Written by Megan Denny
A PADI® Pro Night is a proven way for PADI Dive Centers and Resorts to increase class and equipment sales. In this article, we’ll share proven tactics from top producers to help your PADI Pro Night be as successful as possible.
First, decide on an event date with your PADI Regional Manager. Avoid hosting the event at the same time as a major sporting event or school holiday.
4-6 Weeks Prior
Announce your Pro Night in your newsletter, on social media and blog (if applicable). Visit the PADI Pros’ Site for free graphics, an email template, a poster for your classroom, and customizable Pro Night invitations.
Ask divers to RSVP via eVite or email. As part of the RSVP process, ask about their diving certifications and experience so you have an idea who your audience is. This will also help ensure you have plenty of drinks and snacks for everyone.
Identify at least two, ideally three members of your staff to speak at the Pro Night. If possible, choose people with different ages and backgrounds.
Video testimonials from graduates who may not be present but send them in from exciting places they are working helps build excitement and build relevance to your programs for the attendees.
2-3 Weeks Out
Ask your PADI Regional Training Consultant about raffle prize donations, Go PRO DVDs, and any special dispensation on a Pro Night order for crew-paks.
Promote your event at the register and in your scuba classes. Include flyers in crew-paks and shopping bags.
Continue posting reminders to social media.
Collect or buy raffle prizes. These could be gift cards, airfill vouchers, hats, t-shirts, or scuba accessories.
A slideshow to play in the background while divers and staff mingle before and after the presentation is nice to have. The slideshow can include staff photos, images from dive trips, and slides promoting upcoming dive travel opportunities.
Create your Pro Night specials:
– Tiered training packages (basic package, mid-range and platinum) are the ideal way to go as most consumers will choose the middle way. You can create bundles of just classes, or packages that include gear as well.
Create packages to lead a student from whatever certification level they are at currently up to DM or Instructor.
Train all your staff in these packages and ensure they fully understand and are able to answer questions about each offer.
– If you have an active travel program, have information available on your upcoming trips. Some attendees may want to complete their training in warm-water destinations.
– Consider offering a Master Scuba Diver special in addition to Divemaster and IDC specials. If you get a lot of MSD sign-ups, consider having a Master Scuba Diver night later in the year.
– Include a calendar, as a slide in your presentation and/or as a handout, showing your class schedule for the year. Help students see the path to Divemaster, Instructor, Master Scuba Diver, etc.
Require instructors to create a target list of at least five students who “have what it takes.” Compare the lists to ensure the same student isn’t on the same list twice, then have instructors phone or email students a personal invite.
Run a pre-mortem with key staff. Imagine worst-case scenarios (a presenter is sick, it snows, there aren’t enough snacks or chairs, etc.) and identify how you’ll prevent and handle these problems.
1 Week Before
Send out a Pro Night email reminder, and tease your one-night only specials.
Ask your presenters if they have any photos or videos they’d like to share and load those files on your presentation computer.
Have instructors make follow up calls to students who expressed interest but haven’t RSVP’d.
Prepare a list of interview questions for your Pros in the spotlight. Example questions:
– What do you love about being a PADI Divemaster/Instructor?
– When did you know you wanted to go pro?
– What’s a common misconception people have about working as a Divemaster/Instructor?
The Day Before:
Post your specials to social media and emphasize they are one-night-only, no exceptions.
At the Event:
Prepare a sign-in sheet to capture diver names, highest level and contact info (phone/email). Assign a staff member to ensure guests fill out their information legibly and completely so you can add them to your database.
Train all staff how to sign up customers for each package, and explain any financing options you may offer.
Plan for 30 minutes of mingle time/happy hour before the presentation. Play a slideshow/video playlist showcasing your travel adventures and smiling staff having fun with students.
During mingle-time, Invite divers to ‘Like’ your Facebook page (or check in on Facebook if they’ve already Liked your page) to earn extra raffle entries.
Kick the presentation off by asking the audience a few questions (raise your hand if you’re an Open Water Diver, Advanced, Rescue, etc). Ask a few people to share why they decided to attend.
Limit your presentation to one hour – any longer and you risk draining – rather than building – energy.
If lighting conditions are good, record your staff member’s presentations for YouTube and/or social media.
Keep the excitement up with a raffling prize drawing between presenters.
After the presentation is over, allow time for divers and staff to socialize. This interaction is a powerful sales tool.
Assign ‘golden egg’ customers to specific instructors who can close the sale with the diver in a personalized way, perhaps catering to their interest in a retirement job, or as a way to travel the world.
Finalize as many sales as possible. Capitalize on the excitement of the presentation to sell training, trips and equipment.
After the event:
Meet with your staff to designate a follow-up plan for each attendee – and then follow-up!
Evaluate the event and take notes about what worked well and what could be improved for future events.
This article is designed as a checklist to help you build a successful Pro Night. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, the most important tips are:
- Promote your event early and often.
- Require instructors to extend personal invitations to select students. Don’t count on email and social media to bring in a crowd.
- Create three tiers of specials and don’t compromise on the one-night-only deadline.
Additional tips and marketing resources are available on the PADI Pros’ Site.