This issue will be very different to the humour and tongue-in-cheek approach we are known for. Simple reason is to try and find another topic as the weather did us in over March and very few trips made it out.
The topic this issue is you v’s us. Who do we target as customers and who do you choose as your service provider? If we took Maslow`s hierarchy of needs and converted into entry level divers that will do one or two dives a year as the foundation of the pyramid. Divers who have completed two or three courses, invested in low cost dive equipment, and dive purely on vacations or the odd weekend in the second tier. Divers who have made diving a serious hobby and own more expensive gear and actively seek out diving opportunities when they are able making up the third tier and then the top tier is those that have made diving a lifestyle choice and invested heavily both financially and personally.
The dive industry is cut-throat and to survive in it, you need to have a very clever strategic plan. Let us take a scenario that happens all the time. Joe/Joelene Bubbles is looking for a course and is walking along narcosis boulevard checking prices at dive centres in that street. Inevitably he/she will choose the cheapest one. Maybe he/she does a dive or two once finished his course and discontinues diving and takes up collecting coke bottle tops instead. I can almost guarantee that the reason he/she discontinued diving (why would you want to – it`s awesome) is confidence in their own abilities. Cheap is not always good. Maybe they did not like it and that is fine. These days people do not have time to spend on courses like I did. Quick is better for them and then back to checking their smartphone or family life.
So good old Joe Bubbles remains in the bottom tier and is lost to us forever! Providing quality education and an enthusiasm derived from the instructor to student to continue is paramount to us all surviving. Without the third tier of divers, there is no industry. We as dive centres/resorts need to acknowledge this and spend more time targeting these individuals. We need to provide quality and confidence to new divers to get them into this group. Discover Scuba experiences are great for a short-term approach but the shop doors need to be open in five years’ time.
There a very few consummate professionals out in this industry who will spend time with you chatting about subjects pertinent to diving, having the skill set to enact and instruct what is being said and have a beer with you in the evenings while reviewing the above. If you reading this now ask yourself the question of “where am I on the pyramid”. The second question to ask is “who would the guides on my trip be more comfortable getting into the water with?” From our perspective, that choice is easy but we also love taking someone out of the bottom tier and getting them up the ladder.
The next time you ask for Ras Musandam and end up on Red Island instead, then we have answered your question for you and the rest is up to you. We will certainly help you on your journey.