Patrick & Sherry Hammer Sell Scuba Emporium

Patrick Hammer

It is with mixed emotions of great pleasure and sadness Sherry and I announce that we have sold the store and want to slow down (just a bit).

In 1974, when I first opened Scuba Emporium, people thought I was crazy. However as crazy as it seemed, it has been an unbelievable run.

We have had the pleasure of certifying tens of thousands of scuba divers, made over ten thousand PADI Instructors, and had stores in 4 states. We have helped many open up successful dive stores and traveled the world with our wonderful customers by our side. We watched families grow and witnesses our young customers get married and circle back around, allowing us to train their grandchildren.

We thrived in good economies and survived when the economy was weak. We have made friends all over the world and had the best job in the world.

So it is time for the next exciting chapter in our life. We plan to continue doing what we love, teaching and running dive travel trips. I want to continue to teach PADI Instructors locally, in other states, and abroad. Sherry loves teaching children and still is hopeful to be able to make young scuba divers. Together we will teach classes and specialties. Our dream is to continue to be leaders in the industry and inspire others to follow their dreams with scuba.

Retail has changed so much over the years and we do not want to be tied to the retail aspect of the business.

We cannot express our gratitude to the many loyal customers that supported us over four decades, our amazing staff (some of which have been with us for twenty plus years and are a second family to us), and PADI, the greatest training agency in the world.

We hope to continue to grow the dive industry.

We thank you for this great run and remember, we’re not leaving, just changing directions. We have some great trips planned in the future and hope you will continue to travel with us.

We can be reached at:
Patrick E-mail:
Cell: 708-650-3483
Sherry E-mail
Cell: 708-651-3483


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It’s Time For A Paradigm Shift

It’s Time For A Paradigm Shift – 
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

According to Merriam-Webster – A Paradigm Shift is an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.  Paradigm Shifts are necessary for the survival of organizations, companies and industries, especially if the old way of thinking and doing things is not working.  The diving industry needs and is ready for a Paradigm Shift.

The Dive Industry Association will be celebrating its 20th Year Anniversary next year.  Our original goal was to Build a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.  Twenty years and 405 Members later, our goal remains the same.  We are building a better industry.  What has changed is the way we go about facilitating that change.  For the DIA Members that are still with us, the industry has gotten better and their businesses have grown.  It’s for these members that we continually work to improve their competitive standing in the industry.

In reviewing a book I read years ago, Successful Sales and Marketing, published by Entrepreneur Magazine, I was reminded that pleasing the customer is central to business success.  I see that many businesses in the recreational diving community have forgotten that primary golden nugget of information.  I began to review everything that our association has done in the past twenty years and I looked more closely at what other companies in the diving industry have done.  I now believe that we need to change the way we think about industry growth and individual company success.  It is time for an Industry Paradigm Shift.  

Our recommended new way of thinking is to put our customers first and act accordingly.  It’s called Target Marketing.  Who are our customers?  What do they need and want?  What is the best way to satiate their needs while improving our expertise and growing the industry?  We have to realize that if our customers get what they want, we will all have done our jobs.  The first step is to identify our customers.  The second step is to understand their wants and needs.  The third step, of course, is to deliver on their needs, not ours.  Of course, the word “customer” means different things to different groups of people.  For that reason, we need to segment (not fragment) the diving industry into industry segments.  The first one we need to define are members of the retail industry that specialize in diving and watersports.

Diving and Adventure Travel Stores:  Retail Dive Centers are the heartbeat of the diving industry.  Dive stores are our recreation’s front-line ambassadors.  They usually are the first point of contact for the general public when they decide to take up scuba diving and it’s related activities.  Retail stores are the majority sellers of diving equipment, training and travel.  They are basically the engine that produces and retains divers.

Dive Industry Association has a special Dive Retailers Association as part of our Organization.  We currently have 17 Retail Stores in 7 States in our membership.  We are in the process of looking to include our Travel Sector Retail Stores into this sub-group.  This stakeholder group needs to expand to at least 500 Members to make our paradigm shift work to change the industry.

The advantage of having an autonomous Association of Retail Stores within our Industry Association is so that we can develop the stakeholder group, determine their needs and integrate them into a workable game plan.  The whole purpose of working with our Retailers is to integrate them with other Buyers and Sellers of diving equipment, training and travel products.  Industry success comes from collectively working with Buyers and Sellers, not isolating them.  We recommend doing three things to start the Industry Paradigm Shift.

Step 1:  Read our DIA Member’s Guide.  Dive Industry Association is actively looking for new Retail Members.  We put our money where our mouth is and we published our goals and objectives to show the entire industry what we are doing about it.  Our Member’s Guide can be viewed on our web site at

Step 2:  Join the Dive Industry Association:  Our first year dues are only $125 and we are known for the relentless marketing of our Members.  Our organization is totally member-centric.  Request a Membership Application from us by going to our web site

Step 3:  Complete our Annual Retail Profile.  The Dive Industry Foundation conducts an annual Retail Audit.  There is no charge and respondents do not have to be a DIA Member.  Please help us define, understand and work with the Retail Stakeholder category.  Request a profile to be mailed to you are copy it online at 

Bringing the Dive Retailers into the center of focus is the first step in bringing about a much needed Industry Paradigm Shift.  Our ultimate desire is to have over 8,000 Dive Industry Professional Members in our Organization.  With those numbers and budget, we can change the industry for the better.  Our plans are being formulated in our white paper – The Dive Industry Manifesto.  It’s a white paper about the history of the recreational diving industry, the successes and setbacks the industry has faced in it’s 60 year history, and a plan for how things need to change in the next 60 years.  The Dive Industry Manifesto is being written now, and you have an opportunity to be a part of its creation.  The first step is to realize that the industry needs to change.

