Editorial – May 2020

Rebuilding The Diving Industry –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has given us the opportunity to stop and think about what we do for a living.  And for a recreation.  With all this time on our hands, Dive Industry Professionals are faced with some hard realities on how to proceed in the future.  We know this pandemic is very serious.  It’s devastating to the health of our people and it’s devastating to our economy.  Without a doubt, this crisis will change the way we live, work and recreate.  So let’s deal with it, learn from it and move forward.

I’m a Dive Industry Marketing Professional. Not a Doctor, a Government Health Official or a Politician.  World leaders in the medical profession are studying the virus, trying to find treatments and cures for it and are working non-stop to save lives.  Organizations like the CDC are recommending precautionary measures for citizens to follow and we should heed their advice.  Business organizations like the Small Business Development Centers are helping Entrepreneurs apply for loans, obtain grants and learn how to navigate through this economic nightmare.  Even in the diving industry I am seeing encouraging work coming from some of our leading companies.  This pandemic will end and hopefully soon.  We will get through this and the rest of our lives will be in our hands.  It’s time to start planning for the future – a bright future.

In my opinion, the diving industry has and will change forever.  I don’t see us getting back to the way it used to be.  It will be different and in many, many years hopefully better.  Consider this to be our golden opportunity to rebuild the diving industry.  For the better.

Over the past sixty years, scuba diving as a recreation grew.  Many of our Founding Pioneers have since passed away and a second generation of diving adventurers have picked up where our pioneers left off.   I hope they remember what our pioneers did to make the recreation start, grow and succeed because we are at a point in time where we are going to have to rebuild the industry, post COVID-19.

The Dive Industry Association has a plan for rebuilding the diving industry,  It’s based on what our early pioneers did in creating the market for our recreation but not making the same mistakes we made in the past twenty years.  Our plan is spelled out in our campaign DIVE LOCAL.  Scuba diving started out as a local social recreation.  Scuba Diving enthusiasts bought or made diving equipment to enjoy the wonders of their local rivers, lakes, quarries and oceans.  Being social animals they taught their family and friends how to dive.  On Weekends they went diving together – locally.  Divers started talking pictures underwater, exploring shipwrecks, and doing some wonderful underwater exploration.  As the travel industry matured, divers had more options and oceans to explore.  During the off-season divers read scuba diving magazines, joined dive clubs and went to local dive shows and film festivals.  As more people took up diving, the sales of diving equipment, training and travel increased.  More dive stores opened up, more companies distributed diving equipment and certification agencies grew. Dive travel was introduced and blossomed.  Three things started the industry on its decline.  The Baby Boom generation got older and new population numbers decreased.  The 21st arrived and the industry was still using 20th business tools or none at all.  COVID-19 brought the world to an all halt.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully it’s not a train.

We can start rebuilding our industry right now.  As we learn to deal with the corona virus and stay safe, let’s rebuild our recreational infrastructure.   We start by creating Regional Territories, made up of states, made up of local diving communities.  As outlined in our website www.divelocal.org we make Dive Stores the center of each Local Dive Community.  Add the Equipment Sales Reps who visit these stores and then the diving equipment companies that reside in these communities.  Next we add the Training Agency Sales Reps and the agencies they represent that visit the Retailers.  The completion of the first phase of this rebuilding is to add Local Dive Travel Specialists who sell local and extended dive travel.  We now have a complete Local Diving Community of Dive Industry Professionals.  All that’s left to do is add the Local Divers and we have a complete Local Diving Community.

Our new White Paper, The Rebuilding of Local Diving Communities will spell out, step-by-step how the diving industry can rebuild itself post-COVID-19.

For more information, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
email: gene@diveindustry.net

 

 

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DIA Continues To Rebuild Local Dive Communities

Rebuilding Local Diving Communities
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Local Diving Communities are the backbone of the Diving Industry.  Markets for our programs, products and services are created locally, nurtured locally and maintained locally.  Our recreation grows because of Local Diving Communities that teach people to dive, sell them dive equipment, take them diving and keep them active in the recreation.

