to do business with and who can you cut?  Offer the best training that suites your needs and the needs of your customers and promote that.

Travel:  Do you have a travel program?  Remember that travel is a top motivator for people to learn to dive and buy their gear.  As I said, my FAM Trip is 60 days away but I already sent our regulators in for service.  I need two new full wetsuits and two wetsuit shorties.  (I think I’ll try the new Hendersons).  I need two new video lights and I think I’ll get a new hand held light for night dives.  Would I have done that if I didn’t have a dive trip planned?  Of course not.  This trip is going to cost me more in new gear than in the FAM Trip costs.

If you are a Qualified Dive Travel Specialist, do you have a history and a good working relationship with any Dive Resorts or Liveaboards?  Are you using a Dive Travel Wholesaler?  Do you participate in FAM Trips to experience new Dive Resorts and Liveaboards or do you go back to the same old place, over and over again?  Have you tied in your Equipment Sales and Specialty Training to your Dive Trips?   

During the pandemic, have you kept in touch with your Dive Travel Wholesaler?  How about your favorite Dive Resorts and Liveaboards?  Have you contacted the Tourism Bureau for your favorite Islands or Dive Destinations?  We always ask our Dive Operators if they let any of their staff go during the pandemic and what changes they might have made to their operation.  We also like to know how “back to normal” they are.  As you are planning your dive trips, please remember that resorts may have made changes to their resort, restaurant, and dive operation.  Check it out before you plan another dive trip there.  And if I haven’t said it enough, Use a Dive Travel Wholesaler.  We have a list of them at www.diveindustrynews.net/dive-directory/ 

Post Pandemic Reconstruction:  Dive Industry Association is here to help you get back in the game.  We are recreating Local Diving Communities across the globe.  We are putting the pieces back together to strengthen our Industry’s “Channels of Distribution.”    We are bringing Buyers & Sellers together to help each other meet their needs.  And most of all, we are keeping in touch with Dive Industry Professionals to help get them back into the water again and get them back into operating their business again.

For the average diver it’s all about learning to dive, buying their gear, going diving and staying active.  Can you help them with that?

Contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net for more information on the Dive Industry Association.  www.diveindustry.net 

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Belize Dive Haven Founder, Celebrates 88th Birthday With a Dive

Sir Karim Hakimi, founder of the resort Belize Dive Haven, celebrated his 88th birthday with a scuba trip to welcome in his “next lap around the sun.”

Belize Dive Haven is super excited to wish our founder Sir Karim Hakimi a very happy 88th birthday! As part of his birthday celebration, Sir Hakimi decided to go scuba diving while visiting the resort, and had an absolute blast exploring the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea along with our dive instructors!

This isn’t his first experience with diving though! As a young man, Hakimi was enlisted in the Iranian Navy where he developed his love of the ocean and advanced his skills over the years as a salvage diver. Although he would go on to found one of Canada’s longest-lasting and successful eyeglass businesses, his love for scuba is something that has remained a constant in his life.

This passion for scuba has taken him to many diving sites around the world, but it was on a boat trip to Belize’s beautiful Turneffe Atoll that lead him to begin his quest to develop and open a resort where divers from across the globe could visit and experience the same majestic beauty of the Belize Barrier Reef as he did.

And thus Belize Dive Haven was born!

Once again, Happy Birthday Sir Hakimi, and here’s to many more diving adventures for year to come!

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Editorial – February 2021

Welcome To The World of Small Groups.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional

The new normal is here.  The covid pandemic has changed the way we work and play forever.  In the past year, we’ve seen the death, the destruction, the confusion, and a partial economic collapse of our robust world economy.  We’ve been through the shock, the denial, the anger, the blame, and now the realization that this problem is not merely going away, but will have to be dealt with in an intelligent and logical manner.  The world is learning what may work and what may not.  I can only hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail and that leaders will emerge to tackle this problem once and for all.

In the meantime, the population is wearing masks, practicing social distancing, avoiding large crowds, getting vaccinations and acting responsible.  Our priority right now should be to learn how to be safe and do what is expected of us as we make plans to participate in diving and adventure travel once again.  Keep in mind that health professionals are working overtime to set realistic guidelines for our future behavior.  That means guidelines for our personal behavior as well as our business behavior.

So, here we are – February 2021.  The travel industry has been decimated and so has the recreational scuba diving industry.  But here’s the thing.  Life around the world is a mixed bag.  People are traveling and diving again, in specific areas, but not everywhere.  It seems that every country or island has a different government regulation for dealing with the virus.  Every airline carrier has their unique twist on CDC’s global recommendations.  So what is a diver to do?

