The Benefits of Regional Dive Shows
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
Regional Dive Shows are a major part of a dive businesses’ marketing strategy. Face-to-face marketing is a cost effective way to increase sales in a concentrated time frame. Exhibitors, Speakers and Attendees get an opportunity to meet and greet customers and colleagues they have only corresponded with or spoken to all year long. It’s an annual opportunity to put a face with a name and a number. No other marketing activity compares equally to face-to-face marketing shows and events. Dollar for dollar I would have to say that you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Every year we allocat time, money and manpower to a marketing budget in order to increase sales as efficiently and cost effectively as we possibly can. A successful business will create a marketing strategy and budget that balances the digital, print, and face-to-face marketing components. The magic of consumer dive shows is that a smart marketer can combine all three components of an individual show by designing pre-show, at-show and post-show portions to the entire campaign. Without such an integrated marketing approach, shows and events are never as productive and profitable as they could be.
According to Rhonda Abrams, Author of Trade Show In A Day, “Trade shows are a multibillion-dollar industry for a reason: They work.” Rhonda makes a distinction between trade and consumer shows and deals mostly with Trade Shows in her book. In the Trade Show category, she makes an important distinction between Expositions and Conferences. “At a trade show or expo, the primary action takes place on the exhibit hall floor. Attendees are there to visit booths, and all non-exhibit activities are secondary. At a conference, the opposite is true. Attendees are there to go to seminars and educational sessions, visiting the exhibition hall only during breaks in their daily schedules.”
Regional Consumer Dive Shows are the annual events of a particular geographical region. Beneath the Sea captures the Northeast. Our World Underwater highlights the North Central (or Midwest) Region. The Scuba and H2O Adventure Show appeals to Divers in the Northwest United States and Southwest Canada. The new Lone Star State Dive and Travel Show is becoming the annual event for the South Central U.S. Divers in California and the Southwest United States have the Scuba Show to call their own.
The Exhibit Hall: Regional Consumer Dive Shows attract Divers who either work in the business or dive as a hobby so there will be opportunities for both trade and consumers. Divers are interested in the Exhibit Hall to see diving equipment, specialty gear that includes underwater camera equipment, apparel and jewelry, training material and travel & resort destinations. A big plus for certified divers is the opportunity to purchase diving equipment at these shows. People go to shows to buy stuff. Diving is no different. Selling dive gear at shows is an excellent opportunity for any Retail Dive Center but they would be wise not to only focus on the immediate sale. Retailers have the opportunity to book their scuba classes, local boat trips, and vacation travel trips. Exhibiting at shows is also an excellent way to increase brand recognition of your dive center and capture attendee contact information.
Although diving equipment manufacturers do not, and should not, sell directly to the public, they do have a responsibility to promote their Dealers in the region. Having a full display is a big plus for their Dealers who might not have gone to the latest DEMA Show. Manufacturing Sales Reps can schedule appointments with their local Dealers at the booth or in the Seminar rooms for wholesale transactions. Innovative manufacturers have scheduled booth times for their local Dealers in order for them to meet with local divers. The manufacturer pays for the booth space and sets it up. The Sales Rep is in charge of scheduling booth times for their Dealers. The Dealers work the booth where they have an opportunity to meet local divers and take orders for gear. This realty is a WIN-WIN-WIN.
Seminars & Workshops: Every Dive Show has a Professional Development aspect for people working in the business as well as an Educational or Entertainment aspect for certified divers. Professional Development Conferences are important to our industry. DAN and all of the Certification Agencies have Member Updates and new techniques seminars all year long. Bringing them to a Regional Dive Show that already has the venue in place is a no-brainer. Equipment manufacturers and service companies conduct equipment maintenance and repair workshops that take 4-8 hours. Perfect for a two or three day show.
Where else other than a weekend dive show can you attended a 1 hour, ½ day, or full day world-class photography program like a Cathy Church Photo Workshop? Speaking of world-class talent, our industry has a Speakers Bureau of available speakers for any size show or event. Seminars are usually 1-2 hours in length and workshops are either ½ day, 1 day or 2 days long. Seminars can be educational or entertaining and are usually included in the general admission price. Workshops are usually educational. Unless, of course it’s Cathy Church. Then it’s always educational and entertaining! Workshops usually have an extra charge to them, although general admission to the show is not required.
A popular type of seminar is the dive travel resort seminars. Resort Destinations are bringing their professional video programs to the consumer dive show circuit and giving their audience an opportunity to see some of the best diving destinations in the world. In the past, these travel seminars have always been conducted in the seminar rooms, but with the advances in audio-visual technology, travel seminars are sometimes conducted in the exhibit hall. The increased sound and audience participation makes the exhibit hall seem more alive.
Film Shows: Since the early 1970’s Film Shows, usually on Saturday Nights, were my all time favorites. As a Scuba Instructor and a very active Diver, I went to Film Shows and watched Stan Waterman, John Stoneman and Fred Calhoun’s underwater Films and dreamt of working in the diving industry. When Jacques and Michele Cousteau starting showing their latest underwater films, I got a personal, close up view of the best of the best in the diving industry. To say it recharged my professional batteries every time I went to an Underwater Film Show would be a gross understatement.
Film Shows are not what they used to be, with the exception of Our World Underwater. They understand the magic spell these films have on the diving public. On stage, for two magnificent hours or more, you’ll see world-class talent displaying their latest film endeavors to an audience, both trade and consumer, who appreciate being the first of many to see these wonderful films and the people who produce them.
Bringing back the Saturday Night Film Festival is going to take some strategic planning on the industry’s part. It’s the closest thing we have to Jacques Cousteau invading our living rooms with his wonderful underwater adventures.
Annual Organizational Meetings: We all know the shows that are popular meeting grounds for the various non-profit organizations. BTS is the undisputed leader in attracting groups to host their annual meeting at this show. The Women Divers Hall of Fame comes to mind immediately. If it’s March, then WDHOF is in Secaucus.
The Future of Dive Shows: The Dive Industry Foundation has agreed to work with Jim Gentile of Our World Underwater in Chicago and the Lone Star State Dive and Travel Expo in Texas. We are also working with Rick Stratton at the Scuba & H2O Adventure Show in Tacoma, Washington. Our goals are to: 1) Increase the number, quality and diversity of exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall. 2) Increase the number, the professionalism and the diversity of Seminars and Workshops, working with Industry Professionals in our Speakers Bureau. 3) Develop a National / International Film Festival format for our Saturday Evening Film Shows. 4) Develop and encourage weekend Regional Professional Development Conferences, second to none in the industry. 5) Encourage clubs & organizations to hold their annual meetings at our shows. 6) Increase attendance at the shows by creating things to learn, things to do, places to see and people to meet. 7) Create and manage a Volunteer Organization for each Regional Dive show for local divers to volunteer in the creation, execution and clean-up of their annual event. 8) Increase marketing and advertising to divers and the general public at large. 9) Involve the entire Regional Area in the creation of their largest annual dive attraction. 10) Bring in the big guns from the International Diving Community to participate in the regional shows.
For more information: Please contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director at the Dive Industry Foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org