Voice Your Opinion – Participate In Industry Surveys

Voice Your Opinion and Participate in Industry Surveys 
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 4 to uniting the diving industry is to participate in industry surveys.  Scuba Divers are a very opinionated group of people to begin with so this should not be problem.  Or is it?  Unfortunately, it is a problem.  Dive Industry Professionals, on average, don’t participate in surveys.  I don’t know why they don’t, maybe you do?  Are we too busy?  Too Lazy?  Not care enough about the industry?  Not want to get involved and make someone angry at us?  Is it the surveys?  Too long?  Too Personal?  I’m going to start asking our respondents and non-respondents what they think about surveys conducted in the diving industry. Then I’ll report on our findings.  It may lead to a significant breakthrough into how we do business in this market in the future.

Primary research is where an individual or a marketing company conducts a survey with a select group of people.  They are the originators of the survey.  Primary research could be very time consuming, frustrating and expensive.  Secondary research is looking for research that has already been conducted by someone else and published somewhere.  If you went to college, you are familiar with secondary research.  Secondary can be very time consuming.  Libraries and the internet are filled with secondary research.

The diving industry does not conduct a lot of surveys.  That is a mistake.  Before anyone can attempt to deal with problems in an industry, it must be defined first.  Surveys do that.  Secondly, surveys establish a base line when it comes to determining where we are on a particular issue.  Once we have established a baseline, we can measure any change in a positive or negative direction. If we conduct the survey over a longer period of time, we can formulate a trend.  Now we can brainstorm on problems and possible solutions to achieve desired outcomes. By measuring the effect of various inputs on the outcomes we achieve, we can establish “Industry Best Practices.”  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But first we have to agree to produce good, short, quality surveys and entice dive industry professionals to participate in them.

When it comes to short term surveys about recent product purchases or events, surveys help to record what the purchaser thought.  In the case of diving equipment, knowing why a person purchased your product is important and so is what they think of the product now.  Surveying attendees and exhibitors of a recent dive show could show you why you succeeded or failed in producing the event.   It can also show you what you will need to do differently if you wanted to conduct the event again.  That’s why it is so critical for participants to respond to surveys.  In the case of a dive show, if the exhibitors don’t tell the producers what was good and bad about the event, the producer will do the same thing next year.  Without input to make changes, if it failed this year, it will fail next year.

Now you see why Step 4 in Unifying the Diving Industry is starting to get difficult.  In steps 1-3 we only asked you to subscribe to something and read it.  Now in step 4 we are asking you to do something.  No worries.  As an intelligent industry we can make this FUN and worthwhile. But the time has come to act.

Background:  I first learned about surveys in a Marketing class I took in college, Market Research.  Up until the 1980’s Sales was all about selling what a company had already produced and had in inventory.  Engineers designed it, Manufacturing produced it, Operations stacked the inventory neatly in a warehouse, and the Sales people people sold it through the company’s Channel of Distribution.  Pushed it really.   With the introduction of the Marketing concept, we saw that sales people were working very hard to push products in a competitive, increasingly saturating market.  Marketing Professionals were asked to come up with a better way to sell products and make it easier on the weary sales force.  Marketing Professionals were assigned to find a way to “pave the way for sales.”   And surveys were born.

Purpose:  Surveys are a way of asking prospective clients what types of products they need, want and can afford.  The best product consultant you can have is a current customer.  By buying your product, they show that they like your company, like your product enough to buy it and they now have a personal experience using the product.  If only we were smart enough to ask our customers what they like about our products, what they don’t like about them, and what would they change if they could, when it came time to purchasing the product again.  Needles to say market research caught on and changed the way we manufacture and sell products.

On-Going Industry Survey #1 – Sales Rep Survey:  Dive Industry Association conducted this survey in 2002, 2009, & 2011.  It is now an Industry Profile that can be verified and upgraded every year without having to complete it every year.  The survey can be download from our website.  Download Survey

If you are wondering how much the Sales Representative’s Sector has changed in 15 years, here are some industry averages:  93% were Male with an average age of 52.  73% had cell phones but only 20% had websites.  The average Sales Agent represented 5 dive companies, in 7 states and had 163 accounts.  Reps sold an average of $1,287,500 in dive gear per year and  made an average $77,500 salary.  They spent $33,150 in travel expenses during the 183 days they were on the road, away from home, which means they spent on average $203 per dealer.  Anyone still want to be a Rep?