The first thing you should do is to keep educated with respect to the current health guidelines that have been established for your home country and the country you are planning to visit.  Secondly, as I’ve written before, use the services of an experienced Travel Wholesaler.  Thirdly, take precautions when it comes to staying healthy, avoid large crowds, wear a mask, keep social distancing, and get your covid vaccination.  Even if you do all the right things, there is still a risk, so be alert for new potential problems.

One trend I’m starting to see is the acceptance and widespread use of doing things in small groups.  Gone are the days of packed concert halls, sports stadiums, and super sized conventions.  We are entering into an era of adventure travel experiences for small groups.  Dive Travel Specialists are taking their groups of 10-12 to their favorite resorts who keep them separated from other groups and may even provide a smaller dive boat dedicated to their group alone.  That is a very positive trend.  Not only is it good for small groups and the resorts, it’s good for the small business person.  Before the pandemic, we were seeing large national companies selling “invasion” style vacations to groups of 50-100 people.  How can a small business person compete with that?  I guess some people thought that over crowding a small island with hundreds of divers was “cool.”  Well, not any more.  Now it’s all about small groups, safety oriented procedures, and a quality vacation experience.  

Sandals – Media Tour

A funny thing about catering to many small groups at a resort, is that it is not a new thing.  In 2014 I participated in a Media FAM trip to Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort.  There were 16 of us and yet our Host split us up into two groups.  We had two vans, two dive boats, two guides and yet we still did everything together.  Sandals LaSource Greneda Resort has over 222 rooms and while we were there the resort had a 90% occupancy rate.  You would never know it  by just looking around.  The Resort is so well designed that we never felt it was overcrowded or even full.   One of our guides explained that Sandals designs their resorts to have many buildings, multiple swimming pools and many differently themed restaurants.  No matter where you stay at a Sandals Resort, you feel that you have the whole resort to yourself.

I think the Diving industry can learn some things from Sandals to bring in some fresh ideas on how to cater to many small groups of divers while giving the impression of exclusivity.  If our industry can market itself to the world as the best adventure travel recreation that defines the idea of the ultimate social distancing, I believe we can write our own ticket for many years to come.

Ask your participating Travel Wholesaler for a recommendation to a resort destination that will give you and your small group a high quality, low quantity, social distancing travel experience.  Read our recent blog, Why We Use Dive Travel Wholesalers.

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An Ocean Of Love Giveaway

This Valentine’s Day we are bringing you an 💙 OCEAN of Love 💙🐠🦈🐙🐢🐳

Enter to WIN our biggest giveaway ever worth over $3780! This is your chance to win an array of experiences and products inspired by the ocean to revive your adventure hungry spirit – from some of the best eco-conscious brands!

We’ve teamed up with nineteen amazing companies to give you $3780+ worth of Ocean Love. This package includes scuba gear, travel to far away places, training, apparel, bathing suit, jewelry, healthy snacks and body products. Here is the full breakdown:

💙 Private Training / Q&A Session with Shark Expert Cristina Zenato via Zoom ($400)

💙 Gogh Jewelry Design – Miss Scuba ocean lovers jewelry gift pack ($200)

💙 Kids Sea Camp – Family Dive Adventures ($500 voucher towards any trip)

💙 Fourth Element – ocean positive swimwear ($200)

💙 PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) online training voucher for a class of your choice (up to $250)

💙 Beqa Lagoon Resort Fiji ($500 voucher towards a trip + Beqa Shark T-shirt)   

💙 Dive Into Your Imagination by Annie Crawley – educational ocean books and DVDs ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙 Scubapro – pick your favorite colorful travel fins! ($250)

💙 Prawno Apparel – Inspired by life underwater ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙Your Bag Tag – customized luggage tags, fabric face mask, scuga gear ID tags… ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙 ScubaDoRag – colorful scuba socks, head bands… ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙 Dive into Pink – breast cancer awareness scuba goodies ($100)

💙 Deeply Designs – ocean inspired cafe cups, hats, accessories to celebrate the salty life ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙 ScubaFit – 60 minute consultation about diving fitness with Gretchen Ashton via Zoom ($300)

💙 Aroma CoCo Aromatherapy Intentional Blends gift set by CoCo Cheznaynay Secret Agent of Truth & Style ($100)

