Our Destiny Is To Grow – Much Larger –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
A Trade Association is a group of people or companies in a particular business or trade, organized to promote their common interests. That is what the Dive Industry Association has been doing from the very beginning, 20 years ago. In the past few years we have crystallized in writing, who we are, what we do and why. We formed an association who’s Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together. Our focus is to first work with the Sellers of diving equipment, training and travel services to penetrate the market and reach people who need, want and can afford our products. These are the Buyers we all seek. Dive Industry Association’s second focus is to identify all the potential Buyers in our community. Our Message to the General Buying Public is; 1) Learn to Dive, 2) Buy Your Gear, and 3) Go Diving. To help perpetuate the recreational industry and grow, we added 4) Stay Active.
Our approach to making an impact in the market is a three-pronged strategy. Like a three-legged bar stool, it needs all three legs to stand. 1) Dive Industry Foundation is our 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt, educational, charitable organization that performs the work that is normally non-revenue generating. We conduct primary research, data collection, industry analysis, problem recognition and solution recommendations to help industry professionals plan achievable successful outcomes. 2) The Dive Industry Association is our Member Trade Association Marketing Company that uses advanced marketing tools and technologies to market and promote our Members in this very competitive and declining market. Our goal is to help our Members successfully market their diving equipment, training, travel and service products to recreational buyers. 3) The DIVE LOCAL Campaign identifies the Total Available Market, worldwide, and is recorded on a website for the world to see. Identifying the total world market helps the industry determine the size and its economic potential.
In the past nineteen years we have worked hard to define the market, analyze it, and recommend solutions that help us succeed and grow as an industry. We’ve spent over $300,000.00 researching and promoting hard-working dive industry professionals, while not taking a salary for ourselves. If it were not for the 411 Dive Industry Association Members who have contributed over 1,500 annual memberships and the handful of dive companies who have sponsored our work in the community, we could never have accomplished what we have in the past nineteen years. But looking back on those nineteen years, I have to tell you, it’s not enough!
We recently had a defining moment in our work as an Industry Trade Association. What you might call an Ah-Ha Moment. The Brevard Zoo in Viera, Florida was looking for a World-Class Celebrity to speak to 450 of their most generous Philanthropists at their annual fund raising event, “Safari Under the Stars” next year. The Brevard Zoo has a world-class environmental program and Turtle Rescue Program that is the envy of many zoos across the country. Wanting to host an internationally acclaimed celebrity in the environmental community they asked me if I had any recommendations. I’ve always prided myself on knowing the diving community from top to bottom, and I can tell you that our industry database contains over 10,000 dive industry professionals, many of whom I know personally, on a first name basis. What I quickly realized was that Jean-Michel Cousteau stood out as the most recognizable, authoritative and experienced Explorer, Ocean Ambassador and Working Environmentalist in the world, and no one else even came close to him. It turns out that the environmental priorities of the Brevard Zoo and the environmental work being done by Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society was a perfect match. I am happy to say that Jean-Michel Cousteau will, in fact, be speaking at the Brevard Zoo’s Safari Under The Stars next year. But who do we get the following year? And the year after that? And the year after that?
I then began some research into non-profit organizations using GuideStar by Candid’s website at www.guidestar.org When looking at the annual revenue of non-profits that operate in our community, you’ll see that many of them are painfully small. Granted, they may be dedicated to the environment and work hard to preserve and maintain it, but still too small none-the-less. To add insult to injury, our Trade Associations in the diving community are no different. Dive Industry Association has 123 active Members and a very small budget. After being in business for 46 years, DEMA has just 1,200 Members and annual revenue of $3,200,000. After paying for the Dema Show, employee salaries, and a little bit for lobbying, what’s left to grow the Industry?
This is not an attack on Dive Industry Association, Dema or the diving industry. It’s just a realization that we are too small as a scuba diving-only recreation. This has got to change. It’s Our Destiny to Grow Much Larger Than we Are Now. A Trade Association in our niche market should have 8,000 Trade Members. Our annual operating budget needs to exceed $100,0000,000. And the Key Influencers in our circles of influence should be, well, more well known. We may need to de-fragment the industry and offer more professional services that make businesses want to belong to a trade association. We may even have to collaborate with other industries or niche markets to achieve the size we need to be more effective. We have a lot to do to make it happen.
I can’t speak for anyone other than the Dive Industry Association but I will promise you that we will: 1) Continue to support the Dema Show as our community’s biggest and only annual Trade Expo, Professional Development Conference and Social Gathering. 2) Work to grow the Dive Industry Association to over 2,000 Members. 3) Pull out all the stops to seek funding for the Dive Industry Foundation in order to accomplish the industry research, analysis and promotion it needs. 4) Document the Total Market Size (worldwide) of our community to determine its current economical impact and total economical potential, using our resources at DIVE LOCAL.
To realize our potential as an industry I believe we need to work together always, collaborate whenever possible and have a common outcome that we all can work toward. I am tired of working in a small, under-funded, declining industry that does not attracted the best and the brightest talent and does not have the funding or the ability to raise the necessary funding to do what we have been called to do. Build a Better Industry and Be the Ambassadors of our Oceans.
Please keep this editorial in mind when you see The Dive Industry Association asking you to become a Member or the Dive Industry Foundation asking for your donations or our DIVE LOCAL campaign volunteer asking for your input. Remember – You CAN and SHOULD make a difference.