Manufacturing Sales Reps are extremely valuable to our industry.  They are what we call the lynch-pin or the link between the Buyers and Sellers of the Supply Chain.  You can’t get any more important than that.  Reps are Professional Sales People and should be treated as such.  They should not be used as product demonstrates, Instructor Trainers or Repair Technicians.  They need to be used to sell, sell, sell.  Instructors teach, Repair Techs do repairs and repair training and and Service Personnel do demos.  It is what we call busy work and these tasks are non-income generators.

Understanding the Manufacturing Sales Representatives is the first group of Industry Professionals we need to work with.  Dive Industry Association has a plan to help them get new lines, get new customers and promote themselves in the industry.  It all starts with filling out our Survey and sending it to us with your Business Card.  We’ll take it from there.

On-Going Industry Survey #2 – Dive Retail Profile:  Dive Industry Association has conducted this survey since 2002. It is now an Industry Profile that can be verified and upgraded every year without having to complete it every year.  The survey can be download from our website.  Download Survey

If you are wondering how much the Retail Sector has changed, here are some averages from 2002.  Only 70% of the stores were incorporated.  The average age of a store owner was 48.  80% of the stores had a web site and only 30% had a cell phone.  The average store was open 6 days a week for 52 hours and 60% of the stores were in rented facilities.  The average store certified 292 students a year and 62% of the stores certified through PADI.  Let’s see what the averages are in 2018.

Filing out the Dive Retail Survey and sending it to DIA with your Business Card is the first step a store owner can take to elevate his or her position in the industry.  Retail Dive Stores are one of the four pillars of each Local Diving Community.  They work in the community, on the front lines, every day.  They are our Industry Ambassadors and the public face of our recreation.  They are more powerful than they realize, because they are the major buyers and sellers of the industry’s programs, products and services.  If they stop purchasing goods and services the industry dies immediately.  As I’ve always said, “They who write the checks makes the rules.”  Dive Store Owners – This is your wake up call.

Other Surveys:  There are other surveys in the diving industry being conducted that I would like to see more participation in.  The Cline Group conducts a Quarterly Diving Industry Survey that covers equipment sales revenue, certifications, and travel revenues.  DEMA runs a quarterly equipment sales survey that a number of equipment manufacturers participate in.  If you have access to these surveys or are on their distribution list, I recommend you continue to participate in their surveys and do your part to help us planners understand the current economic impact of this industry.

For more information on diving industry surveys or DIA’s Unifying the Diving Industry Campaign, contact Gene Muchanski at 321-914-3778 or gene@diveindustry.net

Posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Using Microsoft Excel As An Industry Database

Using Microsoft Excel as an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

This is the third article in a Series about Databases that Dive Industry Association uses to keep in touch with its Retail and Trade Customers.  We’ve been using Excel since the association’s beginning.  Keeping track of your current customers, former customers and future customers is an ongoing, never ending job.  The database format you use has to be easy to enter data, easy to maintain and easy to extract and use.  Microsoft Excel does all of that and it is definitely flexible and scaleable.  It works for us and it works well.   Excel is understood and used by almost everyone in our industry.  It can be used in a PC or Mac environment.  We have found that it is compatible with a number of databases we’ve used in the past and having our data on Microsoft Excel helps us upload it onto other platforms.

We use Microsoft Excel to keep track of Dive Industry Professionals and Dive Businesses.  Entering names, addresses, phone & fax numbers, email-addresses and website url’s is simple to enter, simple to maintain and simple to extract and use.  After each e-mail campaign, updating an Excel spreadsheet is relatively easy.  The thing I like most about this platform is that it copies and travels well.  That’s not always the case with other database software programs.

When I think of all the different spreadsheet software programs I’ve used since buying my first IBM Computer in 1981 (Lotus 123, Quattro Pro, and now Excel) I’m glad I picked a professional program from an established company and have stayed with that brand a number of year.  As our industry database gets larger, our main challenge will be to better understand Excel’s power and capability and continue to make it work for us.

It is important to have current contact information for all of the business sectors in the diving industry that includes; Equipment Manufacturers and their Sales Representatives, Distributors, Retail Dive Centers, Dive Operators, Dive Clubs, Service Providers, Media, Trade Associations, Training Agencies and their Sales Reps, Non-Profit Organizations, Shows & Events Organizers, Training Facilities, Travel Companies,  Professional Educators and Industry Professionals.  The number of businesses specializing in diving and the individuals who work in each sector changes daily, so publishing an exact number would be meaningless.   The important thing is to focus on size and economical potential of the industry, and only a Master Database can help do that.

