FAM Trip – Saint Lucia

FAM Trip – Saint Lucia – September 2018
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Dive Travel Specialists

Twelve Dive Travel Specialists from the United States recently had the pleasure to join the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority on a Familiarization Trip (FAM Trip) to the beautiful Island of Saint Lucia, in the Eastern Caribbean.  Saint Lucia is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse attractions, including the signature Piton Mountains – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  What you may not know is that Saint Lucia is a Diver’s Tropical Paradise with a healthy reef system, abundant marine life and a number of accessible shipwrecks.  There are at least 14 Professional Dive Operators on the island who will escort you on 22 of their most accessible dive sites along the calm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, situated on the west coast of the island.  Scuba Divers vacationing in Saint Lucia have their pick from a wide range of World Class Resort Destinations and Dive Centers that cater to the scuba diving community.  Saint Lucia is home to a number of Dive Industry Association Members, including the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Jade Mountain Resort, Anse Chastanet Resort and Scuba St. Lucia.  A complete list of Dive Operators and Dive Resorts in Saint Lucia can be found on our DIVE LOCAL website.

Our Industry FAM Trip was set up and sponsored by the St. Lucia Tourism Authority and supported by the Saint Lucia Diver Association.  Our Host Accommodations for the week was the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia and our Tourism Guide was Hortensia Joseph, who we all became dear friends with in just a few days.  The trip was set up to introduce St. Lucia to Dive Travel Wholesalers, Travel Agents and Certified Dive Travel Specialists from the U.S. diving community.  Our group included two Travel Wholesalers, two Travel Agents, five Dive Travel Specialists from U.S. Dive Centers and two travel writers.  We were all excited about seeing as much of Saint Lucia as possible, do a fair amount of diving, enjoy the local cuisine, and capture the magic of this beautiful, romantic Caribbean Island.  In five days time, Hortensia and the St. Lucia Tourism Authority did not disappoint.

Before any FAM Trip can get off the ground, a fair amount of planning by the Host has to take place.  Someone has to justify the time, money and manpower it takes to host a group of  travel buyers to your country (Island).  Someone has to pay for it.  That same group has to put an itinerary together that is informative, meaningful, and fun for the guests.  The sponsors have to see the necessity of getting as much done in as short a period of time as possible.  The guests expect to spend their time wisely to learn and experience as much of the destination as they can in order to sell it to their customers back home.  It helps when Tourism Boards and Dive Travel Wholesalers work with Dive Industry Mavens to help them plan their itinerary and identify appropriate target markets.

Condo at Windjammer Landing

The itinerary that Hortensia Joseph put together was action packed.  Maybe a weeee-bit too optimistic?  After a three hour turbulent-free American Airlines flight from Miami we landed safely at Hewanorra International Airport in Viex Fort (UVF), one of Saint Lucia’s two airports. Our Driver from Travel St. Lucia got us to our Host Condos at the Windjammer Landing shortly after the customary fresh baked bread stop at a local eatery.  Thanks, Tage Jn Pierre.  The bread was awesome.  Scott Seger, the Managing Director of the Windjammer Landing met us at the Host Hotel with Kelly Fontenelle-Clarke and we enjoyed our first Saint Lucian fresh fish dinner.

We awoke early the next morning to a wonderful St Lucian sunrise in time for breakfast at the resort.  The sky was sunny & clear so we decided to tour the property at the Windjammer before our morning boat dive and I am so glad we did.  Within minutes, the torrential rain from Former Hurricane / Current Tropical Storm Issac came howling in.  Now I see why St. Lucia’s rain forest is so green!  After a short, heavy rain, the sky cleared and we decided to postpone our dive until 3:00 pm.  That afternoon we made two dives in view of the iconic twin Pitons of Saint Lucia.  The water was warm and clear and we saw sea turtles, barracuda, and wonderfully colored sponges.  Our Photographer, Steve Philbrook, from Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center in Maple Grove, MN captured the dive on video.  See for yourself.  Saint Lucia Video.  After the dive, we returned to the windjammer and got ready for the evening Fish Fry.  Now we were getting spoiled.

The third day of our trip went more according to plan.  No hurricane or tropical storm.  Issac moved to the west and everything was back to normal.  Our group split into two groups.  Half of us went for a wreck dive with Andre St. Omer from Body Holiday & Dive Fair Helen and the other half went Lionfish Hunting with Sugar Beach Dive.  We reunited with our group at the closing ceremonies of Dive Fest Saint Lucia 2018 and then went to dine at Bel Jou for the evening.  Thank you General Manager, Dean La Force for the amazing dinner and impeccable service.  A good time was had by all.  We were now completely spoiled.  I appreciate the use of your Wi-Fi equipped, private lounge to engage in a video call back home.

