Moving Forward into Digital

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I had been asked to do a presentation to a group of technical divers in Dubai on some of the ship wrecks that I have been fortunate enough to discover off Durban, South Africa along with Dave Griffiths, PADI Examiner and TEC Instructor Trainer as my co-presenter. I had planned to arrive in Dubai at 5am on the direct flight from Durban with Emirates Airlines, get in a few hours sleep and be ready and set up for the start of the presentation at 7pm.

The day before I checked in online and the flight was on time. I spoke with Ahmed Sayed, the PADI Regional Manager for the Middle East and he confirmed that there would be close to 100 attendees for the presentation. I arrived at King Shaka International three hours before the flight, checked in and went through to the International Departures hall. About an hour before boarding we were notified that due to bad weather the plane had been delayed by three hours. No problem, as I still had plenty of time. Needless to say, South Africa was hit that evening by extensive thunderstorms with terrible flooding, hailstorms and strong winds. I eventually got to board my flight at 2 pm the next afternoon. There was no way that I was going to make the presentation in time given that I was in for an eight hour flight.

Fortunately I had remembered that Emirates Airlines has Internet connection on the plane. I had confirmed with the very helpful ground staff that our plane had internet and confirmed that it was working. I told Ahmed that I was still going to do the presentation, but it would be from the air and not in front of the audience live. I Dropboxed Ahmed my Powerpoint Presentation and ran through it with him. Ahmed was to set up everything at the conference Centre and I would connect via Skype. We arranged to meet online two hours prior to the start of the presentation to check that everything would work. The Emirates flight crew had arranged for me to use the rear Galley to do the presentation from as this would give me some privacy.

We took off and I waited for the seatbelt sign to switch off. Twenty minutes later I had my laptop out, logged on to the airplanes wifi, bought 500 megs of data for $1 and connected to Ahmed in Dubai. Absolutely mind boggling.

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The connection was fantastic. The sound was clear and I could control the presentation from my laptop. Just then we encountered same bad turbulence and I was sent back to my seat. This was minutes before the presentation was due to start.

So I ended up doing the presentation 35 000 feet above the ground, somewhere over Kenya, some 4000 km from Dubai, with the laptop resting on my lap, earphones on and all my co passengers sitting in the seats around me listening intently to the presentation.

My presentation lasted 56 minutes. Not once did I loose connection, the audible was clear and in real time and the presentation went by without a hitch. Something I would struggle to do even from my home office.

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The next day when I went visiting the dive centres in Dubai, everyone seemed more amazed by the fact that I had done the presentation from the plane rather than the content of the talk. Ah well, I will just have to up my game.

Having to try to tell someone this story 10 years ago would have been like trying to convince someone that unicorns existed. Not possible. And yet it worked and we have the technology to do it. No longer do we need to send a pigeon with a bit of paper strapped to its leg to deliver a message.

The diving industry has seen this revolution and entry into the digital age. PADI has all the core courses available to download to your mobile device onto your PADI Library. Your prospective customers could be 4000 miles away, 35 000 feet up in the air doing their Dive Theory, Knowledge reviews and exams, ready and prepared for the start of the course when they land.

padi digital products

Times have changed and our customers expect to have the latest technological offerings available to them. They want to have the opportunity to decide when, where and how they do their theoretical knowledge. Nothing is ever going to replace the need for an instructor in the swimming pool or open water, but by using the digital materials available to you, you can then spend more time in the water with a better prepared student, practicing the required motor skills and applying their theoretical knowledge.

I have found that quite often it is the Instructors that are resistant to change. They find that it is comforting to teach using the methods they were taught with. And then they use this as a reason that their customers would prefer the traditional paper and classroom methods for receiving lectures.

If you don’t offer your customers the full range of products that are available, they will seek out those dive centres that do. Maybe it’s time to move forward into the digital era?

 

Nominate a Fellow PADI Pro to Win Scuba Prizes!

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Over the past 50 years, PADI has been The Way the World Learns to Dive – and we couldn’t do this without our PADI Pros.

PADI Pros change countless lives each year by inspiring divers and teaching the skills required to explore the underwater world.