As database technology improves, the diving industry’s next major challenge will be to identify the number of active, certified divers worldwide.  We first need to know how many people all of the certifying agencies have certified in the history of scuba diving.  The next task will be to verify their current contact information and determine how many of them are still active in the recreation.   Only then can we calculate the economic impact and potential of scuba diving.

Of course, finding the ideal database program is only the beginning of the solution to our industry challenge.  Finding the data and storing it is going to be time consuming and expensive but analyzing and using the data is our greatest task.  I believe it is going to take an industry to compile, store, analyze and use this data.  For that to happen Dive Industry Professionals need to learn to cooperate better on industry challenges and opportunities.

Posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Editorial – July 2018

Reflecting On The Past – Planning For the Future
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

July is an ideal time for industry planners.  According to strict planning theory, what we are implementing this year was planned last year.   July then is a good midpoint correction period to tweak our original plans and make any changes that need to be made.   It’s easier to make minor changes to our overall strategy than to recreate the wheel or change horses in the middle of the stream.  For instance; you made plans to exhibit at a number of dive shows from January through June.  Now ask yourself if you met your goals or fell short.  What did you do right and what would you change for next year?  Does your first half of the year performance change what you are going to do in the second half of the year?  Well, now’s the time to make that change, while we have a little breather in our schedule.

Of course, if you are flying by the seat of your pants, you didn’t plan anything last year and you probably are just doing what you’ve always done, getting what you’ve always gotten, and expecting a different result.  But let’s move on because that type of person can’t be helped and they probably aren’t reading this article anyway.

This summer I am writing a series of articles on Unifying The Diving Industry.   I feel that the best way to master something is to teach it.  It worked for me in Tae-Kwon-Do, Scuba Diving Instruction and Small Business Consulting.  We are writing an industry white paper on Uniting the Diving Industry and doing it in a step-by-step fashion so that anyone who wants to can follow the plan and implement it to make their business more successful and help grow the industry.  It’s only been a few weeks, but I am already seeing an increase in the number of people that are following our Blog, subscribing to our Weekly News Broadcast and subscribing to our Monthly Newsletter.  Of course, it’s going to get increasing difficult to follow our plan in the future because we will soon be calling on people in the industry to do something, participate in something, cooperate in something, lead something, and finally to contribute something.  At some point, and I don’t know where that is, we will have uncovered the underlying root causes of the industry’s problems and be faced with some difficult decisions to make.  Of course, if we have gathered a good following of people who want to help make the industry better, we will be at a new crossroads, with plenty of help, to build a more dynamic industry.  Let’s hope for the best at this time and see what happens.  Looking forward to your input.

Posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement, Editorials | Leave a comment

Subscribe To DIA’s Monthly Newsletter – The Dive Industry Professional

Subscribe to DIA’s Monthly Newsletter – The Dive Industry Professional
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 3 to uniting the diving industry is to subscribe to Dive Industry Association’s monthly newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional.  The Dive Industry Professional has been publishing monthly news since May 2001 and has undergone many changes and upgrades in its format and distribution since.  The mission of the newsletter is to inform, educate, and entertain Dive Industry Professionals Worldwide.  Our original audience was made up of Dive Industry Professionals, who work in the industry either on a part-time or full-time basis.  Over the years it has come to include certified divers of all levels and adventure travelers.  The Dive Industry Professional  includes an Introduction, a Monthly Editorial, Featured Articles, News Articles, a Shows & Events Calendar, and a listing of new and renewing Dive Industry Association Members.  Each edition includes a Monthly Industry Birthday column and a reprint of the latest Weekly Dive News press release.  It includes Quick Links to helpful websites.  We use a summary format for each article to allow our readers to quickly scan the entire Newsletter and then click to read complete articles that interest them.  The direct e-mail distribution, using Constant Contact’s e-mail marketing system and SafeUnsubscribe mailing reaches 5,000 diving professionals worldwide.  Each issue of the monthly publication is simultaneously posted to our social media network, Facebook pages and profiles, Twitter and Linked-In.  Copies of our Monthly Newsletter from June 2007 through August 2015 have been archived to one of our trade websites.  View Archive  We have plans to start archiving our Newsletters once again and will soon have our back issues posted.  Subscription is FREE and open to anyone interested in diving and adventure travel.  Subscribe today

