Editorial – April 2020

Reinventing Yourself For The New Normal –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 Pandemic is having a severe impact on businesses and individuals worldwide.   The obstacles and challenges this virus put in our path is devastating.  First of all, it caught all of us off guard and unprepared to handle this kind of crisis in a timely fashion.  It changed the reality of many people who were happy with their way life in an economy that was experiencing unprecedented growth and prosperity for them.  When the pandemic started, people either reacted to it or did their best to respond to it as intelligently as they knew how.   That’s our two options in a crisis – Respond or React.

Reacting to a situation is the worst thing we can do as educated, intelligent human beings.  Being swayed emotionally by misinformation and distorted half truths does little to help us solve the problems at hand.  I am so ashamed of the people who first participated in hiding valuable information, distorting facts and figures, putting out misinformation and publicizing political “talking points” by finger pointing and false acquisitions.  Thank goodness our country came together to rationally create a plan to deal with this monumental crises head-on.   With truthful information, an honest attempt to defeat this pandemic, and a lot of hard work and sacrifice, we will defeat this awful virus.  However, I don’t think we will ever get back to the old normal way of life.  I believe we have crossed over into a “new normal” again.  But a new normal doesn’t have to be bad.  In fact it could be very good for us.

I don’t consider myself to be a social engineer or a political genius.  I’ve spent my life in the scuba diving business and I like to stick to my knitting.  We are still in the early stages of this global pandemic and we can already see the negative effects it is having on our recreation.  At the very beginning, dive shows and travel shows had to be cancelled or rescheduled.  That was a difficult choice by a number of show producers but an intelligent one at that.  So many active divers are over sixty years old with a number of high risk health factors like compromised immune systems, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.  The good news is that the shows were cancelled.  The bad news is that we had no back-up plan of action to conduct our face-to-face programs as digital events.  Face-to-face marketing is a very important element of an integrated marketing campaign, and although it is a 20th century way of marketing it still could remain relevant in the 21st Century.  I believe that dive and travel shows of the future will have a digital component to the event, complete with on-line programming, email and mobile participation combined with electronic and direct mail advertising.

Our travel partners are going through a very difficult time right now.  Some of our Travel wholesalers are dealing with groups who are currently on their trips and maybe close to coming home.  Some groups are wondering if their upcoming trip is going to get cancelled or shut down by an airline, a resort or a government order.  Communicating with travel vendors and your diving customers has never been more important.  People make better decisions when they have the necessary pertinent information.  The Dive Industry Association polled their Members and received status updates on their situations, challenges and how they are coping with the virus. We have done our best to update our Shows & Events Calendar and our Dive Trips web page.

The diving industry grows or declines in direct relationship to the amount of revenue we generate through the sale of diving equipment, training and travel.  The focus needs to remain on teaching people how to dive, selling them equipment, taking them diving and keeping them active.   The way we move goods through our channels of distribution to our markets is not the issue.  The important thing is that it gets done in a way that satisfies the buyers and sellers while keeping them safe.

If our recreation is to survive, it’s because our business community can adapt to the obstacles and challenges that the COVID-19 presents.   As we learn to respond to new challenges in the future, we will grow in our ability to be more successful.  Change is inevitable.  Flexibility is essential.

A few things the industry has already learned is that constant communication with our customers is essential.  If we want to keep our customers, we have to communicate with them through difficult times.  Not knowing what is going on in an emergency is the worst thing for everyone concerned.  Besides communicating with our business partners we need to respond quickly and decisively in an emergency.  If we need to cancel an event, we need to do it quickly and reschedule as necessary.  Many travel resorts, liveaboards and dive operators responded well to cancellations and have arranged credits and adjustments for their customers.  That means people will use them again in the future without worrying if they are going to lose their deposits or payments.  One of our Tour Operators has rescheduled a number of their group trips from the spring and are actually booking many more for next year and beyond.

A number of Retail Dive Centers are still operating and adjusting their schedules to serve their customers.  e-Learning courses have increased and open water check outs have been rescheduled as necessary.  Rental equipment is getting more disinfecting attention and simple things like disinfecting dive mask displays after each use is now standard practice.

The Dive Industry Association has partnered with Modern Postcard to conduct direct mail campaigns to verify our Retail Dive Store database and cross check it with our digital email addresses.  We’ve learned that more sophisticated  integrated marketing campaigns are now possible using 21st century technology.  When face-to-face marketing becomes compromised we can easily shift to digital, telephonic or direct mail contact.  In fact, Cathy Church, the famed Photographer and Photo Coach, just introduced a new underwater photography program she will be teaching from her studio in Grand Cayman, using SKYPE.  SKYPE training is included in her course at no charge!

The time to start reinventing your business is now.  Based on past health scares, I am confident this pandemic will run its course and come to a positive conclusion.  In the mean time, we all need to prepare for the worse and plan for the best.  Be safe by following the CDC guidelines and stay abreast of government alerts and warnings.  And stay in touch with your vendors, colleagues and customers.

###

 

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

Building, Maintaining and Growing a Market

Building, Maintaining and Growing a Market –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The diving industry has a new call to action for the 21st Century.  Something we can all wrap our heads around.  Something that we are probably all good at doing, but didn’t know we were.  Something that could turn the diving industry around for the better.  It’s called “Retaining the market we have.”   All we need is a little background education on what markets are, how they are made, and how they are maintained or abandoned.  Our education should include how the current diving market was created, how it got this far this way, and how we can make it healthy and vibrant again.

A market is where Buyers & Sellers meet to exchanged goods and services for compensation.  As you can see, there are many markets where diving equipment, training programs and travel products are bought and sold.  At the next dive show we can meet at the bar to discuss the chicken ‘n egg thing as to who came first to the market, the Buyers or the Sellers.  But for now let’s cover what we know.

