2016 Northeast Summit Meeting Held at Beneath the Sea

DSC_0004 2016 Northeast Summit Meeting Held at Beneath the Sea
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

2nd Annual Conference Attended by 42 Dive Professionals.
 The Northeast summit was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey on Friday, April 1, 2016.  Held in conjunction with the Beneath the Sea Dive Show, the conference drew a very good crowd. The Speakers were excellent and presented a strong case for the benefits and enjoyment of local diving.  During the second hour of the summit, the attendees divided into two groups and opened a very “spirited” discussion about the challenges to the industry in the Northeast and nationally.  One group consisted of Retailers, Dive Boats and Certification Agencies.  The second group consisted of Resorts, Dive Clubs, Instructors, and Millennial Divers. Excellent notes were taken during the program and much of the action was caught on video.  The final hour of the summit was dedicated to comparing notes on the two discussions and talking about actionable items that can be implemented to help build a “Plan of Action” to deal with the obstacles and challenges in the Northeast Diving Community.
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Sebastian, Florida to hold Lionfish Fest

lionfish-fest-logo-200Making Delicious Dishes Out of Destructive Fishes
by Dana Polites
Southeast Dive News Correspondent

Capt Hiram’s Resort in Sebastian, FL will host the first Lionflish Fest on Saturday May 14, 2016. The event features a REEF sanctioned Lionfish Tournament Derby and a Lionfish Cookoff. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission www.myfwc.com is the main sponsor.

The Lionfish tournament is open to teams of 2-4 divers beginning at sunrise. Cost to enter is $125 per team. Catch weigh-in for the teams will be from 1-4 PM. Prizes will be awarded for Most Fish, Largest Fish and Smallest Fish and REEF will be collecting scientific data on fish length.  All existing federal, state, and local laws must be followed

Following the fishing tourney from 4 – 6pm the Cook-off begins. This event is open to the public and tickets are available for $15 per person.  Robin Miller, General Manager for Capt Hiram’s told us that 6 local restaurants will have their chefs, including Capt Hiram’s chef Dan Wood, cooking up some delicious Lionfish dishes for tasting and the best dish will be chosen by the audience.

Kendra Cope, Environmental Specialist Coastal Engineering Division for Indian River County said guests will learn about the lionfish invasion, how to prepare these fish safely, and different ways to help protect our coastal ecosystems from their harmful biological impacts.

More information is available at: http://sebastianlionfishfest.com

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South Central Summit Held in Dallas

LocalDiveSummitDallas-300

Photo by Jennifer Idol

South Central Summit Meeting Recap
Friday, January 22, 2016
Embassy Suites, Frisco, TX
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The first regional summit meeting of the South Central United States was held during the Lone Star State Dive & Travel Show in Frisco, Texas.  Twenty One (21) Dive Industry Professionals attended, representing dive stores, dive boats, dive clubs, dive instructors and various dive businesses.

This is one Man’s summary of the discussions that were held at the Summit.  If I missed something, please add to this.  We are looking for active engagement.  If you have a store, boat or club, you have been listed on the DIVE LOCAL Directory on our Blog.  If we missed someone, please let us know.  Thank you.

Guest Speakers

Rick Stratton, Dive News Network kicked off the program by explaining the concept behind the Regional Summit Meetings.  Why it is important to promote local diving.

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association, Inc:  Talked about a shared industry campaign, DIVE LOCAL, and what it is trying to accomplish.  Gene said that, “Promoting the diving industry to the general public is a shared responsibility of all actively engaged Dive Professionals.  We must all do our part to grow the recreation.”  DIVE LOCAL defines the Local Diving community as Dive Stores, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs, Dive Instructors and Local Resorts where applicable.  The sectors of the Diving Industry that have the most to gain from the promotion and success of the Local Diving Community is the; 1) Certification Agencies that sell certifications.  2) Manufacturers that sell dive equipment.  3) Travel Businesses that sell travel trips.  Therefore, they should be sponsoring DIVE LOCAL and providing co-opt advertising dollars to the campaign.  The message we want to send to the general public is 1) Learn to Dive.  2)  Buy Your Gear.  3) Go Diving.  4) Stay Active.

Tom Ingram, DEMA: Tom talked about local diving impacting the community.  Tom had statistics to show the diving industry is under performing.  Certifications are down 13% over the last 10 years. He showed us where local diving fits in. He says that giving divers something fun to do keeps them more active.  He pointed out that “local diving is perfect for the current economic conditions.”  One activity he spent time on was “Dive Caching.”  He introduced a new DEMA program called “Go Dive Now.”