The Dive Industry Professional is designed as an educational vehicle for the entire diving industry, not just the Dive Industry Association.  We plan to use our marketing reach and frequency to keep the diving industry up to speed with what the bulk of diving businesses are doing worldwide.  One way to un-fragment the diving community is first to define the size of the industry by identifying the businesses in each industry sector that compete in the market.  We have to look at the big picture of our industry, realizing that our industry market share is shared among the Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies, Travel Companies and Non-Profit Organizations.  We must determine what changes have been made to the industry’s Channel of Distribution in the past twenty years.  And finally, we need to make everyone realize that each and every one of us Diving Professionals and Diving Hobbyists have an important part to play in the growth and future success of our community.

So signing up to receive our Newsletter is not a selfish request on our part.  It really is the third step to unifying the diving industry.  And I know, everyone wants to rally the industry, as long as it’s around them that the industry is rallying.  I also know too many organizations that “Have their own thing” and don’t want to, and never will, be a part of someone else’s thing.   But this is different.  We plan to work with all the sectors of the industry that compete in the marketplace, identify its strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, discuss possible solutions to our problems and obstacles, design a plan for its implementation and strengthen our UNITED marketing vehicle that will carry the message to the entire diving industry.  A rising tide floats all boats.

We have written up the first 3 steps of our plan so far and have a number of them to go.  I am actually seeing an improvement in our marketing reach and our anticipated industry cooperation.  I have even made some improvements in our own marketing vehicles because of writing these articles.  I think this exercise (campaign) is going to be very productive for anyone who participates in it.  In the meantime, please send us your comments, e-mails and phone calls and your pledge to become a part of the collective industry solution.  I look forward to working with you this year.

For more information contact:  Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.  2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  e-mail:  gene@diveindustry.net   Website:  www.diveindustrynews.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement | 2 Comments

Subscribe to DIA’s Weekly Dive News

Subscribe to A Weekly Press Release Service That Reaches The Entire Industry With Current News & Events
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 2 to uniting the diving industry is to subscribe to a press release service that reaches the entire industry with current news and information, not just paid ads.  To stay competitive in the trade, Dive Industry Professionals need to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry.  It’s important to know who the players are in our industry and what they are doing.  Reading a magazine or subscribing to a news services that only publish paid advertisements just gives you limited information from a small sliver of dive companies.  That is the major reason our industry is so fragmented.  Dive companies publish their information, about their segment of the market, to their customers.  They charge their trade customers for an ad that only reaches their dues paying members.  So what we end up with are many little pieces of a larger pie, but never getting to see the whole picture.

That is the predominate reason the Dive Industry Association is running this campaign and writing a white paper on Unifying the Diving Industry.  The first step is subscribing to this blog.  Read Step 1 Article.  You’ll receive an e-mail notice when a blog post is published.  Our blogs are about dive equipment, dive training, and dive travel.  They cover industry intelligence, and current events.  Our monthly editorials are written and published on the blog.  They share information with you about people, places and things.  A number of our blog posts are run in our Weekly Dive News, that we publish every Tuesday.

The Dive Industry Association’s Weekly Dive News has been publishing press releases since January 3, 2012.  We use Constant Contact to publish and distribute each campaign.  Anyone can subscribe to the weekly news and it is FREE to subscribe.  Subscribe here  Any dive business can place a press release for publication.  Dive Industry Association Members receive 24 free press releases per year and non-members are charged $50 per release.  Our Editors do not write the individual press releases but reserve the right to edit them accordingly.  Each campaign is distributed by Constant Contact from our list of Subscribers given to Constant Contact via their SafeUnsubscribe Program.  People can subscribe or unsubscribe at their pleasure.  DIA Members and Dive Media Organizations are sent complimentary subscriptions, which they can opt-out of anytime.  Each campaign is automatically posted to our social media programs, Facebook Pages, Twitter and Linked-In.  Once per month, a Weekly News Release is posted to our monthly newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional, that directly reaches 5,000 Industry Professionals worldwide.

