Editorial – October 2019

Does The Industry Really Need To Come Together? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The month of October is when the industry gets ready for the annual DEMA Show.  The retail season is coming to a close and it’s time to regroup for next year before the Holidays are here.  So are we closing out the old year and getting ready for a new one or are we just taking a break from this year and gearing up for the Holidays ?  Are we going to see any new dive gear, training programs and travel destinations at the show or will it be the same old stuff in a different package?  How about the exhibitors and attendees?  Will they be the same as last year, two years ago (for the every-other year attendees) or a whole new group of people?

If the diving industry wasn’t as fragmented as it is, with an unlimited array of information sources, we might have the answers to all of these questions.  So why doesn’t the industry come together and create a central information source that all Industry Professionals can go to for their information?  The answer is simple – There’s no money in it.   Think about it.  Most companies we know only focus on stuff they can sell.  And they usually focus on selling to their limited, current customer base.  They don’t invest in market research because, to them, there is no immediate return on investment.  Because of limited budgets, caused by declining sales, from a declining market, these companies do their own sales campaigns from a declining list of current customers.  Dive Industry Association has a solution to their problem.

For the past 20 years, Dive Industry Association and its non-profit organization, Dive Industry Foundation, have been analyzing the recreational diving and adventure travel market.  Through our Members, Sponsors and Donors, we have compiled an industry database of buyers and sellers in our market.  Compiling and maintaining an active database is a daily, long term project.  It needs continual funding and/or support.  Up until now, only companies that sell a sufficient number of products to a sufficient number of customers have been able to compile an extensive contact list that includes their current customers.  Because of poor marketing follow-up, these same positive cash-flow companies have dropped the ball on their Former Customer contacts.  Because of the high cost of finding new customers, most all of these companies don’t invest in customer acquisition research that would help them identify Future Customers.

To begin with, the diving industry has a finite number of participants.  Collectively, we should be able to identify all buyers and sellers of diving equipment, training and travel.  We have been very successful in identifying the sellers and wholesale buyers in the market.  Through constant maintenance of our trade database, we have a pretty good idea as to the size of the supply side of the market.  Reaching the demand side of the market is more complicated, because people are so mobile these days and very few, if any sellers are sharing their customer database with anyone.  So, unfortunately, we have to go around them and collect that information directly.  That costs money, lots of it.  But all is not lost if we split the cost with over 9,000 Industry Professionals in the trade.  That’s where the Dive Industry Association comes in.

The main focus of a Trade Association should be bringing Buyers and Sellers together and growing the market.  Our first step is to identify the market.  The second step is to identify the programs, products and services that are sold in the market.  The third step is to create a message, or call to action, that can be communicated with the demand side of the market.  The fourth step is to deliver that message using a variety of marketing vehicles to stimulate sales and growth.  Lastly, we need to analyze the process and the results so we can learn from it, do it again, and then grow.

Dive Industry Association has a plan to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  The plan is multi-focused and is scale-able.  Our strategy is to focus on the sale of diving equipment, training and adventure travel products. Our focal point is our Members.  Our message to the general public is learn to dive, buy your gear, go diving and stay active.  Our primary beneficiary is of course, our Members.  They are the ones who are shouldering some of the cost with us.  If you want fire, you have to throw some wood in.  Does the industry need to come together to accomplish this?  Not any more.  Only the ones who want more business.

Our recent realizations that we have been blogging about on our website for the last year have convinced us that we may never get 100% cooperation from 100% of the Diving Industry Professionals.  We can only work with like-minded individuals who see the economic potential of participating in a much larger industry network that works together to facilitate increased sales and industry growth.  As our network grows, so does our sales and marketing reach and frequency.  More Members, Bigger Budget, Better Results.

There are a number of ways we can accomplish our planned outcomes.  We have to increase our Membership of Dive Industry Professionals in order to increase our sales and marketing budget.  We then have to ask for cash donations to fund our promotional campaigns.  We then will be able to create our own marketing vehicles that reach our targeted customer bases.  Our Trade Association needs to be Member Focused and Member Funded.  With a little “skin in the game” every dive industry professional should be able to increase exposure, increase sales and gain market share.

For more information contact:

Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Phone: 321-914-3778
eMail: gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.DiveIndustry.net 

 

 

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

Stream2Sea is Leading Green

Stream2Sea Isn’t Going Green…
…We’re Leading Green
Stream2Sea is one of the leaders in the green movement in manufacturing by not only using non-toxic ingredients that have been tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, C. elegans, and coral larvae we also package our products in tubes made from sugarcane resin and bottles made from recycled milk jugs.  Even our packing material is recycled and recyclable cardboard, craft paper, and our baggies (used only when absolutely necessary) are made with biodegradable and recyclable PLA film.
We routinely attend and participate at local beach and underwater cleanups and when we can’t be there in person, we are there in spirit providing our safe sunscreen for all participants!
Stream2Sea also collaborates with many non-profit groups that are working to better the planet through the green movement.  We support these groups through monetary donations, in-kind donations, and work tirelessly to spread their missions and visions for a greener, healthier world!  Our featured non-profit group this month is even named Island Green Living!
Leslie Taylor
Account Executive
eMail: leslie@stream2sea.com
Phone: (863) 473-4223 ext. 211 | Toll Free: (866) 960-9513  | Direct:  (239) 571-9810
Stream2Sea | PO Box 907 | Wauchula, FL 33873 | USA
From Stream2Sea – Protect what you love

Check out our new Brand Video

and our Brand Brochure

 

Posted in Environment, Press Release | Leave a comment

Ignorance & Arrogance – An Industry’s Achilles Heel

Ignorance and Arrogance – An Industry’s Achilles Heel
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

This is the most difficult article I have ever written.  Being in the diving industry for close to fifty years, I have met tens of thousands of dive industry professionals who have built our industry into what it is today.  Some were pioneers and some followed in their foot steps.  Many were self-employed Entrepreneurs while the majority were company employees.  Some of us made diving our life’s work while others participated in it on a part time basis.  Like my Mother used to say, some of us gave our heart and soul to the industry while others went out and got a “real job.”  Regardless as to how the industry controlled your life, what we all had in common was our love of the water and an adventurous spirit that compelled us to explore the wonders of the sea. For many of us, it all started out as a recreational and turned into a lifetime career choice.  But either way, we are all independent, adventurous, fearless and in love with a watermans lifestyle.