💙 Plantnrgy Plant-based Protein & Superfood Mixes ($50 voucher to shop online)

💙 Bear Claw Extracts – CBD Tincture for the Active, the Adventurous, and the Outdoorsy ($60)

💙 Kids Sea Camp Family Dive Adventures ($200 voucher towards any dive gear)

💙 700 Rivers – Sustainable all natural soaps ($100 voucher to shop online)

💙 PADI Dive Gear ($50 voucher to shop online)

💙 Daily Crunch Snacks – Sprouted Nut Snacks ($20)

💙 X-Ray Mag – International dive magazine subscription (priceless)

But you can’t win if you don’t enter…

In less than 20 seconds you will be in the running for this amazing giveaway.

Take 20 seconds and enter your email to win big. Enter NOW:

https://kingsumo.com/g/84juti/ocean-of-love-giveaway

Good Luck!

Szilvia

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Dive Pirates Plan Free Virtual Event

Pirates Plan Free Virtual Event for 17th Annual Dive Pirates Ball

February 20, 2021 8pm – 9pm

Golden Ticket Raffle on sale now!  Live Auction * Keynote Speaker* Action-Packed One-Hour Event

To reach as many people as possible, the Dive Pirates Foundation moved its annual Dive Pirates Ball online for a one-hour event to include a live auction, registration giveaway, trip raffle and much more as it continues its mission to celebrate life after injury through adaptive scuba diving.  

“We are thrilled to meet our recipients and chapters where they are now, all across the country, as well as our friends and family around the world as we find ourselves all operating online these days,” said Dive Pirates President and Co-Founder Sophie Wimberley. “We hope everyone interested will dial in and learn more about us and help us support these men and women who’ve had life-altering events and deserve to still experience that sense of self-worth, accomplishment and inclusiveness diving offers.”

The Dive Pirates, through AmFund, is offering a Golden Ticket Raffle where the winner gets to choose one of three trips offered; Key West, Bodega Bay or Sedona. Only 100 tickets will be sold and they are $100 each, on sale now.  Everyone who registers for the online event is automatically entered into a Yeti Pirate Adventure Package. The winner must be online and actively involved in the live stream event to claim the prize.

“With our online event, you will have a front row seat with our keynote speaker, Retired Specialist Steve Baskis, who was blinded by an IED while serving in Iraq. His story is amazing, his resolve and motivation a true inspiration,” continued Wimberley.

Registration is easy, click here for details.  The Dive Pirates Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, positively impacts the lives of its recipients; injured military, first responders, law enforcement and others with mobile disabilities, by welcoming them into adaptive scuba diving which fosters accomplishment, self-worth and community. The Foundation trains, equips and conducts dive trips year-round to calm, warm-water locations for the safety of those with spinal cord injuries, networking with facilities willing to empower all participants with compassion and adaptation for a positive experience diving, team building and networking. For more information go to www.divepirates.org.

Contact: Theresa Cortez – Director of Communications
Dive Pirates Foundation
Phone: 77-393-3483 ext. 4
www.divepirates.org

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Beneath The Sea 2021 Cancelled

Posted in Press Release, Shows & Events | 1 Comment

Why We Use Dive Travel Wholesalers

Why it’s Better To Use A Dive Travel Wholesaler For Your Group Bookings.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Arranging dive travel for individuals or groups has changed dramatically in the past year.  The covid-19 pandemic decimated the travel industry which is the number one revenue generator of the recreational scuba diving industry.   People learn to dive and buy diving equipment so they can travel to exotic dive destinations and enjoy scuba diving.  It only takes one or two dive trips to get hooked on the concept of diving beautiful and unique dive destinations around the world.  So without dive travel generating the desire and need to dive, I’m afraid the sale of diving equipment, training, and travel will suffer in the next 2-3 years without some pretty serious considerations and necessary paradigm shifts.  To combat our current challenges with dive travel, let’s look at how today’s Dive Travel Specialist books individual or group trips, compared to how they did it before the pandemic.

Becoming a Dive Travel Specialist is a natural extension for individuals who are active Dive Industry Professionals and know a lot of people who are interested in diving and dive travel.  They build a large, inner “circle of influence” by teaching diving, working in a dive store or dive operation, belonging to a club, or becoming extremely recognizable in their local diving community for their dives, photos, videos or seminars.  We call them Opinion Leaders or Diving Influencers.  For them, putting together a group of 10 people or more is an easy task.  But like making the transition from active Diver to Instructor, there is a lot to learn about making the transition from active Diver to Dive Travel Specialist.

