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.

in flight internet

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?

 

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!

 

Keep your customers coming back

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

customer

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.

 

Changes in Attitudes

Attitude… Its a little thing that makes a BIG difference!

How often have you heard this? On your path to becoming a PADI Pro you would have realised that there are people that you have met along the way that have had such an amazing attitude and have positivity influenced you but just the same you have met people that just should not have got out of bed that morning.

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Enhance or change your attitude toward scuba instruction by identifying the importance of your role, and  professional duty, as a recreational diving counsellor…

A great instructor not only conveys knowledge and skills, but also transfers enthusiasm for our sport to the student. Why did you decide to become a PADI Instructor? At some point in your career there was probably a PADI Instructor that so inspired you or positivity changed you that all you could think about was one day becoming like that person.

In the dive centre or resort that you are currently working at or have recently visited there will be instructors and dive masters that you are drawn to and like to dive with or listen to them interacting with their students. You may noticed that these PADI Pros are truly living the dream. but what are the attributes that are making them successful?

Today’s diving consumer:

  • Interested in many sports
  • May only dive once/twice a year
  • Free time is at a premium
  • May be 5-10 years old!

So…

  • Challenge and thrill of new experiences is critical
  • Your experience and enthusiasm with regard to success in the experience is invaluable

Why do people come to us for our services? If you ask your students most of them will include high up in their list that they wanted to become a diver to have some fun. Too often the Instructors goal is to simply get the student certified and they forget about having fun themselves and with their students.

Change your attitude. Your new goal should be to create lifelong divers rather than certifying students.

What do we Sell?

What do we sell?

Fun

This is generated though a transfer of enthusiasm for our sport through proper equipment counselling, challenging and adventurous educational experiences. If the diver is enjoying himself/herself (having fun), the investment in equipment, further education and additional experiences is just the means to the desired end.

Equipment

The most influential person on when, where and what a student buys is…

The PADI Instructor!!!

Surveys indicate that 65% of PADI divers made buying decisions based on recommendations from their instructor.

Equipment Sales

Prepare them for success with proper equipment outfitting

  • Will the students be more comfortable?
  • Is it critical to be more comfortable in initial training?
  • Might they progress better with consistency in their equipment?
  • Might it be safer?
  • Will they have more fun?

Education Counselling

  • Your attitude toward learning experiences is key to success
  • Must truly believe in benefit of training to achieving student’s goals
  • Challenging educational programs entwined with new equipment exposure and adventurous experiences will maintain the diver’s interest in our sport

Experience Counselling

  • Adventurous experiences may be the impetus to buy equipment and continue training
  • The thrill and allure of experiences could have been the spark of their interest
  • Extreme exposure is attractive
  • Extreme exposure requires equipment
  • Your experience contributing to theirs is invaluable

Have a look at how you are doing things in your dive centre. Have a look at your approach towards your students. When you arrive tomorrow morning try and have fun.

The Power of Attitude

“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life.  A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.  It is a catalyst…a spark that creates extraordinary results.”

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Online Renewal Now Open for 2016 PADI Professional Membership

PADI online renewal is now available! Take advantage of the special online discount by renewing your membership on the PADI Pros’ Site today!

Renew Online Now

Don’t forget that PADI’s Automatic Renewal service saves you even more money and registering is easy – sign up for this service during your online renewal and start enjoying the benefits straight away.

Complete your renewal before 31st December and you’ll be able to take advantage of our free digital product renewal offer as a thank you for renewing, by choosing from either a free PADI Open Water Diver Touch or PADI Equipment Specialist Touch. That’s a benefit worth up to £65 / 88€ / 96CHF to you straight away.

That’s not all! You can get an additional 5 for 4 offer on all digital products; that’s a saving of 20%!* Don’t miss this chance to save on PADI’s latest digital products – Renew your membership and contact your PADI Sales Representative to claim your free Open Water Diver Touch or Equipment Specialist Touch today!

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Together We’re #1 In Diving!

It’s no mystery why PADI is the world’s leading diver training organization. Members value the high quality of PADI materials and excellent customer service while divers get the benefits. All of this has made PADI the global leader and most trusted source for diver training since 1966.

*Offer ends 31st July 2016. Offer available only on multiples of five of the same product, not available as mix and match. Available to PADI Instructors who have renewed their PADI membership for 2016.

PADI Member Forum in Durban & Umkomaas

Thank you for the attendance at both the PADI Member Forum in Durban and Umkomaas. It was a wonderful experience and we did have challenging times but we had a successful run through eventhough we had load-shedding. Umkomaas, South Africa, Member ForumThe key topics that we covered related to the new product line – the digitial suite.

The diving at Aliwal shoal not only offers a wide spectrum of marine life but has a very exciting and interesting history. Meeting up with the Clive Home and Tony Janssens who in 1976 saved lives when the Norwegian Tanker Produce struck the Aliwal shoal.

Heroes, Produce, Aliwal Shoal

This dive site is teaming with pelagics and a truly remarkable shark diving location. Thank you to all the dive centers that I had the opportunity to visit, Blue Ocean Dive Resort, Gary, Nicky and his team for staging the Member Forum,  Umkomaas Dive Charters, Bryan & Lelanie, Aliwal Dive Center, Basie & Keith and all the dive centers and staff for making me feel welcome and embracing the PADI products and service.

Umkomaas Launching

Valentine’s Day – The gift of diving

Valentine's Day Facebook advert (EN)

According to to this article the average American will spend $142 on Valentine’s Day. So here are a few things created by the PADI Marketing department for you to use on your Facebook business page to encourage your customers, who are struggling to find a gift for a loved one, to give the gift of scuba diving.

