Putting the Business of Diving in Perspective –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
The Diving Industry Association is a Trade Association who’s Mission is to bring Buyers & Seller together. That creates commerce, fills consumer needs, and grows the recreation. Commerce is what creates the market we operate in and it maintains and grows the market for our recreational diving equipment, training and travel products. Our Goal is to Build a Better Industry. We do that one member at a time, one show at a time, and one blog article at a time. The good news is that we have been doing it for 20 years and over 400 dive industry member businesses have benefited from our business expertise and marketing promotions. In the past twenty years, the Dive Industry Association has sold over 1,500 memberships, exhibited at countless trade shows and events, written hundreds of articles, editorials and blogs, conducted numerous seminars and workshops and hosted a number of lunch and learn events. We have consulted and worked for some of the biggest and best dive companies in the community. We are the acknowledged experts in the business of diving sector, with a great amount of education, experience and successful outcomes. We know and understand the market, the products and the customers.
Why is the Business of Diving so important? Good question. First of all, let’s look at markets in the traditional “Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline” Model. A Market is where Buyers and Sellers meet to exchange products for compensation. The Recreational Scuba Diving Market is one of many markets where diving programs, products and services are sold. Most of what is sold in the recreational diving market is diving equipment, training programs and travel products. The priority of our recreational scuba diving market should be to; 1) Teach people to dive. 2) Sell them the gear they need to go diving. 3) Take them diving. 4) Keep them active.
Diving Instructors create the market by training people who become qualified to purchase our products. Instructors who work for Dive Stores teach the majority of divers because Dive Stores are easy to find for the general public. High School and college scuba instructors also teach a fair amount of divers, because they have a captive audience and the school system does their advertising for them. The most under marketed group is the independent instructor. To grow the market, we need to help all Scuba Instructors market their courses to the general public.
Once a market is built, sellers of diving equipment, training programs and travel products compete for the buyers’ dollars. But acquisition alone will not keep a market from failure. We must also maintain the market we create. Acquisition and Retention. A winning combination. If all the sellers do their job in acquiring, maintaining and growing the market, it will continue to growth and prosper. Maybe that’s why the diving industry is getting smaller every year and on the verge of dying. We have focused too much on teaching new students but have not sold them the gear they need, or taken them diving and definitely have not worked to keep them active. The rule of thumb should be to keep as much of the diving population active as possible and replace the 25% of the divers we lose every year with new divers. And we don’t need more Instructors or Course Directors. We need more new entry level divers who can then buy their gear, go diving and stay active.
As a Marketing Professional, I see the orderly process of building a market, maintaining the market and growing it. I know which sectors are responsible for building the market, which sectors profit by selling to and servicing the market, and which groups benefit the most by creating the initial interest or continuing the interest in the recreation. I also know who benefits the most by having a market built for them so they can benefit financially. It’s easy for planners to see this orderly process because we are not in the trenches with the market creators or the countless numbers of business professionals responsible for keeping this well-oiled machine running. It all goes back to the classic book, The E Myth. In every business there has to be someone working in the business (doing the things the business does – teaching classes, dive mastering, working in the dive shops, running group trips) and someone who is working on the business (the bookkeepers, accountants, planners, lawyers and marketing professionals.)
So, the Business of diving is very important to our recreation. We need professional companies that make innovative and safe scuba equipment, enjoyable training programs, and exotic dive resorts with awesome dive operators. We need professionally run retail stores that teach classes, sell gear, rent and repair dive equipment, fill tanks, book dive trips and run dive clubs. We need modern dive boats with experienced captains and crew. We need better dive magazines and travel guides. We need more dive shows and events.
Not only do we need more of everything in our recreation, we need better and more efficient businesses to handle a larger, growing market. We need to be able to better serve our customers with the best training, the best equipment, the best service, and the best travel programs we can create. We need training in the use of modern tools and technologies that help us with running our businesses and the most important aspects of customer acquisition, maintenance and retention. Our customers deserve nothing less. A Professional Dive Business works every day to become more professional, more proficient and more profitable. That’s the only way they can, and deserve to stay in business.
Want to become a more professional Dive Industry Business? 1) Select one person in your company to focus on working on your business. 2) Apply for Membership in the Dive Industry Association ($125). 3) We’ll share our research and best practices with your business representative. Check out our Membership information, benefits and Members Guide on our website at http://www.diveindustry.net