The subject of ignorance and arrogance in the diving industry has come up for discussion many times in the past but somehow always in a negative manner.  As a confirmed believer in Dale Carnegie Training, I couldn’t write this article until I could present it in a manner that did not criticize, condemn or complain.  I did not want to give the impression that all Dive Industry Professionals are ignorant and arrogant or that everyone but me in the industry were guilty of it.  I had to wait all these years until I could confirm that ignorance and arrogance is a toxic combination that could and has stifled growth in the diving industry and ended many a career in the process.  

This article may not make any sense to you unless I first describe my cumulative interest, education and experience in the Diving Industry.  In the past fifty years, I have called the diving industry my hobby, recreation, vocation, avocation, collateral duty, career and lifestyle.  I’ve worked in and out of the industry but my interests always revolved around business, diving, and the business of diving.   I’ve be fortunate enough to have worked in military operations, manufacturing, sales, education, training, marketing, consulting, travel, media and finance.  I have been a business owner, an independent consultant and an employee.  I received a well-rounded work experience by working for Military Diving Units, Dive Equipment Manufacturers, Certification Agencies, Travel Companies, Retail Dive Centers, University Scuba Programs, Trade Associations, Non-Profit Organizations and Media Companies.   I’ve owned my own Retail Dive Center, Wetsuit Manufacturing Company, Trade Association and Non-Profit Organization.

Ignorance is defined as the state of being ignorant because of a lack of knowledge, education or awareness.  Like many of my friends in the diving community, I consider myself a lifelong student and teacher of everything to do with diving and the business of diving.  When it comes to diving or business, we are all born ignorant.  We have to learn everything from our environment, education and experience.   We are not born with a super instinct that makes us a great diver or business person.  We have to learn as much as we can and experience as much as we can.  We have to be willing to participate in trial and error.  We have to expect success and failure.  That goes for diving and for business.

In our diving community, we see individuals who always seem to grow in their knowledge and experience in diving.  They continually learn new techniques, experiment with new equipment and dive in new locations.  They are the ones who learn, write, speak, teach and grow.  As they learn new things, they come to a realization that the more they know, they more they realize they don’t know.  These Industry Professionals have a good grasp on their Knowledge / Ignorance Balance.  Contrast that with the person who only knows enough about diving to be dangerous.  They know very little, but surprisingly they think they know everything.  They are a danger not only to themselves but to their diving buddies as well.  Case in point:  Ignorance is a natural part of life and growing up, as long as you realize that in certain areas we are all ignorant.

If you want to be a good Diver, you have to keep learning and experiencing.  If you decide to become a Diving Instructor, please realize that teaching diving is different than being a Diver.  Yes, you still have to continue learning to be a better Diver, but now you must also learn how to become a good Educator and continue growing as a professional diving instructor.  If you decide to open a dive store, realize that being a professional retailer is different than being a good Diver or a good Diving Instructor.  Now you have a third thing to learn, practice and grow at.  Like all other things in your life, you’ll start out ignorant at first and then have a need and an opportunity to learn, experience and grow.

Dive Industry Professionals and the diving industry itself would be much better off if Divers would only pick a few things to master in the community.  There are so many opportunities to excel at diving, instructing, retailing, photography, manufacturing, marketing, training, travel, environmental volunteering, and so on.

Arrogance is defined as an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner.  Unlike ignorance, we are not born arrogant.  Arrogance is a learned behavior or attitude.  It could manifest itself from a physical, psychological or social imbalance.  A normal balance of human hormones, healthy physical assets and well developed physiological abilities may be present in many of our industry Leaders, but the ones I worry about are the Industry Professionals who don’t understand the industry, the products, customers, or markets, and  don’t have a clue how to run a successful, profitable business but think they do.  And the worst thing for all of us is that they have been able to convince the owners and investors of their companies that they are the ones who can run their businesses best.

Poor Leaders and unsuccessful companies are easy to identify in the diving industry.  The first dead give away is a company that believes in the theory of “status congruence.”  That means if you have high status in one field of endeavor, you naturally have high status in all fields.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you make a fortune in one industry, it does not mean you will also succeed in the diving industry.  For every industry or market you compete in, you have to understand the products, the customers and the market.  Knowing the industry’s history and significant industry professionals also helps to give you a competitive edge.  Having a ton of money to invest in a diving company when you don’t understand the products, the people or the market is a fool’s idea of success.

Another problem that has faced the business community forever , not just the diving community, is the placing of people in positions they are not qualified to work in.  The first thing that comes to mind is how companies destroy their sales potential by taking their best salesperson and making them a Sales Manager or company Executive.  Sales people do their best for the company when they are selling.  Sales Mangers don’t have to be great salespeople, they have to be great managers.  Company Executives have to know how to manage the company resources of time, money and manpower effectively.  It is said that managers do things right and executives do the right things.

There are a lot of companies in our community that don’t believe in Marketing.  It’s not only that many don’t invest in marketing like they should, some actually don’t believe in spending anything on marketing.  That’s both ignorant and arrogant.  The deadly combination.  Marketing paves the way for sales.  Marketing Managers do their best when they make the Sales Person’s job easier to sell.  Sales people do their best when they are selling.  Sales Managers do their best when they manage their sales force.  If you don’t have Marketing people, then the Sales people have to do the marketing, which they are not qualified to do or are not interested in doing because marketing doesn’t pay commissions.  And if sales people are marketing, they are not selling.  Period.