Dive Industry Association’s Weekly Dive News received High Praise from Constant Contact during a training webinar.  When the e-mail marketing experts praise your work you know you are doing something very right.  Don’t take our word for it, view our YouTube video containing Constant Contact’s critique of our Weekly Dive NewsYouTube Video

You can see that DIA’s Weekly Dive News is used to keep industry trade professionals up to speed on the state of the industry but we also use it to inform Scuba Divers around the world of exciting travel specials, new equipment releases, gear specials, training courses being offered, shows & events news, and much, much more.  We write our Weekly Dive News to appeal to both the Industry Trade Professional and the Certified Diver so there is only one news broadcast to go to, once a week.

Try our Weekly Dive News and stay current with dive industry equipment, training, travel, and non-profit news.  Who knows, it may just lead to new contacts & customers and a whole new cost-effective way of branding your company.  Subscribe today

Posted in Business Improvement, Press Release | Leave a comment

Using Constant Contact as DIA’s Industry Database

Using Constant Contact as an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

This is the second article in a Series about Databases that Dive Industry Association uses to keep in touch with its Retail and Trade Customers.  We started using Constant Contact in 2004 when it was introduced to us at a National Convention of the Small Business Development Centers Network in Denver, Colorado.  Seeing that Constant Contact didn’t start until 1998, we were pretty much on the ground floor of something new in the field of digital marketing.  I attended a seminar by Eric Groves, Constant Contact’s then Senior Vice President, Global Market Development.  I knew from that day forward, that e-mail marketing was here to stay and could change the future of the diving industry, for the better, forever.

Constant Contact is an email marketing services provider.  You’ll have to read Eric Groves’ book, The Constant Contact Guide to E-mail Marketing to fully appreciate what is is and what it can do for your business.  Our Association uses it to send targeted emails and industry notices, publish our Weekly Dive News press releases, our monthly newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional, and our monthly Member Birthday News. We also use it to conduct surveys and tabulate the results.  None of this would be possible if we were not using Constant Contact’s customer list management program.

Our Association does not buy mailing lists or rent out ours.  We use a permission based method to acquire new contacts and we manage our contact information every time we conduct an e-mail campaign.  Our customers can opt-in or unsubscribe anytime they wish and they can adjust their preferences according to their needs.  We are more interested in maintaining relationships and keeping in touch with our customers than creating a perfect mailing list.  Our database allows us to target market each individual campaign.  (A campaign is one specific e-mail message.  i.e. our Weekly News mailing yesterday is a campaign).  We can send e-mail campaigns to specific industry sectors; Manufacturers, Dive Centers, Dive Operators, Dive Clubs, Travel Resorts, etc.  We even break these groups down into specific territories so we don’t send important news about events in New York to our California Dive Centers.  That cuts down on the number of emails we send to our customers and they appreciate that.

After every campaign we conduct, Constant Contact automatically makes a report available to us concerning campaign analytics.  We know how many e-mails went out, how many addresses bounced and how many people unsubscribed.  It takes a few minutes to clean our list, but that only helps our stats for the next campaign.  It also gives us an opportunity to research the person with the e-mail address in question.  Did they just change their e-mail address or are they out of business?

It’s nice to be able to keep your customer contact list clean and up-to-date.  It’s even better when you have a method that allows new contacts to subscribe to your mailing list.  New Dive Store in Town?  New Diver?  With Constant contact you can create a list of campaign types that people can sign up for.  i.e Weekly News, Monthly Newsletter, General Information, etc.  Check out our Safe Subscription URL:   Subscribe

NOTES:  Dive Industry Association currently keeps track of 5,000 Industry Trade Professionals, worldwide in all of the business sectors that make up the diving industry.  We only store the contact information subscribers give us.  We do not add any personal preference data about our subscribers.  We are re-thinking about adding our 20,000 + consumer names.  Let us know your thoughts on that.

REFERENCES:

The Constant Contact Guide to E-mail Marketing
by Eric Groves, (c) 2009)
(Retired) Senior Vice President, Global Market Development
Constant Contact

Posted in Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Blogging – The First Step In Marketing

The Advantages of Blogging
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

I’ve been blogging since July 28, 2013 and it has proven to be one of the best business decisions I ever made.  Blogging is a term we use for “Posting on the Internet” and it is really easy.   You simply write your post (your article) and click the “Publish” button to publish your post to the internet.   It can also be posted to social media pages.  It’s a way to create content that will reside on a landing page with its own URL address link so people can access it as needed.  I just finished reading the first blog I publish in 2013.

