Successful Promotion of Group Dive Travel

Want some tips on how to plan, organize and market the best group trips for your divers? Here’s the first of eight tips to help. Keep an eye out for more here shortly:

Destination

Where do your customers want to go? Somewhere far-flung and exotic or closer to home? Are they into marine life or are they more interested in wreck diving?

Distant, exotic destinations may require higher budgets. So, you’ll want to determine if your divers are willing to pay a premium for an unforgettable experience. If not, you may have to consider a closer or more affordable destination.

Keep in mind that the seasons strongly influence dive conditions and marine life sightings, so a suitable destination in June may not be so suitable in September.

You should consider all these questions when choosing your destination to make sure the trip is a good fit and your divers are excited about it.

One of the best ways to determine what your divers are interested in, where they want to go and even how much they’re willing to spend is to ask them. Survey your diver database to make sure you’re putting trips on the calendar that cater to their needs and interests.

PADI TRAVEL

Not a PADI Travel™ Affiliate yet? You can learn about the benefits and how to grow your business leveraging travel or activate your Affiliate account now.

Leveraging PADI Travel™ for Your Group Trips

You already know that travel and scuba diving go hand in hand. You probably also know that the majority of scuba divers will take multiple international dive trips during their lifetimes. Using this fact to your advantage and offering group travel opportunities to your customers can spell success for your business.

Benefits of Organizing Group Trips

Embedding travel into your business is a proven way to engage new divers and to keep certified divers active. The promise of getting to use new skills and explore new places encourages divers to enroll in more courses and buy more equipment. Successful PADI Dive Centers sell group trips to fascinating scuba diving destinations to leverage their customers’ desire for adventure. Group trips fuel engagement by building a community of travelers who are loyal to your business. This makes dive travel a win-win for everyone involved.

Why Organize Group Trips Through PADI Travel?

Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to booking group travel. Partner with PADI Travel for your trips and get access to:

• Unbeatable group discounts – PADI Travel offers the best prices and terms around. As a global, wholesale travel agency with significant reach and purchasing power, PADI Travel is able to pass on competitive rates and terms to you when you book group trips. You have access to unbeatable group discounts (a.k.a. commissions) through PADI Travel that you can decide to pass on to your customers or to increase your margins.

• Special deals – The PADI Travel team negotiates special deals that may include anything from free enriched air nitrox fills to significant overall discounts. You can save big by securing available special offers on your next trip.

• Extra spots – One of our most popular promotions for group trips booked through PADI Travel is extra spots. Sometimes there are free cabins, rooms, equipment or other special terms for large group bookings. Again, you can decide how to manage these extras – increase your margins or pass spots on to your customers or staff.

• Diver medical insurance – Every diver in your group will benefit from the complementary diver medical insurance offered with each booking. This means reduced extra costs and more savings for your group.

Additional Benefits

If you end up with unfilled spots on your trip, PADI Travel can help you fill them. The future PADI Travel Marketplace will have global reach and help divers connect with you in order to fill your trips.

As an added benefit, PADI Travel acts as your personal tour operator. If any problems should arise prior to departure or after your customers are on the ground, the PADI Travel team will be in charge of handling issues. The 24/7 world-class customer support team is on hand not only to help you organize and fine tune your group trip, but also to deal with any problems or questions that may occur at any point. This essentially removes many of the hassles associated with organizing travel and reduces your personal workload.

You also can take advantage of the PADI Travel team of scuba travel experts to improve your knowledge of the world’s top dive destinations. Use this information to advise customers and increase your bookings. PADI Travel can help you organize, market and run successful group trips across the globe. Simply ask for a nonbinding quote the next time you organize a trip and discover new ways to thrill your customers.

Technology Driven Travel Trends

Written by Ted Alan Steadman

The Digital Age may not be new, but changing technology opens doors while closing others. Maybe nowhere else is that more evident than in the world of travel.

Technology’s influence on travel has made it among the digital revolution’s most impacted industries. Travel agents of the 1980s and 1990s gave way to website searches and online bookings, creating a major shake-up for how we research, plan and execute travel. Back then, could anybody have envisioned the technology integration and convenience that modern travelers enjoy?

“Online travel agencies have been among the clear winners of the digital travel revolution, which has changed the way today’s consumers plan and book their trips,” says Angelo Rossini, contributing analyst at Euromonitor International, a global marketing research organization. “The next few years will see travelers requiring an increasingly personalized service, with companies able to suggest to them customized products on the basis of their profiles and past behavior.”