Another problem for many companies in our diving community is the aspect of International Sales.   International Sales are very important but only if it can be scaleable, seamless and profitable.  All markets are different.  What works in one country, may not work in all countries.  There are a number of dive equipment manufacturers competing in the U.S. Market that are headquartered outside of the United States.   There are a number of challenges to this business model, considering where the senior executives work, where the inventory is warehoused, who manages the Sales Force and from where.  Some of the companies manage this better then others.  The key here is to realize that understanding the market you are competing in is the most important factor to your potential success.  Regardless of what you think about your company, your product or your senior executives, if your potential customers don’t know or trust your products, don’t relate to their local sales reps and don’t identify with your company culture (image), you don’t have a chance to be successful in that market.  To think you do is both ignorant and arrogant.

How can you tell if you’re guilty of being ignorant and arrogant?  Since knowledge is power, ask yourself who controls the company?  The Boots-on-the-Ground or the Suits?  Who understands the products, the customers and the market?  Who knows the facts on your number of Dealers, the number and competitive nature of your sku’s, your sales in units, sales in dollars, profit per units sold, your market penetration, your percentage of market share and your positive percentage of sales growth?  How familiar are your local people with the market’s demographics, geographics, psycho-graphics and genagraphics?

How about the arrogance aspect?  That’s easy.  Do a company analysis.  Take out your current Business Plan and Marketing Plan.  Did you create a baseline when you started?  Have you detailed what your projected outcomes are and how you were going to achieve them?  Is your company achieving its goals and objectives?  Have you grown your product offering, dealer base, customer base and sales in both units and dollars?  By what percentage?  What is your percentage of growth?  What is the percentage of your cost of growth?  Overall, how has your company prospered under your watch?  If you know all that, you’re not arrogant, you’re a Professional.

Summary:  Ignorance and arrogance in an industry is a deadly combination.  It affects our entire business community and can happen to any company.  It creeps into our corporate culture and festers over time if gone unchecked.  It’s difficult to spot but easy to fix.  Einstein said that you can’t correct a problem with the same thought process you used to get into the problem.  It requires a different set of eyes to see and a different thought process to correct.  That’s why paradigm shifts are so effective.  Another thing that is effective is having a strong moral compass that motivates business owners to do the right things, for the right reasons, for the right people.  There is nothing more satisfying than a company that takes a positive active role in its community, locally, nationally and worldwide.

Posted in Business Improvement, Editorials | Leave a comment

TEKTITE INDUSTRIES Recognized as Sustainable Business

TEKTITE INDUSTRIES Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business for third year.

June 2019: Small businesses across New Jersey are starting to save money, share their successes and inspire other businesses by implementing sustainable business best practices.   Joining this list, TEKTITE INDUSTRIES, located in Trenton, New Jersey, became one of the first businesses in the state to be recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

In August of 2014, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) launched the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry.  The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented sustainable business practices can register their achievements and be recognized.

TEKTITE achieved recognition because, as a company, they practice energy conservation and recycling.   They:

  •     – Use recycled paper products when possible.
  •     – Reuse or recycle their industrial scrap.
  •     – Reuse or recycle their incoming packing materials and cartons.
  •     – Use energy-efficient lighting.
  •     – Use energy-saving machinery controls.
  •     – Use single-stream recycling dumpsters.
  •     – Equipment is used in their manufacturing processes to conserve and recycle coolant  water, heating their building, conserving fresh water, and reducing liquid waste.

Some of TEKTITE products are designed to directly reduce the amount of plastic and/or hazardous waste:

– The Mark-Lite product line provides an environmentally friendly Chemical Lightstick Alternative™. Plus, the Mark-Lite helps reduce operation cost by 80% as well. Many Diving resort destinations have banned the use of chemical sticks as a result of their offering a reusable alternative.

– Their ELZ, Traffic Strobes, and Marine SOS strobe products reduce or eliminate the need for chemical incendiary flares, reducing hazardous combustion products, and hazardous waste of date-expired, unused flares. Over 300,000 lb. of hazardous waste (expired flares) saved from landfills

TEKTITE efforts resulted in the reduction of wastewater, landfill volume, and energy savings.

Tektite was founded on green/sustainable principles in 1990. They are concerned about the environment and are committed to improving the Earth’s environmental condition.
For more information about the registry visit: http://registry.njsbdc.com/

Best Regards,
Scott Mele
President
Tektite Industries, Inc.
“Demanding Environments…Rugged Gear”
309 North Clinton Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08638-5122
Voice: 609.656.0600
Fax: 609.656.0063
www.tek-tite.com

Like Us on Facebook !
Follow Us on Twitter !
Watch Our Videos on YouTube !

Posted in Business Improvement, Environment | Leave a comment

Patrick & Sherry Hammer Sell Scuba Emporium

Patrick Hammer

It is with mixed emotions of great pleasure and sadness Sherry and I announce that we have sold the store and want to slow down (just a bit).

In 1974, when I first opened Scuba Emporium, people thought I was crazy. However as crazy as it seemed, it has been an unbelievable run.

We have had the pleasure of certifying tens of thousands of scuba divers, made over ten thousand PADI Instructors, and had stores in 4 states. We have helped many open up successful dive stores and traveled the world with our wonderful customers by our side. We watched families grow and witnesses our young customers get married and circle back around, allowing us to train their grandchildren.

We thrived in good economies and survived when the economy was weak. We have made friends all over the world and had the best job in the world.

