by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
The 49th Annual Our World-Underwater Dive and Travel Show in Chicago is scheduled for February 16-17, 2019. Our World Underwater has been one of the top three dive shows in the country for 49 years now and is the largest Dive & Travel Expo in the Midwest. The Greater Chicago area has one of the highest concentrations of certified Divers in the United States. This year’s annual Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show will feature Workshops, Seminars, an Exhibit Hall, a Saturday Evening Film Festival, and a Friday Night Industry Party.
The purpose of a dive show is to bring the local diving community together once a year to highlight and showcase diving at its best in an area. It’s a once-in-a-year opportunity to bring as many people together in a short period of time to discuss and showcase the latest and greatest Diving Equipment, Training and Travel. It’s an opportunity to meet world-class explorers and see their work in their exhibit booths, at their seminars and on the big screen at the Film Festival. A Regional Dive Show is also the social highlight of the year for its local diving community. You’ll see old friends and meet new ones. You’ll get a chance to meet and speak with world-class explorers you may have only read about.
The business side of Regional Diving Shows is not to be ignored or even under estimated. Face-to-face Marketing is the most powerful component of any business marketing strategy. There is no other time of year where a business can meet with so many of their suppliers and accounts in one place during one weekend. It is the most cost effective way of reaching your customers.
Manufacturers and Sales Reps should schedule meetings at Regional Dive Shows with their accounts to touch base, introduce new equipment and sell products. Even in the 20th Century Sales Reps knew how expensive it is to go on the road and visit each and every one of their Dealers. In fact, I don’t know of any Rep who did it well enough. It’s too expensive, to time consuming and too counter-productive to think that you are going to visit 250 Dealers in a seven-state territory in a short period of time. And now in the digital age of the 21st Century, face-to-face marketing is even more important to maintain your professional relationships with your customers.
Face-to-face marketing is essential to maintaining a professional relationship with your current customers, a chance to reconnect with your former customers and an excellent way to meet new customers. It is the only way for Dive Stores to meet new people who want to become Divers before competitors establish first contact with them. Once a competitor has established contact with a new student, chances of getting them as a customer, selling them equipment, teaching them advanced educational courses or selling them travel vacations is most likely out of the question. Our job as Meeting Planners is to give Scuba Instructors the opportunity to reach perspective scuba students before someone else does. The early bird catches the worm and the second mouse doesn’t always get the cheese.
The Dive Travel Specialists in our industry have gotten face-to-face marketing down cold. They realize that continual presence is necessary to put heads on beds and butts on seats. Unless you are in the mind of your customer when they are ready to make a purchasing decision, you and your company will quickly be forgotten. Your website, facebook page and emails are quickly forgotten when a live Travel Specialist presents a dive traveler with their brochure, sales pitch and show special. If you are exhibiting at the show with them, you have a chance to compete. If you aren’t, you don’t.
The Dive Industry Association specializes in working with our Members to promote their business, pave the way for sales and make the necessary referrals to prospective buyers. We understand the buying patterns of current customers, former customers and future customers. We know how to close sales by focusing on pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing. And best of all, we understand the need to integrate digital, print and face-to-face marketing. Right now we are working with exhibitors to have a successful Our World Underwater. Maybe we could do the same for you?
See you in Chicago. Safe Travels.