A Dive Travel Specialist, first of all, needs to be a people person.  They have to be the type of person that other divers want to be with on a vacation.  Secondly, they need to understand the various options in the dive travel market.  Do they prefer Dive Resorts that have their own Dive Operation?  How about Resorts and Hotels that contract with local Dive Operators?  Maybe Liveaboards are more to their taste?  Either way, with just these three options there are over 1,000 Dive Destinations in our database that we are familiar with.  If you are the person putting together a trip, how do you get the scoop on which resort or liveaboard is best for you and your group?  I hope you’re not going to say that you read about them online or in a magazine article (that was really a paid advertisement).  I hope you are choosing your dive destination because of a personal relationship you have with the owners and/or managers of the destination, based on their good history and reputation.

Once you choose your dive destination, you have to be skilled at getting there.  Planes, Trains, Boats and Automobiles.  Most of the time we choose airfare.  How are airline reservations working out for you now?  Getting a group of 10 or more to a distant destination from a multitude of departure points, using different airlines, is equivalent to herding cats.  And now with covid testing requirements within 72 hours before leaving home and before departing the destination, it makes it even more complicated.

The last thing a group leader has to worry about is what do you and your group do during your vacation?  Dive, Dive, Dive?  Or do you mix in some relaxing, sight seeing, dinners away from the resort, and shopping.  Whatever your group is into, I hope you do your research on the destination and know what is available.

There is so much to learn about running a trip and having the up-to-date information on each destination you visit.  There is no logical reason why a person would want to run a trip all by themselves.  And now that we have so much uncertainty and risk involved with travel, thanks to the ongoing pandemic challenges, Group Leaders are turning to Dive Travel Wholesalers.

LINKS

People are still traveling during this pandemic.  Granted, it’s difficult to plan and you have to be flexible with last minute changes, but if you understand the market and keep current with local, national and global pandemic restrictions, it can be done.  Of course, making it your full time job to understand the entire scope of current dive travel will never be worth your time and effort if you are just running a few trips in a year’s time.  Thank God there is an easy solution.  Use a Professional Dive Travel Wholesaler.

There are so many reason to use Dive Travel Wholesalers when you are leading a group of 10 or more divers and you want a seamless vacation without any hiccups.  Believe me, if you have a multitude of problems on your first trip, no one is going to want to travel with you anymore or return to the resort you selected.  In order to run a successful group trip, regardless of your travel experience, you need to partner with dive industry professionals who have done dive travel before and learned along the way.

We asked six experienced Dive Travel Wholesaler Professionals to tell us the most important reasons why divers and group leaders should use a Dive Travel Wholesaler to help plan their trips.  We were also curious to know what the specific wholesalers did for their customers that was unique.  There was a common theme among our six wholesalers.  All of them commented that knowledge, experience, industry contacts and long-term relationship building were key elements that were common to all successful Dive Travel Wholesalers.  All of our wholesalers have years of travel education and continuing education behind them.  They know their profession and they know the travel industry.  These wholesalers each have 20-40 years experience in the dive travel business.  You tend to learn a lot and pick up a few tricks along the way in that many years.  Through personal contact, trade shows, travel shows, familiarization trips and business meetings, these Dive Travel Specialists know who the Airlines, Resort Destinations, Liveaboards and Dive Operators are.  By actually visiting their contacts, they also know who the good ones are!  By maintaining ongoing business relationships with these travel providers over the years, our Dive Travel Wholesalers have direct, first hand knowledge with the people you are about to do business with.  Maybe for your first time too.

We spoke with Steve Weaver, President of Dream Weaver Travel in Boulder, Colorado.  Not only is Steve a successful Dive Travel Wholesaler, he is a life-long dive store owner himself.   Steve relates well with his dive store customers because he has walked the walk, and talked the talk.  As a dive store owner who became a Dive Travel Wholesaler, he knows what his customers are looking for.  According to Steve, his highly experienced team of travel professionals have the expertise needed to help dive stores conduct a successful group trip.  They also have the marketing know-how their clients rely on them for.  Dream Weaver Travel prides itself on working with their retail clients on pricing issues, marketing the trip, pre-trip documentation and branding the trip thru the client store and not his travel company.  “Our goal is to make the dive store look good!”  Steve’s team has over 38 years of dive travel experience.  They can answer any questions about a destination, from the currency they use to what kind of electrical outlets they have.  They have been to each destination they represent and have personal relationships with the resort owners and operators.  When you arrive at your destination, having booked through Dream Weaver Travel, you are considered more as a friend than a customer.