Gene & Georgi

We didn’t dive on our fourth day of the FAM Trip but it was still one of our better days, if not the best.  We had breakfast at the Windjammer, took a van ride to hook up with our catamaran and sailed away for site inspections at Ti Kaye, Humming Bird Beach Resort, Anse Chastanet Resort and of course, Jade Mountain.  After lunch at Anse Chastanet Resort, we toured the diving operation at Scuba St. Lucia.  Georgiana Merlusca, Adventure Sports Co-Manager, gave us a complete and professional tour of the dive operation, the compressor room, the rental equipment locker and the equipment washing and storage center.  We saw one of her boats returning from a dive and witnessed a very smooth off loading and reloading process that would make any dive operator jealous.  Needless to say, we were impressed.

We ended a full day with our Farewell Dinner at The Landings Resort & Spa.  Thank you General Manager, Paul Collymore for that exquisite dinner and your hospitality.  All that was left to do was to treat Hortensia to a good-bye drink at the Host Hotel Bar (She wouldn’t let us – she treated) and go back to the condo and pack.

When they say “Come to Saint Luca as a Tourist but Leave as a Friend” – they mean it.  My overall impression of Saint Lucia was –  It’s a beautiful Island, filled with beautiful people, who want you to visit them again, and again, and again.  Saint Lucia is more than a bucket list destination.  It’s someplace I want to go back to – soon.

Dive Travel Specialists who sell a lot of dive travel know what it takes to have a successful vacation experience.  We are looking for convenient and reasonable air fares, good ground transportation transfers, diver-friendly resorts, good food, and of course, great diving.  The great diving part applies to more than good visibility and easy access to the water.  It means having a well run diving operation (top-of-the-line rental equipment, quality air compressor, convenient equipment washing and storage area, an uncrowded dive boat and most importantly, a professional, energetic and friendly dive staff.  A world-class photo center and Photo Pro would be nice too.  We met a number of Dive Operators and Dive Resort Managers on our St. Lucia tour that fit that description.  We’ll be going back soon to take a closer look.

You might be asking yourself, “How does an Industry Professional qualify for a FAM trip?”  Good question.  Dive Resort Destinations, Liveaboards and Dive Operators are looking for Dive Industry Professionals who book group trips.  Most group trips are run by Travel Agents, Retail Dive Centers, Dive Clubs and through Tour Operators.  Getting invited on a FAM Trip will depend upon your dive travel experience and your history of putting together group trips.  It will also depend on how well you network with Travel Wholesalers, Dive Resorts, Dive Operators and Travel Associations. Dive Industry Association works with Dive Travel Specialists to help them grow their dive travel business.  We certify Dive Travel Specialists based on their past performance with booking group trips and we work with Industry Professionals who are new to dive travel.  There is no charge to fill out a two page retail dive profile.  To get started, simply download our Retail Profile and mail it to DIA with your business card.  Someone will follow up with an email and phone call.

Putting a group trip together is not as simple as you may think but it is easy to learn how to do.  Become a Member of the Dive Industry Association and work with our Dive Travel Specialists.  We will introduce you to our Member Dive Travel Wholesalers who can get you started with putting group trips together.

Running dive trips as a Dive Travel Specialist may seem like a lot of work to some, and it may seem all too glamorous to others, but it really is somewhere in the middle.  A little more work with a little bit of glamour but a whole heck of a lot of FUN.  As St Augustine once said, “Life is a Book, and if you don’t Travel, you’ve only read one page.”

Let’s get you started on the road to becoming a Dive Travel Specialist.  Call me.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
Phone: 321-914-3778

 

Posted in Adventure Travel, Travel Destinations | Leave a comment

Equipment Test – Riptide Vanquish BCD

Equipment Test – Riptide Vanquish BCD
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

We recently had the pleasure to field test the all new Riptide Vanquish BCD, exclusively distributed by IST.  The Riptide Vanquish BCD is the latest creation of Industry Leader and BC Designer, David Pollock.  Our Dive Team was gearing up for two FAM trips to the Caribbean and I wanted to minimize the weight of the diving equipment I was planning to take.  I was looking for a light-weight travel BCD that still had the features and lift capacity of my current BCD, a well known and high-end brand.  The Riptide Vanquish BCD turned out to be that BCD and more.

At first glance, the Riptide Vanquish BCD seems to be a contradictory of terms.  It is designed as a light-weight, travel BCD, yet it has the flexibility to adjust to many different body shapes and sizes and has 40 lbs of lift capacity.  It weights only 4.5 pounds yet it has the capacity to be a weight-integrated BCD in a cold water environment or in warm, tropical waters.  It has the smallest profile of any BCD currently on the market, yet it can be customized to accommodate a number of tech-D rings.  Depending on how you set this BCD up, it has the capacity to be an excellent travel BCD, cold water BCD or Tech BCD.