Eric Peterson, Scubapro Regional Sales Manager:  Local Texas Diver talked about Dive Around Texas and what it did for the local economy. The program ran for six years and in the fifth year included DEMA’s Dive Caching.  One activity gave away a grand prize of $1,000.  Looking for local new ideas.

Jennifer Idol, The Underwater Designer:  Jennifer is credited to being the first Woman to Dive all 50 States.  That’s a lot of local diving.  She shared her experience in traveling around the country and visiting many dive stores along the way.  She talked about customer’s expectations.  She asked “When you visit a store, what are your expectations?  How do you want to be treated when you visit a store?“

Breakout Session – Focus Groups

  1. Group 1 – Clubs & Instructors
  2. Group 2 – Stores , Dive Boats & Resorts

Both of the groups focused on potential solutions to growing the local dive community rather than fixating on problems and challenges.  There was some conversation about the current dive leaders not taking the younger generation seriously enough and not respecting them for their accomplishments.  We had a brief discussion about Internet Sales and concluded that internet sales at a dive store is one type of business model.  Stores either choose to use that method or they don’t.  We discussed the importance of relationships with our customers and treating our employees and staff as future leaders in the industry.  We agreed that diving activities are the lifeblood of a local diving community but there was little discussion how dive professionals communicate their planned activates to their customers.  The group would like to see more collaboration between stores and clubs.  Youth activities are a great way to promote diving to young people.  One group should be age 8-17 and a second one from age 18-29.  It works well for churches, why not diving?

Regional Problems

  • Millennials are not shown respect

Opportunities

  • Millennials are an untapped resource
  • Teaching diving at Colleges & Universities grows the industry and supplies us with young divers. There is much opportunity at local colleges to teach scuba diving.

Potential Solutions

  • Social – Fun – BBQ
  • Dive Caching
  • Dive Around Texas
  • Promote relationships – Trust & respect – Be the white knight !
  • Communicate with your customers. How?
  • Promote Social Aspects of Diving / personal / fun / relationships – promote events.
  • Take relationships from stranger to customer to friend
  • Hold Clean-up events
  • Recommendations from Dive Clubs
  • Dive shops should feed the clubs
  • Can stores help with club events?
  • Improve Collaboration between stores & clubs
  • Clubs could promote store events
  • Better web sites, social media
  • Games, treasure hunts, keep them active
  • Work together more (leadership meetings between clubs)
  • More educational tips & tricks
  • Mentorship program – New divers to be diving leaders
  • Get new divers involved – give them a purpose
  • Season club members
  • Modernize communication methods
  • Make younger divers feel more comfortable
  • Emphasize youth
  • Set up course – under 30 – event / trip – in line with HS & College graduation
  • Lifestyle – Youth Groups
  • Monthly Newsletter – cross promotion

Actionable Items

  • Create social environment of trust – collaboration
    • Create a cooperative environment between clubs & shops
    • Create New Diver Mentorship Program
    • Create model for Youth oriented Groups (10-17) and (18-30)
  • Unique marketing plan to match the event
  • Cross marketing with other sports
  • Co-communicate with colleges & universities
  • Opportunities with colleges to teach diving
  • Help industry promote diving
  • Create Events like “Tenchiller”

Ways to Stay Connected to DIVE LOCAL

Ways to improve the economic impact of the local diving community. 

  • We need to establish a base line of where we currently are financially.
  • How many stores, boats, clubs and instructors are in the Greater Texas area?
  • Who promotes diving the most and what media do they use to get the message to the public?
  • How many active divers are there in the South Central? Where do they dive and how often?

Information we need

  • Economic Impact of Dive Store – Request a Retail Profile Survey form Dive Industry Association at gene@diveindustry.net
  • What is the State of the Dive Industry’s Sales Force? – Request a Sales Rep Profile Survey form Dive Industry Association at gene@diveindustry.net
  • We need complete contact information on dive Stores, Dive Boats, Clubs and Instructors.

Please correspond with the other attendees from the Dallas Summit Meeting and copy Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net

 

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North Central Summit Held in Chicago

NC-Summit-Group-300

Photo by Jennifer Idol

North Central Summit Meeting Recap
Friday, February 26, 2016
Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Rosemont, IL
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The first regional summit meeting of the North Central United States was held during the Our World-Underwater Dive & Travel Show.  Nineteen (19) Dive Industry Professionals attended, representing dive stores, dive boats, dive clubs, dive instructors, certification agencies and various dive businesses.

