National Boat Show and Dive Expo media campaign

As part of the National Boat Show and Dive Expo PADI have entered into an agreement with the organisers of the show and Radio Highveld to promote scuba diving and the show.Image

We will do this by giving away 35 Discover Scuba confined water experiences and 10 Open Water Courses.

This will be done through 94.7 (Highveld stereo) and their Ground Patrol who are an exciting group of young guys and girls that hit the streets every day in three branded Kia vehicles, keeping 94.7 (Highveld stereo) in touch with its listeners.  Our courses will be mentioned on air and the vouchers you see in this article will be given to the general public that find the ground patrol vehicles and claim the vouchers.

PADI are asking our registered dive centres to redeem the vouchers and give away a course or experience to the voucher holder at their expense, PADI will in turn provide the crew-pak and PIC.  If you are not prepared to partake in this offer, please notify Peter Driessel, 082 570 5763, or the PADI Marketing Department.


National Boat Show and Dive Expo, South Africa



The National Boat Show & Dive Expo, South Africa’s best-loved boating, scuba diving, fishing, watersports and outdoor leisure show is celebrating its 10th anniversary by putting on a powerhouse programme at the Coca-Cola dome in Johannesburg from 7 – 9 September 2012! 

For the first time ever, the National Boat Show & Dive Expo is hosting a pre-owned boat pavilion. Now your lifelong dream of owning or upgrading a boat is finally within reach AND you can save up to 40% when you purchase a quality, previously-loved boat!

Take your love of watersports to an entirely new level when you explore the captivating world below the surface. Scuba diving remains one of the fastest growing watersports in South Africa and exploring the Dive Expo will reveal exactly why so many people are getting their kicks below the waterline.

If you like to have fun on, in or under the water, this multiple-award winning show has something exciting for everyone – from professionals to families to weekend enthusiasts. Exhibitors too are pulling out all the stops, with exciting new products and special show offers and pricing.

Even more reasons to visit The National Boat Show & Dive Expo’s 10th birthday:

  • The Divestyle scuba diving talks.
  • Go Fish Kayak & Jetski Fishing Clinics
  • The Boatyard Farmers’ Market.
  • Wake Wars wakeboarding competition.
  • The outdoor cooking area.
  • Free demonstrations with the celebs & experts
  • The Kidz Zone, for the young enthusiasts.
  • The indoor try-dive pool.
  • Indoor dive tank. 
  • Peroni Sports Bar

To celebrate reaching its 10-year milestone, the National Boat Show and Dive Expo is giving away masses of prizes and incentives that you would not want to miss.

Visit for more information.

Issued by ITP Communications on behalf of the National Boat Show, featuring the Dive Expo

For further information or please contact Jean Haupt or Leigh Angelo at

Tel: (011) 869 9153; Cell: 082 954 7833; email: [email protected]

It’s Showtime, What do I do?

How to Guide’ for exhibiting at shows

Many dive centers use a show as an opportunity to discount courses, equipment, trips and clear stock.  This has always amazed me as probably being not the best idea.  Let us take South Africa as an example, the dive show is usually at the end of winter and going into spring, a traditionally busy time for the industry, so why discount your courses, particularly if you have had a bad winter, you are only going to get yourselves into more debt.

I would rather recommend that you utilise this time to make a profit.  Several years ago, I saw a centre sell a dive computer at less than cost, incidentally this centre went out of business, is this any surprise?   I again need to refer you to my previous article Fix Your Course Price As It May Be Broken, I need to reiterate that in most countries that I have visited, our top 10 centres usually charge more for courses and equipment than other centres in that given country, so again why use a show to discount, do you not want to grow your business.

Why not look to marketing towards new divers, clients that are not just looking for the best deal but rather clients that are willing to spend that bit extra for service and will give you that long term loyalty that you so deserve?

Here is a working example for each step which has been taken from the PADI and Irish Diving Stand at The Adventure Weekend (2011) in Dublin, Ireland, this article was prepared by one of our UK regional managers John Carlin.

Where to begin?

You have either decided to exhibit or have been approached by a show organiser to take part in a show. What should you do first?

1. Research

Before you put down that deposit you need to ask some questions. Are you going to be able to get a Return on Investment (ROI)?

