Is This The Time Of The Great Unification?
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
Every industry has its defining moments. Of course, your idea of a defining moment may depend on what part of the fragmented diving industry you are a part of and whether or not you are active in it. For a defining moment to be significant to an entire industry it needs to meet a number of criteria. An industry-wide defining moment has to have been a significant achievement, a paradigm shift, a tipping point or even a last straw for a large part of the industry. Not necessarily a majority, but at least a significant number of active, vocal, and influential Industry Professionals.
The diving industry currently has a number of Industry Influencers. In some industry social circles, albeit small compared to the industry as a whole, we have our Legends, Heroes, Hall of Famers and Influencers. On the dive show circuit we have the Exhibitors, both large and small, who fund the various venues they are a part of. Without the exhibitors, there would be no dive shows or it would cost a fortune to attend. Look at the High Tech Industry Tech Conferences. We also have the corps of Seminar Speakers and Film Producers who tell stories of beauty, adventure travel and exploration to a captive audience. They do such an amazing job to create interest for our recreation. Without workshops, seminars, and films at dive shows, there would be no attendees at the shows.
On the working side of the diving industry we have the people who sell diving equipment, training and travel. The bigger the company, the more the revenue and therefore the greater the influence. But then again, even with the big companies, their circle of influence is still a fraction of the industry total and is largely dependent upon the patronage of their Dealers, the Retail Dive Centers. Or as I like to call them, Dive & Adventure Centers.
Dive & Adventure Centers have a bright future in the 21st Century. This group is more important than most Industry Influencers realize. First of all because they they are open to the public and are the link between the supply side and demand side of our industry channels of distribution. Their super power is their ability to write a check for what they want to re-sell. That includes Diving Equipment, Dive Training, and Dive Travel. When Dive & Adventure Centers stop buying from their Equipment, Training and Travel Suppliers, companies start going out of business. My industry hope & dream is that someday, all Retailers will become aware of their “Super Power.”
On the flip side of that coin is another dilemma. If the Dive & Adventure Centers don’t increase their customer base and fine tune their customer service, their suppliers will try to do their job for them. That’s already happening in our industry already, and it may or may not get worse. It all depends on the Retailers. The sure fire way to stay in control of your business is to be the first one to get to the perspective buyer, the new Diver. Prospect daily, learn to reach, communicate & close, establish a relationship, get them on the path to becoming an active Diver and become their Industry Expert, Friend and Guide. Always remember the three parts to a successful customer management program – Acquire, Retain, & Recapture.
Having a strong Retail sector in the industry is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. No, it’s a great thing. Retailing is tough. It’s a lot of work, it’s time consuming and it’s capitally intensive. If done right, it can be very profitable but if not, it can be economically disastrous. Retailing is all about purchasing the right products at the right price and reselling them to customers who need, want and can afford what you sell. It’s all about being the Industry Leader in your local community and creating and growing your circle of influence. The unity part of my message comes from the fact that local merchants are situated and equipped to perform this important function in the industry channel of distribution. Manufacturers, Certification Agencies and Travel Companies are not equipped to deal with the local general public, even with the reach and economy of the internet. Don’t kid yourself, it doesn’t work.
The Great Unification I’m speaking about is happening among successful Industry Professionals now. They realize that each business has a particular function to perform in the distribution of programs, products and services. Many businesses with different core competencies need to do their part in the movement of goods and services from conception to consumption. When the different components of the supply side and demand side of the distribution channel each do their jobs correctly, more people gain, and gain more.
When it comes to dive shows I like to bring Travel Destinations and Dive Operators together with our Travel Wholesalers. I introduce our Travel Wholesalers to new Travel Buyers and Tour Operators. We talk about booking groups and FAM Trip opportunities. And what Training Rep or Manufacturing Sales Rep wouldn’t want to meet new Dive Resorts, Dive Operators or Retail Travel Buyers? When we are at our booths collecting consumer contact information, we now have a number of dive businesses to refer them to. If there is a seminar scheduled during that show for any of our Travel contacts, we have one more tie-in to recommend. So when an Industry Travel Professional asks what can we do for them if they join our Association, I guess the correct answer would be “everything.” We grow everyone’s business by bringing buyers and sellers together.
Many dive industry professionals still are not convinced there is more to gain by working together. Our non-profit organization, Dive Industry Foundation is mapping out the world-wide diving market. We call the campaign, DIVE LOCAL. Check out our Regional Directories at https://divelocal.wordpress.com , specifically the NC Directory listed below North Central US. We list local dive industry professionals and all we ask for is a business card. Building a current contact database of active dive industry professionals is not as easy as it sounds.
Now look at the list of local and visiting exhibitors who have a booth at Our World Underwater next week. EXHIBITORS It looks like the best dive resorts worldwide are represented and they will have an excellent opportunity to book their destinations with the local attendees. Yet only 3 local stores and 2 local dive boats are promoting their business to the local diving community. I would have expected more local involvement, but that’s OK. The thousands of attendees will be more likely to buy the products and services they see at the show.
For those of you who have always wanted a Marketing & Trade Association to promote your business and bring you more customers and opportunities, I’ll be at Booth 14 at Our World Underwater next week. See you there. Safe Travels.