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association kicked off the program by explaining the concept behind the cooperative industry campaign called DIVE LOCAL.  The Goal of the campaign is to unite the local diving community in the Greater Chicago area to work together on activities that have the potential to increase the participation and economic impact of the local dive community.  Growing the diving industry begins with promoting and growing the local diving communities.  The heart of every local diving community consists of its Dive Stores, Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Dive Instructors.

The objective of this cooperative campaign is to educate the general public about the Joys of Scuba Diving.  We need to show current divers, former divers and prospective divers how to 1) Learn to Dive (Initial training and continuing education);  2) Buy their dive gear;   3) Go Diving;  4) Stay active in the recreation.

The Summit consisted of a series of guest speakers followed by two breakout sessions. The speakers included, Patrick Hammer, Scuba Emporium, Rick Stratton, Dive News Network, Capt. Jim Gentile, Windy City Diving, Margo Miller, Illinois Council of Skin & Scuba Divers, and Lucy Dunbar, PADI Americas Regional Representative.

Patrick Hammer spoke about the importance of dive store sponsored activities and events to keep local divers enthused about the sport.  While Hammer admitted that gear sales are down, classes are way up, and he is having a good year. He encouraged other retailers and clubs to sponsor local dive events.

Rick Stratton spoke about the dive industry as a whole with respect to local diving.  Local diving is down all across the country, not just the Midwest said Stratton.  Stratton encouraged local shops, clubs and instructors to promote local diving as the mainstay support of our industry.

Jim Gentile spoke about his experience working with a variety of shops and clubs to promote the sport locally. He has seen a severe decline in the number of divers diving locally and wants to work to promote local diving with the help of other charters, stores and clubs.

Margo Miller spoke about her experience working with a variety of dive clubs across the state of Illinois. She stated that dive club membership is way down overall and many clubs have disbanded due to lack of attendance or activity. Many of the clubs have no real activity explained Miller. She emphasized the need for cooperation within the clubs to promote the sport.

Lucy Dunbar spoke about her experience running a successful dive store and the need for the dive stores to work effectively to promote local diving and activities. A dive store can only be successful if they develop a group of divers who dive locally and often, said Dunbar.

In the second hour, the group broken into focus groups including dive clubs, instructors, resorts. They discussed the problems with the local area including aging membership base, the lack of good meeting places, and people reluctant to take a leadership role.

The dive retailers face problems too including dropout rates, course prices that have not kept up with inflation, instructors who do not seem to value marketing, and everyone recognized that it is a struggle to communicate, especially online.

The group recognized that the upcoming millennials market is a potential huge market who seem to value travel and experiences over acquiring more stuff and that the social aspect of the sport is a huge motivator to get people to join the sport.

Finally, the group joined a larger discussion of potential solutions. With the baby boomers still booming, senior only trips is a potential resource. Dive clubs can work together to promote group events, helping each other remain active. Dive clubs could offer to help cross market diving with other clubs of dissimilar interests such a motorcycle club having a try scuba event.  They said that everyone should try attracting more active customer base that values extremes, like backpacking or all-inclusive, focus on the social aspect of the sport and work with other groups to share successes and best practices.

All-in-all, the second Local Diving Summit was a success and everyone seemed genuinely inspired by the event. The Dive Local campaign now has two successful events and nearly 40 members. Next stop is Beneath the Sea, in Secaucus, NJ on April 1, 2016.

Guest Speakers

Gene Muchanski, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Rick Stratton, Dive News Network

Local Speakers

Patrick Hammer, Scuba Emporium

Capt. Jim Gentile, Windy City Diving

Margo Miller, Illinois Council of Skin & Scuba Divers

Lucy Dunbar, PADI Americas Regional Rep

Breakout Session – Focus Groups

  1. Group 1 – Clubs
  2. Group 2 – Instructors
  3. Group 3 – Resorts

Regional Problems

  • Aging membership
  • Finding meeting places
  • People are reluctant to take a Leadership role
  • Drop out problem
  • Prices of courses have not keep up over time
  • Instructors will take more diving courses but not marketing courses
  • Industry resistant to using marketing experts
  • Email is getting passe – many don’t read their emails anymore

Opportunities

  • Millennials are a hugh market
  • Social aspect of diving is very important
  • You can have a career in diving – We need a Pathway to a successful career

Potential Solutions

  • Senior-only Trips
  • Combine Club Events
  • Need to do more than just Dive
  • Link up / partner with other clubs
  • Cross market to other clubs – i.e. motorcycle clubs
  • Plan trips that are more demographically similar
  • Cater to Extremes – i.e. Backpacking side trips
  • Promote all-inclusive trips – $$$
  • Attract other adventure sports people
  • Broaden horizons
  • Courses that meet needs
  • Make group photos interesting
  • Build a pathway to a successful diving career
  • Don’t take away from the “Thrill of Adventure.”