Check out the shows history. What are the show’s target numbers and the demographic of visitors that will be attending? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and request this information from the show organiser prior to giving them any payment details. They should have this as a pack for an exhibitor as well as the costs for you to attend and all the exhibitor requirements.

PADI and Irish Diving Stand example:

The show organiser sent an exhibitor proposal pack which outlined the reasons to take part and the expected visitor numbers and their profiles. The expected 30,000 people and the average visitor profile with the target requirements for the 8 participating dive centres on this project so we moved to the second planning stage’

Click on ‘The Adventure Weekend Show – Exhibitor proposal pack’ link to view this document.

2. Planning

Now you have decided to attend you need to start planning. Regular exhibitors will often spend 6-12 months preparing for a show. It is advisable for you to attend other similar types of shows to make notes of exhibits (including non-diving stands) that were successful and those that were not – and most importantly why not?

You may want to use the show to attract new business and raise your profile. You need to make a list of goals and objectives for the show. These need to be ‘SMART’ – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. You need to have clear goals such as predefined target number of leads or sales. You may simply want to spread the word about your dive business and this can still be measured using social media with for example the number of ‘likes’ and ‘tweets’ about your stand or business.

All goals need to be quantifiable such as 100 sales or leads a day – otherwise how do you know if the show has been a success. By having these you will be able to compare the success of one show against another.

3. Stand design

The visual impact your stand makes at the show is vital. You need it to tell a story about your business and why people should come and talk to you.

The stand will act as a shop window for your business. At a show you have only 3 seconds to capture that passing person’s attention. Your stand should have a strong and clear graphic message.

The text you use should be minimal and clearly identify who you are and what you offer. Try to use bullet points to summarise your key messages and remember to keep these messages above 1 metre (think about people’s line of sight as they are walking round).

Most importantly use some cool graphic pictures to symbolise what you are offering – divers looking at the camera are great as people are narcissistic and will want to imagine themselves as the person in the photograph. Bright colourful images can say a thousand words and will make you stand out from the crowd and capture people’s attention.

Once you have the imagery and backdrop set up, you need to think about the layout of the stand itself. To attract the maximum number of people to your stand you need to make sure it is open and there are no barriers restricting access or creating a bottleneck. Try to keep the marketing areas towards the back of the stand so that your staff can attract new foot flow at the front and engage with the passers by.

Is your stand exciting and unique? Is it more than just a 2D stand? If you can have special attractions such as online demos, visual and audio presentations this will make your stand interactive will be a great talking point for your staff to engage people. If you can get this right you will be memorable and stand out from the other hundreds of exhibitors at the show.

Lighting can make or break stand. Effective lighting can create an impact and draw people in whilst ineffective lighting may mean you fade into the background of the show. It can be inexpensive and you can even play with the direction, intensity and colour of your lighting.

Practice putting the stand up and taking it down before you get to the show. It will give you an opportunity to see if it looks and works, how long it takes to set up and will give you time make any necessary modifications.

Location, location, location. Whilst that sounds like something and an estate agent would say it is important to think about the location of your stand at the show. You will pay more for prime spots but you need to think about the flow of people through the show. Is it worth paying a little more not to be tucked away in a corner? It doesn’t matter how cheap your stand is if the visitors cannot easily find you.

Whether you have a prime spot or not the height of your stand can make a difference. Some show organisers will allow you to build up to 6 metres high and remember you don’t get charged any extra for using this space! Having extra height on your stand will make your clearly visible in an exhibition hall and can mean you tower above everyone else drawing in the crowd.

4. Competitions and marketing incentives

If you are not able to make direct sales on the day then you need to think about competitions or marketing incentives. You need to give people a reason to give you their contact details so that you can do some permission marketing either during or after the event.

The prizes need to be relevant to the products and services your business offers as well as the target audience – the type of the people who will be attending the show. Are the prizes you will be offering cool enough for that person to spend 5-10 minutes of their time talking to you and then filling in the enquiry sheet just to be in with a chance of winning? It is important to factor the cost of these prizes in to your total show budget.

If you can create a competition that is drawn several weeks or months after the show it means that the people who gave their contact details are more likely to read any promotional information you send them afterwards as it will be anticipated and relevant.