I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of creating a blog post because I have references listed at the end of this article that show you how to do all that.  Let me just tell you why I blog and why I think you should too.  I also want to introduce this article on blogging as the first step the Dive Industry Association is using to unify the diving industry.  This article will become a part of our “White Paper” on Unifying The Diving Industry.

Diving companies should all be blogging because it is easy and cost effective.  We all have a story to tell in our industry and using a software platform that can include texts and images, reach countless people on the internet and is free to use is just the ticket we need.

Dive Industry Association uses the free software program provided by WordPress.  When you decide to use WordPress, you have the option of picking a domain name or providing one that you already own.  You also can have it hosted by your current website host or WordPress will host it for free.  We chose the free hosting and picked the name www.diveindustrynews.wordpress.com

The next few steps were really easy.  I bought the book “WordPress For Dummies” by Lisa Sabin-Wilson and did my homework. (Lisa’s a Scuba Diver, by the way.)  Getting up and running on WordPress was very easy.  Even for an Old Dog, learning new tricks.  We chose a Theme for the Website and started to load it with Static Pages like; Home, About, Our Vision, Dive Directory, Show & Events, etc.  We even added static pages (children pages) to the main “Parents” pages.  Pages are static because they don’t move around like posts and stay in the place you put them.

Within minutes we were ready to start blogging.  Our first post was so simple I was amazed.  You click “New Post” and start typing.  You can add images and hotlinks for websites and e-mail addresses.  When you are done you click “Publish” and WordPress assigns a URL to it and publishes your post to the internet and lists it as the first article on your Home Page.  We also learned how to automatically publish our posts to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In.

What Blogging has allowed us to do is create a Weekly Dive News column for the Association, using Constant Contact.  We now have a way to create a post on WordPress, with its own URL that we could link to in our Constant Contact Weekly Dive News Campaign.  It opened up a way to teach our Members how to create their own press releases on their own blog and send us the URL link.   In the old days, if you sent an email to 1,800 Dealers you reached 1,800 people.  Now if you show each Dealer how to e-mail your URL Link to their customers (On average, each Dealer has 5,000 customers), you are now reaching 9 Million people instead of 1,800 people with that press release !!!  Now that’s what I call going viral.

A great thing about WordPress Blog / Websites is that people can subscribe to, or follow them for free.   That’s what DIA wants the industry to do with our blog.  If you go to www.diveindustrynews.wordpress.com you can sign up to follow our blogs posts.  When we post an Editorial or an article about the diving industry you will get an e-mail message saying we wrote a new article that you could go to and read.  That is the best way to stay in touch with our dive industry reporting.  If the new post (article) does not interest you, simply delete the e-mail.

WordPress is now a permanent part of our DIA Business Tool Box.  Subscribe to our Blog today and we will bring you more tools like this to grow your business and unify the industry.

Editor’s Note:  There are many new updated books, videos and training for WordPress users; WordPress for Beginners 2018, WordPress All-In-One For Dummies Edition 8, etc.  WordPress is an interesting company.

REFERENCES WE USED:

WordPress
Date Launched: November 21, 2005
www.wordpress.com
www.wordpress.org

WordPress For Dummies
3rd Edition – Copyright 2010
by Lisa Sabin-Wilson
(check for latest edition)

 

WordPress All-In-One For Dummies
2nd Edition – Copyright 2013
by Lisa Sabin-Wilson
(check for latest edition)

Posted in Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Editorial – June 2018

The Diving Industry Has Potential
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The 2018 Diving Season got off to its usual start on Memorial Day.  The water is warm in the south (but not too warm) and the sky’s are clear.  People are out diving.  And they are traveling too.  I just got back from Dominican Republic and Scuba Caribe has some new boats, plenty of rental equipment and a scuba staff that would make any resort proud.  They have a fantastic coral restoration project going on close to one of the Dreams Resort properties.  Here’s a shout out to a great Diving Instructor  I just met there – Hi Soledad Del Pino !  Dominican Republic is expanding like crazy but it is still a well kept secret to the world.  Especially to the world of diving.  I’m beginning to think I know why.

We are gearing up for a trip to Saint Lucia.  There is a Photo Fest in September that has our interest and we are putting a FAM Trip together for Retail Dive Travel Specialists.  I first looked into Saint Lucia when Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Anse Chastanet Resort and Scuba Saint Lucia joined our Association.  Having never been to Saint Lucia before, I began my research and became a Saint Lucia Specialist through IATA / IATAN.  I was amazed to see that Saint Lucia has at least 24 Resorts offering scuba diving, 11 Dive Operators, 2 Dive Shops and two Dive and Tourist Associations.  There may be more.  Two of our Travel Wholesalers in DIA do any outstanding business in Saint Lucia already.