The Diving Industry got its start, as we know it today, about sixty (60) years ago.  It was a different time, a different demographic and a different world.  The recent challenges we are facing due to a global pandemic is making us all realize we have not given our recreation the nurturing it needs to stay relevant in the 21st Century.  Nor have we kept up with the modern tools and technologies that enable businesses to better serve their customers.   The diving business community is not operating on all cylinders but the passion for diving continues in the generations that have followed the first diving pioneers.

Before the older generation of Dive Industry Professionals turns over the baton to the next generation of Industry Leaders, we owe it to them to rebuild the recreation and restore it to its former glory.  As Madonna has done countless of times, we need to reinvent ourselves for the 21st Century.

The Dive Industry Association is rebuilding the Diving Industry, Worldwide.  Why now and why us?  Primarily because we have a plan to right the industry and we have the support and encouragement of our Members and the International Dive Business Community.  Why us?   Because we want a better industry for all Divers – Dive Industry Professionals and Recreational Divers alike.  We are tired of the industry fragmentation, the petty political bickering and the rush to vertically integrate dive companies in order to gain market share and industry control.  Let’s face it.  As an Industry, what we have done in the past is not working any more.  The time to recreate the diving industry has come.  And we all have a part to play in the rebuilding.

Dive Industry Association started this campaign to rebuild the diving industry with its first comprehensive direct mail campaign in over 7 years.  Read our blog, dated April 14, 2020.  I guess we were not the only ones who stopped using direct mail and got in the bad habit of only using electronic marketing?  That was a hugh mistake and I believe we all paid a high price for that error in judgement.   With Direct Mail, thanks to Modern Postcard,  we started rebuilding Local Diving Communities on a State and Regional level.  The center of each State Diving Community are the Local Dive Stores.  Our current count is 1581, but we know that will change in the days to come.  Each Dive Store belongs to a State Diving Community which is a part of a larger Regional Diving Community.  Each Dive Store is invited to participate in growing its own Local Diving Community.

On Thursday we will conduct our second direct mail campaign to reach the 157 Dive Equipment Manufacturing Reps in our database.  At the same time we will be inviting 443 Dive Equipment Manufacturers to join our rebuilding process.  Again, these numbers will change as we verify the Manufacturing Companies and their Sales Agents.

The campaign to rebuild our Local Diving communities is multi-phased and is part of our total industry plan.  The entire plan focuses on bringing Buyers and Sellers together to increase the market and grow the recreation.  The primary focus of growing the market is to increase the sales of diving equipment, training and travel.  We encourage all Dive Industry Professionals and Recreational Divers alike to follow our progress in unifying the diving industry through Local Diving Communities.  Every Diver has a part to play in order to grow our recreation.  No one is excluded and every Diver can be a part of this industry (recreation) rebirth.

So the first phase of this campaign is underway with bringing in Dive Stores, Sales Reps and Equipment Manufacturers.  We will launch our second mailing on Thursday, May 7, 2020 to include equipment manufacturers and their Sales Agents.  Phase 2 will include adding the Training Stakeholders to the mix and inviting the Local Training Reps and their Agencies to join and support their respective Local Diving Community.  Phase 3 will include inviting local Travel companies to participate in the campaign to increase the sales of travel for their travel companies worldwide.  With the completion of the first three phases to the program, the industry should have the beginning of new Local Diving Communities that focus on the sales of diving equipment, training and travel in order to grow the recreation by 1) Teaching people how to dive 2) Selling them dive equipment 3) Taking them diving 4) Keeping them active.

But our program of rebuilding the diving industry doesn’t stop there.  After focusing on the sale of diving equipment, training and travel, there are many more phases to the rebuilding process.   The industry has many different stakeholder groups and industries that specialize in diving, water sports and adventure travel.  The final analysis will not be in completing the project but in seizing opportunities as we create them along the way.

This is going to be FUN – Rebuilding our Industry – The right way this time.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association
email:  gene@diveindustry.net
Trade Web: www.diveindustry.net
Project Web: www.divelocal.org

 

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Important Message From Pro Dive International

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM OUR STAFF AT PRO DIVE INTERNATIONAL

Dear Friends!

