Editorial – April 2023

cropped-gene-roatan-1.jpgAn Industry Search For Its Key People
 by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

This is the perfect time to rebuild the diving industry from the ground up.  As the world struggles to enter the post pandemic economic recovery period, there are still going to be challenges that need to be overcome, dealt with, accepted, or ignored.  As a lifelong optimist but a practical realist, my latest conversations with some of the key people in the diving industry have confirmed the fact that we are in a recreational & leisure business that is severely affected by downturns in world economic fluctuations.  As the Global Diving Business Network delas with supply shortages, inflation, a looming recession, under employment, transportation irregularities, political squabbles, and global tensions, there is still a market for diving and adventure travel that needs to be addressed and serviced.

Our recreation will not survive if we are in different boats, paddling in opposite directions, while we are taking on water.  I challenge all Dive Industry Professionals who are reading this to think about the current industry fragmentation, the lack of unity, the lack of vision, and the lack of corrective action we have experienced in our industry in the past 10 years.  Can you honestly tell me that our industry has gotten better in the past ten years?  Ten years ago, we said the industry was flat.  No growth.  What about now?  Has the industry improved?  Is it the same?  Is it worse?

The Dive Industry Association is working on an exciting program.  It’s called DIVE LOCAL.  I hope you have been reading about it in our Industry Trade Magazine, The Dive Industry Professional.  So far, we have defined the program (concept), introduced the levels of participation, defined a geographical breakdown of the Global Diving Community, and outlined a professional trade breakdown of the stakeholder groups comprising the Global Diving Business Network.  This month we are identifying the Key People in each stakeholder group who are running the top companies and organizations in the industry.  That’s about as far as we can go before we begin to discuss the industry challenges, problems, and setbacks.  That’s because we have to first get the industry’s key people engaged in order to discuss the roadblocks preventing our growth and future success.   We will then need the same group of engaged key people to discuss potential solutions to the industry’s challenges and take corrective action to move the industry forward.

The goal of DIVE LOCAL is not to tell the recreational diving industry what to do.  Not by any means.  Our purpose is to build a Global Diving Business Network that will work together to identify problems, challenges, and lack of opportunities in the Global Diving Community.  We can define the global community by conducting primary research and outlining a workable foundation that we all can work with, but the industry will need a significant number of Dive Industry Professionals to participate in the analysis of our problems, the recommendation of solutions, and the agreed upon course of action the industry needs to implement.

To be honest with you, I don’t expect all of the key people in our industry will jump onboard at first.  Some can’t be bothered and some “have their own thing.”  In the past twenty years we have all been to seminars, workshops, and summit meetings that have discussed industry problems.  We listened, we participated, we even offered our opinions as to the challenges, solutions, and action items that were needed, and then everyone went home and did nothing about it.  Well, at least until the next meeting the following year.  I think we can all agree that we have had enough of those types of meetings.  This is not one of them.  We are creating a foundation, putting it in writing, posting it to our websites for all to see, and we are following up.  Worst case scenario is that we end up with a perfect plan that tells us what the industry should have been doing.  A more likely scenario will be that a small group of progressive Dive Industry Professionals will start working on the program and see their sales increase, their market share increase, and their belief in working with their peers in the network, justified.

Searching for and identifying Key People in our industry is very important to the success of our industry.  Each dive business should have at least two Key People.  One to represent the company to the public and one to orchestrate the strategic path that the company follows.  In simple terms, one person represents the company, and one person is the company.  The key person who represents the company is usually the person in charge of marketing.  The strategic powerhouse of the company is usually the owner or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  We’ll refer to the person who is in charge of the company and its strategic growth plans as the Internal Key Person and the person who communicates the company plans to the public and is the company’s main contact person as the External Key Person.  Both play a vital role in the industry.

Internal Key Person:  A good internal key person is someone the whole company knows and it’s someone the whole industry wants to know.  It’s someone people respect and follow because they have a vision for the company and communicate that effectively to the people who work at the company.  It’s someone who has the authority to make decisions for the company and has the clout to make things happen.  Employees who agree with the company vision and want to be a part of it, are loyal to the internal key person.  The diving industry needs the expertise and presence of these internal key people at round-table discussions on industry growth and direction.  As an industry, we need to identify one person from each company to engage with us.

External Key Person:   The External Key Person is the one person who represents the company to the public.  It usually is the Marketing Director, Sales Manager, or Communications Officer if the company is large enough.  It should be the one person you could contact to find out something about the company.  External Key People are the spokespeople for their company.  They communicate the company’s story to the public and act as the first line of contact for the company. It’s important to note that an effective External Key Person is a company person who is in charge of communicating company information to the public.  It is not the responsibility of business professionals you hire to carry out sales, marketing, or reservation services.  They are vendors you pay to perform specific revenue generating tasks.  They are not your company spokespeople.  When you think about it, they are actually the company spokesperson for their own company.  The one you hired.  We will address this shortly.

Problems Identifying Key People:  Every diving company has an Internal Key Person running the company.  Unfortunately, not all of them are the final decision makers nor are they all considered Industry Leaders.  Many times, in our industry, key people inside the company take a low profile when it comes to public recognition.  Consequently, they shy away from participating in industry round-table discussions and keep their company strategic plans to themselves.  We cannot argue with that.  It’s their choice.  What we would appreciate is an Internal Key Person from each company who would be available for input and comments on our industry growth plans.  That would give them the professional courtesy of being asked to participate but leave it up to them on how engaged they choose to be. The importance of having a reliable inside contact in every company is that they will never lose contact with the Global Diving Business Network should they loose their hired spokesperson.

Employee & Non-Employee External Key People:  Company Communication Officers were once considered an expensive luxury position to have, especially at small and medium sized companies.  In today’s modern, competitive environment, a sharp Communication Officer is worth their weight in gold. Their job is to communicate their company’s programs, products, and services to the general public.  By being the official spokesperson for the company, they are the link between the company and the consuming public.  An External Key Person is responsible for making sure their company’s marketing plan is carried out in the public sector, to achieve the outcomes their company has in its plans.  Communication Officers build extensive marketing networks by developing long-term business relationships with the people that help them do their job.  It is critically important that the company maintain those relationships if the company transitions between one Communication Office and another. All to often we have seen Resort Destinations across the globe lose all of their contacts in the Global Diving Community when they switched sales agents, reservation services, or marketing companies.  That should not happen if the Key Internal Person is actively involved in maintaining their important business relationships.

It is important that companies in the Global Diving Business Network identify their Key People, both internally and externally, and work with the Dive Industry Association to maintain business stability and continuity of purpose.  Our mission as a Trade Association is to help diving businesses maintain current market share, identified new markets, and recapture markets and market share that has been lost.  Identifying and working with the Key People that could make that happen is the first logical step.

This is an exciting time to become part of the Global Diving Business Network.  For more information, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director of the Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  Email: gene@diveindustry.net  Web: www.diveindustry.net

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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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