So it is time for the next exciting chapter in our life. We plan to continue doing what we love, teaching and running dive travel trips. I want to continue to teach PADI Instructors locally, in other states, and abroad. Sherry loves teaching children and still is hopeful to be able to make young scuba divers. Together we will teach classes and specialties. Our dream is to continue to be leaders in the industry and inspire others to follow their dreams with scuba.

Retail has changed so much over the years and we do not want to be tied to the retail aspect of the business.

We cannot express our gratitude to the many loyal customers that supported us over four decades, our amazing staff (some of which have been with us for twenty plus years and are a second family to us), and PADI, the greatest training agency in the world.

We hope to continue to grow the dive industry.

We thank you for this great run and remember, we’re not leaving, just changing directions. We have some great trips planned in the future and hope you will continue to travel with us.

We can be reached at:
Patrick E-mail: Patrick@scubaemporium.com
Cell: 708-650-3483
Sherry E-mail Sherry@scubaemporium.com
Cell: 708-651-3483

 

Posted in Press Release | Leave a comment

It’s Time For A Paradigm Shift

It’s Time For A Paradigm Shift – 
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

According to Merriam-Webster – A Paradigm Shift is an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.  Paradigm Shifts are necessary for the survival of organizations, companies and industries, especially if the old way of thinking and doing things is not working.  The diving industry needs and is ready for a Paradigm Shift.

The Dive Industry Association will be celebrating its 20th Year Anniversary next year.  Our original goal was to Build a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.  Twenty years and 405 Members later, our goal remains the same.  We are building a better industry.  What has changed is the way we go about facilitating that change.  For the DIA Members that are still with us, the industry has gotten better and their businesses have grown.  It’s for these members that we continually work to improve their competitive standing in the industry.

In reviewing a book I read years ago, Successful Sales and Marketing, published by Entrepreneur Magazine, I was reminded that pleasing the customer is central to business success.  I see that many businesses in the recreational diving community have forgotten that primary golden nugget of information.  I began to review everything that our association has done in the past twenty years and I looked more closely at what other companies in the diving industry have done.  I now believe that we need to change the way we think about industry growth and individual company success.  It is time for an Industry Paradigm Shift.  

Our recommended new way of thinking is to put our customers first and act accordingly.  It’s called Target Marketing.  Who are our customers?  What do they need and want?  What is the best way to satiate their needs while improving our expertise and growing the industry?  We have to realize that if our customers get what they want, we will all have done our jobs.  The first step is to identify our customers.  The second step is to understand their wants and needs.  The third step, of course, is to deliver on their needs, not ours.  Of course, the word “customer” means different things to different groups of people.  For that reason, we need to segment (not fragment) the diving industry into industry segments.  The first one we need to define are members of the retail industry that specialize in diving and watersports.

Diving and Adventure Travel Stores:  Retail Dive Centers are the heartbeat of the diving industry.  Dive stores are our recreation’s front-line ambassadors.  They usually are the first point of contact for the general public when they decide to take up scuba diving and it’s related activities.  Retail stores are the majority sellers of diving equipment, training and travel.  They are basically the engine that produces and retains divers.

Dive Industry Association has a special Dive Retailers Association as part of our Organization.  We currently have 17 Retail Stores in 7 States in our membership.  We are in the process of looking to include our Travel Sector Retail Stores into this sub-group.  This stakeholder group needs to expand to at least 500 Members to make our paradigm shift work to change the industry.

The advantage of having an autonomous Association of Retail Stores within our Industry Association is so that we can develop the stakeholder group, determine their needs and integrate them into a workable game plan.  The whole purpose of working with our Retailers is to integrate them with other Buyers and Sellers of diving equipment, training and travel products.  Industry success comes from collectively working with Buyers and Sellers, not isolating them.  We recommend doing three things to start the Industry Paradigm Shift.

Step 1:  Read our DIA Member’s Guide.  Dive Industry Association is actively looking for new Retail Members.  We put our money where our mouth is and we published our goals and objectives to show the entire industry what we are doing about it.  Our Member’s Guide can be viewed on our web site at www.diveindustrynews.net/membership/member-guide/

Step 2:  Join the Dive Industry Association:  Our first year dues are only $125 and we are known for the relentless marketing of our Members.  Our organization is totally member-centric.  Request a Membership Application from us by going to our web site www.diveindustrynews.net/membership/membership-application-2/

Step 3:  Complete our Annual Retail Profile.  The Dive Industry Foundation conducts an annual Retail Audit.  There is no charge and respondents do not have to be a DIA Member.  Please help us define, understand and work with the Retail Stakeholder category.  Request a profile to be mailed to you are copy it online at www.diveindustrynews.net/retail-page/retail-profile/ 

Bringing the Dive Retailers into the center of focus is the first step in bringing about a much needed Industry Paradigm Shift.  Our ultimate desire is to have over 8,000 Dive Industry Professional Members in our Organization.  With those numbers and budget, we can change the industry for the better.  Our plans are being formulated in our white paper – The Dive Industry Manifesto.  It’s a white paper about the history of the recreational diving industry, the successes and setbacks the industry has faced in it’s 60 year history, and a plan for how things need to change in the next 60 years.  The Dive Industry Manifesto is being written now, and you have an opportunity to be a part of its creation.  The first step is to realize that the industry needs to change.

The recreational diving industry needs your help.  Please support the demand for a  Paradigm Shift.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
phone: 321-914-3778
email: gene@diveindustry.net

 

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

Mike Johnson – DEMA BOD Candidate

A letter from DEMA BOD Candidate, Mike Johnson

In the summer of 2013, at the age of 27, I took my first dive. Scuba was something that had intrigued me since I was a child. Unfortunately, living in the Midwest did not facilitate scuba diving without travel – or so it seemed at the time, which I now know couldn’t be farther from the truth. With my first breath, I immediately fell in love with the underwater world. Before that Discover Scuba experience ended, I was already contemplating how to become a certified diver and take my craft of video production below the waves.