If you are one of the many people we have hosted on our boats, you will know, we think of you as family. We love showing you the beauty of the underwater world, and to share our passion with you!

Unfortunately, COVID-19, for now has shut us down. Our company is doing everything possible to take care of us, but with operations closed and no customers diving, of course it’s difficult. With more than 150 people, we are a big bunch at Pro Dive, plus families attached. And, in our country, employment insurance is not available, nor other forms of effective government aid, to help us through this time.

So, our friends at SeaSave suggested to support us with this fundraiser. We think, it’s a great and very humble idea, for which we are grateful, and we hope you feel the same.

Needless to say, that 100% of the proceeds of this fundraiser will be received exclusively by us, the Pro Dive staff, in order to help cover our salary payments.

Please help us now, to support ourselves and our families through this rough patch.  We promise to be back, and ready to serve you again as soon as the COVID-19 crisis is over, hopefully very soon!  Stay safe and healthy, and thank you!

Your Pro Dive International Team.   https://donorbox.org/prodive

Your assistance with the matter will be greatly appreciated, especially by our staff.  Thanks and stay well!

Markus Fleischmann
CEO & President
Pro Dive International Dive Centers
Mexico & Dominican Republic
+52 (1) 984 802 8387 Corporate Office Mexico
+52 (1) 984 745 0763 Reservations Central
prodiveinternational.com
idcmexico.com

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Women Divers Hall Of Fame Scholarships

Women Divers Hall of Fame celebrates their 20th Anniversary
By offering 20 Learn-to-Dive Training Grants in 2020!

The WDHOF Scholarship Program was created in 2002 with the first scholarships: An annual WDHOF Scholarship for divers seeking to expand their knowledge of diving, the Hillary Viders Ph.D. Scholarship for divers enrolled in college programs or field work in marine science and conservation, and the Lifeguard Systems scholarships for public safety diving qualifications. Scholarships were, and continue to be, presented in the spring.

Since 2002, when WDHOF awarded those first three scholarships, the program has grown to 63 scholarships and training grants in 2020, sponsored both by individual patrons (including WDHOF members and Associates) and by WDHOF through donations given on-line or through our annual fundraisers – at DEMA: Tropical Dreams and Paradise Sunsets, at Beneath the Sea: the WDHOF Scholar Brunch and through the WDHOF annual dive trips. Many of the names and descriptions of the scholarships and training grants have evolved over the years, but continue to be sponsored by our supporters, Members, and Associates.

As of 2020, the Women Divers Hall of Fame has awarded over half a million dollars to 421 individuals.  Nobody else in the dive industry is doing anything of this magnitude and we are proud to announce…  “20 for 20” 

20 Learn-to-Dive Training Grants in 2020

To celebrate the Women Divers Hall of Fame 20th Anniversary, we are excited to announce 20 unique training grants for open water dive training.  After all, none of the amazing women in WDHOF would be where they are today if it were not for an open water certification in their past. For many, this experience opened up an entirely new world of possibilities.  WDHOF wants to give this opportunity to others.

Therefore, beginning April 1, 2020, WDHOF is opening up applications for 20 Open Water Certifications worth $1000 each; this can be spent entirely on training or a combination of training and equipment.*

Applicants can visit www.WDHOF.org to apply. Applications are now open and will close on May 31, 2020.

The selection will be made on or before July 1, 2020.  This grant is open to any and all women of any age who want to learn how to dive. 