In the past few months I’ve spoken with hundreds of dive industry professionals at dive shows, on the telephone, in social media and via email. We all agree that the Industry is fragmented and has a number of problems.  We know that people are real busy trying to make a buck and we have a tendency to do the same things we did in the past when it comes to running our business.  The one thing that I see is missing is the FUN.  The Dive Industry Professionals I’ve spoken to recently are not having fun.  A number of them have told me they had to go out and get “Real Jobs.”  Now, that’s sad.  Not because they got a job, but that they felt they HAD to get a job outside of diving.

Here’s my advice. If you really love diving but do not like the Business of Diving, by all means, get a job and scuba dive as a Hobby.  You and your family will all be a lot happier because of that decision.  The industry professionals who do this for a living will be happier too because we will have less people running under capitalized businesses, trying to scrape together just enough money to pay the mortgage.  We’ll also have one more customer !

Now here’s the good news.  There is plenty of opportunity in the diving industry.  And where there is opportunity, there is hope.  People are still getting certified, albeit not as many as in the Baby Boom Era.  Divers are still buying gear, although maybe not from you.  And people are traveling – lots of them.  I believe the Travel Industry is a 4 Trillion Dollar industry.  However, things are changing rapidly in the 21st Century Business Model.  We have to put training, and the need for it in perspective.  We have to analyze why people buy gear, and when, and where.  We have to embrace travel as the reason people buy gear and take lessons to begin with.  And have you noticed the massive increase in large, all inclusive Resorts that have large, Independent Dive Operator Companies running their dive programs?  We have.

I believe that our industry needs to embrace Training, Equipment and Travel as 3 parts of the whole picture.  Like a 3 legged stool, each part must be equal and balanced.  In our DIVE LOCAL program we talk about the 4 priorities of diving – 1) Learn to Dive  2) Buy Your Gear  3) Go Diving  4) Stay Active.  It’s that simple.

The Dive Industry Association and it’s non-profit training organization, The Dive Industry Foundation is embarking on a program to write a white paper that shows the industry how we can Unify the Diving Industry, step by step.  This white paper will be a summation of industry intelligence that we, as a collective industry of professionals have compiled since the 1950’s.  We are in the process of assembling a list of successful dive industry professionals that have lived, worked and enjoyed this industry from the beginning.  It will be a story of how things started, how they grew, how and when they changed, and what we can, and should do about it in the future.

We are in the process of writing the introduction now.  We started with 10 steps that can help us unify the industry.  I’ll give you a hint on Step 1 to Unifying the Diving Industry.  You are doing it right now.  STEP 1:  Subscribe to this Blog to get updates every time a new Chapter is written.  We will start sending out invitations to subscribing to this blog, this week.

If anyone is interested in giving me the benefit of their diving business experience, I would be happy to contact you by email, phone, or personal visit, as appropriate.  For more information, contact Gene Muchanski, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  eMail: gene@divindustry.net

Reference:  Dive Industry Blog – www.DiveIndustryNews.Wordpress.com

Reference:  Consumer Website & Directory – www.DiveLocal.org

 

 

Posted in Editorials | 1 Comment

The Magic of an Industry Database

The Magic of an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Dive Industry Association is in the business of “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”  To build a better industry, or a community as we like to call it, you have to know the businesses and industries that specialize in diving.  To understand the various markets we are in, you need to know the Buyers and Sellers in each market.  You need to know the people who work in the industry and you need to develop a business relationship with them.

In the old days, LISTS were important to us.  We all wanted to know how many Manufacturers, Reps, Dive Stores, Instructors, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Travel Businesses were in the Industry.  Everyone wanted “The List.”  We even argued over who had the better list.  When the internet came along, everyone had a list.  They were all different and in different stages of development.  Even non-businesses got on some lists.  Lists were bought and sold for a fee and many of them were old, dated, and stale.  When email grew in popularity, phone numbers, fax numbers and mailing addresses became less important.  Email addresses were King.  It cost 0 cents to email someone as compare to .48 cents for a first class postage stamp.  Trouble is, people change their email addresses too often and many business people don’t read their emails any more.  The biggest problems with sending an email to someone you don’t know is that it can be labeled as SPAM or go straight to the receiver’s trash.