The secret to the usefulness and success of the Riptide Vanquish BCD is in its addable features and how the BCD is set up.  The Vanquish can be set up to give you an almost perfect feel and fit.  We took the Riptide Vanquish BCD on a test dive in our pool to ensure that our adjustments were done correctly and we had time to get used to the new BCD.

You think you know everything about BC’s?  Think Again.  We properly fitted the Vanquish BCD to our cylinder.  No problem there.  Pretty standard straps.  Adjusting the way the BCD properly fit over my shoulder was a designer’s stroke of perfection in details.  A few adjustments and we had a perfect fit around the shoulders.  Next we adjusted the BCD fit the torso and waist.  I chose to use the tropical trim & weight pockets instead of the cold water weight pockets.  We adjusted them for level trim and made the final placement of the waist strap buckle.  The Vanquish comes standard with a heavy-duty stainless steel buckle but I would prefer a light weight plastic buckle, that is easier for me to open and close.  After adjusting the vertical height of the Velcro secured back plate pad and removing the crotch strap we were ready to dive the BCD.  I’ve never been crazy about crotch straps and to tell you the truth, the BCD never rode up on me during the 9 dives I made with it.

The pool test dive was a success and I was looking forward to our open water testing.  Using the Riptide Vanquish BCD for the first time, I would highly recommend a test dive first.  The Vanquish might seem to be very simplistic in design, but don’t let that fool you. It is a very well designed piece of equipment and its advanced features have been very well incorporated in its overall function.  A properly adjusted Vanquish BCD may just spoil you  forever.  Take the time to adjust it properly and you’ll be diving a work of art.

The Riptide Vanquish BCD did not disappoint us on our next two Caribbean Trips, to Dominican Republic and Saint Lucia.  The BCD packed well and took up very little room.  The tropical weight pockets packed flat and were used to protect our wrist instruments.  The extra D-Rings we installed on the BCD held our dive computer, compass, secondary light and our emergency rescue sausage.  The BCD was comfortable to wear and at times, I didn’t even feel like I had one on.  I made 5 dives in Dominican Republic and 4 dives in Saint Lucia.  Our dives consisted of 45 foot reef dives and 80 foot wreck dives.  I liked the fact I was wearing a small profile BCD as I swam through the wrecks in Saint Lucia.  Putting a controlled amount of air into the BCD manually and pneumatically was easy.  I could always find my inflation hose.  I especially appreciate being able to deflate the BCD in a vertical, horizontal or invented position.  Nice going Riptide.

Needless to say, the Riptide Vanquish BCD got an A+ from our Test Team and a number of positive comments from the Divemasters and other Divers on our two FAM Trips.

If you are looking for a light-weight travel BCD that has enough features built into it for the discriminating Diver, the Riptide Vanquish BCD is the piece of equipment you may want to see for yourself.  IST Delaers can make an appointment to see the Riptide Vanquish BCD with David Pollock at the IST Booth # 2124 at the DEMA Show this November.

For more information, contact:
David Pollock, President
Riptide Sales Group
dave@riptidescuba.net
Web:  http://www.riptidescuba.net

 

Posted in Gear Test | Leave a comment

Editorial – October 2018

The Industry Is What You Make It
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

We launched a new marketing campaign with our June Editorial, The Diving Industry Has Potential.  For the past four months we have been busy writing down our collective opinions of what the diving industry is to us and how we can capitalize on the enormous opportunities that present themselves to us on an almost daily basis.  I realize that every Industry Professional in our community is individually unique, but they are many common threads  that run through our Diving Industry DNA.  I have been finding out that my fellow industry professionals enjoy reading about what other diving businesses are doing to be successful in the marketplace.  I am also learning that my peers are willing to share what they are doing to gain a competitive edge over their competitors.  I am delighted to see this new environment of curiosity and trust in our industry.   I think we are on to something.

I can’t speak for everyone in the diving business community, but for us, writing down our version of the diving industry and what it is to us was the first step to experiencing this new age of sharing.  The Dive Industry Association created a white paper for the industry and called it Unifying the Diving Industry.  It’s a step-by-step process that gives you 12 things you can do (in order) to get on the same page as your fellow industry professionals and work to unify the diving industry.  Albeit, it started out as our vision of what the diving industry needs, but it is starting to becoming a basic foundation for what others are adding to.  In fact, writing the white paper was only the beginning for us.  I’ve come to realize that as I wrote each step, I saw things that needed improvement, expansion and even deletion from our original vision.  Starting in January, we will feature one step per month in our Monthly Newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional, to expand upon and update our vision.  I can tell you already that our white paper will lead to more and better ideas on how to successfully navigate a business through our industry.

