by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
The 50th Annual Our World-Underwater Dive and Travel Show in Chicago is scheduled for February 29 – March 1, 2020. The weekend event will be held at the Marriott O’Hare Hotel & Convention Center. This year’s Film Festival will feature the work of Brian Skerry and Jill Heinerth. Our World Underwater has been one of the top three dive shows in the country for 50 years now and is the largest Dive & Travel Expo in the Midwest. The Greater Chicago area has one of the highest concentrations of Dive Industry Professionals and certified Divers in the United States. This year’s annual Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show will feature Workshops, Seminars, an Exhibit Hall, and a Saturday Evening Film Festival.
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 when 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 was 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, too 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 Experience. Maybe we could do the same for you?
The Dive Industry Association has been asked to assist the show producers by selling booth space at Our World Underwater. We have some excellent specials for you, especially if you exhibited in 2019. Contact Gene Muchanski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I do want to point out a few important details about volunteering our time, money and manpower to a regional show. Selling booth space is not our main goal. It just so happens that we know who the exhibitors are and how to get a hold of them. Booth sales is an outcome we work toward by promoting the workshops, seminars, exhibit hall and social activities to potential attendees in the area. A successful show is all about Workshops, Seminars, Exhibits and Social Activities. When we get local Industry Professionals to participate in the show, it brings in record numbers of attendees. The more we promote the show, the bigger and better it gets. When we reach a certain “eyeballs” number, we get sponsors and advertisement commitments. DIVE LOCAL has started a website page that shows how many Industry Professionals are located in the North Central United States. Check out our directory. If we don’t have you listed, that means we don’t have your business card on file. Simply put one in the mail to Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904 to get your free listing.
I just wanted to remind all Industry Professionals in the Greater Chicago area that the Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show is their Annual Regional Event. If they put in the effort, it will draw in support and dollars from the National and International Diving Community. It’s your call Chicago!
Get Involved and Be There. See you in Chicago. Safe Travels.