We want YOU to nominate a fellow PADI Instructor, Divemaster or Assistant Instructor who has had a significant impact on your path to becoming a PADI Pro. We want to hear how they inspired you, mentored you and developed your skills – and what makes them such a special part of your professional journey. Enter today and you could be in with a chance of winning top prizes from Suunto, Zeagle, BARE and Atomic Aquatics.

How to enter:

Complete the form on our contest entry page. We’ll need a few details about you and your chosen PADI Pro, and your written nomination (in 600 characters or less). You can also (optionally) upload a photo/video of you and your chosen PADI Pro. All entries must be received no later than 23:59 UTC on 11th December 2016 (visit the contest page for full terms and conditions).

1stplaceThe Prizes:

2ndplaceWe’ll choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners, and both the entrant AND their chosen PADI Pro will receive top prizes:

1st Place: The entrant wins a Suunto EON Steel Dive Computer and their Pro wins a Zeagle F8 Regulator!

2nd Place: The entrant wins a BARE Reactive Wetsuit and their Pro wins a set of Atomic X1 BladeFins!

3rd Place: The entrant and PADI Pro each win PADI Swag worth up to $100 each!

 

ENTER NOW

 

Stay up to date with your PADI Pro Benefits

Remember, being a PADI Pro is more than just a certification – it’s being part of a worldwide community with access to exclusive PADI Member benefits, including the PADI Pros’ Site, business and teaching support, and members-only promotions. If you haven’t already renewed your membership for 2017, visit this link to get started.

Soft Skills Do Matter.

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When you applied for your first job as a PADI Scuba Instructor you probably listed all the courses that you have done, what skills you have mastered, what courses you have attended, even your accomplishments at school. And these are all important to get a job. Just as you as an Instructor needs to have the knowledge and skills to dive, so do as an example dentists need to know how to fill holes in your teeth and perform root canal treatment.

Beyond the technical skills expected from a dentist, which dentist do you go to? The one who is pleasant and takes time to answer your questions; or the one who treats you like a number in a long line of numbered mouths?

In these situations, and all the others like them, it’s the soft skills that matter.

While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.

With these soft skills you can excel as a leader. Problem solving, delegating, motivating, and team building are all much easier if you have good soft skills. Knowing how to get along with people – and displaying a positive attitude – are crucial for success.

The problem is, the importance of these soft skills is often undervalued, and there is far less training provided for them than hard skills. For some reason, dive centres seem to expect people know how to behave on the job. They tend to assume that everyone knows and understands the importance of being on time, taking initiative, being friendly, and producing high quality work.

However, when you look around your own dive centre, it is usually fairly easy to find those employees lacking soft skills. They are the ones unwilling to accept any kind of change, the ones unable to properly manage subordinates, and the ones constantly upset about one thing or another (whether in their professional or personal life).

What should a manager do with employees lacking these skills? Fire them? Just put up with them? Why not help them develop the skills?

Dive Center Divers

Assuming that soft skills are universal leads to much frustration. That’s why it’s so important to focus as much on soft skills training and development as you do on traditional hard skills.

Soft skills can’t be learned by just studying about them. They have to be learned through a process of change that can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, but it can have dramatic effects on your company’s bottom line. The following six-step process is a basic overview:

1. WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE

While this isn’t a big step, it is an important prerequisite. You cannot force people to become more self-aware; they must be willing to begin the process of change themselves. If this basic building block is not present, there isn’t much that can be learned through this process. If this is the case in your dive centre, there are many good resources available for creating “readiness for change.”

2. EDUCATION

While learning soft skills is not simply “book learning,” there still must be an aspect of education on best practices. Reading books like Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There are great starting places for learning the basics.

3. EVALUATION

It is one thing to know the best practices—it is another to know how you measure up against them. Assessments help to evaluate where an employee stands (areas of strength and areas in need of improvement) as well as to describe the natural tendencies an individual has. It is important to include both self-assessments and assessments that include input from others as both types give important feedback. Does your dive centre even do staff assessments?

4. SELF-REFLECTION

Once employees have learned more about themselves (strengths, faults, tendencies, etc.), it is necessary for them to reflect on what they have learned. Are they humble enough to realize they aren’t perfect? Are they willing to put in the effort to grow even though it may be difficult and uncomfortable? Can they understand their natural tendencies and see how they interact with others?