Our predisposition to being digitally connected around-the-clock plays heavily on consumer behavior. Tech-savvy travelers expect tech-savvy experiences through digital platforms. For instance, in its 2017 survey of major travel companies and professionals on five continents, travel commerce website Travelport Digital reported “90 percent of travel brands said that having a ‘mobile strategy’ is ‘crucial’ or ‘very important’ to the future success of their organization.”

Further evidence? Global hotel titan Starwood Hotels and Resorts knows the deep roots digital now plays with travel consumers. “Digital technology has changed the way we connect with guests, creating a 24/7 relationship in and out of stays,” says Stephan Croix, Starwood’s Vice President of Marketing. “With many travelers already seeking a more customized and local experience, truly personalized trips are already taking off.”

Where PADI Travel™ Comes In

This just-launched division replaces the former PADI Travel Network® with a more comprehensive, sophisticated and reward-based program designed with every segment of the global PADI® community in mind. Thanks to its technology, the dive travel experience can be easier and more profitable than ever for you. This new network gives PADI Dive Centers the ability to easily sell dive-destination packages literally around the globe, while PADI Resorts suddenly have a presence in the world’s most comprehensive dive travel platform.

To clearly see where dive travel is today, just take a look at the past. It all goes back to 1988 when John Cronin, PADI’s co-founder, had the idea of starting a travel company catering to dive travelers – a novel concept at the time. The original PADI Travel Network began as a wholesale tour operator specializing in dive vacations for individuals and groups, and was based at PADI Worldwide in Orange County, California, USA. It operated on the philosophy that growing the dive industry depended on what Cronin called the “Three Es” – Education, Equipment and Experience (the fourth E – Environment – was added later). After the first two Es, travel provided the experience he believed was crucial to keep divers engaged. In addition, he saw travel connecting PADI Dive Centers and Resorts throughout the world – hence PADI Travel Network.

Fast forward into the 21st century, and with the help of more sophisticated online platforms, improved visual presentations and mobile technology, PADI Travel revamps and reawakens the concept, integrating every aspect of the dive travel experience under one roof, so dive travel shoppers get exactly what they want.

“This is a completely new offering,” says Sandro Lonardi, PADI Travel Marketing Manager, who explains that people are becoming more independent when choosing their vacations and have higher expectations. They expect to manage their vacation experience with the click on their laptops, tablets and mobile devices. “We’ve designed the new PADI Travel to be the ultimate online travel agency for divers,” says Lonardi.

Navigating the PADI Travel space at travel.padi.com enables divers to easily research, compare and book dive vacations anywhere in the world, 24/7, through a directory offering one of the largest selections of liveaboards and dive destinations in the marketplace. With a click, PADI Travel site visitors find a user-friendly interface that informs, educates and empowers them to dial-in whatever experience they seek. “Dive travelers use search engines and social networks to research and plan their dive vacations,” says Lonardi, “and being on a website like travel.padi.com makes it easy for dive operators and resorts to be in front of their target audience. PADI Travel is designed to attract thousands of divers looking for vacations.”

What Customers See

PADI Travel includes more than 300 colorful dive destination guides with custom information about diving and traveling, marine life sightings, best times to go, best sites, discounts and more. About 300 liveaboards are represented with full descriptions, postcard-quality photos, alluring videos and more than 3,000 separate itineraries listed with availability, prices and other information for curious dive travelers. Along with PADI Dive Resorts, Centers, Eco Travel itineraries and Destination Guides, dive travelers have access to dedicated dive experts as well, offering personalized planning advice spanning 80 countries.

Dive travel customers are just one of the beneficiaries, however. PADI Travel sellers can register as affiliates to receive commissions and discounts. With the program, PADI Dive Centers with inhouse travel programs gain access to an immense selection of liveaboards and dive destinations as well as dive travel experts who can answer questions in advance. That access gives individual dive centers a global reach that would be prohibitive or difficult to maintain without the program. PADI Resorts, meanwhile, can earn support and business through PADI Travel’s interconnected network of dive travel sellers and registered agents.

To top it off, the aim is to maintain the highest customer satisfaction with expert customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The travel program’s network of experienced dive travel experts – PADI Travel representatives average around 2,500 dives each – adds the personal touch that travel industry experts say is absolutely critical for travel professionals today.

Growing Dive Travel

“Creating and assembling PADI Travel has been a huge ongoing effort,” says Lonardi. “We can cater to groups and individuals alike. PADI Travel has harnessed the latest platform technology to combine the best of online booking with concierge-level travel consultancy.” Not only will PADI Dive Centers find it easier to sell travel packages and PADI Resorts will gain broader reach, but PADI Pros will also have increased opportunities for participation to help motivate dive travel sales.