5. Recruiting show staff

As important as the stand itself are the people who will be working on it. You need enthusiastic and friendly staff who are comfortable working in a ‘show’ environment. The staff need to be busy participants with a ‘can do’ attitude and not just be bystanders. This means that they will have to have no fear in stepping to the front of the stand or even in to the aisle to give a friendly smile and start up a conversation with a complete stranger. They must be the type of person who does not take the frequent rejection you get at shows personally. Remember if your staff are excited about your products and services then people will sense this and this enthusiasm is contagious and it sells.

Have you heard of ‘Selling the Sizzle and not the Steak’? This is an old sales saying that tells us about human nature. A modern analogy is when it comes to buying a car. Most people don’t just buy any car, they buy a model they may trust, a model that might make them feel sporty, a colour they like and/or a car that has a stereo system that makes them feel like they are in a concert hall. They aren’t just buying a car to get from A to B – they are buying one for the experience and this is why car sales people always try to get you to test drive a car.

Lets equate this back to SCUBA diving. We didn’t do a PADI Open Water Diver course because we were told how many classroom/swimming pool sessions there were did we? We wanted to become a SCUBA diver to visit an exciting new world. Diving is exciting so don’t get your staff to chase after people with clipboards and leaflets. Get your staff to remember why they started diving. The staff need to think of their own first positive SCUBA diving experience, how it made them feel and why they love diving. They can use this to develop an emotional connection with the person they are speaking to and they can talk about how diving enables you to meet people, go places and do things.

Get your staff to talk about their own local diving experiences so people can see why they should go diving with your business. It helps to have a video or PowerPoint presentation to show people on the day what they can see once they are qualified (see the positive assumption you are already using!).

The show staff need to be polite and well presented – staff uniforms can make them look smart and stand out from the crowd as the people to go and talk to. Some product knowledge is important but those first few minutes of talking to a new person is all about setting the scene finding out what the persons needs and interests are. After that the front line troops may want to hand over to a more specialist colleague.

Manning a stand is long, hard work and you will need to plan regular breaks in to your show schedule. Show days can be over 12 hours and that is a long time to be standing on your feet and talking to people. Plan to have enough staff to cover the ones who are on a break which may mean you need more staff than you first thought.

You need to make sure that you have fully briefed the staff about the goals and objectives of the show. It is worth having a staff briefing prior to the show and then a briefing on the day. Don’t assume everyone knows how to work on an exhibition stand. Role play can be useful and get the staff to use open ended questions such as ‘what type of water sports are you interested in’ where the visitor has to give more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

The staff need to be aware of any marketing initiatives or competitions as well as the individual/team targets for the event. You need to realistically calculate the average time needed to engage each person, explain the competitions and marketing incentives and finally obtain contact details for the follow up promotional communications before you set your show targets for your staff.

It may be useful to have a show ‘code of conduct’ form which they sign which includes the summary of the show times, a break time rota, dress code and their roles.

Try to have a de-briefing at the end of each day which allows you to say thank you and if they will be working on the stand the following day this will help to motivate them again or make any changes and/or correct any problems.

Some general things to avoid when working on a stand are to; not eat/drink on the stand, try not to sit and work on a laptop and don’t use your mobile telephone on or near the stand.

6. Press releases

Did you know that over 90% of all exhibitors fail to take advantage of press and promotional opportunities? Contact your show organiser to ask what is on offer.

When producing a press release try to encapsulate the story about your business in the first sentence. Remember if it is in a show booklet people scan these very quickly as they walk around. The press release you send in should have your contact details, business name and stand name.

Some shows have guest speakers coming in to give talks. Although it cannot be used as a direct sales pitch you can highlight how cool SCUBA diving is and then answer questions at the end and point them in the direction of your stand.

Some shows have big screens so put together a 30 second video clip or a series of PowerPoint presentation slides which uses the imagery of your stand, has details of any competitions or marketing initiatives and contains your stand location.

7. Social Media

It is important to consider the use of Social Media not only to promote that you are attending the show but also to gain new customers. For example you may design a Facebook Fan page to advertise your stand at the show. You can then invite your existing friends, family and customers to ‘like’ which will raise the awareness of your presence at the show.

The Facebook Fan page also allows people to ‘check in’ and ‘like’ your stand (you may wish to have a raffle draw each day for a prize for the people that do this) and is another place for them to find out more information about you.

A Facebook Fan page can also be programmed to have an entry page which changes to ‘fan’ page with more information when a person ‘likes’ the page. Remember when a person ‘likes” your page, they are making a connection to it which is be displayed in their profile and news feed for all their friends to see.

