Welcome To The World of Small Groups.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional
The new normal is here. The covid pandemic has changed the way we work and play forever. In the past year, we’ve seen the death, the destruction, the confusion, and a partial economic collapse of our robust world economy. We’ve been through the shock, the denial, the anger, the blame, and now the realization that this problem is not merely going away, but will have to be dealt with in an intelligent and logical manner. The world is learning what may work and what may not. I can only hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail and that leaders will emerge to tackle this problem once and for all.
In the meantime, the population is wearing masks, practicing social distancing, avoiding large crowds, getting vaccinations and acting responsible. Our priority right now should be to learn how to be safe and do what is expected of us as we make plans to participate in diving and adventure travel once again. Keep in mind that health professionals are working overtime to set realistic guidelines for our future behavior. That means guidelines for our personal behavior as well as our business behavior.
So, here we are – February 2021. The travel industry has been decimated and so has the recreational scuba diving industry. But here’s the thing. Life around the world is a mixed bag. People are traveling and diving again, in specific areas, but not everywhere. It seems that every country or island has a different government regulation for dealing with the virus. Every airline carrier has their unique twist on CDC’s global recommendations. So what is a diver to do?
The first thing you should do is to keep educated with respect to the current health guidelines that have been established for your home country and the country you are planning to visit. Secondly, as I’ve written before, use the services of an experienced Travel Wholesaler. Thirdly, take precautions when it comes to staying healthy, avoid large crowds, wear a mask, keep social distancing, and get your covid vaccination. Even if you do all the right things, there is still a risk, so be alert for new potential problems.
One trend I’m starting to see is the acceptance and widespread use of doing things in small groups. Gone are the days of packed concert halls, sports stadiums, and super sized conventions. We are entering into an era of adventure travel experiences for small groups. Dive Travel Specialists are taking their groups of 10-12 to their favorite resorts who keep them separated from other groups and may even provide a smaller dive boat dedicated to their group alone. That is a very positive trend. Not only is it good for small groups and the resorts, it’s good for the small business person. Before the pandemic, we were seeing large national companies selling “invasion” style vacations to groups of 50-100 people. How can a small business person compete with that? I guess some people thought that over crowding a small island with hundreds of divers was “cool.” Well, not any more. Now it’s all about small groups, safety oriented procedures, and a quality vacation experience.
A funny thing about catering to many small groups at a resort, is that it is not a new thing. In 2014 I participated in a Media FAM trip to Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort. There were 16 of us and yet our Host split us up into two groups. We had two vans, two dive boats, two guides and yet we still did everything together. Sandals LaSource Greneda Resort has over 222 rooms and while we were there the resort had a 90% occupancy rate. You would never know it by just looking around. The Resort is so well designed that we never felt it was overcrowded or even full. One of our guides explained that Sandals designs their resorts to have many buildings, multiple swimming pools and many differently themed restaurants. No matter where you stay at a Sandals Resort, you feel that you have the whole resort to yourself.
I think the Diving industry can learn some things from Sandals to bring in some fresh ideas on how to cater to many small groups of divers while giving the impression of exclusivity. If our industry can market itself to the world as the best adventure travel recreation that defines the idea of the ultimate social distancing, I believe we can write our own ticket for many years to come.
Ask your participating Travel Wholesaler for a recommendation to a resort destination that will give you and your small group a high quality, low quantity, social distancing travel experience. Read our recent blog, Why We Use Dive Travel Wholesalers.