For tech-savvy PADI Members who are on board with emerging digital marketing opportunities, many aspects of PADI Travel will be familiar. For others looking to implement a more strategic marketing effort, it carries on the PADI family philosophy of growing the overall dive community.

PADI’s Room Block for 2018 DEMA Show is Open

Be one of the first to book your room at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino for   DEMA Show 2018 from 14 – 17 November. The DEMA Show will be in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center just steps away from the hotel. Call PADI Travel™ to secure the special room rate of $110 US per night* (plus tax). Pay the resort fee and you’ll receive complimentary wireless internet, access to the hotel’s fitness center, in-room safe use and free local and toll free domestic calls.

PADI® programs, such as the PADI Social, Course Director Update, IDC Staff Instructor Update and Emergency First Response® Instructor Trainer course, will take place in the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, so you’ll be at the center of the action.

Contact PADI Travel at 800 729 7234 ext. 2539 (US and Canada) or email Christine.Grange@padi.com to book your room today.

*Rates subject to change without notice.

Introducing the All-New PADI Travel

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The all-new global PADI Travel™ features an online travel platform and full-service team dedicated to providing top-notch travel services – inspiring divers to explore more of the underwater world and take care of our oceans. PADI Travel is designed to energize and grow the overall diving community for the benefit of everyone in the dive industry, offering hundreds of dive destinations around the world and poised to expand over the coming months with more dive resort offerings.

With each dive operator’s unique business model in mind, PADI Travel is available to augment, support or enhance a PADI Dive Center’s current travel program. Catering to groups and individual travelers alike, PADI Travel combines the best of online booking with concierge-level travel consultancy, offering:

  • The highest customer satisfaction with expert customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • One of the largest online selections of liveaboards and dive destinations in the market.
  • Dedicated dive travel experts with in-depth dive knowledge and experience to provide personalized advice; the team averages 2,500 dives per customer service representative, with dive experience spanning a total of 80 countries around the world.
  • Eco-friendly trip options to help people dive with a purpose.

PADI Travel launches as a leading online travel provider for divers, offering a user-friendly experience to research, compare and book dive vacations anywhere in the world. In today’s digital world, travelers have high expectations with respect to their ability to find information and book online. The new travel platform is made possible by integrating tried-and-tested technology and a global team of dive travel experts from Diviac, a startup dive travel company that has been successfully operating in the online scuba travel space since 2015.

There are many ways that PADI Members can benefit from PADI Travel, including:

  • Liveaboards and PADI Resorts can tap into new customer sources, increase bookings and reduce administration.
  • PADI Dive Centers can get assistance organizing and marketing group trips, earn travel agent commissions on trips booked for their customers with PADI Travel, or earn affiliate commissions for divers referred to PADI Travel.
  • PADI Professionals can earn valuable incentives for divers referred to PADI Travel.
  • PADI Dive Centers will be able to receive direct online bookings for their day trips and PADI courses (COMING SOON!).

For those in North America who have worked with PADI Travel Network, be assured that PADI continues to enjoy a positive relationship with PADI Travel Network’s service provider, Caradonna Adventures, and will work with them throughout 2018 to ensure needs are met. Dive centers are encouraged to work with Caradonna Adventures for land-based travel needs until more dive resorts are added to the PADI Travel offerings.

Explore travel.padi.com to discover all that PADI Travel offers to the dive community.

To learn more about joining the PADI Travel affiliate program, visit travel.padi.com/affiliates. If you’re interested in listing your dive resort on PADI Travel, please contact sales.travel@padi.com. To get support in organizing group trips contact travel@padi.com.

PT-FAQ

BVI Dive Operators Eternally Optimistic in Light of Recent Hurricane Activity.

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Photo: Sail Caribbean Divers

Written by Mike Rowe, President BVI Dive Operators Association

“When you have vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.”– Charles R. Swindoll

“We are open for business” is a mantra that we have now been professing for some time in spite of the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irma and Maria in September. The BVI Dive Operators (BVISO) encourage our loyal dive community, to support the local businesses and re-visit our marine playgrounds. Come see for yourselves how the forces of nature have (subtly) reconfigured our wrecks and reshaped the underwater environment, now offering exciting new opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Our Dive Operators have been compiling information over the past weeks/months, and reports coming in are reassuringly positive.