With the goal of working as a professional in the dive industry, I began to research trade organizations and potential business opportunities. The DEMA Show quickly rose to the top of my list as the place I needed to be. In November of 2013, I attended my first DEMA Show as a non-diver. From the outside looking in, this was where I knew I wanted to be. I left with a lot of good advice and a plan to begin my career in the dive industry.

I completed my scuba certification in December of 2013, and joined the ranks of instructor in the summer of 2018. The DEMA Show became an annual event and I took every opportunity I could dig up, and in some cases create, to further my knowledge and experience as an underwater cinematographer. Through this process one thing became very clear to me: it is extremely difficult for young professionals to connect to the dive industry. Each year I would leave the DEMA Show extremely excited for the connections made and possible opportunities moving forward. Within a few weeks of returning home, that excitement turned into depression as nearly all of my follow up calls and emails were left unanswered (a HUGE Thank You to those who did respond!). Despite the hurdles of getting my foot in the door of the industry, my passion for scuba continued to grow and develop.

This year will be my sixth consecutive DEMA Show. The anticipation and excitement are greater than ever. I am extremely humbled to have my name included on the ballot for the DEMA Board of Directors. When looking at the other names printed above and below mine, I can’t help but think there are many well-deserving and highly-qualified candidates. Some might see my age and short time in the industry as unfavorable for a board member. To those I would say, consider the possibility that a young professional is exactly what this industry needs to help shape the policies and resources that will ultimately dictate the success or failure of reaching others my age and younger, as both new consumers and professionals alike.

All of the industry leaders I have met and spoken with over the past six years agree on one important point: the dive industry is aging in both the consumer and professional sectors and this is a problem for the future success of the industry. Fortunately, we are not the only industry to face this issue. Why is that fortunate? Simply put, it means we can learn from the actions of other industries and apply those successes and failures to the policies and resources that will shape the future of the dive industry and DEMA.

On a more personal note, I want to ensure that fewer young professionals have an entry experience similar to mine. If we are to grow as an industry there must be a bridge built between current leaders and brand-new young divers. This is a point I have championed through involvement with DEMA’s Emerging Leaders Task Force, where myself and several other young professionals worked directly with DEMA President, Tom Ingram, to develop a structured mentorship program designed to pair willing leaders with the next generation of retailers, manufacturers, conservationists, instructors, and artists. I believe this is just the first step to build the bridge that will carry the torch to the next generation.

Many current consumers and industry professionals were inspired to start scuba diving due at least in part to the influence of Jacques Cousteau’s films and the Sea Hunt TV series. Scuba was pop-culture and portrayed in a positive, exciting, and adventurous manner in the mainstream media. Undoubtedly, this created an explosion of growth for the fledgling industry of recreational scuba. Today, positive mainstream media related to the dive industry is few and far between all the negative stories – whether in the news, movies, or television. The positive stories that do make publication are quickly lost in the 24-hour news cycle. Technology and the insatiable need for new video content has opened a giant door of opportunity for previously unthinkable approaches to develop and publish original content to the masses. Imagine what would happen if we as an industry created a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or Discovery series that illustrated the passions you and I share for the underwater world. I believe this is not only possible, it is much needed and a reasonable objective to aim for. Think of the growth potential in all sectors of the industry if we collectively set aside our differences and work together for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

November 13, 2019, not only marks the beginning of this year’s DEMA Show, it is the opening day to place your vote for your 2020-2022 board members. Please, take the time to be informed. Reach out to the candidates to express your concerns and learn more about the vision each of us has for the next three years and beyond. Whoever you choose to vote for, vote – the future of our industry depends on it.

Posted in DEMA BOD Election | Leave a comment

Editorial – September 2019

Diving Industry – Who Are We? – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The month of September just began and already it is the worst September I can ever remember.  As the Industry’s eternal optimist and cheerleader for the past 52 years, I don’t think I can continue to fill that role anymore.  The Industry needs a much younger, more energetic and more optimistic person to pick up the torch and run with it.  Any takers?

This month’s Editorial is coming to you from our Melbourne, Florida office, where we are all boarded up and waiting for Hurricane Dorian’s wind and  rain to hit the Florida Coast.  The Northern Bahamas just suffered the worst Hurricane in its history as Hurricane Dorian crept along at 1-8 mph as a Category 5 Hurricane with winds of 185 mph and wind gusts over 220 mph.  Dorian left a path of death and destruction across the Bahamas.  Our hearts and prayers go out to our Bahamanian Brothers and Sisters.

In California, what started out as an enjoyable Labor Day Dive Trip aboard the Dive Boat Conception turned into an unspeakable disaster that took the lives of 34 divers.  The Conception caught fire, burnt to the water line and sank in 60 feet of water.  There were only 5 survivors.  I don’t remember any diving accident, in my 52 years as a certified diver that comes close to that devastation.  The entire industry is grieving for this loss of life.  Our hearts and prayers are with those divers and their families.  Our prayers are also with the Truth Aquatics Family.  I can’t imagine the pain and anguish they must be going through right now.  We can only pray.

The Surf Expo has been cancelled this week due to Hurricane Dorian.  The way I’m feeling today is if DEMA was cancelled this year I would not mind it at all.  I’m sorry, but my heart is just not into it this year and I have no idea what it’s going to take to get me back into it.

With the events of the past few days in mind, I’ve been thinking about our Industry and my fellow Dive Industry Professionals.  As Industry Professionals, what is our industry identity and what is our common denominator?  What do we relate to?  We are the Diving Industry.  Not the Surf Industry, the Outdoor Industry, or the Travel Industry.  Our common denominator is that we are all watermen and women.  The only connection we have with the Outdoor Show and the Travel Shows is that we participate in water sports when we are outdoors and we have to travel to get to our dive sites.  Let me explain why I think that our love for the water is what ties our industry together.