The recreational diving industry needs your help.  Please support the demand for a  Paradigm Shift.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
phone: 321-914-3778


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Mike Johnson – DEMA BOD Candidate

A letter from DEMA BOD Candidate, Mike Johnson

In the summer of 2013, at the age of 27, I took my first dive. Scuba was something that had intrigued me since I was a child. Unfortunately, living in the Midwest did not facilitate scuba diving without travel – or so it seemed at the time, which I now know couldn’t be farther from the truth. With my first breath, I immediately fell in love with the underwater world. Before that Discover Scuba experience ended, I was already contemplating how to become a certified diver and take my craft of video production below the waves.

With the goal of working as a professional in the dive industry, I began to research trade organizations and potential business opportunities. The DEMA Show quickly rose to the top of my list as the place I needed to be. In November of 2013, I attended my first DEMA Show as a non-diver. From the outside looking in, this was where I knew I wanted to be. I left with a lot of good advice and a plan to begin my career in the dive industry.

I completed my scuba certification in December of 2013, and joined the ranks of instructor in the summer of 2018. The DEMA Show became an annual event and I took every opportunity I could dig up, and in some cases create, to further my knowledge and experience as an underwater cinematographer. Through this process one thing became very clear to me: it is extremely difficult for young professionals to connect to the dive industry. Each year I would leave the DEMA Show extremely excited for the connections made and possible opportunities moving forward. Within a few weeks of returning home, that excitement turned into depression as nearly all of my follow up calls and emails were left unanswered (a HUGE Thank You to those who did respond!). Despite the hurdles of getting my foot in the door of the industry, my passion for scuba continued to grow and develop.

This year will be my sixth consecutive DEMA Show. The anticipation and excitement are greater than ever. I am extremely humbled to have my name included on the ballot for the DEMA Board of Directors. When looking at the other names printed above and below mine, I can’t help but think there are many well-deserving and highly-qualified candidates. Some might see my age and short time in the industry as unfavorable for a board member. To those I would say, consider the possibility that a young professional is exactly what this industry needs to help shape the policies and resources that will ultimately dictate the success or failure of reaching others my age and younger, as both new consumers and professionals alike.

All of the industry leaders I have met and spoken with over the past six years agree on one important point: the dive industry is aging in both the consumer and professional sectors and this is a problem for the future success of the industry. Fortunately, we are not the only industry to face this issue. Why is that fortunate? Simply put, it means we can learn from the actions of other industries and apply those successes and failures to the policies and resources that will shape the future of the dive industry and DEMA.

On a more personal note, I want to ensure that fewer young professionals have an entry experience similar to mine. If we are to grow as an industry there must be a bridge built between current leaders and brand-new young divers. This is a point I have championed through involvement with DEMA’s Emerging Leaders Task Force, where myself and several other young professionals worked directly with DEMA President, Tom Ingram, to develop a structured mentorship program designed to pair willing leaders with the next generation of retailers, manufacturers, conservationists, instructors, and artists. I believe this is just the first step to build the bridge that will carry the torch to the next generation.

Many current consumers and industry professionals were inspired to start scuba diving due at least in part to the influence of Jacques Cousteau’s films and the Sea Hunt TV series. Scuba was pop-culture and portrayed in a positive, exciting, and adventurous manner in the mainstream media. Undoubtedly, this created an explosion of growth for the fledgling industry of recreational scuba. Today, positive mainstream media related to the dive industry is few and far between all the negative stories – whether in the news, movies, or television. The positive stories that do make publication are quickly lost in the 24-hour news cycle. Technology and the insatiable need for new video content has opened a giant door of opportunity for previously unthinkable approaches to develop and publish original content to the masses. Imagine what would happen if we as an industry created a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or Discovery series that illustrated the passions you and I share for the underwater world. I believe this is not only possible, it is much needed and a reasonable objective to aim for. Think of the growth potential in all sectors of the industry if we collectively set aside our differences and work together for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

November 13, 2019, not only marks the beginning of this year’s DEMA Show, it is the opening day to place your vote for your 2020-2022 board members. Please, take the time to be informed. Reach out to the candidates to express your concerns and learn more about the vision each of us has for the next three years and beyond. Whoever you choose to vote for, vote – the future of our industry depends on it.

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Editorial – September 2019

Diving Industry – Who Are We? – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The month of September just began and already it is the worst September I can ever remember.  As the Industry’s eternal optimist and cheerleader for the past 52 years, I don’t think I can continue to fill that role anymore.  The Industry needs a much younger, more energetic and more optimistic person to pick up the torch and run with it.  Any takers?