8. Leaflets

This is a commonly abused and misused resource. How many shows have you been to where you have walked down an aisle and had leaflets pushed into your hand? What have you done with them? In most cases they are dumped into bins or made in to paper aeroplanes or screwed up and thrown at people!

By visiting different shows you will see stands with uncomfortable staff who use leaflets as props because they don’t want to talk to people as they may be nervous or lack product knowledge.

Successful exhibitors use their stand display to capture people’s attention first and then engage them with their staff and any interactive stand attractions they may have. The leaflet should only be presented at the end once you have made a sale or obtained the visitors contact details for permission marketing.

A well thought out leaflet is used to illustrate a particular product or service of specific interest to that visitor and contain your contact details. It is used to remind them of the emotional connection you made with them when they came to your stand. It should tip them over the edge to contact you after the show to find out more or to buy the product they were talking to you about.

Big generic leaflets advertising everything you offer do not work – people will see this as a form of spam and it will end up in a rubbish bin. Think of the leaflet in the same way as you did designing your stand. The text needs to be minimal (bullet points if possible) and it needs to have colourful images that describe the product you are offering and will connect with the person attending the show.

The images, quality of the paper or card as well as the shape of the leaflet can make a big difference to a person’s decision to retain the leaflet for future reference.

9. Permission marketing

Once you have spent all this time and money going to a show what are you going to do with all of that information?

The first thing you have to do and this is required in the planning stages is to decide what type of information you need from someone to create a successful follow up marketing initiative once the show has finished. Don’t depend on your memory – a few words scribbled on the back of a leaflet or business card is not enough after the show is over as you will have talked to hundreds of people.

You need to create a show enquiry form which is easy and quick for the staff to fill out and records not only their personal information, contact details and their interests. Remember if it takes too long to fill out people will walk away.

It is important to get as many details as possible though and the competitions or marketing initiatives you are offering should give them enough reason to register all the details you need.

You also need to have pre-prepared your follow up marketing letters, emails or other communications before the show starts. Remember these people will be expecting the contact from you and if you leave it any later than 48 hours after the show it will be too late. If you leave it too late you are likely to be ignored and all your money, time and effort has gone to waste.

Each of the promotional contacts in a ‘warm touch’ campaign (where you keep contacting a interested party with information about your products over a period of time until they sign up) needs to have a different feel or look.

For example if you are planning to send a series of promotional emails, each individual email you have created needs to have a different header and a slightly different text content. This helps to prevent the interested show visitor feeling like they are being spammed if they don’t sign up after the first round of your promotional emails.

Once you have all these completed show enquiry forms what do you do with them? You need to record the information into some form of database (EVE is excellent for this).

Time needs to be factored in for the data entry. If possible get a trusted staff member to sit quietly away from the stand on a laptop to enter the information from the enquiry forms in batches during the show. This will mean you are not left with the unenviable task the following day to enter in the information of hundreds of visitors, maybe thousands if you are lucky!

Once the information is in a database (such as EVE) it will help to manage the specific follow up marketing according to that person’s registered interests. It will also help you to measure the effectiveness of the show and investigate the numbers and the demographics of the people that visited your stand.

How the leads are allocated and followed up is of great importance and should be planned well in advance. Did you know that over 70% of exhibition enquiries are never followed up! The most successful results follow from calls that made from show visitors within 5 days of the show finishing. It is essential that you avoid the post-show wind down and input the show data in to the database as soon as possible.

Remember make the follow up contact as soon as possible after the show reminding them who you are, why you were at the show and what they registered their interest for. These are known as ‘Hot Leads’ so strike before they cool off, forget about you and your stand and get excited about something else.

10. Measurement

Having planned and executed a stand at a show, how do you know whether it was successful or not?

It is important after the show to record how every new customer finds you. You can do this if you are an EVE user by using the ‘Enquiry Source’ on the details section of the customer record. By monitoring this information you can record not only how many enquiries you received but more importantly how many you converted and the value of each customer.

Although most enquiries will come soon after the show, if you have a program of promotional contacts (it is important to include an unsubscribe option) over a period of time it is essential you continue to record all new enquiries.

This will help you to determine not only if the show is worth attending again, whether your plan/execution was successful and if you need to budget more or less for the next show.