Scuba Diving and all of the others kinds of diving, are different things to different people.  For some it is a recreation, a hobby, an experience, or merely an interest.  For some it is a profession, a collateral duty, or a part time job.  For many of us in the diving community, it is a passion, a way of life and a vocational choice we wouldn’t trade for anything.  We know that scuba diving equipment is a means to an end.  We use it to explore new worlds, discover new interests and get us safely to the destinations we were searching for.  Scuba diving is exciting, adventurous,  unique, social, and individual.  Like I said.  It’s different things to different people.

A scuba diving market was first created on a large scale, during World War II.  The Navy used diving equipment for it’s various combat missions.  The Navy taught their Frogmen how to dive, bought scuba equipment from the few diving equipment manufacturers that were making gear at the time, and put their Divers on a boat or beach to do a job.  If the mission was a success, they did it again.  Right there you have the four pillars of a healthy market, albeit, a small market.   The Navy Frogmen 1) Learned to dive.  2) Bought their gear.  3) Went diving.  4) Stayed active.

After the war, our Frogmen came home and taught their friends how to dive, and their friends, and their friends.  Sea Hunt came on the TV and showed the general public how adventurous diving was.  Pretty soon you had a larger demand for scuba diving and more manufacturers sprung up to meet the needs of more and better equipment.  Dive equipment for civilians.  Spear-fishermen and Lifeguards starting to use scuba equipment and more civilians were getting into the “sport.”  Next thing you know, Diver Training Agencies came on the scene and certified Scuba Instructors who taught more scuba divers.  Dive Shops, Marinas and Army-Navy Surplus Stores sold diving equipment and filled tanks.  People were getting certified at the YMCA and the next thing you know, a market was flourishing for scuba diving equipment and training.  Dive travel wasn’t a big thing yet.

By the time Jacques-Yves Cousteau invaded our living rooms with his TV program, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, the general public had barely heard about scuba diving, but were ready to take the plunge now and try this new thing.  The market took off like a rocket ship.  I was there when scuba diving went mainstream and yet I felt like a pioneer.  I only knew a few “older” guys who got into it.  They went out and started Dive Clubs and Dive Stores.  They made their own underwater housings to take pictures under the sea and they traveled around with them, speaking at dive clubs and underwater film shows.  They made their own masks and wetsuits.

What I saw back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s was a market growing faster than what seemed possible.  A few things helped scuba diving, as a recreation, grow.  1) Scuba Diving was a new activity.  2) Jacques Cousteau brought it to the general public in a very exciting way.  3) The post war Baby Boom produced a lot of kids who didn’t have the recreational options kids today have.   4) The age of consumerism began.  Of course, there were a lot of other factors that contributed to the creation and growth of the recreational scuba diving market, but these four come to mind now as significant reasons.

What we didn’t see coming back then was the lack of mainstream business practices being used in the diving community.  Sporting Goods Stores that started to carry diving equipment stopped because of the large capital investment needed (compressor, rental gear, repair tools, and a pool).  The business also needed to hire scuba instructors and repair technicians.  When you add the possibility of increased liability and a small market, investing in the diving niche was not all that attractive for a successful business.  However, the one thing that made us who we are today is that diving businesses were started and run by scuba diving enthusiasts.  They wanted to be in the diving business because they loved diving, not the business of diving.  This double-edged sword is still the Industry’s  #1 Strength and it’s #1 Weakness.

What we did see at the time but did nothing about was the way we focused on teaching more people to dive, but not following through with selling them gear so they could go diving.  We also did very little about taking them diving either locally or internationally.  and the last thing we dropped the ball on was keeping our divers active.  The big push was to train more and more divers.  The high drop-out numbers of the 80’s and 90’s should have been a big red flag to us back then, but we were too focused on more, more, more.  We were great at creating a market, but for who?  For what?

To run a successful business, you have to know the market, the product, the customer, and you have to understand business practices.  Without the proper tools and technologies needed to run a business professionally, proficiently and profitably, the chances of running a large-scale, successful business is diminished.   You also have to have at least one person working on the business while you have others who work in the business.  Michael Gerber summed it up best in his book, The E Myth.  Gerber’s book is not only a classic business book, it is on my “MUST READ” list for every Dive Industry Professional.

I’ve seen dive businesses of all kinds, ignore the need to have at least one person in the company who is responsible for the operation of the business.  Being a successful business means staying in business.  You can’t service your customers properly if you can’t pay your bills.  Yes, someone has to teach the classes, sell the gear, take groups of people on those exotic dive trips, repair the rental equipment and work the store, but still, someone has to be in the office, running the business.  If you are the one and only employee in your business and you have a “Closed – Gone Diving” sign on your door, you are not in business.

If you got into business because you love diving and not business, that’s fine.  You can continue to teach classes, dive master boat trips and take exotic vacations with your customers.  You can even spend all your time at trade shows racking up more certifications and awards BUT someone still has to be back at the business working to stay in business.  Which brings us to the point of the article.  Being in business is all about servicing a market that has a need and a desire to do what you do.  They have the desire and the means to buy something from you that will fill a need of theirs.  They are part of what we call the current market.   Our total market.

The recreational diving market is created by Scuba Instructors who certify people to go diving.  Teaching people how to dive is the first step in the process.   Most diving classes are taught at dive stores, dive resorts, and schools because the general public knows how to find these Instructors.  Their relationship with the industry begins with training.  For our total market to grow, the industry needs to support and promote these market makers of ours, many of whom will not take these new divers to step two of the market process, purchasing their gear.

We know that certified divers who buy their own gear will dive more.  After all, they invested in their own equipment because they wanted to go diving and do something.  I can’t see why anyone would take the time to learn to dive and not want to go diving, unless of course, they had a bad training experience.  A second question I have is if a scuba instructor is not selling gear to his or her students, where do these people buy their gear?  Do they buy from someone else, rent or just drop out?