Petra Hermes, President of Fly & Sea Dive Adventures, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada shared her year’s of experience in dive travel with a very detailed response.  Petra gave us a few pointers:  1) “Why should people use a travel wholesaler?  a) We are advocates for our clients with airlines, tour operators, resorts and liveaboards – before the trip, during the trip and after the trip.  b) We are a one-stop shop, from airfare (group air or everyone coming from a different gateway) to enroute hotels, insurance to dive operators, resorts, liveaboard and possible sightseeing add-ons.  c) Experience – this is what we do all day long, and have been doing for over 20 years.  d) Connections – we have great relationships with the vendors we represent.  2) What is one thing we do for our clients?  a) Detailed digital itineraries that include the latest travel updates and requirements. b) We also offer to do all the booking management, including payments from the individuals and collecting all their details.  c) We schedule, un-schedule, re-schedule, un-schedule, re-schedule… all your travel details as necessary.

We spoke with Olivia Rapisand, Operations Manager for Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, Columbia SC and she was spot on with her reasons for using a Dive Travel Wholesaler.  Olivia says that Dive Travel Wholesalers keep up to date with health and travel regulations.  They maintain professional relationships with resorts, liveaboards and dive operators.  They are versed and updated on new travel protocols and new ways of traveling.  They excel at building  relationships and have the experience (in her company’s case, 30 years) to back them up.

Tom Peyton, Vice President of Family Dive Adventures, Columbia, SC followed up with a detailed answer as to why a group leader would use a Dive Travel Wholesaler.  Tom wrote, “One of the main reasons to use a travel wholesaler is the boots on the ground nature of a true travel expert.  The questions every client should ask before using a wholesaler are: 1) Will the wholesaler have a company representative be on the island with us?  2) Have you been to the destination you are selling?  3) How long have you been working with the resort?  4) Do you know the Owner, General Manager or the dive shop?

Tom and his company believe group leaders should be able to rely on the expertise of the group travel wholesaler to solve daily problems with the resort or dive shop from start to finish.  As a corporation, his company does not sell anything they have not experienced.  Their connections have many benefits for their clients.  Because of their strong B2B relationships with their Resorts, Liveaboards and Dive Operators, Family Dive Adventures Clients are going to be treated better and enjoy an excellent long-term quality client experience during the entire booking process and the actual adventure.  In the end, relationships matter.  From the client to the wholesaler.  From the wholesaler to the resort.  It really is as simple as that.

We spoke with Debbie Helms, President of Roatan Charter, in San Antonio, Florida.  Roatan Charter has the knowledge, experience, and the connections to tailor the vacation that is perfect for you.  For over 30 years, Debbie has arranged dive trips for individuals and groups to destinations in Roatan & Honduras, the Caribbean & Mexico, Central America, and throughout Asia, Indonesia, and the South Pacific.  Your Roatan Charter Travel Adviser is there to make all the right things happen.

Debbie and her staff at Roatan Charter are in high demand because of her knowledge and experience in the travel industry and her relentless, detailed service before the trip, during the trip and immediately afterward.  Roatan Charter teaches their Retail Group Organizers how to create a long-term travel plan to minimize travel costs and maximize excellent travel results for you and your group.  Debbie is always keeping abreast of covid testing and  vaccination protocols and requirements.  She is a master at air carrier knowledge and the current ins and outs of air travel reservations.  Speaking from personal experience, I can say that Debbie is a Wizard at re-booking trips and obtaining refunds for her clients.  Debbie is the type of person you can call at 5 am when your return flight home is cancelled and you are on the other side of the planet.

Teresa Cabading, President of Scuba Travel Ventures near San Diego, California summed it all up very well.  Teresa quoted,  “Why book with a wholesaler?  Vacation planning is fun, but most people find that booking flights, arranging transportation, and scheduling excursions can be very stressful and tedious, especially when you’re going abroad. We can handle all those little details for you so your whole trip is leisurely, from planning to execution.  You can spend 20 hours doing research on your own, or you can spend 20 minutes chatting with us, at no additional cost.”

