Editorial – October 2020

The World Has Changed – Have You? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

There is one thing for certain in life – things will always change.  Change can be a good thing or a bad thing.  It all depends on how you respond or react to it.   Our businesses are in a continual state of change also.  As intelligent business people we need to keep ahead of things that may change and be prepared for whatever happens.  When major changes occur in our way of doing business, we call it a paradigm shift.  Well, thanks to a number of major changes to the world economy this year, we have entered into a paradigm shift like never before.   The way we do business has changed for both the buyers and the sellers.

Now I don’t want to sound like change is a bad thing.  In fact, there are a few things that are changing for the better in the recreational diving industry.  It’s too early to tell how much of the industry has or will change but as change occurs, it’s up to us to change with it.  Adapt, so to speak.

One major change so far is something that is very close to my heart.  It’s Trade Shows.  In 2020, dive shows died.  Our World Underwater, Beneath the Sea, Scuba Show, Shark Con, Surf Expo and DEMA Show did not hold their live events this year.  Attempts to conduct virtual trade shows has had mixed success so far.  Probably because they are boring, time consuming for the public, not done right, or too expensive for a profitable return on investment.  Another major problem with virtual shows is that the producers have little or no experience at designing and conducting them.  There are so many flaws with the way virtual trade shows are being conducted, I have a hard time getting excited about them or even recommending them for the diving industry.   However, I do think there may be something new and exciting on the horizon.

Going back four years or so, I started asking shows & event producers to let us combine digital online programs with our exhibit booths at their trade shows.  Wifi access at that time was either blocked, limited, or very expensive.   So the answer was no.  Just buy a booth from us and forget your online stuff.  Well, I heard that things may be changing soon.  I heard about Hybrid Trade Shows and I think I know where they are going.  This may turn out to be a way back for Shows & Events in our industry.

Another thing that has changed is the size of events.  Having a multi-day show for 10,000 attendees, at a location 1,000 miles away from home is a thing of the past.  Venues are too expensive, travel is limited and unpredictable, hotels and lodging may not be available,  large crowds are not recommended anymore, and having to compete for the limited time of the attendees is not cost productive anymore.  One of the main reasons so many of us went to these events was for the social interaction.  Now, that’s gone and so is the way we conduct these “old” shows.

We now see that professional development seminars can be done online.  We also see that large attendances actually work against us in a multi-day event.  We recognize the difference between a buying show for dealers and a show & tell show for industry professionals.  They are different and can be conducted separately.  Exhibitors no longer have to bear the cost of an expensive venue so that we can conduct a less expensive professional development conference.

Faced with a declining market and limited business opportunities, we must adjust our business models to remain focused on what is important to our industry and the businesses that are in it.  The whole purpose of an industry is to create and maintain marketplaces where buyers and sellers come together to do business.  The business our recreation is in, is the selling of diving equipment, training and travel.  The front line workers in our industry are the diving instructors, dive store owners, dive operators and dive resort staff.  I am confident they know diving well enough to survive in the future.  I am not so sure they are prepared or trained for the change in the business of diving technology.  The market has changed and so has the business tools and techniques we need to run our businesses. 

The market is changing.  Our business tools are changing.  Are you?

Be on the cutting edge of change by becoming a member of the Dive Industry Association, the Global Dive Business Network dedicated to bringing Buyers & Sellers together.  For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net  


About Gene Muchanski

Executive Director at Dive Industry Association. Board Member at Dive Industry Foundation. Marketing Consultant to the Diving Industry. I have been a certified Scuba Diver since I was 15 years old and have been a passionate waterman for as long as I can remember.
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