Good luck with your next show and please don’t hesitate to contact your PADI Regional Manager and the PADI Marketing Department if you have any further questions. If you would like an example as to how the above was applied to the Irish Dive Show, please send me an email and I will forward you the examples.

Purchasing Facebook and Twitter likes

I got a call from a client the other day telling me that they had received an invitation to bulk purchase likes on Twitter and Facebook, in fact they could purchase 10,000 fans for $300!

This seemed like a fantastic idea as they would get credibility as being a well liked facility as well as developing a large network of friends. Alarm bells immediately went of in my head, as usually in business, anything that seems too good to be true usually is, so I started doing some research and found that purchasing likes may actually not be in your best interest, please review the following article for more information, Buying Facebook Fans is a Horrible Idea.

Essentially what they say is that you could bulk entice them to your site with a prize or bulk purchase them from various sites available.  They allege that if you do this it will affect your Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, and although that might be a big fancy word, it is not really something your want to negatively affect.

I would rather encourage you to use the traditional methods that they talk about in their article.  If you would like to know more information or you would like additional assistance with Social Media, please schedule a face-to-face, telephonic or Skype meeting with me and I will be happy to assist you with your Social Media presence.

Fix your course price as it may be broken

In 2003 I wrote the following article and again pulidshed it in 2010. I have again updated it slightly but it is still just as relevant today. Dive centre owners and independent instructors often comment to me about the problem of course price cutting.

Many centre owners say that they have to set their price at a particular amount, as their competition have set a lower price for the same course, therefore if potential customers are shopping around they go for the cheapest option. When pricing your courses there are 3 basic questions you need to ask yourself – do you know why your course needs to be more expensive, what are you offering that your competitor is not and in the eyes of your customer are they are receiving the same service/certification?

It may be that your gear is state of the art, new and regularly maintained. Perhaps you pay your staff to go for their annual medical examinations? Your dive centre may be warm and inviting with a good selection of diving equipment, books and accessories. Your classroom may have comfortable seating with tables and all of the appropriate training aids and videos, with professional presentation equipment. You would therefore need a higher return on your courses than a competitor who does not invest as much in their image.

By allowing your competitor to set the course price, you may be losing money without realising it. I would recommend that you do a full pricing workshop before deciding how much to charge for any course. I can send you an excel spreadsheet on how to cost your courses, please email [email protected] if you would like a copy of this.

Now, many will argue that if you charge a higher price, your competition will gain your business. People like to compare prices before parting with their hard earned money and you have probably called around yourself for the best price when purchasing new items. However, to make your clients’ experience memorable and enjoyable, you do need to charge an appropriate fee, and this could mean setting a higher course price than your competitor.

Am I going to lose business if I do this? My answer is that you are going to lose money if you don’t! How can you possibly make a profit if you are undercharging for the services you are providing? I am often amazed to hear dive centres say they have to charge what their competition is selling courses for, as there are many centres that charge more money for greater returns.

This is a rough guide only. According to a survey conducted in April 2008, the average course price in Johannesburg, South Africa was around R2,279.

I have interviewed several dive centres in preparation for this article. They have told me that since increasing their course prices, or by always having higher course prices, they tend to sell more soft gear (masks, fins, snorkels, wetsuits and weight belts) on their entry level courses and hard gear (BCD, regulator, alternative air source, gauges, tanks and dive computers) on their continuing education courses. Many of their patrons also sign up for continuing education and dive travel! Our top ten centres have a average conversion rate of 99.98% on continuing education (The top centre having 411%!).

Bear in mind that some divers do more than one course. Please also bear in mind that history has proven that divers who shop around do not usually progress on to continuing education courses. They rarely purchase gear or join your dive trips, so by offering these cheaper courses you probably end up losing more money.

One great example of the benefit of increasing course price is a centre I visited in the south of England. They used to charge £199.00 for the open water course but now charge £325.00. They report far higher returns on profit, equipment sales and continuing education per client since the change, and are currently considering increasing their price even further. This is not an isolated example!

The top ten certifying dive centres across the countries I service have several things in common. They charge the most in their area for their courses, they have a professional looking shop (probably because they are making a profit) they are friendly and professional in their manner and image and they have decent stock levels in their facilities. Their students get a personalised service when taking courses and feel part of a community with the dive centre.

