As a travel consultant who specializes in scuba diving travel, I follow the news and trends in this niche closely, and I personally believe that dive travel is on the rise.
However, it will be a slow and steady comeback and one not everyone will see as it will be dependent on the flexibility and adaptation of those in our industry.
It is far more of a buyer’s market now; with travelers in general being far more selective where and with whom they spend their money. I built my company on old fashioned values with the theory that if I took care of my clients, the bottom line would take care of itself, but for some, this seems like such a hard lesson for some to get on board with. I am surprised how many times I have placed a small but special request to a vacation provider on behalf of a customer or asked a resort to deliver outside of the box, only to be met with resistance or even refusal. It never ceases to amaze me how many people in the hospitality business are not hospitable at all!
I am pleased to state though, that there are many resorts, liveaboards and dive operations that do “get it”. They realize that by going the extra mile or working with an agent and her client we all walk away with a satisfied customer. These partners are, like me, seeing an increase in recent reservations, and they weren’t offering a deeply discounted rate, but they did provide value for money and demonstrated a genuine appreciation of their customers business and understanding their needs.
We were recently at the annual industry-only scuba diving convention, The DEMA Show. In past years there was a general consensus between exhibitors overall on how “good” or not each show was. This year, the buzz ranged widely from one side of the spectrum to the other, with one exhibitor having their best show ever and others complaining it was slow and a waste of time. From our perspective the attendees that were there came with serious agendas for what they wanted to achieve at the show and the exhibitors who had what they were looking for and delivered it the best were the ones who walked away with record numbers. An independent online publication also reported perceiving the same – in the dive training organizations and equipment manufacturers as well as the travel companies at the show.
The travel industry, as with many others in the leisure or “extras” business has taken a hard hit over the past few years, but I believe it is making a slow but steady recovery, and people are still traveling. However, the average consumer’s way of “shopping” and “selecting” where they go and who they spend their money with has changed, and we need to change with it to meet their needs and demands. We need to recognize the vast array of options they have and show appreciation when the place they chose to spend their money with is us. Those who refuse to do so and continue as if things are as they were before will be left behind, but for those that rise to the challenge, will be rewarded. Adapt and overcome!