This month’s Editorial is coming to you from our Melbourne, Florida office, where we are all boarded up and waiting for Hurricane Dorian’s wind and  rain to hit the Florida Coast.  The Northern Bahamas just suffered the worst Hurricane in its history as Hurricane Dorian crept along at 1-8 mph as a Category 5 Hurricane with winds of 185 mph and wind gusts over 220 mph.  Dorian left a path of death and destruction across the Bahamas.  Our hearts and prayers go out to our Bahamanian Brothers and Sisters.

In California, what started out as an enjoyable Labor Day Dive Trip aboard the Dive Boat Conception turned into an unspeakable disaster that took the lives of 34 divers.  The Conception caught fire, burnt to the water line and sank in 60 feet of water.  There were only 5 survivors.  I don’t remember any diving accident, in my 52 years as a certified diver that comes close to that devastation.  The entire industry is grieving for this loss of life.  Our hearts and prayers are with those divers and their families.  Our prayers are also with the Truth Aquatics Family.  I can’t imagine the pain and anguish they must be going through right now.  We can only pray.

The Surf Expo has been cancelled this week due to Hurricane Dorian.  The way I’m feeling today is if DEMA was cancelled this year I would not mind it at all.  I’m sorry, but my heart is just not into it this year and I have no idea what it’s going to take to get me back into it.

With the events of the past few days in mind, I’ve been thinking about our Industry and my fellow Dive Industry Professionals.  As Industry Professionals, what is our industry identity and what is our common denominator?  What do we relate to?  We are the Diving Industry.  Not the Surf Industry, the Outdoor Industry, or the Travel Industry.  Our common denominator is that we are all watermen and women.  The only connection we have with the Outdoor Show and the Travel Shows is that we participate in water sports when we are outdoors and we have to travel to get to our dive sites.  Let me explain why I think that our love for the water is what ties our industry together.

A few years ago I tried, in vain, to make the connection with the Surf Expo.  We all admired their youthful, energetic approach to their lifestyle.  As we started to work with their show, I realized they had a major conflict with their own members.  It seemed that half of them related to Water Sports and the other half related to Board Sports.  If you thought of Surfing as a Board Sport (the younger crowd), you were identifying with surfboards, skateboards, wakeboards, snowboards and the street apparel that came with it.  If you related to Water Sports (the older crowd), you were into surfing as a water sport and the beach apparel lifestyle that was associated with it.  The Beach Boys and the film, The Endless Summer were all about the older, more relaxed surfing lifestyle.   The show name, The Surf Expo, has outgrown itself.  It’s still a great show but is it a water sports show, a board sports show, an apparel show or a beach lifestyle show?  You can’t be all things to all people.  You need a common denominator and a common call to action.

Travel Shows have the same problem marketing themselves as does Surf Expo.  Travel shows try to appeal to everyone because they sell expensive booth space, but if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. The Travel Industry is way too big.  Companies market themselves as all inclusive beach resorts, mountain lodges and resorts, air travel, land travel, ocean going cruise ships, river cruises,  lake side vacations, camping trips, etc, etc.  Their common denominator is Travel but travel means different things to different people.

Here is something the “Travel Industry” doesn’t understand.  Traveling used to be a once a year event for people who worked for a living and had limited vacation time.  Once a year, they booked a trip to get away from home to do things like sight seeing, eating and drinking.  Nothing could be more boring.  Today’s traveler books Adventure Travel to do something special on vacation.  We dive, fish, photograph, live and learn with the locals, conduct missions, volunteer our talents to a good cause and countless other things.  We travel for business.  We travel for pleasure.  We travel for recreation.  Travel has become a means to our end.  Our end goal is Adventure.  I once heard Jean Michel Cousteau speak to a group about the excitement of adventure and what it meant to him.  I can still hear him say, It’s about the adventure.”   Diving and Adventure Travel is all about the diving and adventure, not the travel.

Now if the diving industry marketed itself as an attractive niche within the water sports industries we could combine forces with all the different types of diving, like snorkeling, freediving, scuba diving, and tech diving.  We would be able to market our niche with other water sports like swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, beach apparel, and water sports related adventure travel.  This market is beyond hugh!  If you add specialty industries like photography, metal detecting, treasure hunting, archaeology and the marine sciences, we would have gigantic market potential.

Instead of joining other industry shows in Surf, Travel, and Outdoor, we need to market our industry as its own major water sports adventure activity.  That would include all water sports, swimming, diving (all kinds), surfing, boating, fishing, adventure travel, photography, treasure hunting, and above all, the water sports apparel lifestyle.  Our common denominator would be our love for the water.  Our central playgrounds would be water related destinations.  Our activities would be water sports related.   Our Dive Stores would become Water Sports Adventure Stores.  We would become the Water Sports Ambassadors for cleaner water, living reefs and sustainable tourism.

OK.  I’m starting to get excited again but that doesn’t mean I’m getting back in the game again.  At least not the way we have been in it for the past 60 years.  This time we have to do it right.  This time we have to define ourselves first.  We are Water Men & Water Women.  We have to choose our own image and market that to the general public.  We have to grow our own Regional Water Sports Communities and learn to work well with each other.  We have to work together and support each other.  I’m ready to make a commitment to being a Water Sports Ambassador.  How about you?