Unifying the Diving Industry is more than just a simple white paper.  It started out as Chapter 10 in a white paper we wrote for a marketing campaign called DIVE LOCAL.  The white paper, DIVE LOCAL – A Dive Community Cooperative Effortexplorers the concept of local diving and its significance for the entire industry.  DIVE LOCAL is based on the fact that our front line Ambassadors; the Dive Retailers, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Dive Instructors are the Pillars of each local dive community who work in the diving industry on a daily basis.  They are the ones responsible for getting the general public to;  1) Learn to Dive, 2) Buy their Gear, 3) Go Diving and 4) Stay Active.  Without them, there would be no diving industry and no sales of Diving Equipment, Training and Travel.  That’s why it is so important for Diving Equipment Manufacturers, Training Agencies and Travel Companies to promote and support these local pillars of the local diving communities.

We are not finished writing the DIVE LOCAL white paper and have a long way to go to complete the World Directory of Diving Businesses on https://divelocal.wordpress.com  In fact, Step 5 to Unifying the Diving Industry is to Participate in the International Diving Cooperative Program, DIVE LOCAL.  

The success of our last two projects has lead us to start two more.  The first new white paper the Dive Industry Association has nearly completed is its Dive Industry Association Membership Manual and Guide Book.  It was about time to put in writing everything we are, do and provide for our Members.  The Association has grown to a point where its Members are receiving significant member benefits that other trade associations are not offering.  The new white paper is also helping us define and refine, Who we are, What we do and Why.  The publication of our Membership Manual may well be the thing that gives us significant exposure and growth in the very near future.

The second white paper we are working on is one that records the start, progress and current state of development of the diving industry.  It looks at our humble beginnings as a military tool that turned into a recreation, a hobby, a profession and a lifestyle for many.  It will cover how the industry began, how it grew and what it has become.  It will tell our story of the diving industry pioneers who made the industry what it is today and about our future leaders and ambassadors who will shape the industry in the next 70 years.  Think of this new white paper as a store map at your local mall that starts with – YOU ARE HERE!   Now tell us where you want to go and we’ll have something to work on.  The future industry is what we will make it.

We’ll see you at the DEMA Show.  I’ll be in Booth 2620.  Where will you be?

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

DIA Members Exhibiting at ScubaCon

Dive Industry Association Members at ScubaCon
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at ScubaCon on September 8-9, 2018 at Boulder, CO.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members.

Manufacturers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Posted in Shows & Events | Leave a comment

Participate in On-Line Webinars & Digital Summit Meetings

Participate in Future On-Line Webinars and Digital Summit Meetings
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 12 to uniting the diving industry is to Participate in Future On-Line Webinars and Digital Summit Meetings.  Once a Team of Advisers is set up in a company or an industry, the next questions become; How often are they going to meet, Where are they going to meet, and What are they going to discuss (accomplish).  If they are not going to meet in a physical location, the question is, How are they going to communicate?  Thank God for 21st Century Technology.  In the past few years I have participated in digital meetings hosted by other industries, like the Travel Industry and the Meetings & Events Industry.  I’ve seen very few diving organizations adopt this type of technology, but with the lack of sharing that goes on in diving, I would not be surprised if someone, somewhere is doing it.

Face-to-face marketing is a very important part of our overall marketing strategy.  At least it was in the 20th century.  Maybe with the introduction of digital meetings and video conferencing, face-to-face marketing will transform itself into a new and exciting form of communication in the 21st century.  As we design our strategy of uniting the diving industry, step 12 brings us to a point that is new to us.  Being the eternal optimist, I do not see this point in our strategy as a dead end.  I see it as a new beginning.  I see it as a way to expand on the programs we currently have and to add some new ones.

On-Line Webinars are a very popular way of bringing education to the general public.  It’s a great way to reach many people from one central location.  The presenter puts an educational program together, invites his audience to the presentation, and assuming they can all access their own computers at that time, the presentation takes place.  On-line webinars can be supported by text, PowerPoints, images, sound and video.  Webinars are a great way of getting a message out and putting a large number of people on the same page of any topic worth discussing.

I believe that digital group meetings can be better attended and are definitely more cost effective than physical meetings.  The Dive Industry Foundation co-sponsored three industry summit meetings in 2016. The Dallas and Chicago summits drew about 25 people each and the Secaucus Summit had 50 attendees.  The Speakers at all three summits were excellent and the discussions we had with the attendees were exactly what we were looking for.  Had we added a GoToMeeting type of on-line meeting program to the Summit Meetings, we could have increased our audience tremendously and we could have followed-up with the same audiences a few months later.