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5. GOAL SETTING

Defining a clear vision for the future is an important next step, which should involve choosing three to five tangible goals to work toward. These goals should be developed from the information learned through the process (especially feedback from others), and then should be shared with others (supervisors, direct reports, peers) so observers are able to notice the changes and hold the employee accountable.

6. PRACTICE

Soft skills do no good in a vacuum. They have to be put into practice in “real life” over a long period of time. Some failure is inevitable, but growth will come. After a few months, employees working toward change should revisit the goals with coworkers to gauge the progress being made.

This process can be done on an individual basis or in groups; it can be completed internally or with an outside facilitator; it can be used at work or at home—but the key takeaway is that it is a process. It’s different than book learning and can take some time, so be patient. In the end, the time invested will be worth it—both to the employees involved and the dive centres bottom line!

 

It’s Not Too Late for Sharks and Rays at CITES CoP17

CITES appeal

Threatened by unregulated international trade, nine species of devil rays, three species of thresher sharks and the silky shark are proposed for listings under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Project AWARE and partner NGOs are on the ground at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 24th to October 5th to help these species receive the protections they deserve.

Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

“Sadly, the possibility that one day there could essentially be no sharks or rays left in the ocean is plausible if things do not change. PADI is proud to support Project AWARE’s shark and ray conservation efforts at CITES and beyond with a $20,000 match*. Please show your support for this important cause.” Drew Richardson, President and CEO, PADI

Support shark and ray conservation with Project AWARE by making a Single Donation or better yet, elevate your commitment by making a Monthly Gift and your donation will be matched* dollar-for-dollar by PADI.

* PADI Match Giving offer valid until 7th October 2016 up to a maximum of US$20,000

Silent Auction Launches on World Tourism Day

Bidding for the annual Project AWARE silent auction is NOW OPEN! 

Project AWARE Silent Auction Prizes 2016

Launching on World Tourism Day, September 27 and running until October 22, Project AWARE is using this international celebration of tourism to raise funds for its critical ocean conservation work and remind the dive community of the importance of ecotourism and responsible travel practices.

Funds raised through the auction will go a long way toward engaging scuba divers in environmental programs and activities such as Project AWARE’s citizen science program, Dive Against Debris™, to support a return to a clean and healthy ocean. The winning bidders will be announced at the 2016 Sport Diver Awards Ceremony by adventurers, explorers and keen Project AWARE supporters Monty Halls and Andy Torbet.

Want to attend the 2016 Sport Diver Awards Ceremony? Grab your ticket today and visit http://www.jumblebee.co.uk/ProjectAWAREAuction2016  to see all the amazing prizes, scuba goodies, holidays & much more to win.

Wherever you are in the world, happy bidding and remember to make a difference for ocean protection every time you dive, travel and more!

Keep your customers coming back

Managing your customer retention rates is an enormously important part of growing your business into a sustainable business.

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How many of you have a favorite restaurant, garage or  shop that you like to frequent above others? Why do you enjoy going back to these places? Customer retention is far cost effective and profitable to your business than going out to try and find new business only.

You must understand and appreciate exactly what your clients need when they do business with you—even if they are unable to articulate that exact result themselves. Once you know what final outcome they need, you lead them to that outcome—you become a trusted adviser who protects them. And they have reason to remain your client for a lifetime. – Jay Abraham

Customer retention is how well a company keeps its paying customers over a period of time. It’s been said that the purpose of a business is to make and keep a customer. A low customer retention rate is much like trying to fill a bucket full of holes with water and keep it full. You could keep pouring water into the bucket to make up for the water leaking away but a far better strategy would be to find out what caused the holes and fix them. Retaining existing customers is far less costly than going out to find new ones and far easier than acquiring new ones.

 

In a study by the Harvard School of business it was found  that increasing customer retention by even 5% can increase profits between 25-95% and found that 61% of the small businesses surveyed indicated that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers. Furthermore, the study found that repeat customers spend 67% more than a new customer. The disappointing thing though is that 70% of businesses did not list retention as their top priority.