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FAM Trip – Belize

FAM Trip – Belize
July 19-23, 2019

by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Participating in a familiarization trip (FAM Trip) is always an exciting adventure for Dive Travel Specialists.  Visiting a new resort two weeks before its Grand Opening is even more exciting.  FAM Trips are the way we get to know all about Dive Resorts and their Dive Operators.  Talking to a Travel Representative at a Dive Show does not compare to seeing the resort up close and personal and experiencing it for yourself.   You learn more about a Resort’s Dive Operation by going diving with them and their staff.  That is exactly what 28 Dive Travel Specialists did earlier this summer.

On July 19th we took a group of Retail Dive Travel Specialists to Sir Karim Hakim’s Belize Dive Haven on the Turneffe Atoll in Belize.  Debra Helms of Roatan Charter, Inc. put the trip together and asked us to participate.  The purpose of the FAM Trip was to introduce Belize Dive Haven to some of the industry’s Top Dive Travel Specialists.  Part of what the Travel Division of the Dive Industry Association does is identify FAM Trip Ready Travel Buyers and invite them on a three to five day Familiarization Trip Experience at select Dive Resort Destinations.

We invited a great group of Dive Travel Specialists from our list of FAM Trip-Ready Industry Professionals.  We connected with Dive Store Owners and Dive Travel Specialists from California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Belize.  We organized the trip so that we would have one day of travel arriving, three days of diving and one day of travel departing.  In my opinion, a five day FAM Trip is the perfect length of time for a Caribbean trip.  A few days longer may be more appropriate for a South Pacific or  Indonesian trip.  This schedule gives you plenty of time to reach your destination and still get to see things along the way.  Using your first day of travel is a great way to get to know the members of your group and answer any questions they may have.  Three days of diving is perfect.  Usually, you get to see the best dive spots the resort has to offer in a short period of time.  Having the last day off to pack your bags, see some local sites , and say your good-byes makes for a relaxing day.

A lot of planning goes into a FAM Trip, especially if you want it to be successful and FUN.  Historically, FAM Trips are put together by Dive Travel Wholesalers, Tourism Bureaus, Resort Destinations, and sometimes, experienced Dive Travel Specialists.  I may be slightly biased but I believe that Dive Travel Wholesalers do the best job of putting these trips together.  They know the travel market (The Sellers), they know adventure travel (The Product), and they know their customers (The Retail Travel Buyers).  They are experienced at bringing travel buyers and sellers together and it shows in their track record of group trip bookings.  Having a Dive Travel Association as part of your FAM Trip Team helps coordinate Dealer selection, pre-trip marketing promotions, on-site marketing opportunities and post-trip followup.  It also is a big plus if your Travel Association helps you put together a SWAG Gift Bag or Photo Contest for your participants.

Roatan Charter put together a great Belize FAM Trip.  The Resort Destination was Belize Dive Haven Resort on Turneffe Atoll.  The resort is brand new, scheduled to open to the public on August 1, 2019 and we were her first FAM Trip Group.  Two other groups had stayed there a few months prior, so we weren’t the first people to dive with the Resort’s Dive Team.  The trip was by invitation only from Belize Dive Haven’s owner, Sir Karim Hakim.  It included four nights deluxe accommodations, round-trip boat transfers from Belize City and Turneffe Atoll, three days of diving, three meals daily and hotel taxes.  A low cost companion option was included in the invitation.  Airfare, drinks and gratuity were not included.

We tried something new on this trip that supported our mission of bringing Buyers and Sellers together.  We knew that we were going to be spending five days with Retail Travel Buyers on a Caribbean Island and we wanted it to be fun and enjoyable.  We decided to put SWAG Gift Bags together for all of our participants; Retailers, Companions, and Resort Staff.  A number of Dive Industry Association Member’s responded to our request and donated over $7,000 worth of gift items for our SWAG Gift Bags.  Roatan Charter provided the Bag.  4 Ocean gave each participant a Signature Bracelet and a metal water bottle. Lita’s Natural Insect Repellent provided a sample pack of Insect Repellent, Insect Bite Itch Relief and Duel Purpose Repellent & Itch Relief.   Riptide Sales Group provided Peppers Polarized Eyewear Sunglasses and Lanyards.  SeaCure Custom Mouthpiece added a custom mouthpiece for each participant.  Stream2Sea provided all of us with a choice of either Sun & Sting Relief Gel and Leave-in Conditioner or Sunscreen for Face & Body and Tinted Sunscreen.

The FAM Trip participants  came from nine different states, so the plan was to meet at Hakim’s Pizza Restaurant in Belize City and then take the dive boats to Belize Dive Haven.   We chose Southwest Airlines as our air carrier and I’m so glad we did.  We got a great price on the round-trip airfare from Orlando to Belize and our “Bags Flew Free.”  When you have nine bags of dive gear, photo gear, clothing and 35 SWAG gift bags to carry, Bags Fly Free is a BIG Plus.   Thank you Southwest.

The flight to Belize was short and enjoyable.  Being that it was our first time to Belize I was pleasantly surprised how inexpensive the flight was, how short the flight was from Florida and how easy it is to get to Belize.  The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is a small, but well run and efficient airport.  After paying our custom’s duty on our “imported gift items” we were whisked away in Belize Dive Haven Vans, to Hakim’s Pizza Restaurant, across the street from Hakim’s Marina, where we would board the boats to our new adventure.