Abi at Blue Water Divers recently commented, “While we see some damage on some of the sites, the marine life is still out there waiting for us. This week we have seen Eagle Rays, Turtles, Reef Shark, lots of Lobsters, Crabs and a Leopard Worm, and so much more.”

While some of our most popular sites, The Indians, Dead Chest, Ginger Steps, have experienced little to no change there has been a “shifting” effect on our most visited wrecks.

Our most famous wreck, the RMS Rhone, has been very comfortable in her setting for the past 150 years; she has entertained and enthralled thousands of divers over the decades. Although the bow section no longer offers a safe swim through from one end to the other, rest assured she will continue to be our most valuable underwater resource and now has new features to offer! Come re-explore a truly remarkable wreck site.

The Beata in Wreck Alley has also offered up an interesting addition. She has decided to sit a little closer to the reef (very convenient) and has shed her exhaust stack and placed it nicely at the stern in the sand as a fish attraction device.

The airplane wreck at Great Dog must have finally found its wings because it has taken off.  An honorable mention from the dive operators for the first guest that locates the fuselage!

Our most recent addition to the BVI wreck collection, the Kodiak Queen, has lost some of the Kraken’s mesh coating; however she remained stable in her location and has become a very popular site for a myriad of marine life.

The Chikuzen, remains one of our most requested wrecks, always a plus when environmental conditions allow us to visit her.  She has changed her shape a little and exposed new structures.

As always, and especially at this time, the BVI Dive Operators are recommending that all divers exhibit good buoyancy control around our reefs and wrecks. We ask, and recommend strongly, that guests resist the urge to penetrate a wreck unless guided by a local dive professional. As all divers do, reefs and wrecks need a little time adjust to their new environment.

We look forward to welcoming you (back) to the British Virgin Islands.

Eco-Advocacy and Adventure in Galápagos with Roberto Ochoa

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Photo by Roberto Ochoa

By Guest Blogger: Jo Walters

PADI AmbassaDiver™ Roberto Ochoa talks about his recent expedition to Galápagos, when he spent 10 days shooting a documentary film in partnership with CRESSI, showcasing the beauty of the marine sanctuary and filming freedivers as they encountered the surprising reactions – or lack thereof – of the area’s aquatic inhabitants to their presence.

For 10 days beginning 28 July 2016, a team of noted eco-advocates joined PADI AmbassaDiverTM and marine wildlife videographer Roberto Ochoa on an expedition to the Galápagos Islands to raise awareness of the importance of conservation, promote responsible eco-tourism and film freedivers exploring the recently-created shark and ray sanctuary in the waters of Darwin and Wolf Islands. The expedition was born in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of CRESSI, who brought together the best in scuba and freediving to inspire a sustainable future. The team included some of the aquatic realm’s most ardent divers, including professional freediver Guillaume Néry; shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey; Charles Darwin Foundation scientist Dr. Pelayo Salinas De León; Cousteau Divers Founder Pierre Cousteau; deep dive record holder (and PADI Professional) Leo Morales; champion freediver Estrella Navarro; and esteemed underwater photographers Juan Oliphant and Natalie Parra.

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Photo by Juan Oliphant

The Expedition

“The purpose of the expedition and the resulting film is to present a positive message about the natural conservation of marine species and their coexistence of man through sustainable development,” says Ochoa, who is interested not only in showcasing the beauty and bio-diversity of the Galápagos Islands, but also supporting the local economy by promoting responsible eco-tourism. “That’s why we devoted a day of the expedition to a special program for students from local schools and another to snorkeling in the waters of Tortuga Bay with 80 local children, age 8-11. We must educate the young about the importance of sustainable conservation in order to establish a strong foundation for future eco-activism.”

According to Ochoa, one of the most amazing revelations of the expedition was the interaction of marine animals with the freedivers. “For many marine species, this was their first encounter with freedivers, and they seemed to consider them fellow denizens of the deep – probably because, unlike scuba divers, the freedivers were silent so the marine animals responded to them in a totally different manner,” he explains. “It was particularly fascinating to watch the reactions of the hammerhead sharks. They seemed far more curious than cautions when they encountered the freedivers and didn’t hesitate to interact with them. It resulted in truly magical moments captured on film.

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Photo by Juan Oliphant

Features of the Film

Throughout the 10-day expedition, freedivers made four-to-five dives each day and created more than 40 hours of film. In addition to the hammerheads, people viewing the film will see the freedivers interact with a variety of marine creatures. The islands featured whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and iguanas. The filmmakers have another surprise in store for audiences and it’s exciting. The film was shot in a special 360 degree format in some portions. It renders a kind of virtual reality, panoramic viewing experience for the audience.