A few years ago I tried, in vain, to make the connection with the Surf Expo.  We all admired their youthful, energetic approach to their lifestyle.  As we started to work with their show, I realized they had a major conflict with their own members.  It seemed that half of them related to Water Sports and the other half related to Board Sports.  If you thought of Surfing as a Board Sport (the younger crowd), you were identifying with surfboards, skateboards, wakeboards, snowboards and the street apparel that came with it.  If you related to Water Sports (the older crowd), you were into surfing as a water sport and the beach apparel lifestyle that was associated with it.  The Beach Boys and the film, The Endless Summer were all about the older, more relaxed surfing lifestyle.   The show name, The Surf Expo, has outgrown itself.  It’s still a great show but is it a water sports show, a board sports show, an apparel show or a beach lifestyle show?  You can’t be all things to all people.  You need a common denominator and a common call to action.

Travel Shows have the same problem marketing themselves as does Surf Expo.  Travel shows try to appeal to everyone because they sell expensive booth space, but if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. The Travel Industry is way too big.  Companies market themselves as all inclusive beach resorts, mountain lodges and resorts, air travel, land travel, ocean going cruise ships, river cruises,  lake side vacations, camping trips, etc, etc.  Their common denominator is Travel but travel means different things to different people.

Here is something the “Travel Industry” doesn’t understand.  Traveling used to be a once a year event for people who worked for a living and had limited vacation time.  Once a year, they booked a trip to get away from home to do things like sight seeing, eating and drinking.  Nothing could be more boring.  Today’s traveler books Adventure Travel to do something special on vacation.  We dive, fish, photograph, live and learn with the locals, conduct missions, volunteer our talents to a good cause and countless other things.  We travel for business.  We travel for pleasure.  We travel for recreation.  Travel has become a means to our end.  Our end goal is Adventure.  I once heard Jean Michel Cousteau speak to a group about the excitement of adventure and what it meant to him.  I can still hear him say, It’s about the adventure.”   Diving and Adventure Travel is all about the diving and adventure, not the travel.

Now if the diving industry marketed itself as an attractive niche within the water sports industries we could combine forces with all the different types of diving, like snorkeling, freediving, scuba diving, and tech diving.  We would be able to market our niche with other water sports like swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, beach apparel, and water sports related adventure travel.  This market is beyond hugh!  If you add specialty industries like photography, metal detecting, treasure hunting, archaeology and the marine sciences, we would have gigantic market potential.

Instead of joining other industry shows in Surf, Travel, and Outdoor, we need to market our industry as its own major water sports adventure activity.  That would include all water sports, swimming, diving (all kinds), surfing, boating, fishing, adventure travel, photography, treasure hunting, and above all, the water sports apparel lifestyle.  Our common denominator would be our love for the water.  Our central playgrounds would be water related destinations.  Our activities would be water sports related.   Our Dive Stores would become Water Sports Adventure Stores.  We would become the Water Sports Ambassadors for cleaner water, living reefs and sustainable tourism.

OK.  I’m starting to get excited again but that doesn’t mean I’m getting back in the game again.  At least not the way we have been in it for the past 60 years.  This time we have to do it right.  This time we have to define ourselves first.  We are Water Men & Water Women.  We have to choose our own image and market that to the general public.  We have to grow our own Regional Water Sports Communities and learn to work well with each other.  We have to work together and support each other.  I’m ready to make a commitment to being a Water Sports Ambassador.  How about you?

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

FAM Trip – Belize

FAM Trip – Belize
July 19-23, 2019

by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Participating in a familiarization trip (FAM Trip) is always an exciting adventure for Dive Travel Specialists.  Visiting a new resort two weeks before its Grand Opening is even more exciting.  FAM Trips are the way we get to know all about Dive Resorts and their Dive Operators.  Talking to a Travel Representative at a Dive Show does not compare to seeing the resort up close and personal and experiencing it for yourself.   You learn more about a Resort’s Dive Operation by going diving with them and their staff.  That is exactly what 28 Dive Travel Specialists did earlier this summer.

On July 19th we took a group of Retail Dive Travel Specialists to Sir Karim Hakim’s Belize Dive Haven on the Turneffe Atoll in Belize.  Debra Helms of Roatan Charter, Inc. put the trip together and asked us to participate.  The purpose of the FAM Trip was to introduce Belize Dive Haven to some of the industry’s Top Dive Travel Specialists.  Part of what the Travel Division of the Dive Industry Association does is identify FAM Trip Ready Travel Buyers and invite them on a three to five day Familiarization Trip Experience at select Dive Resort Destinations.

We invited a great group of Dive Travel Specialists from our list of FAM Trip-Ready Industry Professionals.  We connected with Dive Store Owners and Dive Travel Specialists from California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Belize.  We organized the trip so that we would have one day of travel arriving, three days of diving and one day of travel departing.  In my opinion, a five day FAM Trip is the perfect length of time for a Caribbean trip.  A few days longer may be more appropriate for a South Pacific or  Indonesian trip.  This schedule gives you plenty of time to reach your destination and still get to see things along the way.  Using your first day of travel is a great way to get to know the members of your group and answer any questions they may have.  Three days of diving is perfect.  Usually, you get to see the best dive spots the resort has to offer in a short period of time.  Having the last day off to pack your bags, see some local sites , and say your good-byes makes for a relaxing day.

