What Dive Stores Say About Their Dive Travel Wholesalers
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
This is a follow-up article to one I wrote on January 26, 2021, entitled “Why it’s Better to Use A Dive Travel Wholesaler for Your Group Bookings.” Article Link You can (and should) read the article yourself, but the basic idea of the article was to give Dive Stores, from a wholesalers point of view, solid reasons why they should use Dive Travel Wholesalers when they book their group trips. We asked six prominent Dive Travel Wholesalers for their input, and we received some of the best advice in the industry on what a dive store can expect when working with them.
Now that we had input and advice from Professional Dive Travel Wholesalers, we contacted three successful Dive Travel Specialists who used Roatan Charter for their group trip planning. We asked them why they used Dive Travel Wholesalers and what the benefits were.
We spoke with Jolene Philbrook from Adventure Dive & Photo Center in Maple Grove, MN. Jolene has seven group trips on the books this year. Very impressive in these times. Jolene gave us three major reasons why she books with Debbie Helms at Roatan Charter.
“1) One-Stop-Shop for Information: It doesn’t matter what I’m looking for…best airline pricing, layover hotel info, a foodie resort, top-side adventures…I communicate what I’m looking for and Debbie’s experience with each location’s providers helps me determine the right destination and resort for my travelers’ needs.”
“2) Lessen Risk: Dive shop owners are busy with the ins-and-outs of the business, so I appreciate that Roatan Charter is watching deposit deadlines, drop dates, and all the details needed to help me minimize risk and ensure a successful and profitable booking!”
“3) Damage Control: Debbie has always assisted in any travel “fire.” Even helping folks that miss their flight by rebooking with the least amount of penalties and lowest cost. We had a group of 24 people in Palau when the U.S. called all international travelers back to the States in March of 2020. The last flight back to the U.S. was scheduled to leave in 3 days, which cut our trip 7 nights short. Debbie secured all new return flights and even helped rebook traveler’s domestic flights (which she hadn’t even initially booked). She goes above and beyond. Always.”
“As a group travel retailer, there are many unknows that highlight the risk in this season. However, using Roatan Charter and enjoying a trusted relationship with Debbie and her team, helps ease concerns and lessen our risk. Despite COVID19 and the international travel headaches of our day, I’m willing to plunge forward and continue offering group dive travel with Debbie’s attention, experience, and skill in my corner!”
We next contacted Capt. Jerry L. Portwood from the Dive Shack USA in Bullhead City, Arizona. Captain Jerry laid out many reasons why a Dive Retailer should use Dive Travel Wholesalers instead of trying to do everything themselves. Jerry was also lavish with his praise of Debbie Helms from Roatan Charter. “Travel wholesalers, especially Debbie Helms with Roatan Charter, Inc. provide a service that equates to time and money savings for myself and the dive facility.”
“For many years, I booked direct dive trips with the resorts and operators as well as the airlines. All very time consuming and each had their agenda for boking, deposits, payments and “PENALTIES”. Often, confusing and often different dates of requirements. Thus, providing a negative impact on myself in stress and financially, should I miss a required payment date, resulting in said penalties.”
“Time and money are the down falls of trying to do “it all”. The more time personally spent, takes away from the retail and student ratios and profit margins. I am cut thinner and thinner trying to do it all. Then, comes the travel wholesaler. A one stop, one shop provider of my wants and needs for adventure. Rather than staying thin, I start to fatten up with less stress, less worries and less time invested in a travel program. The question is more profit.”
“I call Debbie Helms at Roatan Charter, Inc., give her a few options on the wants and requests of clients, she has a larger and more educated system of working with the resorts and negotiating price, perks or even just a coffee pot in the room. In a matter of hours typically, I have a quote. I process the information in a short manner of time and can say yea or nay. Thus, the travel wholesaler becomes my broker and does a very large percentage of up front foot work.”
“Why Debbie? I consider her a professional that always goes the extra mile to make it right, even during the tough times as now and the past year. She has a great personality and finds the answers when needed. She is available! Most of all, I consider her “my” friend, a very small circle.”
Curt Wilson & Carly Bradley – Fisheye Scuba, Folsom, CA: We had to connect and reconnect with Curt & Carly because they were on their way, the next day, to Cozumel, Mexico with 30 of their customers. Yes, less than 2 months ago. We spoke with Curt on Friday and he told us that working with Dive Travel Wholesalers had more benefits than trying to do it all yourself. Curt said that Debbie Helms from Roatan Charter was “easy to work with” and his trip to Cozumel was proof of that. Two days later, while in Cozumel, Curt sent us a very nice email.
“Hi Gene. It’s Curt & Carly from Fisheye Scuba in Folsom, CA. We spoke on Friday about this email. I’ve done both, booking directly with the resorts and used a “Dive Wholesaler.” In the beginning I did everything directly with the resorts. Then, one day I ran across Debbie from Roatan Charter. Debbie has the same “Group” pricing and at times even better pricing than going direct with the resort. I found it much easier to work with the wholesaler than with the resorts. The “wholesaler” already has 99% of any question answered. If you have ever tried to get an answer quickly directly from the resort, you know it can be taxing. Therefore, it only makes sense to use them.”
“My question to other retailers would be? Why would you not use one?”
So there you have it. Comments and advice from other Retail Stores that have a successful travel program, to Retail Stores that either don’t have a travel program or are struggling with their current program. We hope this article helps you create or improve the dive travel program in your store.
For more information on becoming a Dive Travel Specialist or Group Travel Leader, contact Gene Muchanski at Dive Industry Association. Phone: 321-914-3778. email: firstname.lastname@example.org