Editorial – September 2020

Doing More With Better Tools –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

Running a business is a lot of work.  We spend at least half of our time doing what the business does and the rest of the time actually running the business.  Doing what the business does is what brings in the money, so naturally that is what many of us focus on.  The secret of success, however, is learning how to run your business more proficiently, professionally and profitably so that you have more time to do what the business does.  I’m a firm believer in using modern marketing tools to handle the business side of running a business.  Good business tools help you plan your business, operate your business and record and analyze your business.  The better the tools, the more efficient and effective you can be.

Having good tools is only part of the solution.  You have to purchase the right tool for the right job.  Reading up and learning about the features and benefits of the tool is necessary to learn how to use the tool for what it was designed for.  In other words, you would be better off purchasing a Point of Sale software program and becoming efficient at it rather than recording your sales on an Excel Spreadsheet.  Wrong tool for the job.  I see that all the time in business, where someone is using a computer program to do something manually, rather than having the right program that does the calculating for you.  Doing it the manual way takes longer and is not as accurate as a software program that is programmed to do the calculating for you.

Vendors who are in the market to hire sales and marketing expertise would be wise to ask about the type of hardware and software their potential hire uses in doing their job.  As a contracting executive I would want to know the extent of a new hire’s knowledge of business hardware and software.  Have they kept pace with the modern tools and technologies that will give my company a competitive edge?  How do they acquire new customers?  What do they do to build and maintain their relationship with their clients?  Do they do anything special to retain their business?  How often?  And finally, are they following up with their clients on a regular basis and reporting back to you?  A professional business can only do this successfully with good business tools, they understand how to use, and use correctly.

During the past six months, many dive businesses were not able to do what their business specializes in.  Instructors were not teaching.  Dive Operators were not taking divers out on their boats.  Dive Stores were not open.  Dive Resorts were not open for business.  And Dive Equipment Manufacturers stopped or slowed down production and furloughed many of their people.  This was the darkest economic period I have ever seen in the recreational diving industry.  I’m only hoping that many of our peers took this opportunity to get some constructive work done on their business operation.

Most of the shows & events the Dive Industry Association normally exhibits at were cancelled.  FAM Trips we were planning to participate in were cancelled.  Dive Trips we go on as Travel Bloggers were scrubbed.  We were forced to change our business model from hands-on and face-to-face marketing to digital marketing.  Since we weren’t traveling and had more time on our hands, we decided to spend the time analyzing the way we do business.  We took inventory of all of our hardware and software marketing tools and  analyzed their current effectiveness.  We upgraded many of our software programs and got caught up on their training programs.  We looked at the hardware we use to run these marketing programs and upgraded or replaced them as necessary.  We also spent a lot of time learning about and bringing on new software programs that will improve the way we do business for our members.

During the past six months our Association continued to update the industry about the many changes to the dive trips, FAM trips and shows and events the industry was conducting.  Our Weekly Dive News and Monthly Newsletter kept our members in the eye of the diving public.  We also took the time to create and publish our vision for the diving industry’s future State of the Recreation. We are building world markets where buyers and sellers are meeting to do business, but doing it on a regional basis (Local Markets).

Our future business model will employ the use of the best sales and marketing tools that our budget will allow.  The hardware and software we employ will be task specific.  We will be more digital than hands-on.  We will employ more and better graphics.  We will embrace video conferencing, podcasts and webinars.  We will employ more 24-7 continual marketing programs rather than isolated one day events.  Our face-to-face meetings will be targeted to smaller groups, in regional locations, all with a focused “Call to Action.”

Our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  Our goal is to bring a message of the joys of recreational scuba diving to the general public.  We will aid our Members so they can teach people to dive, sell them gear, take them diving and keep them active. Our purpose is to be the Premier Trade Association that specializes in the Business of Diving Issues, helping our Members become more Professional, Proficient and Profitable.

We want you to be a part of this growing global business network.

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

 

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Clearly Cayman Waives Group Deposits

Photo by Jim Helleman

Group Deposits Waived on
Pre-DEMA Rates

Clearly Cayman Dive Resorts is now waiving their normal deposits on groups of 10 or more booking 7-night dive vacations to any of their resorts for travel through January 14, 2023. This enables dive shops and clubs to book ahead and start selling spaces early before risking any financial commitments.

Photo by Tiago Peixoto

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on local dive shops whose customers are still going to want to travel once the ‘all clear” is given. But with all the groups not able to travel in 2020 due to the Cayman Islands’ government shutting down international arrivals, 2021 and even 2022 prime dates are filling up fast,” according to Sue Belport, Sales Director for Clearly Cayman. “So waiving group deposits gives them a chance to plan ahead, get our lowest group rates of the year, and avoid disappointment that their dates and/or resort aren’t available.”

 

 

Pre-DEMA Group Packages

Clearly Cayman Resorts include Little Cayman Beach Resort, Cayman Brac Beach Resort, and Cobalt Coast Resort on Grand Cayman – all with a diver-focused approach. Pre-DEMA group specials start at $1,595* and include up to two free bonuses depending on travel dates. Packages include:

  • 7 nights’ accommodations
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily*
  • 6 days x 2-tank morning boat dives
  • Shore dive on house reef – Cobalt Coast Resort, only (weather permitting)
  • Complimentary use of a dive computer if the diver doesn’t own one
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Welcome rum punch
  • Manager’s cocktail reception
  • Airport ground transfers
  • Resort fees, taxes, and gratuities (except dive gratuities which are not included)

Groups also earn 1 free spot for every 9 paid members of their group.

FREE Bonuses for Groups Booked by October 16, 2020

Group leaders also get to select from one of these free bonuses:

  • 5 days x 1-tank afternoon boat dives
  • Nitrox upgrade
  • $100 resort credit per diver
  • 21-drnink package
  • $500 group leader credit
  • Double Reef Rewards**

For travel during Cayman Island “Value Season,” group leaders will select a second bonus from the list above. This includes travel July 24, 2021 – October 23, 2021, or July 23, 2022 – October 22, 2022.

COVID-19 Update

All three resorts have been closed since mid-March when the government shut down international travel to the islands in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At present, plans call for the initial lifting of international travel restrictions on October 1, primarily for returning part-time residents and staff. The Cayman Islands Government announced their tentative plan to relax restrictions on inbound international vacationers on November 1, although details have not yet been finalized. Assuming that ll of this goes according to plan, Clearly Cayman Dive Resorts plan on reopening to guests on November 7.

Photo by Tiago Peixoto

For More Information

For more information, please contact Clearly Cayman at 800-327-3835 or 727-323-8727. Or visit  https://www.clearlycayman.com/dema/

 

 

* Prices listed are per person based on double occupancy in lowest priced rooms. Rates for other room types, occupancy, dates, and packages may differ. Available for travel dates indicated above, subject to availability. Saturday night arrivals with 7-night stays required. Meal service begins with dinner on arrival day and ends with breakfast on departure day. Bonuses provided for paid divers, only, and may be forfeited if group drops below 10. Not valid with other offers.

**Reef Rewards is the program that lets dive shops and clubs eacn $100 per paid group diver on their trip toward the group’s next trip to any of our resorts. For more information on Reef Rewards or to enroll, visit ClearlyCayman.com/ReefRewards.

Link: https://www.clearlycayman.com/reefrewards/

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The Business of Diving – Post COVID19

The Business of Diving – Post COVID19 –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

We all start out in diving for different reasons; recreation, hobby, job related requirement, collateral duty in the military, or professional career.  This article narrows the focus to the recreational side of diving.  The Global Recreational Diving Community is made up of Recreational Divers and Dive Industry Professionals.  Recreational Divers, also known as sport divers, dive for the fun of it.  They get certified, buy or rent their gear and go diving.  Many stay active but many drop out shortly after their initial training with just a few dives under their belt.  In order to grow the recreational diving industry, we need to make scuba diving more appealing so that more people will want to learn to dive, buy their gear, go diving and stay active in the recreational for a long time.  In the post COVID-19 business model, I think it’s time to focus on creating more recreational divers and not necessarily more Dive Industry Professionals.  Let me explain why.

When I started diving in 1967 there were not many divers around and fewer instructors.  As a 15 year old high school student I think there were 2 divers in my high school of 1,200 students.  So we started a scuba club and I got certified after a long search to find a scuba instructor to take lessons from.  Now there were 3 divers in our High School and then I found out that the other two divers were never certified.  They just bought their gear and started diving.  As a certified diver I joined the City Civil Defense Dive Team and started to teach other people how to dive.  I even got a chance to dive with the local Police Department and the local ATF Office.  Not bad for a 15 year old.

After three years of teaching my friends to dive I tried to sign up for a NAUI Instructor Course because that was the next level of certification after Basic Scuba.   The closest Instructor Course was in Massachusetts, run by Fred Calhoun, who unfortunately told me I was too young and to come back in 3 more years.  It seemed that more people wanted to dive then there were Instructors to teach them.  It didn’t take the certification agencies long to realize they needed to increase the number of instructor courses they offered.

As the number of scuba instructors grew, so did the number of certification agencies.  Each agency designed and developed more types of diving courses their instructors could teach.  Before you knew it, our recreational community had tens of thousands of Divemasters, Assistant Instructors and Instructors who achieved their level of diver education with little or no intention of becoming a Dive Industry Professional.  That is not a bad thing.

In the Post COVID-19 era of our recreation, I believe we need to distinguish the difference between a well educated and experienced sport diver who dives for enjoyment and a sport diver who becomes a part time or full time Dive Industry Business Professional.   Not every dive instructor ever certified currently teaches diving or trades their skills for compensation.  There is nothing wrong with becoming an Instructor and then not monetizing that level of expertise.  Although I believe that becoming an Instructor is no longer the required “ticket to punch” to get a job in the diving industry.  Teaching yes but diving business no.  What we need to do in this new normal economy is to promote the diving instructors who are actively teaching classes and want the general public to know they are ready and willing to teach scuba diving classes.

I want to reiterate that our focus is not on the word “professional”, it’s on the word “business.”  Regardless of your level of diving skill achieved, only diving instructors who are working part time or full time need to advertise and market their intentions.  The Diving Industry’s business community needs to help working instructors teach dive classes.  This can be in the form of student acquisition, classroom and pool access, scuba equipment rental or access, open water and referral assistance and dive resort travel compensation.  The goal is to help them find, teach and certify new divers.

Another thing the diving industry needs to be doing better is treating divers who have achieved high levels of certification like the professionals they are, even if they are not monetizing their skills.  Many of them are active divers, opinion leaders and industry influencers.  If they are actively getting divers to go diving or stay active in the recreation, they should be courted.  Not for their influence but for their ability to convert influence into sales for you.

So how do you identify who is actively teaching classes, selling gear, taking people diving and keeping them active in the recreation?  You become part of a network group that specializes in data acquisition, customer relationships, database management and marketing communication.  You aline yourself with an organization that excels in bringing Buyers & Sellers together because that is how you get more referrals, more business opportunities and more sales.  You need to become part of a network that takes the business of diving seriously.

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

 

 

 

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Editorial – August 2020

Tell Me What You Want Me To Know –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

I’m not going to mention the “C” word in this editorial.  It’s not about obstacles in our path or demons at our doorstep.  It’s not even about monsters under our bed in the middle of the night.  Today is all about you and your business.  So is every today for the rest of your life.  So what’s your plan?  Given the hand you have been dealt, what are you going to do now?

Not every dive business in our industry is in free-fall now.  Some are actually doing better.  Some not so good.  Many are free-falling and out of control, but that’s not the worst thing.  The thing that is hurting our community the most is that there are too many dive businesses that don’t even know they are in trouble and headed for ruin.  What you don’t know can hurt you.  This year or next, I feel that each member of our community will have to make a choice to either continue as a diving business (Industry Professional) or return to scuba diving as a recreation (Recreational Diver).  Either way, our community needs to come together to make diving better for all of us.  Hard choices have to be made.

For dive businesses, consider the fact that we are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.  Every businesses is uniquely different but the solutions to our challenges are pretty similar.  First we have to get a feeling for where we are in this economic downturn.  We need to assess our current situation.  What is our current income and current expenses?  How is our cash flow and what do we have for assets?  Can we sell a sufficient number of profitable products to enough profitable customers to stay in business?  Can we be successful in the future or would it be wiser to cut our losses now and close our business?  Either way, the choice is yours, alone, to make.

Staying in business or closing your business requires the same logical format. 1) Establish your current situation.  2) Analyze the current and future market potential.  3) List all the potential options available to you.  4) Choose the best inputs (actions) to achieve your planned outcomes.  5) Execute your plan.

There are a number of things you might want to consider when making your choice about your profession or hobby as it were.  What do you want out of scuba diving as a recreation or profession?  Is it the diving what makes you happy?  Do you get enjoyment and fulfillment out of teaching people to scuba dive? Do you enjoy the diving lifestyle and exotic travel it provides?  Is running a diving business successfully the thing that motivates you the most?  These are all good reasons to be into diving.  Pick the ones that are best for you.  Whatever you decide, we have some predictions about what is happening in the international diving community that may affect your choices.

Because of the current challenges that are affecting the worldwide recreational industry, I believe that business conditions have changed permanently.   The size of the supply side is getting much smaller.  Marginal businesses without good cash flow management are going out of business.  Without the necessary sales of diving equipment, training and travel, hundreds of dive stores will be forced to close their doors.  Many part time stores will decide that it is not worth the time, money and manpower investment to operate a marginal business.  Countless independent instructors may not be able to justify renewing their instructor dues, liability insurance and agency affiliations without being able to teach a sufficient number of new divers.  Liveaboards and Dive Resorts will be forced to let go of staff and close their operations because of limitations placed on them by their local government, tourism boards, and the airlines.

So where is the silver lining in these dark clouds?  Good question.  First of all, I feel that the supply side of the diving business community will reorganize and focus on the business of diving priorities. As their competition decreases, their market share will increase.  If they wisely choose to return to established channels of distribution, they will decentralize their operations and strengthen their local market dominance.  I truly believe that centralizing and vertically integrating a diving business at this time will put even profitable companies out of business in this new era.  I believe that dive companies who have recently made a business model change to centralize and vertically integrate will be too slow to reverse direction and it may cost them their market position or their company.

With that said, there may be tremendous opportunities on the horizon for small, smart and progressive companies to create and follow a detailed plan to recapture market share from their competitors and establish dominate local customer loyalty.  The silver lining in all of this is that the demand side of our recreation is still quite large.  There may even be an increased pent-up demand caused by six months of decreased spending and increased savings.  The market is there.  The money is there.  But they may not know that you are there.  When was the last time you were in direct contact with your current and former customers?  Well, now is the time.

As the world economy is beginning to open up, millions of buying decisions are being contemplated by divers all over the world.  If you have been marketing and advertising during the pandemic, these customers may know who you are.  If you have been waiting for the market to return before you advertise, these customers either have forgotten you or don’t know you from a goat.

For the past forty years I have been saying that dive companies should always be promoting their company and their products to the current, former and future market.  Staying in front of potential customers is what brings in sales.  Create a relationship with your customers and they will think of you first when they decide to buy.  And this is the time where customers are thinking about buying again.

Put yourself in your customer’s head.  What do you want them to know about you right now?  “We are Dive Company X” – “We make Dive Gear / Training Courses / Travel Products” – “We are Open for business / Not open yet” – “Here is our Get Back to Diving Special”  – “Here is our Call To Action Offer & Contact Information”

Go to the market now and let buyers know you are still in business.  Don’t wait until the market starts buying.  Once they start buying it means they didn’t choose you.  They bought from someone else!

 

 

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Amphi’s Crowdfunding Campaign

AMPHI, THE WORLD’S FIRST OXYGEN SAVING, HYBRID AND HANDS-FREE UNDERWATER VEHICLE READYING FOR ITS FIRST CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN

Welcome to Amphi, the world’s first oxygen saving and hands free underwater scooter. You’ve never experienced anything like this. Amphi uses the swimmer’s own finning style to intelligently add power in very precise ways.

Amphi works a little like an electric bicycle, adding power in response to input from the swimmer. Add a little power or a lot. The result is an increased range, reduced oxygen consumption, and a whole new dimension to your water activities. We call it “hybrid propulsion,” but you’ll just think it’s fun.

Amphi is amazingly maneuverable. Its monofin design promotes tight turns and rolls, and even allows you to swim on your back like an otter. Swim any way you wish. Amphi can add just an extra boost, or provide all of your propulsion. Imagine simply resting while effortlessly being propelled by Amphi.

Quiet, lightweight, and environmentally friendly, Amphi is a full package replacing your scooter and fins. Most of all Amphi is easy and fun to use!

Amphi is not perceived by a swimmer as an additional piece of equipment, but rather as an enhancement to his or her natural abilities. Using Amphi feels just like natural swimming, but requires less energy, or no energy at all. Like conventional underwater scooters, Amphi has a continuous mode that provides constant propulsion. Yet, unlike conventional scooters, Amphi operates hands-free.

Perfect for your vacation, Amphi can be checked at airports, and is the smallest and lightest underwater propulsion device for the amount of power it provides.

We are preparing for a crowdfunding campaign later this month. Our crowdfunding efforts will support further development of Amphi and make the world’s first bionic monofin available in the marketplace. So far, we have developed three prototypes. Each one has led to major breakthroughs and advances in personal underwater propulsion. Our latest is nearly perfect—providing the swimming experience we imagined when the Amphi project began.

We deeply appreciate your help. Without your donations, this project, our dream, wouldn’t be possible.

Amphi Americas is a US-based company, run by an adventurous and outdoor-loving family. Dr. Marek Swoboda is the genius behind Amphi, the world’s first powered, bionic monofin.

Marek is a perpetual inventor and a life-long enthusiast of underwater technology. His behind-the-iron-curtain upbringing gave him a unique perspective on underwater technology. Having a Ph.D. in bioengineering helped him create, develop, and build our product.

SUPPORT US ON WWW.INDIEGOGO.COM

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-best-hands-free-underwater-propulsion-system/coming_soon

Posted in Dive Equipment, Press Release | Leave a comment

What’s Important To You Now?

Is there a rainbow and a pot of gold for the diving industry in the future?

What Will Be Important To You For The Next 20 Years? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The Diving Industry is reinventing itself for the next 20 years because of the corona virus outbreak.  Since the pandemic started, we have all questioned where our industry stands now and where is it we want to go.  Even with a high degree of fragmentation and political disagreement in the diving industry today, we kind of know how the diving industry began and where we were headed before the pandemic stopped us dead in our tracks.  Now it’s time to reorganize and rebuild for our future.

Forty years ago I was graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Marketing and heading off to California to continue my career in the diving industry.  As NAUI’s first Marketing Director, and later in the Manufacturing and Retail sectors,  I got a great overview of the International Diving Community and was able to witness the building of our recreation from an insider’s perspective, with the help of key people in the equipment, training and travel industries.  I saw the focus, goals and agendas of the competing industry sectors, as they strove to build their companies and their careers.  My peers and I were fascinated about the politics of the industry and made it our life’s work.  Some of us branched out and made a good living as Industry Consultants and Entrepreneurs.  Many, unfortunately, got discouraged, angry or simply burned out.  It’s too bad that many of them didn’t live to see this new dawn of opportunity in the re-building of our beloved recreation.  The post COVID-19  Diving and Adventure Travel Industry.

Before I get to the main point of this article, I’d like to point out that Dive Industry Planners like myself are generally biased and opinionated.  Not that it’s a bad thing – it’s just the way it is.  We become opinionated based on our environment, education and experience.  And many times we have to realize that people who have a different environment, education and experience background will see things differently through their own perspective.  So my opinion, is basically an expression of my own limited perspective.

Our 21st Century Diving Community of the future needs to focus on diving as a profession for our Dive Industry Professionals and as a recreation for certified divers.  Dive Industry Professionals are part of the Trade and should be treated accordingly.  The focus of the trade should be to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  The Professional Development aspect of the Industry has to be shared by the originators of the topics.  Equipment Manufactures need to focus on equipment and repair educational development.  Training Agencies need to focus on Diving Instruction Development.  Travel companies need to develop professional development programs for Dive Travel Specialists.  Business organizations like the Dive Industry Association and the Small Business Development Centers need to be the go-to sources for Business Professional Development.

With that said, studying the diving industry for the past 60 years, I believe that our recreation grows or declines based on the sale of diving equipment, training and travel products.  As a business community I believe that we should focus on supporting dive industry professionals who;  1) Teach people to dive, 2) Sell them diving equipment, 3) Take people diving and 4) Keep certified divers active.   I support local diving communities who have a solid core of retail dive stores at the center of each community.  I also firmly believe in the creation and support of one common Channel of Distribution that uses a Manufacture, Sales Agent, Retailer, Instructor and End User.

That basically sums up an overview of the diving industry as it is coupled with a basic foundation for some of the building blocks of our new industry.  Now we ask – As a Dive Industry Professional (Someone who earns a living in diving) – What is important to you in the post COVID-19 dive community?

Do you like things the way they are now?  Are you comfortable with dive equipment manufacturing?  Is your Training Agency giving you what you need?  Are they giving you too much?  Not enough?  How has the Travel Industry prepared you for being successful as a Dive Travel Specialist?  Do you feel like a competent Business Person?  Where did you get your Business Training?  Where would you like to get future business training?  Who is your source when it comes to the business of diving issues?

It’s time to open an Industry dialog.  As Dive Industry Professionals – What do you need going forward?  Who do you want supplying that information?  If you don’t ask now, you’ll get more of the same next year and the year after.  Is that OK with you?

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

 

 

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Editorial – July 2020

Are You Productive or Paralyzed? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

This COVID-19 Pandemic has gone on long enough.  I’m tired of half truths and misleading information.  I’m tired of being lied to.  Some people say this virus is going to kill everyone.  Some say it’s a hoax.  You can’t both be right but you both can be wrong.  Somewhere in the middle I suppose is the truth and we have to find out what it is and soon.  I just wish I knew who is lying to me, who is telling the truth and who just doesn’t know what’s going on.  I am just looking for the truth and yes, I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! (Thanks, Jack).

So where does that leave the diving industry?  Well, we know that we are faced with a worldwide pandemic that is killing people.  We have guidelines to follow from leading medical authorities to keep us as safe as possible and we know how to limit the spread of this virus.  We know that many people in the manufacturing of diving equipment have been laid off, furloughed or let go.  But we are also seeing a number of Sales Reps returning to their positions at some of the more established companies.  We know that many dive resorts are closed because their islands or countries have shut down.  But we also know that certain islands are opening up for visitors and dive operators are starting to resume their charters.  In all honesty I think we know more about the closures and roadblocks than we know about the re-openings and the resuming operations.

In my opinion, the worst thing we are dealing with is misinformation.  Not getting truthful answers to our questions leads us to not believe anyone.  It also leads us to not doing what needs to be done to conquer this pandemic and move forward.  Governments and their appointed or elected leaders need to seek answers to complex problems and share their findings with their constituents.  We are smarter than they give us credit for.  When the general population is aware of a legitimate problem, it leads to an agreed upon solution that is normally believed and followed by the masses.  No lies.  No hidden agendas.  No political biases.  Just an agreed upon problem, solution and action plan.

We all want to be safe and secure.  We all want to return to our beloved recreation – scuba diving and adventure travel.  To do that we need to know our part in being safe and how to prevent the virus from getting worse.  We need to know when travel destinations open up and what the local rules and regulations are.  When we know that, we can start planning our safe return to scuba diving.  When we take uncertainty out of the equation, it’s easier to get back to normal.

The Dive Industry Association is doing our part for our member companies and the general diving public.  On our website at www.diveindustry.net we list Dive Trips and FAM Trips our Members are sponsoring.  We also have a web page dedicated to the latest status for dive resort and dive operator closings and re-openings.  We do our best to keep these three pages current, but it is always better to contact these dive travel professionals directly.  Their website links and contact information is always included on our web pages.  It’s always better to stay in touch with your equipment, training and travel vendors during this terrible pandemic.  We may not all be in the same boat, but we all are in the same storm together.  Don’t lose direct contact with your strategic business partners.  They are only a phone call away.

I heard the Florida Keys was open. Then I heard it was closed.  Then I heard it was open.  Then I heard it may be closed again.  OK – Enough.  I got on the phone and called Captain Slate in Tavernier, FL.   Slate has a booming charter business there and has been in the Keys forever.  If anyone should know if the Keys are open, it’s Slate.  Well, bless his heart.  He knew.  “Come on down Brother, we’re diving”, Slate said.  Maybe his schedule isn’t as organized as it normally is because of the unpredictability of the pandemic, but my orders were to: 1) Go to the Dive Site at www.CaptainSlate.com and get all of your information.  2) Call 305-451-3020 and see if there is room on the boat.  3) Click on “Hotels” on the website and book a hotel of your liking.  Of course, two things Slate left out was; 1) Make sure you get a picture of you and Slate so you can post it to Social Media to let everyone know you’re diving.  2) Make sure you Tip the Crew.

There are a ton of Dive Boats in the Florida Keys.  Slate’s not the only one.  But rather than be paralyzed into doing nothing because of COVID-19 we can do something very positive to get the economic ball rolling again in our industry.  As an example, there are 254 Dive Stores in the State of Florida.   That’s 17% of all the 1,526 Dive Stores in the United States.  Since every dive store in Florida is within driving distance to the Florida Keys, I recommend that every store appoint one person to head up their Travel Department and plan a dive trip to the Florida Keys.  The Dive Travel Specialist at your store doesn’t have to be the owner, or the head instructor for that matter.  Just someone who loves to dive and likes people. Pick a Dive Operator in the Keys, get a recommendation from them for hotel accommodations, get a hold of your best customers, book the trip, have fun and post it to social media.

We can personally recommend:

Getting back in the ball game is not as difficult as it may sound.  Do a local trip to the Florida Keys and see how that works out for you.  Then maybe I can get you on a plane to visit Cane Bay Dive Shop and St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure in St. Croix, USVI.  Or maybe if you’re really excited and ready I can get you all the way to Roatan again – Mayan Princess Beach Resort and Turquoise Bay Resort – both in Roatan.

Be Productive – not Paralyzed.  Be Safe and Have Fun.  Remember – Scuba Diving is the Ultimate Social Distancing Recreation.  We all wear Masks, breath from regulators and stay six feet apart.  Well, in my case, sometimes maybe just a wee bit more.    🙂

***

 

 

 

 

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New Leaders of the Diving Industry

New Leaders of the Diving Industry –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

It’s taken thirty years to return full circle to recognizing the true Leaders of the Diving Industry.  Of course it took an economic meltdown caused by a worldwide pandemic to make us realize that our recreation is dependent on Dive Industry Professionals who create and maintain our market by selling dive equipment, training and travel.  Like in the game, Musical Chairs, when the music stopped in our industry, the only ones that found a seat were the the Dive Industry Professionals who had developed a solid customer base over the years.  Customers they kept in contact with during the lock-down.  Customers that will join them again when the market opens.  Customers that will keep them in business while others are going out of business.  These are the true leaders of the diving industry and it’s about time we gave them the recognition they have earned.  Because without them, many of our big dive companies wouldn’t exist.  That goes for equipment manufacturers, training agencies and travel companies.

So who are these unsung heroes that have managed to escape our eternal gratitude and recognition?  Why it’s those Scuba Instructors who teach people how to dive.  Dive Store Retailers who sell dive equipment to new divers so they can go diving.  And Dive Travel  Specialists who take those new divers on exciting diving adventurers, both locally and worldwide.  These are the people who are responsible for creating the market we have for the programs, products and services we all sell.  They maintain the market for us by acquiring, retaining and recapturing customers for all of us.  And it’s because of them that our market and our recreation grows.

You might ask who benefits from all of their hard work.  The Training Agencies sell a ton of certifications.  Dive Equipment Manufacturers sell a lot of gear.  Travel wouldn’t be the multi-trillion dollar industry it is without a reason to travel.  Apparel companies, service businesses and non-profit organizations all benefit from a healthy market when economic times are good.  And that’s a good thing.  Many of the “Opinion Leaders” that we admire so much because of their films, photos and seminars would have no outlet for their craft if not for the divers that are created by hard working industry professionals.

It’s going to take a long time for the diving industry to catch up to where it was before the pandemic.  And if I remember correctly, the market has been flat or declining for almost twenty years!  I know hundreds of dive businesses that are praying to get back even a small percentage of that old declining market.  To do that we need to adopt a plan that will put us back to work, doing what we do, by servicing our current customers.

Forget about trying to find new divers in this market at this time.  The quickest way to get back on our feet is to reach out to our current customers and get them diving again.  They are already trained and if we get them diving again, they’ll buy more gear or have their gear serviced.  We’ll sell more dive gear and travel.  Two out of three isn’t bad, considering the alternative.  The two groups of industry professionals that should have a customer database are the dive instructors and retail dive stores.

As spelled out in our DIVE LOCAL website at www.divelocal.org  we drew up local dive communities by geographical regions and states.  We listed the dive stores that are open to the public and are teaching diving, selling gear and conducting travel.   We added the Manufacturing Sales Reps who are in constant contact with their dealers and we added the dive equipment companies they work for.  This forms the basis for our recreational recovery.  As the dive stores reach out to their current customers and then to their former customers, the industry should start to improve.  We can shift our focus to finding new customers after we get on our feet again.  That will give the training agencies a chance to recover.  Right now, the priority has to be on the “acres of diamonds” in our own back yards – our current customers.

The last thing I want to mention is that things are going to be different from this point onward.  There has already been a shift in priorities in the business of diving in our recreation.  Many Dive Shows have been cancelled.  The DEMA Show was cancelled for the year.  We can’t wait a year and a half before we meet with our customers or vendors again.  There may not be the need for dive shows anymore if our recreation doesn’t recover.  Right now, the industry is looking for dive leaders who will get their current customers back in the water and do the things they need to do to build their business.  Maybe now is the time to learn more about databases and customer contacts than it is about what level of Instructor you are?  This is not the time to spend money on building your resume or wishing you could be at a party impressing people with your qualifications (the qualifications that are giving you zero income right now).  It’s time to roll our sleeves up and get to work producing results for our business or our employer’s business.  It’s time to be a Producer – not a Player.  Our recreation’s future is counting on you.  Let’s get to work.

I hope you found this article at least thought provoking.  It’s actually one article that didn’t just come off the top of my head.  The basis of the article came from conversations with a number of industry leaders in our field.  Leaders that are still running their businesses and actually doing better than most.  It also is based on a number of observations we’ve shared  among our peers in the industry.  While many business leaders are confused or clueless in today’s economy, there are a number of you that are seeing a very bright silver lining in the dark clouds ahead of us.  I know that you will do very well by altering your course to get your company to safe harbors.  I am hoping to do the same.  Here’s to a safe passage.

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Editorial – June 2020

As We Move Forward –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The COVID-19 Pandemic is not the only catastrophe we are dealing with this year.   We have, are, or will be dealing with the corona virus, a devastated economy, civil unrest, future economic uncertainty and the potential for a number of destructive hurricanes this year.  All happening in an election year.  What can we do?  I recommend that we all Think, Plan, Act and Move Forward.

In this new century and in the new normal of a post-covid-19 era, we have to think about what is important to us.  Our life, our family, our friends, our business, and our purpose in life.  It’s time to think and not to react or blindly follow.  We have to decide what is important to us and to keep our eye on our life’s goals as we move along the path of challenges and opportunities.

We have to plan for the future.  I have always done better at things when I had something to work toward.  Having a plan gives you a road-map to follow that has a beginning, a middle and an end.  If you’ve planned correctly, your ending is more likely to be a successful one and given a few course corrections, have a higher degree of confidence that you will achieve your desired outcomes.  The best thing I like about plans is that you are making a public commitment to yourself and others about what you are working toward and why.  No hidden agendas.  No flying by the seat of your pants.  Just a plan saying to the world, “This is what I am doing with my life. This is me on paper”

When you have a plan and something to work toward, it’s easier to get into action.  Without a plan, we have a tendency to do nothing.  Especially if there are a lot of distractions around us or obstacles in our way.  How many of you are paralyzed right now because of the uncertainty in the world?  Well, don’t be.  It’s time to take action.

Moving forward is the only way we are going to make progress. Making progress is good for the soul.  It makes us think, plan and act.  It restores our confidence in our selves, our industry and our world.  It’s the actions we take that make us realize that we are indeed, the masters of our lives and the architects of our dreams.  In the final moments of our life we will probably not regret the things we’ve done as much as the things we didn’t do.

With so many dive shows being cancelled this year in addition to the annual DEMA Show being cancelled, the diving industry has come to the realization that we are on our own.  On our own to think, plan, and act so that we can move our businesses forward in the way that is best for us and our customers.  The bond that builds a successful business is the bond between buyers and sellers.  

As we move forward in the new millennium, I want you to know that Dive Industry Association is here to work with you, as part of a global network that focuses on bringing buyers and sellers together to increase the sale and usage of diving equipment, training and travel products.  Our 18-page Members Guide spells out our member benefits that can help you sell more profitable products to more successful customers by being a part of our global dive business network.  Read Member Guide

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

 

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Building Customer Relationships – The Winning Key Ingredient

Building Customer Relationships – The Winning Key Ingredient –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

As part of our post-COVID-19 rebuilding of the diving industry, I was looking for that magic silver bullet which could change the direction of the diving industry for the better.  Staying at home during the COVID-19 lock-down helped me see that the solution to our lack of industry growth has been right in front of us all this time.  Scuba diving is a social recreation.   It’s in our DNA – always dive with a buddy.

When our recreation got underway in the early 1960’s there were two types of certifications.  Diver and Instructor.  That’s all we needed to get our recreation off the ground and to tell you the truth, that’s all we need today as we rebuild our industry.  OK, I admit that we have a little wiggle room here.  But follow me.  We became divers because we loved the water and wanted to experience something new, exciting, or different.  We liked it so much that we wanted to teach our family and friends how to do it so we could share our experiences with others.  I became a diver when I was 15 years old and started teaching my friends how to dive right away.  Why?  Because I needed and wanted someone to dive with and there weren’t that many divers around back then.  Within a very short period of time I had a bunch of friends to go diving with. Of course, as the industry matured and I became old enough to be an Instructor, I enrolled in an Instructor Certification Course and set out to expand my inner circle of fellow divers.

Fast-forward 52 years later, after a long, successful career in the business of diving.  I realize that  a market for our recreation is created, maintained and grown by teaching people how to dive, selling them dive equipment, taking them diving and keeping them active.  What we have to realize now is that we MUST follow through with this concept in order for our industry to survive, rebuild and grow.  We can no longer create new divers and then abandon them.  It’s not the quantity that’s important anymore, it’s the quality.  Quality is forged by a bond between an experienced scuba diver and a new diver.  Creating numbers for numbers sake will not work in this post COVID-19 scenario.

As world economies begin rebuilding after the pandemic, cruise ships will suffer if they continue to focus on the numbers of passengers without paying attention to the impact these travelers are having on the ports-of-call they visit.  Travel writers are already blogging about Islands that are demanding less visitors, less environmental impact, less health risks but more spending per visitor.  They want quality visitors who will support their fragile economies, not drain it of its resources.  I believe the airlines will follow a similar path in terms of quality versus quantity.  Scuba Diving as a recreation would be wise to follow a similar approach.

Progressive Dive Industry Professionals are seeing that it is in their best interest to focus on teaching less people to dive, but teaching people who have a stronger desire to purchase their equipment, go diving and stay active in the recreation.  I think it is very important that diving instructors spend the necessary time to create a relationship with their students and help mentor them as active divers.  By learning how to create and maintain a professional relationships with their student, they will be able to maintain and protect the market they have created.  Creating a market for diving by certifying new divers is only good for you if you follow through.  Creating more divers and abandoning them to businesses that sell to the market you developed is a receipt for disaster.  These businesses have not developed a relationship with these new divers and will never care for them the way you do (or did).

Building customer relationships is the most important ingredient in business.  Creating a market and maintaining it properly will make the market grow.  When you don’t build a relationship with your students and you don’t protect your customer contact database, you are taking yourself out of the profit picture and handling over your customers to your competitors. Who are your competitors?  You would be very surprised to learn what we have discovered.

Dive Industry Association is teaching a course on the importance of building customer relationships.  It’s all about the acquisition, maintenance and recapture of your current customers, former customers and future customers.  The online, private course is $150.  It covers nine chapters of starting, growing and succeeding in your business.  The chapter on growth customers alone will make this course worthwhile to you in the new millennium.

Don’t let your competitors steal the market you created.  Take control of your customers, your business and your destiny.  If you want to succeed in this post-COVID-19 environment, you need to change the way you look at the business of diving.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
eMail:  gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.diveindustry.net

 

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