Professional diving businesses who understand market concepts will want to focus on retaining the market that has been created. If a person is certified and has purchased their equipment or stated a desire to rent their gear on occasion, we need to take them diving.  Locally or on a dive trip.  It doesn’t matter.  They need to go diving.  In a business course we teach, Hypergrow Your Business, we talk about the three types of customers – Current Customers – Former Customers and Future Customers.  The more we focus on our current customers, the less former customers we will have and the need to find our future customers will be less critical.  The best way to retain our current customers is to keep them active.  That means Dive Trips, Dive Shows, Magazine Subscriptions, Continuing Education and getting involved in a dive club or an environmental organization that does stuff.

Teaching people how to dive, selling them gear, taking them diving and keeping them active is a full time job.  It’s a lot of planning and a lot of day-to-day communicating.  The process of retaining current customers, reclaiming former customers and acquiring new customers takes time and modern marketing tools and technologies.  Becoming an expert in marketing and communications may take you away from becoming a more recognized Instructor or the group leader on your dive trips, but it keeps the doors to your business open and allows someone the privileged of doing those things.  Maybe you could do both, maybe you can’t.  A good business analysis will show you where you stand.

To remain competitive in a declining market we must first stop the bleeding.  Step number one should be to focus on retaining as much of the current market that we can.  We need to stay in touch with our current customers.  Make sure their equipment and training is up to date.  Schedule and lead a dive trip to a destination of their choice, be it local or a plane’s trip away.  The industry as a whole needs to know how many active divers we have.  Do you have the most modern marketing tools and techniques to do this on a targeted or massive scale?

Step two is to reach out to all of our former customers and try to recapture their patronage.   Invite them to a reunion and rekindle the past love for diving.  Or whatever it was that got them to get certified.  Make sure their equipment and training are brought to current standards.  Then promise to retain this group by keeping them active.  Do you have the staff to handle that?

Finally, step three is to acquire new divers to replace the ones we lost over the years.  If we create more new divers than we lost, the industry will have grown.  Growth is good but only if it can be managed.  Sounds simple now that we explained it.  Hugh?  Again, do you have the digital, print, online, mobile, social media, direct mail, and face-to-face marketing knowledge and capability to successfully execute those kinds of campaigns?

So what are you waiting for?  1)  Appoint one person at your business to be the person in charge of taking care of the business of diving.   2) Apply for Membership in the Dive Industry Association ($125).  Take advantage of our primary research and read our 18-page Members Guide and our white paper on “Unifying the Diving Industry.”  3) Consult with a Dive Industry Association Marketing Pro to chart your course to a Better Business Tomorrow.

For more information:
Contact Gene Muhcanski,
Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
email: gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.diveindustry.net

 

Posted in Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Editorial – March 2020

Putting the Business of Diving in Perspective –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The Diving Industry Association is a Trade Association who’s Mission is to bring Buyers & Seller together.  That creates commerce, fills consumer needs, and grows the recreation.  Commerce is what creates the market we operate in and it maintains and grows the market for our recreational diving equipment, training and travel products.  Our Goal is to Build a Better Industry.  We do that one member at a time, one show at a time, and one blog article at a time.  The good news is that we have been doing it for 20 years and over 400 dive industry member businesses have benefited from our business expertise and marketing promotions.  In the past twenty years, the Dive Industry Association has sold over 1,500 memberships, exhibited at countless trade shows and events, written hundreds of articles, editorials and blogs, conducted numerous seminars and workshops and hosted a number of lunch and learn events.  We have consulted and worked for some of the biggest and best dive companies in the community.  We are the acknowledged experts in the business of diving sector, with a great amount of education, experience and successful outcomes.  We know and understand the market, the products and the customers.

Why is the Business of Diving so important?  Good question.  First of all, let’s look at markets in the traditional “Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline” Model.  A Market is where Buyers and Sellers meet to exchange products for compensation.  The Recreational Scuba Diving Market is one of many markets where diving programs, products and services are sold.  Most of what is sold in the recreational diving market is diving equipment, training programs and travel products.  The priority of our recreational scuba diving market should be to;  1) Teach people to dive.  2)  Sell them the gear they need to go diving.  3) Take them diving.  4) Keep them active.

Diving Instructors create the market by training people who become qualified to purchase our products.  Instructors who work for Dive Stores teach the majority of divers because Dive Stores are easy to find for the general public.  High School and college scuba instructors also teach a fair amount of divers, because they have a captive audience and the school system does their advertising for them.  The most under marketed group is the independent instructor.  To grow the market, we need to help all Scuba Instructors market their courses to the general public.

Once a market is built, sellers of diving equipment, training programs and travel products compete for the buyers’ dollars.  But acquisition alone will not keep a market from failure.  We must also maintain the market we create.  Acquisition and Retention.  A winning combination.  If all the sellers do their job in acquiring, maintaining and growing the market, it will continue to growth and prosper.  Maybe that’s why the diving industry is getting smaller every year and on the verge of dying.  We have focused too much on teaching new students but have not sold them the gear they need, or taken them diving and definitely have not worked to keep them active.  The rule of thumb should be to keep as much of the diving population active as possible and replace the 25% of the divers we lose every year with new divers.  And we don’t need more Instructors or Course Directors.  We need more new entry level divers who can then buy their gear, go diving and stay active.

As a Marketing Professional, I see the orderly process of building a market, maintaining the market and growing it.  I know which sectors are responsible for building the market, which sectors profit by selling to and servicing the market, and which groups benefit the most by creating the initial interest or continuing the interest in the recreation.  I also know who benefits the most by having a market built for them so they can benefit financially.  It’s easy for planners to see this orderly process because we are not in the trenches with the market creators or the countless numbers of business professionals  responsible for keeping this well-oiled machine running.  It all goes back to the classic book, The E Myth. In every business there has to be someone working in the business (doing the things the business does – teaching classes, dive mastering, working in the dive shops, running group trips) and someone who is working on the business (the bookkeepers, accountants, planners, lawyers and marketing professionals.)