We’ve come to realize that lists are not important anymore – relationships are.  It’s important to develop relationships with your customers and then keep in touch with them.  To do that you need their current contact information and you have to keep it current.  We found that it’s best to separate your customers into three categories;  Current Customers, Former Customers and Future Customers.  Each category has different protocol for sending messages and keeping in touch.

The best way to stay in touch with your customers is to create a database.  A database has to be easy to create and easy to maintain.  Over the years, Dive Industry Association has used different types of software for its data.  We currently have an Excel Database and a Card Scan Database.  We also have our database on Constant Contact and Sales Force.

Our Trade Database consists of over 5,000 Industry Professionals and our Consumer Database is over 20,000 Divers.  We don’t buy , sell of rent our list and we maintain our database for the sole purpose of “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”   As a Trade Association, it is our Mission to bring Buyers and Sellers together and grow the Recreational Diving Community.  We pride ourselves on being called “The Industry Rolodex.”

Over the next few months, Dive Industry Association will showcase and talk about its Card Scan Database, Constant Contact Database, our Database on Sales Force, and yes, our Excel Spreadsheet Database in our Monthly Newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional.

Industry Professionals:  Do we have your Business Card on File?  You can check our website at https://divelocal.wordpress.com and check one of the Regional  Directories to see if you are on it.  If you don’t think we have it, please mail us your current business card to Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL  32904.   We will put you on our database and list you in the Industry’s Dive Local Directory for FREE.

Posted in Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Whale Shark Diving in Belize

Photo by Bob Kaye

Whale Shark Diving and Snorkeling In Belize
by Ralph Capeling
Splash Dive Center – Belize

Every year divers flock to Placencia Belize to dive and snorkel with whale sharks – one of the few places the world where you can expect whale sharks to arrive on a scheduled basis (although they do not always seem to carefully check their calendars).

The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve located near Placencia in Southern Belize, is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Sharks to the Gladden spit. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18mt. Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with this magnificent creature.

The wall here slopes down to 160 feet/50mt then drops off into the blue abyss. Diving is done in mid water at a depth no deeper than 80 feet/24mt in groups no larger than 12 divers with their dive masters. Special procedures are followed on this dive to ensure safety and to limit any harm that may be caused to the sharks. Snorkeling is done on the surface in open water, however snorkelers have an excellent chance of seeing the whale sharks as they come to the surface to feed.

Splash Dive Center uses two methods to find whale sharks.  – looking for the snapper or looking for the birds.

  1. We use fish finders to find the snapper as the whale sharks come to feed on the spawning aggregation and put the divers in the water above the snapper. The divers try to stay with but well above the snapper and try to stay in a tight group so that the bubbles are concentrated.  The idea is that the whale shark will see the bubbles, think that is the spawn and come directly to the divers.  As the bubbles go to surface, often the whale sharks do too, so the snorkelers get a close encounter.  We have had some situations where the whale sharks came from the side rather than from the deep, so the snorkelers saw them but the divers who were looking down, did not see them.  Other times, the whale sharks have come close to the divers and then gone back down without tasting the bubbles.
  2. We watch for birds circling as when they flock over the sea because they are feeding on bait fish. Whale sharks also feed on bait fish and they do that on surface.  When we see the birds, we head for the spot.  Usually in this situation, the divers tend to stay at snorkel depths

Ralph Capeling of Splash Dive Center reports on whale shark sightings on ScubaBoard each year.  His posts for 2018 to date can be seen at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2018.556434/page-2#post-8286770.  The April whale shark moon was very interesting with the whale sharks being found by watching for the birds.  His reports for 2017 which was a poor year for whale shark encounters at  https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-shark-reports-2017.543105/  and his 2016 posts at the following link  at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2016.524598/

The dates for the next two whale shark moon seasons are;  May 29th to June 10th and June 28th to July 12th.

Whale shark diving is blue water diving with no visual reference – you cannot see the reef or the bottom.  For that reason, with diver and guest safety paramount, Splash only takes advanced or experienced divers (30+ dives) to dive with whale sharks.  Splash also requires all divers to have done at least one dive tour with us before we take them to dive in the whale shark zone or to the Blue Hole (check out dive).

For additional information, go to Splash’s website  www.splashbelize.com and click on Contact Us or email ralph@splashbelize.com

Posted in Press Release, Travel Destinations | Leave a comment