The Summit Meetings produced a certain amount of success but the physical in-person concept alone did not have sustainability.  It doesn’t make sense to hold an annual meeting to complain about the problems of the industry and then do nothing about it until the following year.  Rather than conduct an annual in-person summit meeting in conjunction with a consumer dive show, maybe a series of short, specifically targeted, digital meetings throughout the year would be better.  The discussion format would be simple: 1)  Identify the Industry’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  2) Suggest possible solutions to the problems.  3) Create a plan that uses the best solutions to the problems.  4) Delegate assignments and implement the plan.  5) Follow-up.  It is also important to record what was suggested, what was implemented and what was accomplished.  Having a history of what worked and what didn’t is critical to the following year’s plan of action.

That concludes our Twelve Steps to Unifying the Diving Industry.  I hope we have been clear about the necessity and the methods of unifying the industry.  It all starts with step 1 of subscribing to our blog and continues through step 12 of participating in digital regional summit meetings.  I am confident that following these steps will unite the industry and show us how to cooperatively work together toward mutually agreed upon goals.  I see the process as a way to un-fragment the industry and put all Dive Industry Professionals on the same page, so to speak.   Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904
Phone: 321-914-3778
e-mail: gene@diveindustry.org
Whitepaper: https://divelocal.wordpress.com/white-paper/

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

Join A Specialty Advisory Group in Your Industry

Join a Specialty Advisory Group in Your Industry
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 11 to uniting the diving industry is to join a Specialty Advisory Group in the Diving Industry.  The purpose of an advisory group is to stimulate discussions concerning Industry SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats).  A good example is the Dive Industry Marketing Professionals Group we have at the Association.  I want to know what other successful Marketing Professionals are doing in the diving industry, not just what one person thinks.  Qualified Advisers give an organization a number of different perspectives, allows you the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and creates a checks & balance safeguard that keeps your company from falling under the control of one person, one idea, and one way of doing things.  We just had that happen to a company in the diving industry not too long ago.  Had they had an Advisory Board, things may never have gotten as bad as it did.  Of course, an Advisory Board has to have purpose, direction, authority and recourse to be effective.

The diving industry has so many wonderful things to be thankful for and it’s a community that is unique and pleasant to be in.  We are an industry of adventurous, opinionated, independent and charismatic individuals.  These are good traits, by the way.  In my opinion, the weak link in our community is still the ignorance and arrogance of a select few. This type of behavior stifles activity and growth.  It keeps the industry from uniting and working together, and it divides and fragments what little resources we have. It puts the focus of leadership and control in the hands of a select few.  And all the while, the select few think they are protecting their market share and control of the industry, when in fact they are limiting their own potential and that of their peers.

The business community in our industry needs to have more Good Stewards and Wise Advisers.  True Industry Professionals that give freely of their expertise and experience and are not afraid to work together for the good of the industry.  I’m hearing about such a group of professionals called THE DIVE PROFESSIONAL, lead by Henri Hemmerechts.  Our organization has been following Henri for a few months and I have spoken with him on the telephone a few time.  I’m interested enough to want to know more.  You may want to check them out and let me know what you think.

Not all diving organizations are going to be open to creating a Board of Advisers, true advisers, but the ones who do will give an opportunity to many of the good stewards in the industry who care enough to make the industry better and grow it.  As we learn of these companies, we will pass their information on to the dive industry professionals who are following our twelve steps.  Perhaps this could lead to the formation of an Industry Think Tank?

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

Volunteer Your Time & Talents At Non-Profits

Volunteer Your Time & Talents at Non-Profits
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 10 to uniting the diving industry is to volunteer your time and talents to non-profit organizations that unite and grow the industry, like Dive Industry Foundation. Dive Industry Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), charitable organization dedicated to promoting economic development in the worldwide diving community.  The Foundation maintains a full time office in Melbourne, Florida.  It sponsors DIVE LOCAL, conducts industry surveys, exhibits at diving trade and consumer shows, and conducts business improvement seminars and workshops for dive business owners and their employees.  It is establishing a Business Reference Library with books and magazines from the diving community.  Many of the projects the Dive Industry Foundation undertakes are time consuming, labor intensive and expensive.  The short-term economic return to the Foundation, or any one dive business for that matter may be negligible but the long-term economic return to the diving industry as a whole could be substantial.  That is the main reason it is so important for each member of the diving community to consider volunteering a small amount of their time, money and manpower to the Foundation.

In the previous step (#9) we talked about the need to make a monetary donation to the Foundation in order to pay for things that cost the organization money.  However, the Foundation has many needs that can only be met with volunteer labor and participation.  We need Dive Retailers to fill out our Retail Center profile and update it yearly.  We need them to collect Business Cards of all their Manufactures, Sales Reps, Training Consultants and Travel Vendors and mail them to us on a monthly basis.  We need Manufacturing and Training Sales Reps to fill out their Sales Rep Profile and update it annually and to collect Business Cards of all their Employers, Retail Stores and Instructors.  We need booth space at dive and adventure travel shows and we need media coverage in the dive industry media.