So, the Business of diving is very important to our recreation.  We need professional companies that make innovative and safe scuba equipment, enjoyable training programs, and exotic dive resorts with awesome dive operators.  We need professionally run retail stores that teach classes, sell gear, rent and repair dive equipment, fill tanks, book dive trips and run dive clubs.  We need modern dive boats with experienced captains and crew.  We need better dive magazines and travel guides.  We need more dive shows and events.

Not only do we need more of everything in our recreation, we need better and more efficient businesses to handle a larger, growing market.  We need to be able to better serve our customers with the best training, the best equipment, the best service, and the best travel programs we can create.  We need training in the use of modern tools and technologies that help us with running our businesses and the most important aspects of customer acquisition, maintenance and retention.  Our customers deserve nothing less.  A Professional Dive Business works every day to become more professional, more proficient and more profitable.  That’s the only way they can, and deserve to stay in business.

Want to become a more professional Dive Industry Business?  1)  Select one person in your company to focus on working on your business.  2) Apply for Membership in the Dive Industry Association ($125).  3) We’ll share our research and best practices with your business representative.  Check out our Membership information, benefits and Members Guide on our website at http://www.diveindustry.net

###

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment

DIA Members To Exhibit at Beneath The Sea 2020

by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at Beneath The Sea on March 27-29, 2020 at the New Jersey Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ.  Visit our DIA Members for information & Great Show Specials.

Retail Dive Centers

Dive Operators

Dive Clubs

Manufacturers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profits & Associations

Media, Shows & Events, Retail Services

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saint Lucia Webinar for Dive Travel Specialists

Saint Lucia Magical Diving Experience



An amazing discussion with one of the dive shops on the island of Saint Lucia operating from the Marine reserve with picture perfect views of the pitons.
Webinar ID

325-568-075

 

Kind Regards

Ernie George

Sales Manager USA

Email: egeorge@stlucia.org 

1 Bella Rose Rd. Gros Islet | Post Office Box 221 Castries | Saint Lucia

Tel:+ 1 (758) 4587101 | USA 954-3297411 |(758) 7209675

www.stlucia.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Introducing Amphi – Powered Bionic Monofin

Introducing Amphi, powered bionic monofin, revolutionary underwater propulsion.

 

By: Amphi Americas LLC
February 11, 2020

Amphi Americas LLC has been preparing to enter the underwater equipment market with their novel approach towards underwater propulsion.  Amphi is a monofin with a built-in thruster, which pushes the swimmer through the water.

The central idea behind the Amphi system is hybrid propulsion powered partially by human muscles and partially by electric thruster, the same concept as an electric bike.  The swimmer/diver attaches their feet to the Amphi unit and is able to smoothly transition between muscle-powered and electric propulsion. Amphi detects the strength of the kick and adds or subtracts power accordingly. One can change the characteristics of this control mechanism in two ways: by changing the sensitivity to his kicks, or by changing for how long the thruster will remain “on” after the swimmer stops kicking. This allows the person to go between aggressive, sport-like machine, and relaxed cruising pal.

Amphi delivers a smooth transition between muscular and artificial propulsion. It shares the effort between the diver and the thruster. You decide how much support you summon. It extends the battery life and the operational range as well as increases thruster efficiency.

Amphi encapsulates two most common personal modes of underwater propulsion in a single device. It contains advanced sensors and electronics to assist the swimmer/diver with a dive and after-dive analysis, it works as if it was a part of his/her body, it needs no attention. The person is free to enjoy the dive or swim.

Amphi can be turned from a powerful and very dynamic machine to a toy just by its software. Using the phone app, one can change almost anything within the system. But this is not where the flexibility ends. One can change the powerpack and blades. Examples: strong powerpack and short fin blade for mostly powered dives, or smaller powerpack and long flexible blade for relaxed long swims using mostly one’s own muscles, and anything in between. The company plans to offer 3 different powerpacks and 6 types of blades.

Additionally, Amphi has its electronic brain. A pretty powerful one, too. It can take inputs from multiple sensors to control swimming actions. But it can also track the underwater path (including position, speed, and depth), and then display it on a smartphone, or share it on the Internet. In the future, the company will add an optional sensor suite called MyGaya, to record oceanographic data, such as salinity, temperature, and pressure. This will allow the user to become a citizen scientist if desired.  Amphi is an intelligent dive buddy. It’s not a mindless towing aid.

The big part of this project has been allowing people to share their underwater experiences online. Thus Amphi is capable of communicating with the cloud via a user’s cellphone. One will be able to sync Amphi’s data to user servers, share them on forums and with friends, compete remotely, etc.

“We use bioengineering to enhance our bodies to become amphibious creatures: half land – half sea, half human – half machine. We use bionic sensing to control our propulsion, so that we can feel like sea animals- be nimble and quick, and at the same time conserve our precious oxygen, we can be like otters or seals just by the virtue of bionic enhancement. We believe that Amphi will bring people closer to the ocean” – Marek Swoboda, PhD, founder and inventor of Amphi

Amphi Americas recently presented its working prototype. The company has been gearing up for an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. To watch Amphi in action, watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/pYivkn4M9K0

To learn more and to receive updates, join the company’s email list at: www.amphiamericas.com

For technical information, join the blog at: https://www.amphiamericas.com/blog

For videos, pictures, updates, and news, subscribe to our social media channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmphiPoweredBionicMonofin/

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWUPICIkjhGoI6626TSCu3g

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amphi_powered.bionic.monofin/

About Amphi:  Amphi Americas LLC is an early stage, R&D company based in Philadelphia, PA specializing in underwater propulsion. Amphi Americas created its first product – Amphi, a powered bionic monofin. This revolutionary underwater propulsion system allows you to swim or dive faster, deeper, more efficiently, explore the underwater world in a more natural way than traditional underwater scooters.  Amphi system is based on hybrid propulsion, powered partially by human muscles and partially by electric thruster, the same concept as an electric bike.