In contrast, the bottom ten certifying dive centres have the cheapest course prices in town.

Many centres need to increase their stock and improve the visual image of their facility. In my opinion, the argument for having to charge less for courses to match the competition must be inaccurate – if this were the case, why would the top ten dive centres continue to stay at the pinnacle?

Let’s compare scuba diving with other activities. I will use South Africa (SA) for my pricing comparison. I have called three operators around the country for each of the other activities, to get an average price. Please note that I am using the average scuba course price from 2008. (I am aware that many dive centres are now charging a lot less than this.)

Activity Time per person/course Price in SA
Scuba Diving 4 days R2,279.00
Sky Diving, one lesson, one jump 3 hours R1,850.00
Bungee Jump 1 jump/30 mins R650.00
Computer Course (MS Excel for beginners) 1 day (6hrs) R1000.00
Professional Aromatherapy Massage 1 hour R500.00
Golf lesson 1 hour R500.00
Gym session with personal trainer 1 hour R280.00

Let’s make the table more interesting by dividing the total number of hours taken to provide the activity, assuming that each working day is 8 hours, into the course price. I will then rank the activities according to price.

Example: Activity; scuba diving, 4 days x 8 hours = 32 hours. R2,279 ÷ 32 hours = R71.22 per hour.

Please note that the figures listed below do not include any expenses or overheads, so the figures listed below are not net profit!

Activity Price per hour in SA
Bungee Jump R1300.00
Sky Diving, one lesson, one jump R617.00
Golf lesson R500.00
Professional Aromatherapy Massage R500.00
Gym session with personal trainer R280.00
Computer Course (MS Excel for beginners) R166.66
Scuba Diving R71.22

This proves that when comparing average course price over a variety of activities, scuba diving is the cheapest to learn!

I thoroughly recommend that you re-assess your pricing policy, and in some cases fix it! Yes, it is broken if you are charging less than your costs – how can you afford to pay your instructors reasonable wages let alone stay in business, if you do not charge appropriate prices for your courses! You may say that you use the courses as a loss leader, in order to sell your potential customer diving equipment. In reality, if customers are shopping around for the cheapest course price, they will do the same for their equipment, so they may well purchase that from your competitor too!

The sad thing I found whilst re-writing this article was that for many dive centres, course prices have not changed very much in the last 7 years. I would recommend every centre runs a pricing workshop to assess if you are losing money by offering courses way below your required break-even budget.

So how do you deal with the customer who is calling around for the best price? My advice would be to educate yourself on your current business outlook. One way to do this is by ordering the business and marketing guides: Advanced Strategies for Recruiting Divers has a section dedicated to a customer calling around for best prices and how to handle this situation. Positive Approach Selling will assist you with closing the sale when a customer has come to visit you, or indeed even called you.

Many of our dive centres are already using these ideas. So how do we know they are working? They have fixed their prices and business ideas and they are in the top ten dive centres in your country!

Please email me at [email protected]  if you would like a copy of the pricing workshop spreadsheet.

Recruiting new divers – DSD

Simply DSD

Follow these simplified DSD guidelines and reap the rewards

  • Missing a trick?
  • Do you have enough Open Water Divers?

Our most successful centres at diver acquisition are those that have a proactive Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) programme targeted at securing entry level divers. Thought it was too difficult to run and market? With two simple options it’s actually easier than you think. Time to give it a go!

Discover Scuba Diving made easy

Review the DSD Instructor Guide in the PADI Instructor Manual for further detailed information if required.

DSD in a pool or confined open water.

Are you a Divemaster or Assistant Instructor or above? If so, you can do this.

  • DSD participants complete and sign the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Brochure
  • Conduct briefing
  • Help new divers put on and adjust their scuba equipment.
  • Directly supervise new divers as they breathe underwater and swim around in shallow water. When comfortable, take them on tours in deeper water as appropriate.
  • Debrief divers
  • Promote your PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Diver Programme
  • Register your DSD participants online
  • DSD Open Water Dive
  • Do this if your DSD’s want to do more!
  • Participants complete and sign the DSD Brochure.

Before the dive a PADI Instructor: Conducts briefing on equipment they’ll be using; explain risks of diving, breathing and equalization rules, aquatic life, limits of the programme.