One of the most important needs of the Foundation is for volunteers to staff our booths at trade and consumer dive and travel shows.  We have new guidelines as to what is required for our booth volunteers based on discussions we have had with Show Producers.  Show producers want to sell booth space but the high price of the space is prohibitive to many of the small business owners that need to exhibit at their local consumer dive show.  The travel industry understands this very well.  A number of Tourism Boards will pay for booth space and may send one delegate to supervise a number of their local resorts or dive operators who supply the labor for booth staffing.  As long as the booth design reflects the Tourism Board’s identity, this concept becomes a WIN – WIN – WIN situation for the show producer, tourism board and the local dive operator.  Our goal for the Foundation is to continue to exhibit at local dive, surf, adventurer travel, boat and outdoor shows to promote the diving industry.  We are looking for volunteers to staff the booth along with other local dive business owners.  In this way, we are showing support for the local show, working with the local business community and promoting the industry to the local dive community.

Needles to say, the Dive Industry Foundation has 14 years experience in exhibiting at local dive, surf and travel shows.  Our strength has always been the extensive pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing we have done for the show producers but our Achilles’s heal has been the cost of attending these shows and the commitment in manpower that is required.  The one thing I have learned about successful dive shows is that you not only need the support of the local diving community to have a successful show, you need to support the local diving community in return.  Exhibitors will purchase booth space, Sponsors will pay for exposure, Speakers will give their presentations for free and Volunteers will donate their labor but if you are not spending money on advertising the show and on the local diving community you’ll get very few attendees and no support from the local community.  It’s all a matter of Good Stewardship, which is defined as the responsible management of resources entrusted to one’s care.

There are many non-profit organizations in the international diving community.  We’ve listed a number of them on https://divelocal.wordpress.com/directory/non-profits/   Six of the non-profits have stepped up to help us promote the DIVE LOCAL concept.  Our goal is to promote the non-profits that are doing good work with the environment, marine animals, diver safety and numerous other good causes that are entrusted to us as ocean ambassadors.  As Good Stewards of the environment, we need to educate ourselves on what makes a non-profit organization good.  With the help of Nonprofit Search Companies like GuideStar we can view non-profit reports and tax returns of these non-profits and get in contact with donors and grantmakers to help us.  With the help and guidance of 21st Century Software and Media companies we can bring better and more sophisticated marketing tools to our industry businesses.  There is so much to do to reach our goals, and yet it only takes a little time, money, manpower and a plan.

The Harvest in our industry is indeed plentiful.  Consider this a recruitment for Laborers.

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

Editorial – September 2018

The Industry’s New Season Begins in September
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

Labor Day is approaching and you know what that means.  The 2018 consumer diving season is coming to a close.  Traditionally, the diving season for the consuming public is Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Kids (and Teachers) are out of school and families go on vacation.  The water is warm and people have time to enjoy their favorite recreation.  And scuba diving is a recreation for many people.  Trouble is, our industry doesn’t know how to sell to or service this niche market very well.  We are too busy trying to make every recreational diver into an Industry Professional.  But that’s another story.

Now that the summer season is coming to a close, September becomes the launch month of the new season.  For many years now, the big equipment companies having been launching their next year’s product line in September.  As a former Product Manager I had my new products ready to go in August.  We had our samples ready for the Sales Reps and we ran them through all the features and benefits during our Sales Meeting in August.  Right after Labor Day, the Reps hit the road to show our new products to their Dealers.  The goal was to lock up their Dealers’ “open-to-buy” budgets before the competition did.  Introducing a new line in September changes the dynamics of the DEMA Show for you.  The show becomes more of a “Show and Tell” and a “Meet and Greet” event and takes the focus and pressure away from being a writing-only show.  When you are competing with seminars for exhibit floor time and answering questions about new equipment to retail buyers and industry professionals, this business model works well.

I’ve spent the summer on two very important projects that grew in scope way beyond my belief.  And yes, this Old Dog learned a bunch of new tricks.  To begin with, the Dive Industry Foundation started a campaign called Unifying the Diving Industry.  We formulated a twelve point plan to accomplish this and integrated it into our DIVE LOCAL Campaign.  The white paper for Unifying the Diving Industry is now Chapter 10 in the white paper DIVE LOCAL – A Dive Community Cooperative Effort.  Nine of the 12 steps have been written, published as blog posts, featured in The Dive Industry Weekly News, published as complete articles in the monthly Dive Industry Professional and included in the DIVE LOCAL Program.  After we finish up with steps 10-12, the industry will have a great workable plan to rally around.  And best of all, we’ll have a solution for those Industry Professionals who are always complaining about the industry yet never seem to do anything different to make it better.