Actionable Items

  • Acquire New Club Members
  • Focus on social aspect of the sport
  • Develop best-practices for Youth Groups.
  • Create sharable content for newsletters & communication
  • Change the image of the diving industry
  • Improve communication with industry shareholders
  • Publish & Promote Local Diving Events & Activities

 

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Lone Star State Dive Show – January 22-24, 2016

wow-200Lone Star State / Our World-Underwater
Dive & Travel Show
Dallas/Frisco, Texas
January 22-24, 2016

by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional

It’s the beginning of the new year and the trade show season is about to begin. This year the focus will be on dive and travel shows.  We tried the Surf Expos and the Adventure Travel Shows in the past six years but are going back to focusing on consumer shows that specialize in scuba diving and diving related adventure travel. There is a high concentration of specialized exhibitors in the exhibit halls and the seminars and workshops are tailored to divers who want to spend their recreational dollars on what interests them the most.

Our first show this year will be in Dallas (Frisco), Texas, on January 22-24, 2016.  Patrick Hammer  and Jim Gentile from Our World-Underwater in Rosemont, IL are in their second year running a dive show in the Great State of Texas.

The Texas Dive Market:  Texas is a great market place for scuba diving.  It has the 4th largest concentration of certified divers in the United States, only surpassed by Florida, California, and New York.  At last count, there are approximately 135 Retail Dive Centers, at least 12 Dive Clubs and 6 Dive Boats that I know about.  If our Industry shared statistics and demographics on our industry, we could tell you how many scuba instructors there are in the state and how many certified divers live there.  Although I can’t tell you what the economic impact of scuba diving is in the State of Texas, I can tell you that it is significant.  The fact that SeaSpace was one of the four largest dive shows in the country for 35 years tells you that there is a market for scuba diving in Texas and it is BIG.

The NEW Dive Show in Texas:  Only in its second year, the Lone Star State Dive Show is catching on fast.  Patrick Hammer deserves a shout out for putting together a very promising show this year.  Based on his experience in running Our World-Underwater in the Chicago area, Patrick has put the right pieces together to make this a great show.  The show will have Workshops, Seminars, a Film Festival, an Exhibit Hall and a special Regional Summit Conference for members of the trade.

Seminars, Workshops and Film Festival:  The Show will feature 36 seminars on Saturday and Sunday, presented by 23 Speakers, many of who are the “Best in the Business”, like Cathy Church and Jill Heinerth.  The topics are varied, and include everything from adventure travel, marine conservation, technical diving, exotic marine life to secrets of great underwater photography.  The Saturday Film Festival will be hosted by Nancy McGee and include the works of Jill Heinerth and 10 other Speakers. Cathy Church is conducting two 3-hour workshops on Saturday and Sunday that will help any underwater photographer get better results from their digital camera and underwater lighting.  The Workshops, Seminars and Film Festival will bring world-class education and entertainment to a great diving hub that has been deprived of such diving activity for too many years now.

Something For the Texas Dive Professionals:  There will be two activities for Texas Dive Professionals before the show begins on Saturday.  On Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, PSI Cylinders is conducting a Visual Cylinder Inspection Course for Industry Repair Technicians.

From 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, the first South Central Regional Summit Conference will kick off to address the “State of the Industry” for Texas Retail Dive Centers, Local Dive Clubs, Local Boat Operators and Local Scuba Instructors.”  Guest Speakers will include Rick Stratton (Scuba & H2O Adventure Magazine), Gene Muchanski (Dive Industry Association), Tom Ingram (DEMA), William Cline (Industry Consultant and DEMA Board Member), Eric Peterson (Scubapro), and Jennifer Idol (Photo Journalist who has dove all 50 States).  The three hour conference will include 1 hour of Introductions and Guest Speakers, a 1 hour breakout session to discuss industry and regional challenges, and a 1 hour summary of what can be done to make the local diving community stronger.  Admission is free but space is limited to 50 Industry Professionals.  Please RSVP with Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net or call Gene at 321-914-3778.