*Equipment up to $500

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Building A Local Diving Community

Building A Local Diving Community –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

A local diving community consists of all Recreational Divers and Dive Industry Professionals in a given geographic territory.  At the center of every local diving community is a group of Retail Dive Centers.   Retailers serve the industry as the market creators, market ambassadors, and market maintainers.  The front line ambassadors of a local market are dive instructors, dive stores, dive travel specialists and dive clubs.   Their purpose is to create a market for the industry, maintain that market and grow the recreation.  Every Dive Industry Professional should know that the number one mission of the diving industry should be to:  1) Teach people to dive  2) Sell them diving equipment 3) Take them diving and 4) Keep them active in the recreation.  Dive instructors create the market by teaching people how to dive.   Retail Dive Centers sell diving equipment to get people in the water.  Tour Operators and Dive Travel Specialists take people diving, both locally and internationally.  Dive Clubs, Event Producers and Media companies keep people active in the recreation.  So to build an active local diving community, it requires that every dive industry professional do their part in the creating, maintaining and growing their own community or market.

What was lacking in the 20th Century Plan to grow our recreation was a logical reason why we were building a local diving community in the first place.  As early scuba diving enthusiasts we wanted to share our love of the recreation with our family, friends and neighbors.  We were all caught up in the short term gratification of getting people to try scuba diving.  There was never a long term plan to get people to become scuba divers.  Somehow the faulty logic that scuba diving was cool but it was so expensive got into our industry DNA.  We believed it and passed it on to our students, who became scuba instructors and passed it on to their students.  We still hear that illogical argument today.  Today – in a world where there are more million dollar boats than scuba instructors.  Stores that sell more $100,000 Automobiles, $30,000 Motorcycles, $15,000 Watches, $10,000 Computers, and $500 Sneakers than we sell scuba diving equipment!  Enough with the minimum wage mentality.  Scuba Diving, like any other recreation, has a certain cost to it.  People today are smart enough to understand the cost – benefit – value of any recreational option.  Let’s help our customers reach a personal purchasing decision that is right for them and give them a sufficient number of buying options to help them become the divers they want to be.

In the 21st Century we need to focus on teaching people to dive, selling them the diving equipment they need, want and can afford, taking them diving and keeping them active. We need to think about creating a local diving community around us like we did in the last century but this time we also need to think of it as building a market for the things we sell.  Things that help people become scuba divers, go scuba diving and stay active as scuba divers. We also need to remind ourselves that after we build a market for our programs, products and services that we don’t lose or not follow-up on that market.

The economic engine for growth in our industry is centered around the sales of diving equipment, training and travel.  The Retail Dive Center is the heartbeat of the industry because they specialize in the sale of these three categories and they do all four things necessary to create, grow and succeed in the market. In doing that, each store builds a circle of influence around them that perpetuates the recreation.  If they are as enthusiastic about sharing diving with others as they are about diving itself, their store becomes the glue that holds their local diving community together.  That is the sole reason we start with local dive stores when we attempt to build and support a local diving community.

Dive Industry Association has a plan.  As a Trade Association that focuses on the business of diving issues for the industry, our mission is to create a sustainable diving industry by bringing buyers and sellers together.  Our first step is to create Local Diving Communities Worldwide.  We created a strategic plan, a manifesto so-to-speak,  that covers the scope of the project as well as the breakdown of actionable items that will help us achieve our desired outcomes in a logical and organized manner.

We started by verifying all of the Retail Dive Centers in the United States that we have contact information for. Over 1,800 postcards were mailed to these stores at the beginning of April.  As we receive notification of bad addresses and change of addresses, we follow up with a phone call to the store or by checking out their websites.  Either way, at the end of the campaign we should have a good base of stores to begin with.  Each week we will be following-up with all the dive stores in one state.  We’ll ask the current retailers to look at our list of stores in their state to see if they can verify their fellow retailers.  We are also looking to add any contact information we currently don’t have, like store owners and managers, phone numbers and email addresses.   When each state is finished, we will have a core group of dive stores in each state to begin building a Regional Dive Community.  A map of our proposed Regional Diving Communities are listed on our website at www.divelocal.org  In the United States we have active diving communities in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Bahamas & Caribbean, North Central, South Central, Northwest, Southwest and Pacific.  States that are included in these regions are listed on the website.