Posted in Dive Equipment, Press Release | Leave a comment

The Abingdon Co. Partners with NGPA

The Abingdon Co. Partners with National Gay Pilots Organization to Release a Limited Edition 30 Year Anniversary Swiss Aviation Watch

Unveiling this weekend at NGPA Winter Warm-Up in Palm Springs, California.

For Release: February 6, 2020

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, February 6, 2020 – The Abingdon Co. is pleased to announce its collaboration with the National Gay Pilots Organization (NGPA) to create and offer a limited edition watch specially designed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of NGPA. 50 pieces have been made and are individually serial numbered on the case back. The custom timepiece will be debuted and available for purchase for $399.00 February 7, 2020 at NGPA’s annual Winter Warm-up event in Palm Springs, California.

“We are excited to partner with The Abingdon Co. to launch an exclusive NGPA 30th anniversary watch to debut at our flagship event in Palm Springs,” said NGPA President David Pettet. “This creative design and affordable cost make this watch a unique and functional heirloom and a great way to benefit NGPA as 100% of the sale of each watch will benefit member programs and advocacy,” Pettet concluded. Sales of all 50 watches will be available at the event in Palm Springs and through NGPA’s website at www.ngpa.org/watch.

The three time zone aviation watch is designed as a unisex style which can be worn on the right or left wrist due to the placement of the inner bezel crown at the center of the polished 40mm stainless steel case. The letters “N, G, P, A” replace the first four numbers on a dark blue dial, and a 20mm genuine leather strap is attached via The Abingdon Co.’s standard EZ Release pins. Each watch also features a specialty custom case back and buckle with the NGPA logo. For the dual-time function, the Swiss Ronda 505.24H movement was chosen for its reliability and ease of use. Durability features include a sapphire crystal, C5 SuperLuminova coating for night visibility, and 100 Meter (330 ft.) water resistance. The watch comes in a white wooden box with the NGPA 30 Year Anniversary logo on the top and is wrapped around a blue felt pillow.

Detailed specifications can be found at www.ngpa.org/watch.

“A well-made watch can be built to pay tribute to a moment in time that is extraordinary,” Abingdon Mullin, CEO of The Abingdon Co. says. “It can be worn daily to remind oneself that they are part of a team, a family. When the time is right, it can be passed on to future generations to teach them of the milestones accomplished by those before them. The NGPA 30 year anniversary watch is designed to withstand the test of time for each of its 50 owners.”

The year-long collaboration began during a casual conversation between Abingdon and several members of NGPA at the 2019 Winter Warm-up opening social party. Abingdon, a strong ally for the organization, offered to propose a custom watch design to help the NGPA commemorate thirty years. After the design was approved, NGPA proposed the concept in an electronic survey to their 4000 member list in order to gauge interest. The concept of the commemorative watch and its design was received well and the project began. “Collaborating with NGPA has been an absolute joy,” says Abingdon. “You would think they were all well-paid top level employees, and when you realize that everyone is volunteering their time to make this project succeed, you see how much love each board member has for their organization. Designing a custom watch with an outside organization can sometimes present challenges, but with NGPA, it has been positive, fun and easy the entire process.”

The 30 Year Limited Edition Watch is currently available for purchase on www.ngpa.org/watch for $399 (additional $30 for choosing a specific serial number) and will also be available to buy in person at the NGPA Winter Warm-Up event in Palm Springs, California. The event is sold out.

Dial Detail Images Below:

Closeup Detail of Dial
Low Light Detail of Dial

Interviews with Company Founder / Crew Member in Chief, Abingdon Mullin are welcome & available upon request. Images available by request.

The Abingdon Co produces adventurous watches for adventurous women. For more information, visit: http://theabingdonco.com

CONTACT

The Abingdon Co. Media Relations
: The Abingdon Co.
: 702.530.9438
press@theabingdonco.com
www.TheAbingdonCo.com

SOCIAL

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theabingdonco/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbingdonCo
Twitter: @TheAbingdonCo #TheAbingdonCo
Tumblr: http://abingdonwelch.tumblr.com/

KEY FACTS

· The Abingdon Co. – www.TheAbingdonCo.com

· First aviation watch made exclusively for women

· Adventurous watches made for adventurous women

· Designed by a female pilot Abingdon Mullin who heads the company ensuring quality and philosophical values are never compromised

· Functions: watches include flight computer, Zulu/GMT time conversion, luminous hands, and anti glare sapphire crystals

· Currently five watch models, Amelia, Jackie, Marina, Katherine, and Elise

· Company founded November 2007

· High Resolution images can be found on the About page of www.TheAbingdonCo.com/press

###

Posted in Press Release | Leave a comment

Editorial – February 2020

The Evolution or Unraveling of the Diving Industry –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The Diving Industry Association is celebrating its Twenty Year Anniversary in April. It’s time to renew our “vows” and offer our services and support to the international diving community for the next twenty years.  The decision to renew our commitment is an easy one to make.  The part that makes me pause to think about what we are offering, is another story.  As a community, are our needs the same they were 20 years ago?  In fact, do we have the same needs we had 40 years ago?  If our needs are different, then the solution is an easy one.  Do something new that meets the current needs of the market. But if our needs are the same as they have always been, then we MUST do something new because what we did in the past 40 years didn’t work.

For the past few years I have been sharply focusing on meeting the current needs of dive industry professionals.  To me, it’s all about helping business owners and managers make their companies more professional, more proficient and more profitable.  Growing professionally means learning new skills and staying abreast of your industry’s best practices.  Becoming more proficient means getting the most done with the least investment of your time, money and manpower.  Being more profitable means that you invested your time, money and manpower correctly and received a suitable return on your investment.

Running a business is a combination of art and science.  First of all, you have to know how to run a business and there has to be someone in your company who focuses on running the business, not doing the things a business does.  Running a business is about buying, merchandising, marketing, selling, accounting and law.  Doing the things a business does means you are teaching classes, selling equipment, conducting travel, repairing equipment and the hundreds of other things entrepreneurs do.