A lot of planning goes into a FAM Trip, especially if you want it to be successful and FUN.  Historically, FAM Trips are put together by Dive Travel Wholesalers, Tourism Bureaus, Resort Destinations, and sometimes, experienced Dive Travel Specialists.  I may be slightly biased but I believe that Dive Travel Wholesalers do the best job of putting these trips together.  They know the travel market (The Sellers), they know adventure travel (The Product), and they know their customers (The Retail Travel Buyers).  They are experienced at bringing travel buyers and sellers together and it shows in their track record of group trip bookings.  Having a Dive Travel Association as part of your FAM Trip Team helps coordinate Dealer selection, pre-trip marketing promotions, on-site marketing opportunities and post-trip followup.  It also is a big plus if your Travel Association helps you put together a SWAG Gift Bag or Photo Contest for your participants.

Roatan Charter put together a great Belize FAM Trip.  The Resort Destination was Belize Dive Haven Resort on Turneffe Atoll.  The resort is brand new, scheduled to open to the public on August 1, 2019 and we were her first FAM Trip Group.  Two other groups had stayed there a few months prior, so we weren’t the first people to dive with the Resort’s Dive Team.  The trip was by invitation only from Belize Dive Haven’s owner, Sir Karim Hakim.  It included four nights deluxe accommodations, round-trip boat transfers from Belize City and Turneffe Atoll, three days of diving, three meals daily and hotel taxes.  A low cost companion option was included in the invitation.  Airfare, drinks and gratuity were not included.

We tried something new on this trip that supported our mission of bringing Buyers and Sellers together.  We knew that we were going to be spending five days with Retail Travel Buyers on a Caribbean Island and we wanted it to be fun and enjoyable.  We decided to put SWAG Gift Bags together for all of our participants; Retailers, Companions, and Resort Staff.  A number of Dive Industry Association Member’s responded to our request and donated over $7,000 worth of gift items for our SWAG Gift Bags.  Roatan Charter provided the Bag.  4 Ocean gave each participant a Signature Bracelet and a metal water bottle. Lita’s Natural Insect Repellent provided a sample pack of Insect Repellent, Insect Bite Itch Relief and Duel Purpose Repellent & Itch Relief.   Riptide Sales Group provided Peppers Polarized Eyewear Sunglasses and Lanyards.  SeaCure Custom Mouthpiece added a custom mouthpiece for each participant.  Stream2Sea provided all of us with a choice of either Sun & Sting Relief Gel and Leave-in Conditioner or Sunscreen for Face & Body and Tinted Sunscreen.

The FAM Trip participants  came from nine different states, so the plan was to meet at Hakim’s Pizza Restaurant in Belize City and then take the dive boats to Belize Dive Haven.   We chose Southwest Airlines as our air carrier and I’m so glad we did.  We got a great price on the round-trip airfare from Orlando to Belize and our “Bags Flew Free.”  When you have nine bags of dive gear, photo gear, clothing and 35 SWAG gift bags to carry, Bags Fly Free is a BIG Plus.   Thank you Southwest.

The flight to Belize was short and enjoyable.  Being that it was our first time to Belize I was pleasantly surprised how inexpensive the flight was, how short the flight was from Florida and how easy it is to get to Belize.  The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is a small, but well run and efficient airport.  After paying our custom’s duty on our “imported gift items” we were whisked away in Belize Dive Haven Vans, to Hakim’s Pizza Restaurant, across the street from Hakim’s Marina, where we would board the boats to our new adventure.

Photo by Jonas Stevens

Boating to the resort was very enjoyable due to a smooth ride through the mangroves.  Our first sight of the 100 room resort sitting on a 500 acre private island was a breathtaking one.  Sir Hakim greeted us at the pier, along with Max Monsanto, the Dive Center’s Course Director.  We got a better view of this beautiful 4-story resort as we walked across the bridge of the resort’s 50 meter pool.  After our customary welcoming cocktail punch we were shown to our rooms where our bags (all nine of them) were waiting for us.

We had plenty of time to unpack, connect to the internet and enjoy a movie on NetFlix.  Thanks to the resort’s own communication tower on campus, we had all the internet and wi-fi we needed to correspond with the world.    I was starting to see that Belize Dive Haven was designed as a self-sustaining complex, with its own electricity, water making capability and internet communication.  That evening we had a welcome aboard dinner, handed out the Gift Bags and got to relax over drinks with our new companions.  A staff introduction by Max made us all feel at home with our new hosts.

Belize Dive Haven has tremendous potential as a dive resort.  The Resort sits on a 500 acre, privately owned island.  It makes its own electricity, makes its own fresh water and has its own communication tower that provides guests with wi-fi and internet capability.  Scattered across the grounds are light posts powered by individual solar panels.  The grounds are well illuminated at night.  The resort complex has its own air strip for small planes and a Helicopter Pad, in case you would rather fly to the Resort from Belize City instead of taking the boat.  Next to the new canal, behind the resort is room for a number of privately owned Condos and owner Yachts.  The resort has a 50 meter pool in front of the resort and a second pool, near completion, next to the bar and outdoor dining room.  The hotel has 100 guest rooms, a grand ballroom & dining area and plans for a roof-top disco.  The hotel, itself, is a work in progress and something new is added almost everyday.  The dive operations office and classroom are complete and the next projects to finish are the wet gear dive locker on the pier and the equipment storage and repair facility in the dive operations building.

The next three days was full of diving, exploring the grounds of the new resort, learning all about our new friends and trying to photograph and video the trip.  I had the pleasure of testing Tovatec‘s new MERA, the hand held Dive Light, Camera and Video.  We had another new product to test.  It was Sublue’s Underwater Scooter.  Our group had plenty of time to correspond with the staff and offer them suggestions on getting their resort and dive operation ready for the general public for their upcoming Grand Opening.