You can catch a six-minute short version of the Galapagos Evolution documentary at the 2016 DEMA Show. It will preview in November in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The full documentary will have wide distribution upon completion. Visit Roberto Ochoa’s website for additional updates.

7 New Wonders of the Underwater World: Voting Now Open

PADI Facebook contest - Vote Now

Last month we asked divers to submit their ideas for the New 7 Wonders of the Underwater World. The finalists have been chosen, and now it’s time to chose the winners.

Below is a list of destinations that have made the final cut. You can invite customers to help push your destination to the top of the list by sharing this link:  http://a.pgtb.me/z8jxBT or directing the to the contest tab of PADI’s Facebook page. All votes must be in by Monday 24 June 2013.

Our seven winners will be promoted to hundreds of thousands of divers via PADI’s Social Media channels as the 7 New Wonders of the Underwater World, so don’t be shy about drumming up votes. Imagine if your local diving area was chosen, how would that be for ultimate bragging rights?

Here are our finalists from the PADI Americas territory:

Pacific
Ghost Fleet – Chuuk, Micronesia
Niihau – Hawai’i
Rock Islands – Palau

Caribbean
Champagne – Dominica
Babylon – Grand Cayman
Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
The Arch – Turks and Caicos

Great Lakes
Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck – Great Lakes

East Coast
Florida Freshwater Spring Caves
U-352 – North Carolina
Christ of the Abyss – Key Largo, FL

Latin America
Blue Hole – Belize
Malpelo – Colombia
Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
MUSA – Cancun, Mexico
Sand Falls – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
El Acuario del Mundo – Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Cenotes – Yucatan, Mexico

Manatee and Cavern Trips Help Create Winter Season

ManateeSoutheastern retailers have long counted on manatee trips and/or cavern diving training to provide much needed dive activity during winter months. Manatee trips can be some of the easiest dive travel a store can run because tanks are optional.

Snorkeling is the prefered way to interact with manatee and that opens to doors to all ages and gives younger kids a chance to share an experience with their parents or each other, which might not yet be possible because of age restrictions or costs.

Because of years of intervention to protect manatee the population has grown significantly ironically rreating the need for more refuge area thereby limiting access to once favorite dive sites like Three Sisters Spring in Crystal River. There have been other rules changes as well. Dive Centers must now have permits to rent boats for their own tours and very few permits are available for dive centers not located in the Crystal River area. US Fish & Wildlife encourages visiting divers and dive groups to go with licensed tour operators who are required to show the Manatee Manners video (which PADI co-funded) and explain the regulations regarding inwater interaction with these huge gentle mammals. Crystal River continues to be unique in that it is the only marine refuge in which inwater interaction is allowed. Following the rules and avoiding any actions, which might be concieved as harrassment, is extreamly important to assure that this wonderful opportunity to meet manatee it their own environment is not lost to the diving community.

Cavern diving is another wonderful winter activity. The water temp remains a constant 72 degrees year round and the gin clear water provides access to funtastic learning experiences for divers from all over the world. Becoming a Cavern Diver Instructor requires that instructors be cave certified and wear full cave gear when teaching,

Cavern diving in Mexico: Dos Ohos
Cavern diving in Mexico: Dos Ohos

but many local cave instructors  offer packages for instructors leading groups who desire to become cavern instructors.Combining manatee and cavern diving makes for an adventure filled week. Throw in digital photo and your student travelers will take home great memories, great photos and bragging rights to two or three new specialties.

Travelling with Dive Gear: Calculate Airline Baggage Fees

Scuba Gear Baggage Fee Calculator

I recently came across a great website: iflybags.com that allows you to quickly calculate the airline baggage fees for your dive gear.

dive gear airline baggage fee calculator

Here’s how it works: 
Type in where you’re going, what airline, and whether you’re flying coach, first class, etc. Click check allowances.

iflybags.com displays the baggage allowances and costs for your flight. Below is an example using an American Airlines flight from LAX to Honolulu. Email subscribers may need to click through to view images.

scuba gear airline baggage fee calculator

 

You can also have the site calculate exactly what your baggage fees will be. After typing in your flight info, click calculate baggage fees. You’ll then be prompted to enter in how many bags you have, and how much each one weighs (see example below).

click to see a larger version
Iflybags.com displays the total cost for your baggage. It even takes into account any elite frequent flyer status you may have.

In addition to being useful pre-flight, I think this could be a great tool when researching flights. An airline that offers a free checked bag might be a better value than a flight that costs $20 less.