The second program that we worked on started as a simple Membership Manual for Members of the Dive Industry Association and is growing into a comprehensive industry self-help guide.  A number of new members wanted to know more about the Association and had questions about our member benefits and how they could take advantage of the opportunities available to them as members.  We are still in DRAFT mode on this manual and have written twenty chapters already.  The individual chapters go into details about our Mission Statement, Vision for the Future and projects we are working on.  It helped me look at the programs, products and services we offer and who our current, former and future members are.  The manual goes into detail about the directories and databases we create to capture, maintain and reach our customers.  The chapters on the marketing vehicles we use to carry our message to our customers, like our press release service, monthly newsletter, blog, websites, social media network, and shows & events, helped us better define who we are and how well we do things.   In the process, the Association is getting more organized, more efficient and more effective in our presentations and delivery.  And best of all, it’s bringing us results.  We now have a much better handle on integrating our digital, print and face-to-face marketing campaigns into a unified program.  I am confident that any business who undertakes this kind of marketing audit will see things they are doing right, doing wrong or not doing at all.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but while I was doing the research for these two papers, I discovered the need for a Guide to the Diving Industry, or niche market as I like to call it.  In the past three months I’ve had dozens of my peers express their positive encouragement for an industry guide that explains the history, growth and future of the diving industry from a business perspective.  It would attempt to define why some call it an industry when it is really a niche market made up of many industries on the sellers’ side and many different types of consumers on the buyers’ side.  That point alone is going to open up discussion and criticism in the industry like never before.  Something to think about and research is the make-up of the demand chain.  Are they recreational divers, hobbyists, part time & full time dive professionals, or professionals in other industries who use scuba gear to do their jobs?  Another neglected topic is that of influencers, opinion leaders and mavens.  Do they persuade others to make buying decisions or do they just promote themselves?  Are the Leaders of the Diving Industry Entrepreneurs or Employees?   Do they own or work for diving companies or do they have “real jobs” and use the diving industry as their social outlet?  A lot of questions yet very few answers.  Yet, it’s asking these questions and getting answers that we can put into a book that will help us define the market, identify the problems, think of solutions and do the things that will bring about the necessary changes to have a successful industry, market, hobby, profession, or whatever!

September is our defining moment.  Let’s bury our old ways of doing things and start fresh.  It’s time to unify the industry (it’s OK to call it the Diving Industry) and make our Industry Professionals more professional, productive, and profitable.  It time to work together to achieve new heights and accomplish our goals.  It’s time to become the Diving Industry of the 21st Century.

 

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

Editorial – August 2018

Back to School – Back to DEMA – Back to the Future
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

August is the get back month.  It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, you can’t get away from the Back to School activities in your community or in the marketplace.  August is also the month most Dive Industry Professionals are getting back from vacation and getting ready for Dema.  For us Industry Planners, August is the time to get back to the future, or at least get back to planning for the future.  Where did the time go?  Oh, it hasn’t gone yet.  The season is still underway and there are at least two or three months of good diving left before you know what.  It’s easy to get confused about the present when your marketing mind in six months in the future.  Planners are actually thinking about their post-Dema campaigns and the beginning of the 2019 pre-season promotion circuit.

2019 is going to be a much different year for some of us.  In the past two months, I have been working on an industry campaign called Uniting the Diving Industry.  The campaign is laying out a twelve point plan that Dive Industry Professionals can follow to unite the dive community, improve their business and grow the industry.  Ten of the twelve steps have been published already and have been included in our Blogs, Weekly News, Monthly Newsletter and Websites.  We are hoping to wrap it up by Labor Day and introduce it to the entire industry in one complete whitepaper.  The year is going to be quite different for me because I am more focused on the outcomes that need to be achieved because of this campaign.  It is much easier to find solutions to our industry challenges when our desired outcomes are well defined.

The exciting thing about the Uniting the Diving Industry campaign is that a number of Industry Professionals are excited about the program and are pledging to follow it and even adopt it into their company marketing plan.  In addition to authoring the Uniting the Diving Industry campaign and committing it to paper, I am implementing the ten steps (so far) into the Dive Industry Association Business Plan.  I can already see a small growth in the number of subscribers to our Blog, Weekly News and Monthly Newsletter.  Our Membership has grown slightly and the interest in our Association and Foundation has increased significantly. Here is a summary of the 12 steps in our campaign whitepaper on https://divelocal.wordpress.com/white-paper/

  1. Subscribe to our Blog.
  2. Subscribe to the Dive Industry Weekly Dive News.
  3. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional.
  4. Participate in Industry Surveys.
  5. Participate in DIVE LOCAL.
  6. Become a Member of Dive Industry Association.
  7. Submit 24 Press Releases per year for publication.
  8. Submit 2 Articles about your company for publication.
  9. Make a Donation to Dive Industry Foundation.
  10. Volunteer to work with DIA or the Foundation.
  11. Join a Specialty Advisory Group.
  12. Participate in an On-Line Webinar / Digital Summit Meeting.