For more information on becoming a Dive Travel Specialist or Group Travel Leader, contact Gene Muchanski at Dive Industry Association.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  email: gene@diveindustry.net

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Use a Dive Travel Wholesaler to Help Plan Your Group Trip

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Editorial – January 2021

Promote Your Members – Create a Directory – by Gene Muchanski Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

Welcome to the New Year.   Although none of us can predict how this year will unfold, I think it’s safe to say that it probably will not be as bad as last year.  But you never know. During the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, many of us in the diving industry kept busy by doing some house cleaning.  Old books, old papers, old files, that sort of thing.  I came across a few old directories of scuba instructors  published by NAUI, LA County, Women’s Scuba Association, and of course, the Dive Industry Association.  I started to think about why there are so few if any directories still published.  If you are a dues paying member of an association or organization, perhaps you should be wondering too.  Are they hiding your contact information or just not supporting you?

A member driven association or organization is supposed to be in the business of promoting their members to the buying public so the member can sell more products or services and increase their revenue.  If your organization isn’t increasing your revenue and merely selling you stuff, why do you belong to them and pay annual dues?  It seems to me that many organizations do their best to hide your contact information so their competitors won’t be able to “steal their customers” away from them.  In fact, some organizations just want to keep their dues paying members to themselves so only they can sell them more products.  How in God’s name is that bringing you more business?

This year, hundreds of dive businesses will go out of business.  The market has shrunk and the competition for reaching paying customers is increasing.  Not only are Dive Industry Professionals getting smarter about reaching potential customers, they are getting smarter about paying dues to organizations that don’t do things that increase their revenue.

The Dive Industry Association publishes its Member Directory for a number of reasons.  1) It lets the worldwide diving community know who the sellers of equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products are.  2) It shows our community which diving companies support our Global Diving Network and the local diving communities they serve. 3) It is a central sources of dive businesses that are currently in business, complete with their continually verified contact information.  4)  It creates a marketplace where Buyers & Sellers can meet to do business.  Our Mission as a Trade Association is to help bring you more business that puts money in your pocket, not take it out.

I’ve had a number of discussions with dive industry professionals this year about directories and their purpose.  Most agree that our Trade Directory is a great idea.  We list our Members by industry or category and we list our travel members by category or country.  We have a cross reference directory that lists our members by the products or services they sell.  These are two directories that we can send to Divers all over the world, using our digital capability.  We are even putting our directory back up on its website for the worldwide diving community to see and use.

I believe that directories are useful to both buyers and sellers.  If you are in business to sell your products or services, you want people to know who you are and how to contact you.  I agree that not everyone wants to be listed in a directory.  I don’t want to be listed in the NAUI Member locator page of their website, because I am a Sustaining Lifetime Member and no longer teach scuba diving.  But if I were an active Instructor looking for students, I would want to be easily located and contacted.  The same thing goes for donors and sponsors.  Some may want to be listed, some may not.  Give them the option.

A few colleagues of mine have suggested that some member directories are not publicly available because the organizations have a practice of selling their member list.  And who would pay for a listing if it’s available to the public for free?  Good point.  You have to remember that a list of unknowns is almost worthless.  It’s the relationship behind the name that’s important.  A good reason to create a list is to let people know who you serve, and who is worthy of your service. 

So here are a few of our suggestions based on some input from the industry.  Don’t think of a Member Directory as a listing of your Members.  Think of it as a Buyers Guide that can be used by the buying public to acquire dive equipment, training, travel, and lifestyle products.  Think of it as a guide to bring your Members more business.  The more of your products they sell, the more of your products they will have to buy from you.  Isn’t that what we all want?  As far as Dealer Locators on websites are concerned, different types of businesses require different formats.  Dive Stores may be well served if listed by zip code.  People rarely travel more than 25 miles to take lessons or get their tanks filled.  Dive Boat Operators may attract divers from hundred of miles away, if not more.  People plan their boat trips based on where they want to dive, not where they live.  Manufacturers have a national appeal.  If you are looking for a Sales Rep, you need one that serves your state but may not live in it.  Travel destinations command global promotion.  If you want divers to dive the Maldives with you, you have to find a way to get your contact information to divers from all over the world.

What contact information should you include in a directory?  Business name, city, state, country, phone number and website url.  A contact name would be very helpful.  I would avoid street addresses and email addresses.  That information is only useful to people who are interested in list farming.  Besides, complete contact information is usually listed on everyone’s website under “contact us.”  The point is to create a list that is easily used and easy to update.  It’s to help potential buyers find products and services from available sellers.  In your case, the sellers should be your members and/or partners.

Is your business listed in our Directory?  It should be.  Contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net or call 321-914-3778 for more details.

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