Photo by Jonas Stevens

Boating to the resort was very enjoyable due to a smooth ride through the mangroves.  Our first sight of the 100 room resort sitting on a 500 acre private island was a breathtaking one.  Sir Hakim greeted us at the pier, along with Max Monsanto, the Dive Center’s Course Director.  We got a better view of this beautiful 4-story resort as we walked across the bridge of the resort’s 50 meter pool.  After our customary welcoming cocktail punch we were shown to our rooms where our bags (all nine of them) were waiting for us.

We had plenty of time to unpack, connect to the internet and enjoy a movie on NetFlix.  Thanks to the resort’s own communication tower on campus, we had all the internet and wi-fi we needed to correspond with the world.    I was starting to see that Belize Dive Haven was designed as a self-sustaining complex, with its own electricity, water making capability and internet communication.  That evening we had a welcome aboard dinner, handed out the Gift Bags and got to relax over drinks with our new companions.  A staff introduction by Max made us all feel at home with our new hosts.

Belize Dive Haven has tremendous potential as a dive resort.  The Resort sits on a 500 acre, privately owned island.  It makes its own electricity, makes its own fresh water and has its own communication tower that provides guests with wi-fi and internet capability.  Scattered across the grounds are light posts powered by individual solar panels.  The grounds are well illuminated at night.  The resort complex has its own air strip for small planes and a Helicopter Pad, in case you would rather fly to the Resort from Belize City instead of taking the boat.  Next to the new canal, behind the resort is room for a number of privately owned Condos and owner Yachts.  The resort has a 50 meter pool in front of the resort and a second pool, near completion, next to the bar and outdoor dining room.  The hotel has 100 guest rooms, a grand ballroom & dining area and plans for a roof-top disco.  The hotel, itself, is a work in progress and something new is added almost everyday.  The dive operations office and classroom are complete and the next projects to finish are the wet gear dive locker on the pier and the equipment storage and repair facility in the dive operations building.

The next three days was full of diving, exploring the grounds of the new resort, learning all about our new friends and trying to photograph and video the trip.  I had the pleasure of testing Tovatec‘s new MERA, the hand held Dive Light, Camera and Video.  We had another new product to test.  It was Sublue’s Underwater Scooter.  Our group had plenty of time to correspond with the staff and offer them suggestions on getting their resort and dive operation ready for the general public for their upcoming Grand Opening.

We came for the diving and if anyone in our group books a group trip, it will be to go diving.  Max Monsanto and Cardinal Andrews are in charge of the Diving Operation.  Max is a Course Director and Cardinal is a DiveMaster.  These guys are experienced divers, great leaders and fun to be with.  Their two Captains, Tyrell Ferfuson and Deron McKoy did an outstanding job with our group.  No problems getting us to our dive sites, getting us in the water or picking us up.  Our DiveMasters Rodney Waight and James Andrews Jr. were a kick.  Fun to be with, professional in their duties, and always present and observant in the water.   I would dive with any one of these Dive Professionals.

Photo by Dana Polites

The dive sites we visited in the Turneffe Atoll gave us a good sampling of Belize diving.  The water was warm, clear and calm.  We saw Sharks, Barracuda, Rays, Goliath Groupers, Turtles, Dolphins and a few Lionfish.  My favorite dive was “The Elbow”, a short boat ride from the resort.  We didn’t get to dive the famous Belize Blue Hole, but that just gives us another reason to return to Belize.

At the end of every FAM Trip, I ask myself two questions.  1) Would I go back?  2) Would I take a group there?  Since this was my first time to Belize and Belize Dive Haven, the answer is definitely yes to going back.  There were so many pictures and video I didn’t take.  There were so many dives I didn’t do and I want to see even more of the marine life I did see.  I also want to go back to see the progress this new resort is making over time.  Would I take a group there?  My next trip to Belize Dive Haven will be another FAM Trip.  I know what to expect now based on my first trip and I know what I would like to see on the next trip.

As a Travel Trade Association we are always looking for FAM Trip-ready Travel Buyers to introduce to new Dive Destinations.  By the same taken, we are also looking for Diver-Ready Travel Destinations to show to our Dive Travel Specialists.  I have a good feeling that Belize Dive Haven will one day be on our “most favorite” list.  Stay tuned.


Posted in Adventure Travel, FAM Trips | Leave a comment

SWAG Gift Bags Work

Offer Your Travel Buyers a Complimentary Gift Bag – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

On July 19-24, 2019 we took part in a FAM Trip to Belize to introduce 30 Retail Dive Centers and Dive Travel Specialists to a new Dive Resort, Belize Dive Haven. Debbie Helms, President of Roatan Charter organized the trip at the invitation of Sir Karim Hakim, Owner of Belize Dive Haven.  As an Authorized Travel Advisor and Executive Director of Dive Industry Association, I am always on the look-out for Retail Dive Stores that sell Dive Travel.    FAM Trips are a very special tool for Resort Destinations who want to find high volume group travel buyers.  I thought, maybe it could also be a valuable tool for dive equipment manufactures and training agencies.  We had just published a Blog article on June 11th entitled, Let Us Be Your Ambassador For A Day, so we decided to give it a try.

