Surveying The Diving Business Community.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional
The Dive Industry Association is looking into ways to improve the flow of goods and services in the recreational diving industry. In the post-pandemic period, the international diving community is recovering from a difficult two years. As many of us reopen our businesses we are noticing that things have changed. Some of these changes are temporary and some are permanent. In our July Editorial we talked about how the diving business community needed to become more professional, due to at least four major changes in the past 20 years. The four major changes being; 1) Maturity of the industry. 2) Digitization of text, images & objects. 3) Covid Pandemic. 4) Changing Business Landscape.
Because so many things have changed, I feel we are re-entering a business environment that is different than before but new and exciting at the same time. So as we reenter the business community, let’s look at it as a new (ad)venture.
What’s the first thing you do when you start something new? Gather information. The Dive Industry Foundation is taking a lead role in surveying Dive Manufacturers, Manufacturing Sales Reps, Retail Dive Stores and the Travel Industry. We’ll go over each one and the reason we are asking for your participation. But first let me tell you what we are doing with the data collected.
As a Trade Association our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together to increase sales, grow member companies and grow the industry. Because so many things have changed in the last two years, we are redefining the channels of distribution used by four categories of the industry that account for the majority of sales in recreational diving and adventure travel. They are Diving Equipment, Training Programs, Dive Travel and Lifestyle Products.
We define the diving equipment channel of distribution as Manufacturer – Mfg Sales Rep – Retail Dive Store – Consumer. Before we can address the Demand Chain (Consumers) we need to make sure the supply chain understands each other and is working well with their supply partners.
The Travel Industries that specialize in diving is larger, more diverse, and scattered all over the globe. In many cases, diving is a small niche market for many of these businesses. In the delivery of services to the final consumer we define our Dive Travel Channel of Distribution as Tourism Board – Resort Destination or Liveaboard – Dive Travel Wholesaler – Dive Travel Specialist (Retail Travel Buyer) – Consumer.
As I mentioned before, our redefined channels of distribution are not perfect, absolute or even the same in every case, but the models we construct are workable, easy to understand and constitute a majority of the revenue in the Diving and Adventure Travel Market. We can always work on variations and exceptions to this model later, but for now, this may give us the biggest bang for the buck.
DIVING EQUIPMENT SALES:
The first Survey we have is the Dive Manufacturing Companies. This is the first year we have used this. Whether the company is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer), manufacturer or distributor, this group is considered the originator of diving or diving related equipment. First of all, we want to know if we have the company’s correct contact information and they are still in business. Secondly we want to understand the company profile, size and managerial makeup. Since we are in the referral business, we need to know the proper person to contact for specific issues. The survey questions delve into the use of sales reps, participation in trade and consumer shows, memberships in trade organizations and the use of professional sales and marketing tools. We need to know how many domestic and international Dealers they sell to and how they reach their customers. Understanding our manufacturing partners helps us determine the current state of the industry and what business needs may be unfulfilled at this time. We currently have over 400 manufacturing companies in our database and are doing everything to quantify and qualify our data.
The second survey is the Manufacturing Sales Rep Survey. First conducted in 2002, this survey defines the work of a small 140 person industry niche. Our Industry Report on Sales Reps showed us many important aspects of what manufacturing sales reps do for the industry. It’s important to know how many companies they represent, how many accounts they service, in the number of states and how many days they are on the road. When we look at the impact of their gross sales revenues and know how much (or little) they are paid before deducting their travel expenses, we understand the value of using Sales Reps. Our current roster of Manufacturing Sales Reps is about 140. That includes In-House Sales Teams and Reps working through contracted Sales Rep Companies. Individual sales people from individual companies are not included in our database.
The third survey is the Retail Dive Stores. Our first Retail Survey was performed in 2002 and was ground breaking in the industry. We learned the size of the average dive store, how many students they certified to dive, how much equipment and travel they sold and how business savvy they were in using business plans, marketing plans, and business consultants. We saw how many people they employed, how many Instructors they used, the number of group trips they booked and more. The more we learn about the dive store sector, the more we realize how important they are to our industry. The front-line ambassadors of diving deserve a lot more respect and perks then they are currently getting. Prior to the pandemic, our domestic retail database was at about 1,500. We are into the 1,400’s now and this number gets lower every year.
The completion of these three surveys will significantly change the way we relate to the diving equipment stakeholders in the industry. When you look at Manufacturers, Sales Reps and Dive Retailers as working partners in one-third of the Supply Chain of our Industry you’ll have a better idea of the industry’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I can’t emphasize the importance of completing these three surveys and we encourage all three sectors to participate in them whole-heartily.
DIVE TRAVEL SALES:
The fourth survey we completed this week and have started to distribute is the Dive Travel Industry Survey. We have over 900 dive travel businesses in our database that specialize in dive travel. We are sending one survey to a number of different industries to determine the correct Business Profile of the companies as determined by their NAICS Code. We are looking at Airlines, Resorts, Liveaboards, Dive Stores (International), Dive Operators, Dive Travel Wholesalers, Travel Advisers, and Dive Group Leaders. We are looking to understand this market in a way we could refer business to them using our Travel Channel of Distribution. The more we know about the Travel market of today, the better we can address their needs to reboot their business and attract new customers.
Our surveys are just the beginning. Our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together for their mutual benefit, not ours. Redesigning new Channels of Distribution for different market segments only makes it easier for individual stakeholders to acquire new vendors and customers, retain the ones they have and recapture the ones they lost. It’s about being a part of an International Business Community that works together for mutual benefit, reducing fragmentation and duplication of effort. It’s about being part of a TEAM while focusing on your own core competencies for maximum efficiency and profitability. It’s about becoming and remaining more professional, more productive and more profitable.
To request a survey for your business please contact Gene Muchanski.
DIVE INDUSTRY FOUNDATION IS A 501(c)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION:
Our Foundation does not profit from conducting these surveys. Our Mission is Promoting Economic Development in Water Sports. Our industry work is performed by Volunteer Marketing Professionals and Volunteer Dive Industry Professionals. If you would like to volunteer your time, money or manpower, please contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
2294 Botanica Circle
West Melbourne, FL 32904