Practice the following skills in shallow water with a PADI Instructor:

Breathing underwater

  • Regulator clearing and recovery
  • Mask clearing
  • Equalization techniques
  • Hand signals/underwater communication
  • Finally conduct the participants on a tour of the dive site

Credit for PADI Scuba Diver and PADI Open Water Diver courses

If your DSD participants have done the open water dive, it can be credited towards the Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver course – A good incentive for your divers to do more!

Review the DSD Instructor Guide in the PADI Instructor Manual for further detail and information.

DSD Facts – why you should use this programme

While the conversion from the DSD Programme to PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Diver may differ between domestic markets and resort markets, it has been proven (and it’s still the case) that the proper conduct of a PADI DSD programme brings new customers.

With the introduction of the new DSD experience in 2002 the conversion has increased to 8.5% new divers in main European markets.

In the resort areas, the conversion is lower at between 2.9 and 5%. The difference being that the actual number of participants is much higher by far when compared to mainland Europe.

What needs to be considered:

A DSD experience is the most successful programme to generate new customers, especially if the centres are using freshly certified divers to share their experience at the end of the DSD. It’s within PADI standards to have a PADI Open Water or Advanced Open Water Diver helping with the logistics of organizing equipment and other materials used in the programme, motivation and registration at the end of the DSD experience. (They can’t supervise, be used as a certified assistant or in any way conduct the experience or any of its elements.) The registration ratio is very often close to 80% if the emphasis is well positioned (end of the programme).

A closer analysis of German Dive Centres in 2006 confirmed that the DSD is crucial for the good health of a business. Centres who conducted the DSD experience and actively promoted the Open Water Diver course during the experience found a significant uplift in their business.

In a resort environment, sometimes the programme is only conducted as a fast “benefit” and there is no follow-up being done at the end of the experience. In resorts where the conversion effort is made not only during the experience but also at the end of the programme, the registration into a PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Diver course is close to 70%.

Have fun, and by using the programme correctly you will create new divers.

Proven Ways to Conduct a Confined Water DSD Experience

I have found the following method of running a Discover Scuba experience to be extremely beneficial in converting the participant to an entry-level certification. I recommend the following guide for the pool or confined water experience only, not when including the DSD Open Water Dive.

If you run DSD’s, pool or confined water, free of charge, I would recommend that you rather give a voucher with a monetary value to it. To avoid any problems with the voucher, I would recommend that you include the wording, Not Redeemable for cash or any other scuba dives/experiences. This will allow you to approach hotels and other businesses to give their clients and staff the voucher.

Conducting the DSD Experience:

Allocate staff both topside and for the confined water;


The primary role of topside staff is that of sales, so they need the necessary skills to close the sale. I would recommend that they are familiar with our DVD “Positive Approach Selling”.

Make sure you have fresh, clean towels for any participants that may hove forgotten them. Have hot coffee or a cold drink/fresh water available for each participant.

Each participant needs a personal debriefing; make sure you have Crew-paks or a computer with internet connection (eLearning) to sign them onto the next stage of their next adventure.

Either you can use this opportunity to present them with their certificate or if you have a group of divers, it is better to have a small “certificate ceremony.”

Make sure that you have a photograph taken of each participant and tell him or her that they can pick it up from your dive centre the next day. If you do not close the sale the same day, you have a further opportunity to close it when they collect the photograph. Portable photographic printers are now reasonably inexpensive and worth having in you dive centre for this reason.

Confined Water:

The key is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible and although this sounds obvious, many Divemasters/instructors who have been diving all day are sometimes reluctant to run these very important sessions. You need to find some way to motivate your staff to make this a once in a lifetime experience.

Make sure you have some toys to play with. Assist each participant with putting on his or her scuba equipment. Let the participants get comfortable as you directly supervise them breathing underwater and swimming around the shallow end before you take them into deep water. Unless you are taking the candidate on the DSD Open Water Dive, I would recommend that you do not teach mask clearing, as I have often seen DSD programmes with low conversion ratios to entry level because instructors try to go through too many skills when not conducting the DSD Open Water Dive.

Once your candidate is comfortable and they are smiling, it is my opinion that the experience is over, they are hooked and most susceptible to signing onto an entry-level course. Some participants may need slightly longer than other to get comfortable in the water.

You should now be ready to exit the water and join the topside staff in order to assist with personal debriefs, sign the certificates and register the DSD participants online.