Forty years ago we had 2,400 dive stores in the United States.  Today we have about 1,200.  I don’t call a 50% decline in our retail sector a success!  In fact, if this trend continues, there won’t be a diving industry in the near future.  The reason for the decline is obvious to many in the industry but for one reason or the other, not everyone wants to talk about it.  I would like to share with you some explanation about this decline that I discovered recently when reorganizing and streamlining my industry notes and publications from the past forty years.

Recently I have been reorganizing my diving industry books, magazines, catalogs, brochures and notes.  It’s one way of throwing out a bunch of junk but saving the important documents for future use.  The goal is to turn our business of diving history into a workable business library  that can be accessed by our Members and Sponsors.

Many of the books and magazines I have from the 1960’s shows scuba diving as a recreation starting up and growing.  A flurry of content was written about scuba diving education.  The decade was all about learning to dive.  The 70’s showed divers buying gear to spearfish, photograph and travel.  The certification agencies were teaching divers to become instructors who could, in turn, teach more divers.  The sale of diving equipment had a long way to go and travel was still a luxury.  I saw the retail sector boom in the 1980’s.  The focus now was on teaching people how to dive, selling them gear and taking them diving locally.  Retail stores were doing very well.  Training Agencies were growing and getting more sophisticated.  Their books and training aids were better than ever.  Equipment Manufacturers were in charge of the industry and sales were good.  The travel Industry was starting to grow and offering some amazing diving opportunities outside of the United States.

During the peak years of scuba diving as a recreation, the sale of diving equipment, training and travel was substantial and definitely the focus of the industry.  The one subject matter that did not grow correctly was the Business of Diving.  Very little was written about the need for professional business training in the recreation.  With the exception of one training agency that promoted itself as a Training Agency for Dive Shops, what was written about business topics for dive industry professionals was limited and lacking in quality.  Another major short-coming about the business articles of the time was that it was limited to dive stores only.  No one wrote or talked about the need for Manufacturers, Sales Reps, Training Agencies or Travel Companies to learn about starting a business, running a successful business or succeeding in business.  Much of what I read about the business of diving in the 80’s was written by non-business people who had never owned and operated a business and for that matter, never worked in the diving industry.

Starting around 1990, the retailing sector began its decline, knowing a lot about training, equipment repair and travel, but knowing very little about the business of diving.  We know that dive retailing is highly competitive and it takes a large capital investment to get started.  It also takes a hugh invest in time and talent to successfully operate.  A dive store owner needs to understand the products, the market and the profession.  The profession includes, retailing, merchandising, computing, sales, marketing, accounting, law, and human resources.

In the coming year, the Dive Industry Foundation plans to research the dive community’s past business of diving training history.  Our hope is to work with dive industry professionals to fill the gap with solid dive business training.  One of our researchers will be asking the dive community for books, magazines and business articles we current don’t have but need. Business of Diving information can be shared with Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net

###

Posted in Business Improvement, Editorials | 1 Comment

Regional Dive Show Communities

Regional Dive Show Component Communities –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

I’ve come to realize that the main strength of the diving industry is our sense of community.  Think about it.  What we all have in common is the fact that we are scuba divers.  As a whole, we are individuals, adventurers, explorers, risk takers, environmentalists, and water men & women.  We are out-going, gregarious, and social individuals.   Learning to scuba dive and being active in the recreation takes a special kind of person with a curiosity and respect for the unknown.   When we meet another scuba diver, we like to say, You’re a diver?  Me too!  Scuba Divers are created locally.  Local Dive Industry Professionals are our front line ambassadors who teach people how to dive, sell them gear, and take them diving.  After a person gets certified, it’s up to them to stay active in the recreation.  Hence, a local diving community is born.

Regional Diving Communities:  I’ve been working on building Regional Diving Communities for a number of years now.  I always thought of the International Diving Community, as being broken down into Regional Territories.  i.e. Continents, Countries, Territories.   We always think about the Local Diving Community when we get involved in Regional Dive Shows.  Beneath the Sea brings the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Dive Community together.  Our World Underwater caters to the North Central Dive Community.  Scuba Show has done an excellent job bringing the California and Southwest Dive Communities together.  These shows have historically been the annual highlight of their respective community for many years.  Regional diving communities are a very important concept to promote.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the decline of our regional diving community concept.

With the advent of Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show being cancelled this year and having to be rescheduled for 2021, our Association began examining the causes of this regional decline.  I think I may have something here and I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought and get back to me.

We have known for more than ten years now that Regional Dive Shows were losing market share and were in a steady decline.  With the advent of international dive travel, the desire to dive locally has declined and so has our affiliation with local dive shops.  The internet has made dive travel and equipment purchasing much easier and we have lost the social aspect of being involved in a local dive club and local dive store community.  Still, this doesn’t explain the paradigm shift in the makeup of the dive communities that are within each and every Regional Dive Community.  It seems that every regional dive show is a composite of nine fully functional and independent dive community groups.  Let’s look at them in more detail.

Dive Show Component Communities:  This is one community we are working with more this year.  Here’s why:  1) I believe in Regional Dive Communities.  2) I believe that Regional Dive Shows are a local community’s major annual event.  3) I believe that our industry must work to improve and strengthen our Regional Dive Shows.  With that said, I want to state why I feel that a regional dive show is made up of nine separate dive communities.  I don’t want to put a priority on any one of the groups because I feel that all of the groups are needed to make an annual event successful.  A balanced regional dive show is made up of workshops, seminars, film shows, exhibits, meetings, social events, sponsors, show staff, and attendees.  Each section has their own dive community.  Members of each community usually know each other, hang together, dive together and socialize together at regional events.  Sometimes they know members of the other communities, but many times they don’t.  This is based on my 50 years of experience with regional dive shows and events, but it is still one man’s personal opinion and observation.  I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