In our July Editorial Blog, Integrating All The Pieces Into Oneyou can read about our decision to try this new concept.  Since it has never been done before with any amount of success in our industry, we did not know if it would work.  As you can tell from our blogs, posts and pictures we received a great amount of industry participation and interest.  We really have to thank our Sponsors for helping us put this concept into practice.  Debbie Helms, Roatan Charter thought it was a great idea and had Gift Bags made up.  Lita Davis, Lita’s Natural Insect Repellent, started us off with a gift pack of three samples; Lita’s Insect Repellent Spray, Lita’s Insect Itch Relief, and Lita’s Dual Purpose Insect Repellent & Insect Bite Itch Relief.  Autumn Blum, Stream2Sea, gave our guests the option of a sample bag of Sun & Sting Relief Gel and Leave-in Conditioner or a sample bag of Sunscreen for Face & Body and Tinted Sunscreen.  John Flanders, SeaCure Custom Mouthpiece, supplied each of us with a Custom Mouthpiece.  Dave Pollock, RipTide Sales Group was quickly on-board and got us hooked up with Peppers Polarized Eyeware and 4 Ocean.  Peppers gave us 30 Sunglasses, Eyeware Retainer Leashes and Lanyards.  4 Ocean sent us a Reusable Metal Water Bottle and a 4 Ocean Bracelet for each Guest.  The Gift Bags were distributed to our Guests at our Welcoming Dinner in Belize.  The complements and praise from our guests was overwhelming.  I think it actually set the stage for a positive trip because our Dive Travel Specialists knew that we cared enough to thank them for coming with us on this FAM Trip.

Did it work?  Absolutely.  Did we learn anything?  Absolutely.  We knew that size and weight of the samples has a lot to do with our airline baggage limitations.  We also learned a thing or two about Customs.  The trick is to get equipment sponsors to provide actual samples of products they sell or sample items that are useful on a five day dive trip.  I guarantee that our next FAM Trip Gift Bag will be even better.

To summarize our concept, I have to say that we stayed true to our Mission of bringing Buyers and Sellers together.  We introduced a new dive resort and a number of dive products to a select group of professional Retail Buyers who buy and resell dive equipment, training and travel.  Very few company representatives get to spend five days on location with their Dealers.  We were able to do that on a FAM Trip Experience.  Very few Sales Reps travel throughout the Caribbean and beyond to visit their Resort and Dive Operator accounts.  On this trip we visited with one Dive Resort and Dive Operator.  On other FAM Trips we sometimes get a chance to visit with 6 or more Local Resorts and Dive Operators.  Either way, we get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with some of the best Buyers & Sellers in the Dive Industry.

There is one other thing we learned on this trip.  New Resorts look for and appreciate getting their hands on pictures and video of their operation from their guests.  Many manufacturers would also like pictures and video from actual users of their products.  Our next FAM Trip will include that option for our Guests and Hosts.  We plan to integrate SWAG Gift Bags and Photo Competitions on all future FAM Trip Experiences.  Subscribe to this blog for more FAM Trip updates.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Dive Travel Specialist
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Posted in Adventure Travel, FAM Trips | 1 Comment

DIA Members To Exhibit at DEMA Show 2019

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at the DEMA Show on November 13-16, 2019 at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, FL.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members for Great Show Specials.


Retail Services & Software

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Certification Agencies


Associations, Media and Shows & Events


  • Friday, Nov 15 – 11:00 am – Room W304B – Bill Beard Costa Rica
  • Saturday, Nov 16 – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm – NAUI Worldwide – Visual Cylinder Inspection
Posted in Events & Activities, Shows & Events | Leave a comment

Editorial – August 2019

Old Dog – New Tricks – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

It’s August now.  This is when the entire diving industry starts getting ready for the DEMA Show.  Basically.  The show starts just 98 Days from today, which means that we have 98 days of do our pre-show marketing.  That will be followed by 4 Days of at-show marketing and then 45 Days of post-show follow-up, minus 3 days for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  Most of us in the industry know this by heart because we are the “Old Dogs” in the business and this is definitely not our first Rodeo.  But even Old Dogs lose their usefulness unless they can learn New Tricks.

What prompted this month’s editorial topic was an email I received from a dear friend in the diving industry who was writing about many negative things happening in his business.  He talked about his sales being down by 10-15%, students not buying gear, smaller margins on equipment, boat dive attendance being lower, new divers not making equipment purchases, older dives not wanting to do local dives, and of course, the internet and internet sales.  My heart went out to this Old Dog because it seems that his business and his enthusiasm for the business of diving has gone to poop.  Then I compared him to four other Old Dogs I know who are ruffly the same age he is.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  They are the same age, have the same experience, are in the same industry, and doing business in the same economy.  The things that are different about them is they learned new things along the way, they changed with the times, they grew and now they are succeeding in today’s industry.  Old Dogs – New Tricks.

History tells us that things always change.  You wouldn’t think of fighting new wars with the old weapons of the past.  Why would you use old business tools to engage in today’s business environment?  In Jon Acuff’s book, Start, the author talks about the five stages on the road to awesome.  In our 20’s we are Learning.  In our 30’s we are Editing what we know.  In our 40’s we are Mastering our skills.  In our 50’s we are Harvesting what we have planted and in our 60’s we are Guiding others to walk down the path we have already been on.  I read that 6 years ago and have seen this focus work in my life.   I learned that you find the Fountain of Youth by going back to your 20’s and learning new things.  That is what keeps you young, renewed and alive.