Our first state to follow-up on after our mailing is Alaska.  The State of Alaska is part of the Northwest Region of the United States.  We currently have 17 dive stores in the state that accounts for 1% of the 1804 dive stores in the US.  The Northwest Region has 127 dive stores, accounting for 7% of the total dive stores in the US.  Our follow-up of the Alaska Dive Stores will include speaking to manufacturing sales reps in the region and dive equipment companies who have these stores as their Dealers.  Since our mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together in the diving industry, it should be a very positive issue with the local Dive Stores, Sales Reps and Manufacturers to have a complete and accurate contact information listing of all the dive stores in the area.  As you can see by the postcard text, the Dive Industry Association is inviting each Retail Dive Center to become a member of the Dive Industry Retail Association, which is a part of the Dive Industry Association.  The purpose, focus and mission of the Retail Association is to create a local market for our member stores and work to maintain and grow these markets.

In the coming months we will add all of the other Dive Industry Professionals to their respective local diving community.  In an orderly fashion, we will next add Training Agencies and their Regional Sales Reps.  After that will be the dive travel sector with their Local Dive Operators, Liveaboards, and Dive Travel Specialists.  There are many other Dive Industry Professional Groups we have plans for, but we can discuss that at a later time.  The ultimate goal is to add certified divers to each regional dive community to complete the process.  At that point we will have created a local diving community of buyers and sellers who have learned to dive, bought their equipment, gone diving and stayed active in the recreation.

***

If you think we are on the right track with this DIVE LOCAL program, please contact Gene Muchanski to offer your assistance and support.

Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
email: gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.diveindustry.net
Web: www.divelocal.org

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COVID-19 Effects on Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society

COVID-19 Effects on the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society®

Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society will defer the 2020 Rolex Scholarships and the 2020 Internships until Summer 2021. Having just recently selected three new Rolex Scholars and five new Interns, the decision to postpone was not easy.  However, the Society’s Board of Directors recognizes the seriousness and uncertainty of the pandemic and decided it would be irresponsible and potentially unsafe to send Scholars and Interns out into the world at this time.

Additionally, the Society’s annual Symposium and Rolex Awards Ceremony, scheduled for June 6, 2020, in New York City, will be moving to an online, virtual event. Exact details are still in development, but we plan to have presentations from the returning Scholars and Interns as well as the world premieres of the films from the 2019 Rolex Scholars.

We, as the Board of Directors, are disappointed that we cannot meet in-person this year.  However, it is more important than ever that we celebrate success in the face of challenging times.

We look forward to celebrating with you all soon.

***

About the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society

Since 1974, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society has fostered leaders in the underwater world through experience-based scholarships and internships focused on, in, and around underwater-related disciplines. Since the beginning, Rolex has been the Society’s ‘partner in education.’ OWUSS is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization and is a separate entity from the Our World Underwater Dive and Travel Show.

For more information or to follow the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society:
visit our website at https://owuscholarship.org/ or follow us on Instagram: @OWUSS, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rolexscholarship/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/2446514415/

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Ultralight Control Systems Has New Owner

March 23, 2020

Ultralight Control Systems is celebrating 25 years in business with just one owner, Dave Reid and Terry Schuller.  We would like to let you know that Ken Kollwitz our long-time employee will be purchasing the business from us starting March 27th.  The business will be shut for a week from March 27-April 5th.

The particulars for the business are:
Ultralight Control Systems Inc.
401 N. Lombard St. #E
Oxnard, CA 93030
(805)484-3334 (same telephone #)
1-800-635-6611 (same 800 number for US calls)

The transition should go seamlessly.  Any outstanding invoices through March 27th should be paid to the address you currently have on file.  All invoices dates April 6, 2020 and beyond will go to the address above.

Dave and I would like to thank you for all your support over the years in continuing to purchase our products.  Our success is owed to all our customers and dealers.  We are excited about a new chapter in our lives.

Kind Regards,
Terry and Dave

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Henderson Sport Group Remains Open


Henderson Sport Group remains open and providing retail sales support to all customers.

The Henderson Sport Group understands that all retailers are being affected by current State and Federal regulations related to Covid-19. Regulations vary based on geographical location and sporting segments.

Henderson recognizes that active participation in many watersport segments is still taking place, and in many cases, sports participation may be enjoyed while maintaining proper social distancing recommendations.