Click on the links below to download:

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We hope you have a great day and lots of love from the Team at PADI.

Staff Spotlight: Matt Wenger (Consultant, Training & Quality Management)

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Contact Details:

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 (0) 117 300 7390

A quick bio:

Originally I’m form Zug in Switzerland, I always was the “black sheep” in our family and I knew I not will end up working normal 9-5 jobs. I started traveling the world when I was 19, spent most of my time in the sunny Caribbean. I started working with a small German Dive center where I completed all my PADI courses. After stations in Asia, Maldives I’m back in Europe. Since May 2014 I’m part of the Training and Quality Management Team. My job is it to answer training related questions to our members, additionally we monitor the quality of PADI course thought in the EMEA region. I do love every minute of my job……

When did you first learn to dive?

I started diving when I was 14 years old with my brother in Cyprus. Crazy time if I think back…..My brother surfaced after the 4th dive and asked the instructor why his ears hurt when he descent. The instructor told him “you got to equalize” my brother’s response “didn’t know”

How many dives have you done?

A lot, more than 7000

What is the first bit of dive equipment you bought?

That was a TUSA Mask, I loved it! Until one day a pretty big diver sit on it, the rest is history.

If you could only pack one bit of dive equipment to take with you on a trip what would it be?

Mask, without a doubt

What is your favourite dive site in the UK?

Must be Vobster Quarry (the only one I divedJ)

What is your favourite dive site in the world?

WOW, what a difficult question. That must be either the Cenotes in Mexico or Darwin Arches in the Galapagos.

What song do you currently like to listen to before you go diving?

????????? Who listens to music before diving? I listen to briefings……..

What is your favourite animal underwater?

Eagle Ray

What animal would you love to see on your next dive?

I want to dive with Manatees, which must be awesome.

What dive site is at the top of your to wish list?

Stoney Cove 🙂

What sort of food do you pack in your lunch box to eat between dives?

Red Bull (Breakfast for Champions)

If you could go diving with someone (dead or alive) who would it be?

The Family Guy

Staff Spotlight: Tayi Orri (Consultant, Training and Quality Management)

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Contact Details:

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 (0) 117 300 7234

A quick bio:

The first time I used a mask and a pair of fins was in a swimming pool in Patagonia in 1991 when I was almost two years old. My parents owned a PADI Dive Resort and soon I became a diver. I snorkelled at the sea for the first time when I was 3 years old and I begun to scuba dive in the cold waters of Patagonia with sea lions and dolphins at the age of 10. After becoming a music teacher at the University of Almería in Spain, I became a PADI Instructor and quickly progressed to become an IDC Staff Instructor in 2011. I worked as an IDC Staff Instructor for two years in Spain and last year I worked in the Dominican Republic. I joined PADI in January 2014 as a Training and Quality Management consultant.

When did you first learn to dive?

I did my first dive in Puerto Madryn Argentina, as a kid. But I got certified many years later in Spain.

How many dives have you done?

1000+

What is the first bit of dive equipment you bought?

A shining yellow mask and a wetsuit made to measure! I was so tiny!

If you could only pack one bit of dive equipment to take with you on a trip what would it be? 

My mask!

What is your favourite dive site in the UK?

I have made just two dives in the UK for now. They were in Swanage and I had a great time diving with Almudena Pineiro J. We saw two really nice small rays!

What is your favourite dive site in the world?

I think I need to dive in more places to answer this question, but I love to dive in Almeria (South of Spain). It´s beautiful to dive in the ancient reefs form by the “Posidonia oceánica” (sea grass) and find all kind of hidden creatures in them!

What song do you currently like to listen to before you go diving?

Any happy song!!! I love music!

What is your favourite animal underwater?

Flabellina!!! I love all the mini life! But I also love all kind of rays!

What animal would you love to see on your next dive?

A whale shark! That will be awesome! J

What dive site is at the top of your to wish list?

Maldives, Thailand, Bahamas, Cayman Island, Iceland! I have a really long list!

What sort of food do you pack in your lunch box to eat between dives?

Cribs, chocolate, sandwiches…

If you could go diving with someone (dead or alive) who would it be?

All my family and boyfriend together! We are all divers! 🙂

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Scuba Pursuits – back to 100% PADI

PADI Europe, Middle and Africa (EMEA) is pleased to announce that Scuba Pursuits have now returned as a PADI Career Development Centre, teaching PADI courses exclusively.

Scuba Pursuits

Mark Spiers (Vice President, Sales, Field Services, Marketing & Business Development), Tony Andrews (Manager Field Services) and Simon Chance (Manager, PADI Retailer and Resort Associations & PADI Diving Society) visited the main store, based in Cannock (UK), to provide training for all PADI professionals. The presentation reviewed the new range of PADI products including the new PADI Open Water Touch programme.

“We are very pleased to have Scuba Pursuits back to 100% PADI and as recipients of the PADI Career Development Centre award, under Ian Forster’s expert guidance. With Ian’s outstanding knowledge and level of experience in the industry, I am sure they will go from strength to strength,” said Mark Spiers.

Scuba Pursuits

Ian Forster, the new owner of Scuba Pursuits, has been in the Industry for over 30 years and has been a PADI Course Director for 24 years.

“Despite the challenges of the takeover, our Facebook page has helped us communicate with our many supporters,” said Ian. “We have had a great start to the season, and are now getting the websites updated so that our divers have a complete overview of our product range and what we offer”.

PADI EMEA is now looking forward to a positive future with the Scuba Pursuits team, who will no doubt accomplish valuable business and Industry growth in line with these exciting developments.