Doom and Gloom in the Sales Sector

Now more than ever am I hearing salesman complain that times are very tough. This often makes me smile as, in my opinion, sales people can be divided into two groups, those that will go out and find the business and those that will wait for the business to come to them. Be it challenging or fruitful economic times, the latter are always moaning and the aforementioned content and happy.

I remember when I had a dive shop creating a list and categorising my clients into these areas:

will probably purchase,

may purchase

and doubtful they will purchase.

These were based upon the clients that I had dealt with up to 12 months back. Regardless of the category they were in, everyone was called; some were just called more than others.

Whenever I got new stock or were running a course these clients were called. Many dive centres feel that a mere email will do the trick. I feel that it needs to be followed up with a personal call. If you are complaining about business and are not calling your past clients, how are you going to keep your doors open?

So what can you do to assist you with your sales?

1. Work with you existing satisfied customer
If someone has purchase something from you in the past, you have more than likely built a good relationship with them. This should open up opportunities for later sales. Keep in regular contact with them; call them to ask them if they are satisfied with the product that you have already sold them.

2. Create new customers
Ensue that you try to build a relationship even with a customer that is “just looking”. Find out there interests, don’t try to pressurise them into a sale if they are unwilling, rather build a connection with them so.

3. Bring a Friend
We all know how effective word of mouth is; PADI has, in several surveys shown that divers will tell their friends if they have had a good experience. Get these names from your clients and send out an email introduction and then follow up with a telephone call, invite them into your facility for a coffee or a Discover Scuba Session. Visit Recruiting new divers – DSD for more information.

4. Make that call
During tough times, don’t just make a call for the sake of it, have a staff meeting and find out which of your clients are more likely to actually make a purchase during these times, look at clients that will probably purchase, or may purchase.

5. Networking
Whether you are going for a social drink, to a sporting event or just going out, you are always meeting people, ensure that you have a business card and an up to date website, the address of which is on the business card. You now have many opportunities to exchange details with prospective clients and they can always go back to your website for more information. If you have eLearning linked to your website, they can start the course immediately if they are not already a diver.

6. Corporate, Banks and your local corner cafe
These are good source for any new business. To quote Douglas Nash, PADI Vice President of sales and marketing: “The success of the diving industry relies upon bums on seats.” My question then is why do we not go out and find new business? Having new divers ensures your facility will be selling more equipment and continued education. Start by researching other businesses it will give you credibility when you meet with them to offer them a Discover Scuba Diving Voucher.

7. Become a Counsellor
You need to become a problem solver, not only when it comes to sales objections but we sell a product that solves people’s problems. People are becoming far more stressed and uptight, people want to get back into nature, people want to reconnect with themselves, people want excitement and fun. We have a product that can fulfil all of those needs, all we need to do is to sell it to them. No one wants to hear about all of the features of a product ask them about their wants and needs and give them what they are asking for.

8. Self Belief.
Many of my regions are currently experiencing tough economic times and sales in general are never easy but you need to believe in yourself. Woes and tough times are all a part of life. Many of us have experienced similar times in the past, and we will experience times like these again. Don’t spiral into negativity, doom and gloom, go out there and do something positive. I know it’s possible as many dive centres are reporting their best seasons yet.

Discover Scuba Diving Voucher

Over the years of visiting dive shops and dive resorts I have noticed that many operators offer a Discover Scuba Diving Experience (confined water only) free of charge. Many centres find that they do not draw in as many potential new clients as they would like to see. Several years ago I came up with the idea of creating a voucher to give value to the experience.

The idea behind the voucher was that if you gave it a monetary value, the experience would appear to be more appealing. Having a voucher will allow you to go to hotels, banks, corporate offices, schools etc. and give each of these potential new leads a voucher with a value rather than offering the experience free of charge.

Dive centres across my region that have created a voucher have all reported an increase in the number of Discover Scuba Diving experiences and an increase in Entry Level Courses. Please go back and read the articles Proven ways to conduct a Confined Water DSD experience and Recruiting new divers – DSD.

PADI EMEA’s Marketing Department can assist you with custom designing a DSD voucher as seen above, if you would like us to assist you, please send me an email and I will get the ball rolling, please note that that you will need to send me your contact details and a high resolution jpeg of your logo, you will have to decide on the price of this experience, the price I have on the voucher is just a guideline.

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