How can you improve your customer retention rate?

Stand for something

Customers like to be associated with businesses that share the same values as themselves. If you want loyal customers, you need to create real connections with them. What are your values, your business values? Promoting Project AWARE, eco diving practices or safe diving all can help to give value to your dive shop. What do you stand for?

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Use Testimonials

Does your website have testimonials from existing clients telling about their positive experiences with you? Positive proof is the most effective strategy for getting people to listen to your business.

Appeal to your customers inner ego

Most people prefer products and companies that “resemble” them in some way. This cognitive bias is called implicit egotism, and is an important thing to keep in mind when talking to customers. To attract the customers you want, you need to identify your target customers down to the last detail, then craft a message that matches their pains, goals and aspirations. It’s easier to fill this existing demand than to create one. Using the PADI Continuing Education training courses is an effective method. Let your customers do courses that are beneficial to them.

Compare the before and after

“This is your world before diving and this is your world after diving.” Provide a contrast for your customers. Let them aspire to be that amazing scuba diver that they could be. Understand where they are now and where they want to be. Speak to that and show them how diving can bridge the gap between where they are now and where they will be.

Don’t just sell, educate

Customers enjoy receiving helpful recommendations or new information on products that will help them achieve better results, Have guest speaker evenings at your dive centre, invite scuba equipment manufacturers to do talks on their latests products, get the instructors to do presentations on breathing techniques to make dives last longer. This will keep customers engaged and wanting to come back to your dive centre.

Make it personal

In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers found that waiters and waitresses could increase their tips by 23 percent by the simple act of returning to tables with a second set of mints. The researchers concluded that the mints created the feeling of a personalized experience for the customers who received them. So, it was the personalized service that made their day, not the small gift in itself. Do you have an effective Customer management program? Are you sending out personalised emails and thank you notes directed at the right customer? Using a system like EVE can assist you in this.

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Customers enjoy business who know them

Numerous studies have shown that customers view their experience as more positive when they don’t feel rushed or ignored. Tell your staff to spend more time with their customers. Get to know them, share diving experiences. But its not just about hanging out. Make sure that your staff find out more about your customers and their key wants and needs. Use this for future retention ideas. Making every customer feel like they truly matter goes a long, long way. 68% of customers stop doing business with a company due to feeling like the company was indifferent towards them.

Get a Loyalty program.

The biggest pitfall in preventing customer loyalty programs from succeeding is getting people started. Everyone that does business with your dive centre should automatically be enrolled into your loyalty program. In the famous Car Wash study two groups of people were given loyalty cards to a car wash. The first group needed eight stamps to get a free car wash. The second group had 10 stamps but when given the card, two spaces were already stamped. Only 19 percent of customers in the eight-stamp group (the first group) made enough visits to complete their card. However, 34 percent of the 10-stamp group (the ones given a head start) came back enough times to finish their loyalty cards.
 Additional research have shown that people love being “VIP” or higher status members. Make sure to have different levels to your loyalty program.

Conclusion

“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” – Ross Perot

It is extremely important to conduct extensive research into your customer’s behaviors and demands to determine the best retention strategies for your business. But keeping that loyal customer will enhance your business, grow your turnover and reduce the overheads of seeking out new customers.

 

ReMember: Support Ocean Protection with your PADI Member Renewal

ReMember Ocean Protection with your PADI Member Renewal 2017The diving community, especially PADI® Professional Members play a critical role in leading ocean protection.

There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will? – John Cronin, PADI Co-Founder

Your renewed commitment to ocean protection with your PADI Member Renewal continues to give the ocean a voice, help secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protect marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

Project AWARE®, PADI’s environmental partner, is dedicated to providing PADI Pros like you with the tools and resources to take action, advancing the health of the ocean for future generations. Your donation supports hands-on citizen science, education and local marine conservation actions tailored for the dive community across the globe.

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation* to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work today!

* Gifts of €15/£15/20CHF or more received during PADI Member Renewals will receive a new limited edition Project AWARE silky shark mask strap pad as a special thank you for your renewed support.padi 

Open Water Touch Affiliation Links Available in More Languages

Add links to your website and automatically affiliate Touch or eLearning students with your store so you generate revenue around the clock. Use the link below and plug in your store number along with the corresponding course ID.