You’ll notice that steps 1-3 only asks you to subscribe to something and read it.  Very little commitment here.   In Steps 4-5 we ask you to invest a little time.  Steps 6-9 require you to invest a little time, money and manpower.  Step 10 increases your time, money and manpower commitment.  Steps 11-12 requires you to take a Cooperative Leadership Role in the Diving Industry.  Please read this draft copy of our plan and feel free to send us you comments and suggestions.

I am confident we will learn a lot about our Industry, as well as our Association and Foundation in the process and will be able to make the necessary changes required to grow.  Now it’s time to get back to work.

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

Make a Donation to Dive Industry Foundation

Make a Donation to Dive Industry Foundation
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Step 9 to uniting the diving industry is to make a donation to the non-profit organization Dive Industry Foundation. Dive Industry Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), charitable organization dedicated to promoting economic development in the worldwide diving community.  The Foundation maintains a full time office in Melbourne, Florida.  It sponsors DIVE LOCAL, conducts industry surveys, exhibits at diving trade and consumer shows, and conducts business improvement seminars and workshops for dive business owners and their employees.  It is establishing a Business Reference Library with books and magazines from the diving industry.  The Foundation has sponsored three Regional Summit meetings (Dallas, Chicago, Secaucus) and conducted two industry luncheons in Tacoma, WA.  Dive Industry Foundation has held fund raisers to donate money to a Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and two dive industry families during their time of need.  The Foundation has no paid employees and uses only Volunteers.  It operates on donations from individuals and businesses.  Their web site is www.diveindustry.org and they maintain a Facebook Page and post to Twitter.

Donating funds to the Dive Industry Foundation is very important for the growth and survival of the diving industry.  Every dive business and industry professional should make it their responsibility to fund this organization that works to research, analyze, advise and promote our industry.  The tasks and projects the Dive Industry Foundation takes on are detail oriented, time consuming and non-income generating in the short term.  The long-term benefits of having a research, educational, promotional and unifying organization in the industry is priceless.  An outside consulting firm can never do what needs to be done in our industry.  We must gather and use the collective wisdom, knowledge and experience of Dive Industry Professionals who have had successes and setbacks in their life-long profession.  Think of the Dive Industry Foundation as an organizer, mentor and guide that will assist the diving business community in dealing with its own internal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  I am confident that the dive industry can correct itself.

As an organization with its primary goal of “Unify the Diving Industry” the Dive Industry Foundation has accepted the responsibility to define, analyze, advise, unify, promote and increase the economic impact of the diving industry.  Working within the parameters of these six steps, I believe the industry will be able to understand the complexities of its makeup, work to end the fragmentation of the market,  and increase the opportunities for all industry professionals.

Define:  The Diving Industry, as we currently know it, does not have one unified source of data that defines our market.  First of all, because we are not an industry at all.  We are actually in a niche market.  An industry is a government classification for a group of like minded companies that produce a common type of product.   The United States Government created NAICS Codes (North American Industry Classification System) that group similar businesses together.  An NAICS Code has six digits that identifies the main industry and its sub categories.   The Retail Industry is # 45.  The Retail Industry – Sporting Goods Stores are 451110.  All of the demographic and geographic information we need about this industry is laid out in the U.S. Census.  So now we know that Retail Dive Centers, or Dive & Adventure Stores as I like to call them, are not dive shops in the diving industry.  They are retail stores in the Retail Industry, that specialize in diving and adventure travel.

A Market is defined as a place where Buyers and Sellers meet to do business.  The Sellers come from many different industries, depending on what they manufacture or produce.  The Buyers come from many different recreations, hobbies, professions or interests.  Where they meet to do business doesn’t matter.  That’s a business model decision.  They are both seeking a successful outcome.  A successful outcome is an exchange of products for a fair compensation.

Defining and understanding our industries and market is the first step to unifying the diving business community.  Dive Industry Foundation has begun the process by creating the DIVE LOCAL program.  This is a big job in that it will take a significant amount of time, money and manpower.  that’s another reason to donate and support the Foundation.  Our World Directory is being listed on our website at  https://divelocal.wordpress.com  You’ll notice that our directory is divided by territories.  Each territory, is in fact, its own community.  It’s at the community level where people get interested in diving, take lessons, buy their gear and go diving.  It is also where the local diving community needs to create ways to stay active in our recreation.

The Dive Industry Foundation is writing a whitepaper on Uniting the Diving Industry that can be viewed in its progressing form on https://divelocal.wordpress.com/whitepaper/  It is in this whitepaper where we will address the issues on how the Foundation can analyze, advise, unify, promote and increase the economic impact of the diving industry.

Donations can be made to Dive Industry Foundation using our DIVE LOCAL Web Page at https://divelocal.wordpress.com/donate/

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