Now I am taking Jon’s five  steps and putting them into the accelerated and compressed time frame of the present day business environment.  I discovered that all five stages still happen one at a time, but within a compressed time frame.  Every time I face a business challenge, I learn a new skill to solve it (Learn), make it work for me in my industry (Edit), and then keep doing it until I Master the technique (Master).   Those three steps help me to overcome the challenge and make it into a financially successful opportunity (Harvest) that I can then pass along (Guiding) to my peers.  I may not know many new things intuitively, but with a book, some practice, editing and refining I can learn and master new tricks.

Time is a cruel companion.  It can be a great Teacher but it always wants to take the upper hand.  Well, I prefer to be the Master of Time instead of its Whipping Boy.  As we grow older and hopefully wiser, things should become clearer and more focused for us.  If we learn to maximize our individual strengths and minimize our weaknesses, we can accomplish more with less effort.  This happens all the time now.

As an example, two weeks ago we went on a FAM Trip to Belize.  It was a cooperative effort to bring Buyers and Sellers of dive equipment, training and travel together.  Our Association worked with a Travel Wholesaler to bring a group of Retail Travel Specialists to a new Dive Resort while we introduced everyone to a new group of equipment manufacturers and service providers.  We got an excellent deal for the trip, offered it to seasoned travel buyers,  included a companion option in the package, raised over $7,000 in Gift Bags items and presented our participants with the best SWAG Gift Bag I’ve seen in our industry.  We met new Buyers and introduced new Sellers.  We launched a pre-trip, on-trip and post-trip marketing campaign and I can tell you that all of us got a much bigger bang for our buck than other FAM Trips.  And we learned a few things along the way.  Next FAM Trip will be even better.

This recent new campaign added another component to a business model  we have been working on this year.  The components are:  1) Focusing on the sale of dive equipment, training and travel.  2) Working to bring Buyers and Sellers together.  3) Getting the industry and the consuming public to focus on; a) Learning to Dive  b) Buying their Gear  c) Going Diving and  d) Staying Active.  4) Working together by integrating sales and marketing techniques among all business entities within a specific “Chanel of Distribution.”

Membership in an active Association has its privileges.  Working within a Network has its advantages.  Going it alone, with “your own thing”, is so 20th Century thinking.  Remember that doing what you’ve always done, may get you what you always got.  Or worse, doing what you’ve done in the past, may not even work any more.  Welcome to the 21st Century.  Let’s work together.

For more information on working with a 21st Century Member-Centric Association, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Phone: 321-914-3778

Posted in Business Improvement, Editorials | Leave a comment

Editorial – July 2019

Integrating All The Pieces Into One – 
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

My Grandmother used to say, “Too soon old, too late smart.”  I think I resemble that remark, but I have to add “It’s better late, then never.”  I’ve been working in the diving industry for over fifty years now and I have met so many talented people in our community throughout the years.  We all had great ideas, or thought we did, but the means we needed to express our thoughts and share them with others, didn’t exist at the time.  Not like they do now.

In the old days, before the digitization of images, computerized graphics and streaming electronic messages, all we had was a handful of old books about Scuba Diving, Skin Diver Magazine and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on TV.  And even though Dive Shops at the time didn’t have much marketing capability, Cousteau sparked an interest in our recreation and the general public fell in love with scuba diving and the marine environment.  Scuba diving as a recreation boomed and an interest in the world’s oceans was born.

The Dive Industry Association has been “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.” for nineteen years now.  Four Hundred and Four Member Businesses have joined our industry network and worked together to increase their sales.  They knew that if businesses wanted to be successful, they had to continually focus on being more professional, productive and profitable.  These early pioneers believed they could learn more from networking with their peers than by going it alone.  We now know that working closely with your peers is also what makes an industry grow.

Over the years we learned about and hopefully mastered new marketing techniques and  vehicles that enable us to formulate and send messages to prospect clients who have the need, desire and means to obtain the major products of the diving industry – dive equipment, training and travel products.  We believe that a message the general public will accept and act upon is: 1) Learn to Dive  2) Buy Your Gear  3) Go Diving  4) Stay Active.  We believe that if we learn how to network and cooperate with our peers in the diving industry, our businesses will become more successful and the industry will grow.

So we have our work cut out for us.   We must master the tools that capture the sounds, images and actions of our recreation.  We have to consistently refine our abilities of editing and producing our messages to our potential customers.  We need to apply our knowledge and understanding of the modern marketing vehicles that deliver our messages and we have to develop and maintain business relationships with our customers and clients in order to recommend and provide programs, products and services that are in their best interest to have.  There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and Integrating all these pieces into one strategy is the way to do it.

For the past two years we have been researching and writing white papers that tackle the issue of bringing Buyers & Sellers together to increase sales, increase customer satisfaction and grow the industry. Our first white paper, Uniting the Diving Industry, gave us the road-map for putting Industry Professionals on the same page, communicative wise.  The white paper we fished yesterday, The Dive Industry Association Membership Manuel & Guide, gave us the step-by-step guide to what we do and why.  Now it’s time to put our ideas to the test and show you what happens when we work together to bring Buyers & Sellers together.