  1. At most of the regional shows and events, you will have individuals and companies conducting workshops before, during or after a local show.  I’ve seen cylinder training, regulator maintenance and repair, training updates and crossovers and photography workshops of all kinds.  They bring in attendees, training and revenue, but they tie up an attendee’s time for nearly a whole day.  The Workshop Community is small.
  2. Seminars are the meat and potatoes of a regional dive show.  It’s what most attendees come to see.  Historically, it is what defines a show, and could be local or international in scope.  Ticket sales contribute to the profitability of an event.  The Speaker Community is quite extensive, seasoned and diverse.  They are our industry story tellers and may be regionally based or international in notoriety.  This community is under appreciated and usually does not market their talents outside of their own community.  If there is one community that our industry needs to spend more time promoting, it’s this one.  Dive Industry Association maintains a database of seminar speakers, photographers and film makers.
  3. Film Shows can be more important than seminars if they are conducted properly.  I remember going to Underwater Film Shows in the 70’s and was amazed by the presentations.  I remember Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Stan Waterman, and John Stoneman giving their presentations and amazing the audience.  It was the way I recharged my industry professional batteries. Unfortunately, many of my peers in the Exhibiting Community don’t go to film shows anymore because we are either too tired after a day of standing in our booths or we are out with clients at night.  That needs to change.  The Photographers and Videographers in this community are highly specialized and are in high demand for their talents, films and presentations.
  4. The Exhibit Hall is what pays for the cost of the venue.  Without exhibitors there would either be no show or admission prices would have to be much higher to cover the costs of a commercial venue.   Hotels and Convention Centers are very costly to rent.  You could see how important Exhibitors are to a show.  Universities and Colleges, however, sometimes donate space to non-profit organizations who hold their events on campus.  Our database includes over 1,000 exhibitors in the diving exhibitor community.  If you add some of the travel, apparel, outdoor, boating and watersports exhibitors, it would be in the tens of thousands.   Exhibitors do better at events that are called expos, where the focus is on the sale of goods in the exhibit hall.
  5. Meetings could be an intricate part of an annual regional event.  There are many advantages for organizations and associations to schedule their annual meeting during a regional event.  The venue is already booked and many dive industry professionals have saved the date in their calendars.  All an organization needs is to book a few hours in a meeting room and provide drinks and snacks.  Sponsoring a party for their group would even be a bigger reason for their members to attend.  After the meeting, there is something to do for their group members.  Many groups have negotiated discount tickets to the event from the show producers.
  6. Social events at an annual regional show are very important.  They are best when the actual participants are invited to participate.  We’ve all been to annual events where private social activities were going on during the time the event was taking place.  There is nothing worse than paying over $1,000 for booth space that you have to staff while a party is going on.  That one particular disconnect is what reduces exhibitor participation at many regional shows.  It’s not the act, it’s the attitude.  On a positive note, we’ve all been to events, both regionally and nationally where the show producers sponsor parties and hospitality suites for the attendees to meet and mingle with the speakers, exhibitors, industry leaders and show staff.  Those are the types of social events we all remember and cherish.  That’s what building a regional community is all about.  In fact, it’s the perfect way to intermingle and unite different communities.
  7. Sponsors.  We have a database of dive companies who are willing to put up money to help pay for regional, national and international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).  They are paying for “eyeballs” and will only come on-board after you can assure them that you have a full and interesting show agenda, have secured a large number of exhibitors and can almost guarantee a large attendee turnout.  Sponsorship dollars can be used for advertising and special perks, like socials and hospitality suites.  Remember, exhibitor revenue pays for the venue.
  8. Putting on a Regional Event is not a one person job.  It takes an entire staff to put together a successful show.  Beneath the Sea is a sterling example of a regional show that has a large, volunteer, community based staff who all have jobs, titles and specific responsibilities.  One of the best volunteer staffs I have ever seen in the diving industry was the volunteer staff from Sea Space, the annual dive show held in Houston, Texas.  If you exhibited there in the past, you may remember the volunteers helping you unload your vehicle, park your car and even fill in for you at your booth so you can have a potty break.  Of course, even the volunteers at Sea Space didn’t make us sandwiches for lunch like the volunteers at Seas Scuba Expo in North Carolina did.  Those were the days.  Having a large, organized volunteer staff brings the local diving community together and makes them feel like it’s their show, not the private enterprise of one person or one person’s personal charity.
  9. And finally, the attendees.  It’s all about the attendees.  and I don’t mean only in numbers only.  I mean in quality.  Giving free admission tickets at the bus stop to increase your number count does the speakers, exhibitors and sponsors no good at all.  We should be seeking qualified attendees who want what we offer and are willing to pay for it.  Then everyone wins.  Attendees are the reason we do all this work for.  You may ask, what do the attendees want to see at a regional dive show?  Exhibits of dive equipment, training and travel?  Seminars? Workshops?  Film Festivals?  Are they there for meetings or social events?  Well, the answer is YES to everything.  Remember, we are not calling it an Expo, where the focus is only on buying stuff from the exhibit booths.   We are also not calling it a Professional Development Conference where the focus is on educational seminars and workshops.  It’s an Annual Regional Dive & Travel Show where everything the attendees want is available, in one place in one weekend.  Pretty simple.

I hope you enjoyed my rant about Annual Regional Events and their associated communities.  Now I would like to give you some ideas that may help to make them more meaningful and successful.

  1. Show Producers – Plan your events for the next three years and publicize the dates.  Establish a volunteer staff, delegate responsibilities and have follow-up meetings monthly.
  2. Speakers and Exhibitors – Commit to your participation one and 1/2 years (18 months) in advance.  Pay your deposits early.
  3. Local Dive Stores & Dive Community – Save the date for your participation.  Don’t plan trips or classes during the event weekend.
  4. Local Dive Clubs and Non-Profit Organizations – Plan to conduct your annual meeting during the show.  Negotiate discount tickets for your members through the show organizers.
  5. Social Celebrities and Hall of Famers – Plan your meetings and fundraisers for your Regional Members during this time.  Enjoy the fruits of our labor.
  6. Sponsors and Large Dive Companies – Become a sponsor and assist with advertising one year in advance.  Arrange for social events, soirees, and hospitality suites at the host hotel.
  7. Industry Media – Promote the show regionally, nationally, and internationally starting one year in advance.
  8. Competing dive, surf, outdoor, and travel shows – Don’t plan to hold your event during the same weekend as our Region’s Annual Events.  At least not in the same region.  You wouldn’t like it if they did the same to you.

