September has always been an exciting time for me. As a young boy, September meant going back to school and getting new clothes, school supplies and a “Book Bag” to carry everything in. It was time to reunite with my friends and tell them about my summer exploits, usually centered around playing baseball and swimming & snorkeling. It was all about starting a new year in school.
September is pretty much the same for me now but instead of starting a new school year, I’m involved in starting a new scuba diving season. It’s about planning our Association’s activities for the coming year and helping our Members introduce their new products and services for the year to come. Working with a number of industries that specialize in recreational scuba diving it is somewhat challenging to keep things like seasonality curves, seasonal variations and industry priorities in proper perspective. It also important to consider what sector you belong to in the industry.
Having worked in the Training, Retail, Manufacturing, Travel, Media and Consulting (Service) Sectors of the Diving Market, I think I may have a clear perspective as to the priorities and focus different industry sectors have and hold. Of course, this is only one person’s opinion so I may have to start off by saying, “In my humble opinion….” If it works for you and you can relate to it, that’s great. If not, maybe you can share your experience with me.
Theory: I believe the new scuba diving season starts on September 1. It does not start at the Dema Show, January 1, March 1 or Memorial Day.
Retail Dive Centers are the heart beat of the diving industry. They are the front line ambassadors that represent their Vendors (Manufacturers, Training and Travel) to the general public. In September, many stores are finishing up their summer classes and starting new classes at their local High Schools and Colleges. For them, September is still a busy month, but if a local economy is centered around children, then September is the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. In September, Retail Dive Centers should be getting their inventory down to zero and building up their open-to-buy. Successful Retailers are working their year end inventory down, making time to visit with their Major Vendors, and stocking up on new inventory for the Christmas Holiday. They commit in September with a stipulation that they can change their order at Dema Show and they ask for all the Dema specials. Now they are free to attend as many seminars at Dema Show they need to.
Dive Operators are still busy in September, even though they have lost the summer crowd and the water is starting to cool off. Depending on their location, if may be time to start taking the boats out of the water for the Fall.
Manufacturers are divided into two groups. The Major Brands and the Also Rans. The Major Brands have been working on new product all year long. They received samples in July or August and have already held their Sales Meeting. Inventory is scheduled to start arriving on September 1. The Sales Reps are waiting for Labor Day to end and then they will be on the road, visiting their Dealers, taking orders (I don’t think they do booking programs anymore), and trying to tie up as much of their Dealer’s open-to-buy as they can. Since most of their Dealers will be in Seminars at Dema Show, they will focus on sales to their best Dealers and schedule appointments at Dema for those Dealers who did not purchase.
The small manufacturers, or Brand Marketers, are working on their booth, catalog and samples for the Dema Show. They will take orders at Dema and order from their OEM’s after the show. The disadvantage of being small means that while the more established manufacturers are seeing their Dealers and making sales, these smaller companies are working on their catalogs and ignoring sales.
Sales Reps are on the road in September. If they aren’t they are losing sales.
The Travel Industry is the one sector of the market that is in step with the consuming public. Travel sales is all about Heads on Beds and Butts on Seats. If you don’t sell today’s spot, it is gone tomorrow. September is different in different parts of the world, so I can’t speak for everyone. In the Caribbean, it is usually a slow period for a number of reasons. 1) It may be active Hurricane Season. If it’s not, then it’s a good time to invite Retail Travel Buyers to your Island for a FAM trip. 2) It’s a great time to go to Surf Expo and buy apparel and snorkeling packages for your gift shops. 3) It’s a good time to do repairs for next season. 4) It’s a good time for staff vacations and to get ready for DEMA Show. Personally, I love the Caribbean in September. It’s like Summer without the crowds.
The Training Professionals consider September as the “Get everything ready for Dema” month. With over 300 seminars a little more than 60 days away, it’s time to get all the ducks in a row and advertise and book seminar spots at the show.
Marketing Professionals are always planning six months ahead of today, so by virtue of working in the future for a living, on September 1 we are already in the new season.
I hope I’ve made my case for declaring September 1 as the beginning of the new dive season every year. If you agree or don’t agree, I’d like to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
See Dive Industry Foundation at DEMA Show, Booth 4225.