Affiliation links are now available for Open Water Diver Touch in these additional languages: Spanish, Polish, Korean, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Dutch, Japanese and Portuguese.

For Touch, Certification Paks and eLearning use:

https://www.padi.com/elearning-scuba-registration/default.aspx?irra=StoreNumber&courseid=CourseID

For ReActivate use:

http://apps.padi.com/scuba-diving/shopping-cart/product/productAffiliation?ProductId=B4956EA2-9985-4356-A9DA-42BEF212D8D8&StoreNumber=StoreNumber

Here’s the full list of available affiliation links:

Make sure you check your Courses Offered preferences under the My Account section in the PADI Pros’ Site so you can use the corresponding affiliation links. If the proper courses are not set up in the Pros’ Site, your store will not be auto-affiliated.

PADI EMEA Vacancy: Quality Management Consultant

PADI staff

We have an opening for a Quality Management Consultant to join our expert Quality Management team located at PADI EMEA in Bristol, United Kingdom.

The Quality Management consultant will be the primary contact for quality management issues for PADI members, ensuring that PADI Members understand the importance of using PADI’s educational system and are aware of their responsibility to adhere to PADI standards.

The role will involve interacting with members and non-members with regard to quality management issues and reporting incidents, developing and delivering risk and quality management programmes, and maintaining PADI’s member recognition programmes.

Position Requirements:

• Experienced PADI IDC Staff Instructor or higher (Course Director preferred)
• Educated to A level standard or equivalent (degree level preferred)
• Fluent English and at least one other central European language is essential. French would be especially desirable and any other additional European languages would be an advantage.
• Highly analytical, with excellent communications skills, organisational skills and attention to detail.
• Ability to read and interpret complex documents such as incident reports, legislative reports, subpoenas and legal pleadings.
• Ability to write routine reports and correspondence.
• Ability to speak effectively before groups of customers or employees.
• Ability to understand, organize, and prepare statistical analysis of complex, sensitive and confidential information.

This role is based at the PADI EMEA office in Bristol, United Kingdom; therefore, the successful applicant must have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom.

To apply for this position, please send your cv and covering letter to: Rachel Landregan, Human Resources, [email protected].

For an informal discussion or questions regarding this position, please contact Fiona Fishburne, Quality Management, [email protected].

Application closing date: 12 September 2016

PADI Miniseminars at DEMA Show 2016

DEMA16_SocialbannerDive professionals know it makes good sense to plan ahead; now’s the time to do just that for the 2016 DEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Start by securing early bird pricing of $106 US per night (plus tax, and subject to change) at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. The PADI Course Director Update, EFR Instructor Trainer, and the not-to-be-missed PADI Social will take place downstairs in the hotel convention center, so you’ll be staying in the center of the action. Contact the PADI Travel Network at 800 736 7021 (US and Canada), or +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2539 to reserve your room today.

WMiniseminar2016_PADIProductsith that taken care of, take a look at the extensive menu of PADI Miniseminars at the Las Vegas Convention Center. You probably want to start with PADI Products, Programs and Standards, and Risk Management 2016: Protect Your Divers and Yourself. These two perennial favorites are required (along with two other presentations) to regain Teaching status after a lapse of one to three years.

Pick and choose from the others as best fits your personal or business strategy, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to expand your reach with the cutting-edge and cost-effective marketing insights you’ll find in Modern Marketing Solutions, Dive it Forward With Course Linking, Extending the Customer Life Cycle Beyond Open Water Diver Certification, and Niche Market Mastery. Don’t forget to Engage with China for advice and tactics on how to serve the fastest growing tourism market in the world.

Miniseminar2016_ChinaOther PADI Miniseminars include 21st Century Customer Service, Integrating Digital Products, and the CDTC Q&A: What It Takes to Become a PADI Course Director (it’s never to early to plan for this ultimate goal). For those with the majority of a career under their belts, Retirement Planning 101 could be considered mandatory.

Grab your calendar, book your room and make your choices – plan now for a successful 2016 DEMA Show.