We came for the diving and if anyone in our group books a group trip, it will be to go diving.  Max Monsanto and Cardinal Andrews are in charge of the Diving Operation.  Max is a Course Director and Cardinal is a DiveMaster.  These guys are experienced divers, great leaders and fun to be with.  Their two Captains, Tyrell Ferfuson and Deron McKoy did an outstanding job with our group.  No problems getting us to our dive sites, getting us in the water or picking us up.  Our DiveMasters Rodney Waight and James Andrews Jr. were a kick.  Fun to be with, professional in their duties, and always present and observant in the water.   I would dive with any one of these Dive Professionals.

Photo by Dana Polites

The dive sites we visited in the Turneffe Atoll gave us a good sampling of Belize diving.  The water was warm, clear and calm.  We saw Sharks, Barracuda, Rays, Goliath Groupers, Turtles, Dolphins and a few Lionfish.  My favorite dive was “The Elbow”, a short boat ride from the resort.  We didn’t get to dive the famous Belize Blue Hole, but that just gives us another reason to return to Belize.

At the end of every FAM Trip, I ask myself two questions.  1) Would I go back?  2) Would I take a group there?  Since this was my first time to Belize and Belize Dive Haven, the answer is definitely yes to going back.  There were so many pictures and video I didn’t take.  There were so many dives I didn’t do and I want to see even more of the marine life I did see.  I also want to go back to see the progress this new resort is making over time.  Would I take a group there?  My next trip to Belize Dive Haven will be another FAM Trip.  I know what to expect now based on my first trip and I know what I would like to see on the next trip.

As a Travel Trade Association we are always looking for FAM Trip-ready Travel Buyers to introduce to new Dive Destinations.  By the same taken, we are also looking for Diver-Ready Travel Destinations to show to our Dive Travel Specialists.  I have a good feeling that Belize Dive Haven will one day be on our “most favorite” list.  Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Adventure Travel, FAM Trips | Leave a comment

SWAG Gift Bags Work

Offer Your Travel Buyers a Complimentary Gift Bag – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

On July 19-24, 2019 we took part in a FAM Trip to Belize to introduce 30 Retail Dive Centers and Dive Travel Specialists to a new Dive Resort, Belize Dive Haven. Debbie Helms, President of Roatan Charter organized the trip at the invitation of Sir Karim Hakim, Owner of Belize Dive Haven.  As an Authorized Travel Advisor and Executive Director of Dive Industry Association, I am always on the look-out for Retail Dive Stores that sell Dive Travel.    FAM Trips are a very special tool for Resort Destinations who want to find high volume group travel buyers.  I thought, maybe it could also be a valuable tool for dive equipment manufactures and training agencies.  We had just published a Blog article on June 11th entitled, Let Us Be Your Ambassador For A Day, so we decided to give it a try.

In our July Editorial Blog, Integrating All The Pieces Into Oneyou can read about our decision to try this new concept.  Since it has never been done before with any amount of success in our industry, we did not know if it would work.  As you can tell from our blogs, posts and pictures we received a great amount of industry participation and interest.  We really have to thank our Sponsors for helping us put this concept into practice.  Debbie Helms, Roatan Charter thought it was a great idea and had Gift Bags made up.  Lita Davis, Lita’s Natural Insect Repellent, started us off with a gift pack of three samples; Lita’s Insect Repellent Spray, Lita’s Insect Itch Relief, and Lita’s Dual Purpose Insect Repellent & Insect Bite Itch Relief.  Autumn Blum, Stream2Sea, gave our guests the option of a sample bag of Sun & Sting Relief Gel and Leave-in Conditioner or a sample bag of Sunscreen for Face & Body and Tinted Sunscreen.  John Flanders, SeaCure Custom Mouthpiece, supplied each of us with a Custom Mouthpiece.  Dave Pollock, RipTide Sales Group was quickly on-board and got us hooked up with Peppers Polarized Eyeware and 4 Ocean.  Peppers gave us 30 Sunglasses, Eyeware Retainer Leashes and Lanyards.  4 Ocean sent us a Reusable Metal Water Bottle and a 4 Ocean Bracelet for each Guest.  The Gift Bags were distributed to our Guests at our Welcoming Dinner in Belize.  The complements and praise from our guests was overwhelming.  I think it actually set the stage for a positive trip because our Dive Travel Specialists knew that we cared enough to thank them for coming with us on this FAM Trip.

Did it work?  Absolutely.  Did we learn anything?  Absolutely.  We knew that size and weight of the samples has a lot to do with our airline baggage limitations.  We also learned a thing or two about Customs.  The trick is to get equipment sponsors to provide actual samples of products they sell or sample items that are useful on a five day dive trip.  I guarantee that our next FAM Trip Gift Bag will be even better.

To summarize our concept, I have to say that we stayed true to our Mission of bringing Buyers and Sellers together.  We introduced a new dive resort and a number of dive products to a select group of professional Retail Buyers who buy and resell dive equipment, training and travel.  Very few company representatives get to spend five days on location with their Dealers.  We were able to do that on a FAM Trip Experience.  Very few Sales Reps travel throughout the Caribbean and beyond to visit their Resort and Dive Operator accounts.  On this trip we visited with one Dive Resort and Dive Operator.  On other FAM Trips we sometimes get a chance to visit with 6 or more Local Resorts and Dive Operators.  Either way, we get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with some of the best Buyers & Sellers in the Dive Industry.

There is one other thing we learned on this trip.  New Resorts look for and appreciate getting their hands on pictures and video of their operation from their guests.  Many manufacturers would also like pictures and video from actual users of their products.  Our next FAM Trip will include that option for our Guests and Hosts.  We plan to integrate SWAG Gift Bags and Photo Competitions on all future FAM Trip Experiences.  Subscribe to this blog for more FAM Trip updates.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Dive Travel Specialist
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Email: gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.diveindustry.net

Posted in Adventure Travel, FAM Trips | 1 Comment