Two weeks from now we will take part in a FAM Trip to introduce a New Dive Resort to a group of 35 Retail Dive Centers and Dive Travel Specialists.  We put together a SWAG Gift Bag together for the Retailers and the Resort Operators that includes environmentally safe suntan lotions and shampoos, natural inspect repellents, sunglasses, custom mouthpieces, and a number of new environmentally correct products and programs.  This trip will be more than merely introducing 35 potential buyers to a new seller of travel.  It will be about matching new buyers to new sellers with new products and unique vacation / recreation concepts.  With our pre-trip, on-trip and post-trip media campaign, this 5 day FAM Trip will be about introducing the power of networking and cooperation, the industry has never seen before.

Will this concept work?  I don’t know.  It’s never been done before.  But if you subscribe to our blog on you’ll be one of first to know.  If you become a member of the Dive Industry Association you can become one of the first to participate in these programs.  Request a Member Application from today.


Posted in Adventure Travel, Editorials, Industry | Leave a comment

Let Us Be Your Ambassador For A Day

Introduce Yourself With a SWAG Bag Item – 
by Gene Muchanski,
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional. 

Wholesale selling is all about relationships.  Relationships develop and grow from Introductions, Common Ground and Relationship Development.  I’m in the Business Relationship Business.  As a Trade Association Executive Director my Mission is to bring Buyers and Sellers together.  My job is to introduce buyers and sellers who have the potential to do business together.  We do that at trade shows, consumer shows and visits to their physical locations.

Our Association participates in Travel FAM Trips.  We work with Tourism Bureaus, Travel Wholesalers, Resort Destinations, Dive Operators, Resort Retailers, and Qualified Dive Travel Specialists.  When we put a FAM Trip together, it’s usually at the request of one or more Dive Destinations.  I personally know many of them because I’ve seen them at the DEMA Show but not all of them go to DEMA.  I also know many of the Retail Travel Buyers because I’ve seen them at DEMA or at their Regional Dive Show.  Again, I know many of them, but not all, because not all Retailers go to DEMA or their Regional Dive Show.

I do know of most of the Resort Destinations, Travel Wholesalers and Retail Dive Center Owners in the Industry, Worldwide.  Probably because I’ve acquired their contact information somewhere along the way from their business card or email correspondence.  Thousands of Dive Industry Professionals have visited our websites or subscribed to our Weekly News Press Releases, Blogs, and our Monthly Newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional.  My Number One Goal in Life is to put a face together with a name of the 8,000 Dive Industry Professionals in my database.

When we invite qualified Retail Travel Buyers to attend a FAM Trip with us, we are working with the best of the best in Dive Retailing.  Most, if not all of them are very successful at what they do. They sell gear, teach diving and plan group trips.  Let me ask you.  When was the last time your Regional Rep visited your Key Accounts?

When we fly off to a Dive Destination with a group of Key Travel Buyers, we want to take them to the best locations we represent.  Again, these are the most successful Resort Operators in the industry.  They have great resorts, fine food, and usually the best diving in their area.  I have another question for you.  When was the last time your Regional Rep visited your best Dive Destinations and Dive Operators?  Does your Caribbean Rep see his major accounts often?  If not, then I could be your Company Ambassador for the Day.

Here is one thing we do to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  On all of our FAM Trips from now on, we plan to put a SWAG Bag together for each FAM Trip Participant and for each Dive Destination and Dive Operator we visit.  A gift for each participant for joining us and a thank you gift for each of our hosts.   We will share your gift and contact information with our participants and we will share their contact information with you.  To be fair to all of our Members, there are a few restrictions.

SWAG Bag Items – Disclaimer – Items subject to approval

  • SWAG Bag Item source must to a current Member in Dive Industry Association.
  • Item must be a true sample or actual line item.  We are not delivering only brochures and price lists !
  • Samples cannot compete against the Sponsors of the FAM Trip.  (Our other six Travel Wholesalers can’t participate if the trip is run by one Travel Wholesaler but all Travel Wholesales can participate if the FAM Trip is run by a Tourism Board).
  • Competing Resorts of the Participating Resorts are forbidden.
  • Must be able to provide one sample per person.  Some FAM Trips have 4 people and 1 Resort Destination.  Some have 20 people and 6 Dive Destinations.  They all differ.
  • Offer is valid depending on size and weight limitations of airline baggage.

What makes a good SWAG Bag Item?  Something small, something useful, something that you normally sell that a client can reorder.  Something for diving or diving related.  Diving equipment or personal item.  Trade Show Bags with your Logo on it.  Amazon Gift Cards for $1,000 – Just kidding!  So far we have companies who have committed Reef Safe Suntan Lotion, Natural Insect Repellent, Sunglasses, and a Custom Mouthpiece product.  Whatever you choose, we will give you full details and quantities during the sign in process.

Our next FAM Trip is to Belize on July 19-23, 2019.  The FAM Trip is Sponsored by Roatan Charter.  The Resort Destination is Belize Dive Haven, Turneffe Atoll, Belize.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Dive Travel Specialist
Dive Industry Association, Inc.



Posted in Adventure Travel, FAM Trips | Leave a comment