The Exhibit Hall:  The Exhibit Hall will be open on Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  There will be 61 Exhibitors in 70 Booths, consisting of dive equipment, dive training, local dive clubs, dive stores and some of the best travel destinations on the planet. Oceanic & Hollis will present their complete line of diving equipment and be there to support their Texas Dealers.  The National Association of Underwater Instructors will be on hand to show why they are “The Definition of Diving” in Texas and Worldwide.

Summary:  The second annual Lone Star State Dive Show has all the makings of a wonderful show for the local diving community. The Travel Industry has embraced this show and they are looking forward to promoting diving in Texas.  With the increased potential this venue has in the future, it will no-doubt get the attention of the manufacturing sector and the training agencies for next year.

Editorial:  Patrick and Jim – Thank you for putting in the time and effort for making this show happen.  It is exactly what Texas has needed for a long. With good advertising to the diving community and support from the diving industry, this show has the potential to recapture what we once had with SeaSpace, in Houston for 35 years.  We’ll see you in Dallas on January 22-24, 2016.

 

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2016 North Central Summit Conference – Chicago

DSC_04572016 North Central Summit Conference – Rosemont, IL.

The first North Central Regional Summit Conference will be held during the Our World-Underwater Dive Show on Friday, February 26, 2015 at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosemont, IL.  The conference is scheduled to begin at 12:00 Noon at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, the Host Hotel for Our World-Underwater, and end at 3:00 pm.  The purpose of the Regional Summit Conference is to bring together local Retail Dive Centers, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Local Scuba Instructors to discuss ways to increase participation in our recreation.  All Industry Professionals are invited to attend.  There is no cost to attend, but attendees need to RSVP for the event, as space will be limited.

The format for the event will be similar to the Regional Summit Meeting being held in Dallas, Texas at the Lone Star State Dive Show but with one major difference.  In Dallas, we plan to begin the program with comments from Industry Leaders and then go into breakout sessions with Local Dive Businesses but in Chicago we will begin the program with current “State of Local Diving” summaries from Local Retailers, Boat Operators, Local Dive Clubs and Local Dive Instructors and then go into breakout sessions.

In a three hour period, the first hour will be reserved to set the agenda for the conference with regional introductions.  Patrick Hammer from Scuba Emporium will brief us on the current State of Dive Retailing in the North Central followed by Capt. Jim Gentile from Windy City Diving, who will brief us on the State of Dive Boat Operations in the Territory.  We are looking for a speaker from the local Dive Club Community and a speaker to summarize the current state of affairs surrounding local dive instruction.

The second hour will be spent in breakout sessions to discuss industry and economic problems in the region and possible solutions to overcome the problems.

The last hour will be a unified discussion to design a game plan for creating economic development in the local region by promoting diving through local Retail Dive Centers, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Local Scuba Instructors.  Industry Leaders will be on hand to report what is being accomplished at other Regional Conferences.

It is our job as Industry Professionals to discuss roadblocks that are limiting our recreation and come together to not only propose potential solutions to our problems but to come up with a plan of attack and the funds necessary to grow our industry.  We look forward to see you in Rosemont, Illinois on February 26th.

If you are interested in participating in the North Central Regional Summit Meeting, please contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net

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2016 DIVE LOCAL Regional Summit Meeting – North Central

DSC_04572016 North Central Summit Conference

The North Central Regional Summit Meeting has been scheduled for Friday, February 26, 2015 at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosemont, IL.  The conference will be held during the Our World-Underwater Dive Show, after booth set up on Friday afternoon.  The purpose of the Regional Summit Conference will be to bring together local Retail Dive Centers, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Local Scuba Instructors to discuss ways to increase participation in our recreation.  All Industry Professionals are invited to attend.  There is no cost, but attendees need to RSVP for the event.

If you are interested in participating in the North Central Regional Summit Meeting, please contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net  or visit the Dive Industry Foundation Booth # 2003 at the DEMA Show in November.

The format for the event will be similar to the Regional Summit Meeting being held in Dallas, Texas at the Lone Star State Dive Show.  In a three hour period, one hour will be reserved to set the agenda for the conference with industry and regional introductions.  The second hour will be spent in breakout sessions to discuss industry and economic problems in the region and possible solutions to overcome the problems.  The last hour will be a unified discussion to design a game plan for creating economic development in the local region by promoting diving through local Retail Dive Centers, Dive Boat Operators, Dive Clubs and Local Scuba Instructors.

It is our job as Industry Professionals to discuss roadblocks that are limiting our recreation and come together to not only propose potential solutions to our problems but to come up with a plan of attack and the funds necessary to grow our industry.  We look forward to see you in Rosemont, Illinois in February.

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