So now we can begin a Regional Event revival and bring back Annual Regional Dive & Travel Shows & Events to their former glory days.  Your thoughts?

For more information, comments or suggestions, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association.  Gene can be reached at gene@diveindustry.net

Posted in Business Improvement, Shows & Events | Leave a comment

Editorial – January 2020

Our Communities Make Us Strong –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

I’ve come to realize that the main strength of the diving industry is our sense of community.  Think about it.  What we all have in common is the fact that we are scuba divers.  As a whole, we are individuals, adventurers, explorers, risk takers, environmentalists, and water men & women.  We are out-going, gregarious, and social individuals.   Learning to scuba dive and being active in the recreation takes a special kind of person with a curiosity and respect for the unknown.   When we meet another scuba diver, we like to say, You’re a diver?  Me too!  But there is a potential down side to diving communities.  If taken too far, it could lead to fragmentation, isolation and the decline of the diving industry.  Let’s look at the different types of diving communities.

Regional Diving Communities:  I’ve been working on building Regional Diving Communities for a number of years now.  I always thought of the International Diving Community as being broken down into Regional Territories.  i.e. Continents, Countries, Territories.   We always think about the Local Diving Community when we get involved in Regional Dive Shows.  Beneath the Sea brings the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Dive Communities together.  Our World Underwater caters to the North Central Dive Community.  Scuba Show has done an excellent job bringing the California and Southwest Dive Communities together.  These shows have historically been the annual highlight of their respective community for many years.  Regional diving communities are a very important concept to promote.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the decline of our regional diving community concept as seen in the Pacific Northwest, the South Central Territory and recently in the Greater Chicago Area or North Central Territory.

With the advent of the Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show being cancelled this year and having to be rescheduled for 2021, our Association began examining the causes of this regional decline.  I think I may have something here and I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought and get back to me.

We still have a strong sense of being a part of a scuba divers community.  Being a Scuba Diver is still special but only a small percentage of our population are divers.  With the advent of international dive travel, the desire to dive locally has declined and so has our willingness to affiliate with a favorite local dive shop.  The internet has made dive travel and equipment purchasing much easier and we have lost the social aspect of being involved in a local dive club and local dive store community.  Still, this doesn’t explain the paradigm shift in the makeup of dive communities.

Occupational Communities:  Another type of community that is very important in our industry is the occupational community.  Dive Equipment Manufacturers have their community and so do Retail Dive Centers.  The Dive Travel Community is an especially close-knit group.  They share clients a lot and many times have worked for their competitors at one time or another.  The Sales Rep Community is very strong in our industry due to the fact that a lot of reps work for many different companies and usually bounce from one company to another over their career.  Sales Reps probably have more in common with each other than some of the other occupational communities.

Certification Agency Communities:  I almost don’t want to write about this one.  Over the past 45 years, I’ve seen both the good side of these communities and the bad side.  Identifying with a particular vendor or brand can be a very positive thing for a company or an individual.  If orchestrated properly it can bring large groups of dive industry professionals together for a successful event, meeting or gathering.

Dive Show Component Communities:  This is one community I hope to work with more this year.  Here’s why:  1) I believe in Regional Dive Communities.  2) I believe that Regional Dive Shows are a local community’s major annual event.  3) I believe that our industry must work to improve and strengthen our Regional Dive Shows.  With that said, I want to state why I feel that a regional dive show is made up of nine separate dive communities.  I don’t want to put a priority on any one of the groups because I feel that all of the groups are needed to make an annual event successful.  A balanced regional dive show is made up of workshops, seminars, film shows, exhibits, meetings, social events, sponsors, show staff, and attendees.  Each section has their own dive community.  Members of each community usually know each other, hang together, dive together and socialize together at regional events.  Sometimes they know members of the other communities, many times, they don’t.

In order to keep this editorial short, I have written a separate blog on the subject of Dive Show Component Communities where we go into full detail on the nine component groups of a successful regional dive show.  Stay tuned to this blog site.

We have all belonged to various communities in our life.  Some of us are Veterans.  That’s a large community.  We may have also belonged to other specialty communities like Navy Divers, Police Officers, Submariners, Special Warfare Units, you name it.  Each specialty group brought its own recognition and significance.  The scuba diving community is like that.  We all have that in common and it could be very comfortable and what binds us together.

Where this all ties in is our efforts to grow our businesses and our industry.  A number of Industry Professionals are looking out at other industries to increase their economical potential.  Looking for greener pastures and better hunting grounds may be a novel idea, but you have to be very careful when you allocate your resources of time, money and manpower.  A good example is participating in an expensive travel show that has more attendees than a competing regional dive show.  Some companies may be willing to pay more money for booth space because the show draws more attendees but will it result in more potential customers for your type of business?  5% of a larger number may not be as good as 95% of a small number.  If crossing over into another industry destroys our regional diving community we may be shooting ourselves in the foot.  That’s not something to take lightly.

The only thing that is going to allow our industry to grow is to get all of our Dive Industry Professionals to work together to build our regional diving communities and their local events and businesses.   I honestly feel that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net

Editor’s Note:  This week, the industry lost a very special person.  Mike Hanna suddenly passed away, apparently from a heart attack.  I first learned of Mike’s passing from friends in the Sales Rep Community, who were very close to Mike over the years. When a tragedy happens, it’s usually our friends and family who are the first to know. Our condolences to Mike’s family and friends.  He will be missed.

 

 

 

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment