Welcome to the February 2014 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional. If you are pro-actively involved in the success of your own business, you know that by February, pre-season marketing is in full swing. In January our industry is engaged at the Surf Expo, two Travel & Adventure Shows, the Baltimore Dive Show and of course, Boot Dusseldorf and the Paris International Dive Show. February kicks off with numerous dive shows, adventure travel shows, and boat shows. March will follow with more shows than you can shake a stick at and the pre-season marketing push will end on April 6th after Seattle’s Scuba & H2O Adventure Show. A lot of activity and a lot of expense, all aimed at winning over the diving consumer.
The companies that exhibit at these dive, travel and watersports shows all have one thing in common. They are all acting as “Masters of their own Destiny” by taking their business fate in their own hands. They have included face-to-face marketing as a key component in their marketing plan and have gone out to engage with their current customers, reactivate former customers and acquire new customers. Trade Shows are the best way to see so many potential customers in the shortest period of time. Trade Shows Work!
With that said, I would like to praise all of the future thinking business leaders who exhibit at these shows to show their equipment or promote their training courses. I especially give high marks to the Resort Destinations and Dive Operators who travel half-way around the globe to fill heads on beds and butts on seats. And they are right in doing so, because Divers and Adventure Travelers go to these shows to BUY. They are looking for gear they don’t have and trips they haven’t taken yet. They pay good money to go to these shows to look at all the new stuff in their recreation and they are always asking about the “SHOW SPECIALS.”
When we go to trade shows outside of the diving industry, we see a whole lot of buying and selling going on. Go to any Home & Garden Show or Boat & RV Show. So how come the dive shows have so much “Show and Tell” but very little “Buying and Selling” going on? You’ll have to ask the Show Directors but I can safely say it’s probably because we’ve always done it that way or “We tried it once and the “industry” didn’t support it.
This editor has one suggestion to make our dive shows more FUN, productive and alive with attendees. Engage the Local Dive Retailers. I’ve seen it work at the Travel & Adventure Shows where we had a major manufacture exhibiting in a full 10 x 20 foot booth. The manufacture paid for the booth space and had their booth and gear shipped to the show. The Regional Sales Manager scheduled his local Dealers to staff the booth at no cost to them. The Dealers were able to promote their stores to the attendees while answering yes to three of the most frequently asked questions. 1) Do you teach diving? 2) Do you sell dive gear? and 3) Do you sell dive travel? YES-YES-YES. WIN-WIN-WIN.
Could this work at all the dive and/or adventure travel shows? I think it could. Could this work for manufacturers, training agencies and travel companies? I think it could. Would the local Retailers support shows like this and invite all of their customers to attend the shows? I think they would. What do you think?