Henderson brands have established office operational procedures based on Government guidelines that will allow our team to provide full service to all our customers going forward. 

Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our retail partners to continue to provide products from all our brands to their customers. 

Therefore, all our Brands are adopting the following procedure:

Effective immediately, Henderson, Hyperflex, Stormr, and Neo Sport brands will provide immediate drop-ship services for all our customers.

There is no need for a customer to enter a retail store. Our Retailers make the sale remotely, from home, office or store and we ship the product directly to your customer’s home.  It’s that easy!

If you have an interest in becoming an authorized retailer for any of our brands please give us a call. Henderson still puts our retail partners first.  You and your customers will benefit from our superior products, exceptional customer service, and Industry-leading technologies.

Our priority is to keep our retailers actively supporting and serving their customers. Please call or email our CSR team as we are ready and able to assist you! 

Be well!
Henderson Sport Group
1-800-222-0347
1-856-825-4771

info@hendersonusa.com

Web: www.hendersonUSA.com

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Alaska Dive Stores

Building a Dive Retail Database in Alaska
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Starting on Week 15 in 2020, Dive Industry Association is beginning a campaign to verify its Retail Dive Store database on the DIVE LOCAL Website. Every week we will focus on a new state. Alaska is the first one. The purpose of the listing is three-fold. We want to identify all Retail Dive Centers, worldwide, that are teaching diving, selling dive gear, taking people diving and keeping them active in the recreation. We want to bring more divers into our recreation. Finally, we want to create an active local dive community in the State of Alaska.

The Dive Stores in Alaska are part of the Northwest Diving Community of the United States. Dive Stores are, in our opinion, the heartbeat of our recreation and usually the first contact with the general public. Dive Retailers are our Ambassadors of the Diving Industry.  They need and want our support.

Starting on April 1 (no joke) the Dive Industry Association will be mailing a post card to every Retail Dive Center in the United States to verify their mailing address. Every week we will pick a new state to focus on. During Week 15 we will list every Alaska Dive Store in our NW Dive Stores Directory on www.divelocal.org/north-west-us/dive-stores/ To prevent email address farming, we will only publish the stores name and their city & state.

If a local Retailer would like us to publish their website address they only need to mail one of their business cards to Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.

The Dive Industry Association is promoting and supporting Retail Dive Centers through its Dive Industry Retailers Association. All Retail Dive Centers are invited to join an association that promotes dive stores regardless of their equipment or training agency preference. A united retail dive organization is the first step to growing a healthy industry.

Manufacturers, Training Agencies, and Travel Companies can participate in our direct mail marketing campaigns by becoming a Premier Member of the Dive Industry Association.  Annual Dues are $500.  Our goal is to identify and verify Retail Dive Centers (worldwide) and their direct mail and email addresses through the year.  At least four (4) direct mail campaigns can be scheduled depending on Premier Membership enrollment.  Premier Members receive retail stores full contact data along with periodic updates.

For more information contact: Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904. email: gene@diveindustry.net Web: www.diveindustry.net

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Editorial – April 2020

Reinventing Yourself For The New Normal –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 Pandemic is having a severe impact on businesses and individuals worldwide.   The obstacles and challenges this virus put in our path is devastating.  First of all, it caught all of us off guard and unprepared to handle this kind of crisis in a timely fashion.  It changed the reality of many people who were happy with their way life in an economy that was experiencing unprecedented growth and prosperity for them.  When the pandemic started, people either reacted to it or did their best to respond to it as intelligently as they knew how.   That’s our two options in a crisis – Respond or React.

Reacting to a situation is the worst thing we can do as educated, intelligent human beings.  Being swayed emotionally by misinformation and distorted half truths does little to help us solve the problems at hand.  I am so ashamed of the people who first participated in hiding valuable information, distorting facts and figures, putting out misinformation and publicizing political “talking points” by finger pointing and false acquisitions.  Thank goodness our country came together to rationally create a plan to deal with this monumental crises head-on.   With truthful information, an honest attempt to defeat this pandemic, and a lot of hard work and sacrifice, we will defeat this awful virus.  However, I don’t think we will ever get back to the old normal way of life.  I believe we have crossed over into a “new normal” again.  But a new normal doesn’t have to be bad.  In fact it could be very good for us.

I don’t consider myself to be a social engineer or a political genius.  I’ve spent my life in the scuba diving business and I like to stick to my knitting.  We are still in the early stages of this global pandemic and we can already see the negative effects it is having on our recreation.  At the very beginning, dive shows and travel shows had to be cancelled or rescheduled.  That was a difficult choice by a number of show producers but an intelligent one at that.  So many active divers are over sixty years old with a number of high risk health factors like compromised immune systems, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.  The good news is that the shows were cancelled.  The bad news is that we had no back-up plan of action to conduct our face-to-face programs as digital events.  Face-to-face marketing is a very important element of an integrated marketing campaign, and although it is a 20th century way of marketing it still could remain relevant in the 21st Century.  I believe that dive and travel shows of the future will have a digital component to the event, complete with on-line programming, email and mobile participation combined with electronic and direct mail advertising.

Our travel partners are going through a very difficult time right now.  Some of our Travel wholesalers are dealing with groups who are currently on their trips and maybe close to coming home.  Some groups are wondering if their upcoming trip is going to get cancelled or shut down by an airline, a resort or a government order.  Communicating with travel vendors and your diving customers has never been more important.  People make better decisions when they have the necessary pertinent information.  The Dive Industry Association polled their Members and received status updates on their situations, challenges and how they are coping with the virus. We have done our best to update our Shows & Events Calendar and our Dive Trips web page.

The diving industry grows or declines in direct relationship to the amount of revenue we generate through the sale of diving equipment, training and travel.  The focus needs to remain on teaching people how to dive, selling them equipment, taking them diving and keeping them active.   The way we move goods through our channels of distribution to our markets is not the issue.  The important thing is that it gets done in a way that satisfies the buyers and sellers while keeping them safe.

If our recreation is to survive, it’s because our business community can adapt to the obstacles and challenges that the COVID-19 presents.   As we learn to respond to new challenges in the future, we will grow in our ability to be more successful.  Change is inevitable.  Flexibility is essential.

A few things the industry has already learned is that constant communication with our customers is essential.  If we want to keep our customers, we have to communicate with them through difficult times.  Not knowing what is going on in an emergency is the worst thing for everyone concerned.  Besides communicating with our business partners we need to respond quickly and decisively in an emergency.  If we need to cancel an event, we need to do it quickly and reschedule as necessary.  Many travel resorts, liveaboards and dive operators responded well to cancellations and have arranged credits and adjustments for their customers.  That means people will use them again in the future without worrying if they are going to lose their deposits or payments.  One of our Tour Operators has rescheduled a number of their group trips from the spring and are actually booking many more for next year and beyond.

A number of Retail Dive Centers are still operating and adjusting their schedules to serve their customers.  e-Learning courses have increased and open water check outs have been rescheduled as necessary.  Rental equipment is getting more disinfecting attention and simple things like disinfecting dive mask displays after each use is now standard practice.

The Dive Industry Association has partnered with Modern Postcard to conduct direct mail campaigns to verify our Retail Dive Store database and cross check it with our digital email addresses.  We’ve learned that more sophisticated  integrated marketing campaigns are now possible using 21st century technology.  When face-to-face marketing becomes compromised we can easily shift to digital, telephonic or direct mail contact.  In fact, Cathy Church, the famed Photographer and Photo Coach, just introduced a new underwater photography program she will be teaching from her studio in Grand Cayman, using SKYPE.  SKYPE training is included in her course at no charge!

The time to start reinventing your business is now.  Based on past health scares, I am confident this pandemic will run its course and come to a positive conclusion.  In the mean time, we all need to prepare for the worse and plan for the best.  Be safe by following the CDC guidelines and stay abreast of government alerts and warnings.  And stay in touch with your vendors, colleagues and customers.

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