Evolving the Dive Customer Experience

In today’s exciting and occasionally unnerving business climate marked by rapidly evolving technology and rising customer expectations, it’s more important than ever to make technological advancements to deliver a premier consumer experience. To this end, the PADI organization has teams working on all fronts to update technology, improve the user experience, and unify the customer journey. The goal is to unite PADI’s extensive digital ecosystem so that PADI Members and divers can easily do business in the manner that best suits them.

03May17_evolve_dnw_hdr

“PADI is setting the bar high to ensure we meet customers’ growing expectations – today and in the future,” says Kristin Valette, PADI Worldwide Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer. “While we are in the midst of a digital evolution, our focus is on customer and member success. We want to exceed expectations for all who engage and interact with PADI. Be it enrolling for an online course, processing a certification, contacting PADI staff or engaging with other divers or members, outcomes leading to ‘customer success’ is our top priority and we have the team, the strategy and the technology to make this happen.”

Here are just a few of the current investments to improve the customer experience:

  • New Digital Experience Team – Comprised of a digital experience director, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) specialists, website and search engine optimization specialists, and data analysts, this team is working to understand how members and customers currently interact with PADI digital channels to develop a more seamless and intuitive customer journey in the near future. Preliminary tests have already yielded significant increases in traffic to entry-level course pages and PADI eLearning® on padi.com – meaning more students for PADI Members.
  • Expanded Product and Technology Department – While the digital experience team is focused on improving the customer journey, the product and technology team, under the direction of a veteran chief technology officer, is hard at work improving back-end systems such as ecommerce and online processing. From PADI eLearning to the PADI Pros’ Site, programming is underway to streamline processes and simplify course administration needs to allow student divers and dive professionals to focus on what’s really important: diving.
  • Enhanced Customer Relations Support – While customer support is already top-notch, new technology offers an opportunity to add enhanced services to provide around-the-clock access to information and answers to questions. Improving these services will help move customers along in the decision-making process when considering learning to dive, contacting a dive center, booking dive travel and other actions.
  • Evolved eLearning Experience – PADI eLearning and PADI Touch™ products are also evolving to increase online, offline and mobile capabilities. From faster download times to increased course selections and expanded language offerings, improvements to these digital products will continue to enable PADI Dive Centers, Resorts and Professionals to offer cutting-edge products to their customers.

At the heart of these tech advancements is the new My PADI Club, launching later this year, which will help unify the customer journey, better connect divers to the dive community and encourage deeper engagement in the sport through continuing education and gear incentives.

These technological investments are unprecedented in the dive industry and are clearly aimed at PADI Member success and the dive industry’s future.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Top 5 Dive Instructor Jobs

Written by Megan Denny

Transforming lives, helping others and traveling the world are just a few of the reasons people choose to become PADI Pros. But your PADI Instructor card is also a passport to dozens of careers that don’t involve teaching people to dive.

Over the years, we’ve done a series of scuba career interviews with PADI Pros around the world. Here are the top five most popular:

5. Hollywood Stuntwoman
Since 2008, PADI Course Director Szilvia Gogh has appeared in movies, TV series, commercials, music videos and even video games – using her diving skills to help tell stories on screen. Even her actor colleagues are jealous of her job. “Most everybody is envious, as we often get to do the coolest things on the movie set,” Gogh says. “At the end of the day, we get to play in the water all day AND get paid to do that.” Read more…

ScubaDiver_Job_in_Films

4. Cirque du Soleil “O” Artist Handler
“During the show, there are 14 divers in the water, including four artist handlers and two divecomms,” says PADI Instructor Robert Soncini. “The divecomms are on full face masks and relay information about the show to a platform called the crow’s nest that overlooks the pool, and to stage management which maintains the continuity of the show nightly. The artist handlers are responsible for swimming them either on or off stage underwater or to their next cue.” Read more…

Underwater-Scuba-at-O

3. Underwater Criminal Investigator

More and more law enforcement agencies need highly trained Underwater Criminal Investigators (UCI) to respond when their investigations lead to the water’s edge. A UCI Diver is trained to recover anything from a bullet, knife, handgun, rifle, body, or vehicle. When they locate their target, they market it, triangulate its location, photograph it, document their involvement, then package it all while using proper evidence handling and chain of custody procedures. Read more…

2. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scientific Diver

Scientific divers take the plunge in the name of research to learn more about the oceans and how to protect them. Spending the day exploring an underwater environment, monitoring changes and collecting data – that’s just another day at the office. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has nine dive teams, and each one averages more than 100 dives a year in conditions ranging from freshwater quarries, lakes and rivers to salt water bays and the open ocean. Read more…

EPA4-e1458932134656

1. Scuba Diving with Astronauts at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab
Of all the environmental changes the astronaut will experience, perhaps the most significant one is weightlessness. That’s where professional scuba divers come in – preparing astronauts for space missions through underwater training. Read more…

ScubaDiving_Astronauts-e1457739872938

Read more scuba career interviews including: working on the FBI Dive Team, underwater archeology, what it takes to be an underwater model and more. Or, learn more about the PADI Instructor Development Course and the top skills for aspiring PADI Pros.

Pro-Level Customer Acquisition

Back to basics for better business

By John Kinsella

Ross Neill has trained a PADI Pro or two. He’s a five time Platinum Course Director, a 300 Level Elite Instructor has more than 20 years experience teaching divers. (Check out The Bearer of Dreams blog on padi.com for some fascinating insights into his career.) He’s also now a Regional Training Consultant at PADI Americas covering the Southern California and Central Pacific regions. When he talks about the business of instructor development, it’s a good idea to pay attention.

Neill is open with his advice. He likes to “dive it forward” and has no qualms sharing his top tricks and techniques. When he speaks about pro-level customer acquisition, his peers perch on tiptoe and lean in; a bit like a group of investors eavesdropping on Warren Buffet. Everyone’s expecting something big, a game changer, a life altering revelation.

What they get, at least what the dive pros get, is a reminder of the basics. If you want more divemaster and instructor candidates the key is customer service.

Start with superior phone etiquette. You’d think that something as simple as answering the phone should be a given. Surprisingly, it’s not, and there is nothing more certain to annoy people than getting the run around when they call your dive shop. The ideal is a prompt, professional and personable pick up. If that’s not possible and a caller has to leave a voice message, it’s absolutely imperative that you respond within three or four hours; immediately is better. If you don’t, rest assured that your potential customer is now doing business with someone else. The same principle applies to email or any other form of contact, respond quickly, ask for a phone number and make the call.

Go Pro

Once you have future PADI Pros on the line make sure that they get the information they need. All staff, everyone, should be trained to sell pro-level courses. One of the best ways to do this is to create a pitch book and/or a frequently asked questions sheet that staff can use face to face or over the phone. Every person working in the store should be equipped to answer questions about the complete line-up of pro-level programs, overcome objections and find out precisely what the customer wants.

Finally, get a comprehensive information package into your potential customers’ hands (There’s a plethora of professional promotional publications you can use, add to and customize available on the PADI Pros’ Site and you’ll find PADI Regional Headquarters happy to help too.) and follow up once they’ve had some time (not too long) to review it with, you guessed it, a phone call.

GetALife-GoPRO_CMYK_Reverse

 

Take Active Steps to Keep Your PADI Pro Career Fresh

shutterstock_54414250

By John Kinsella

It’s hard to beat the excitement and anticipation of that first job as a PADI Instructor. Mine was on St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. It lived up to my every expectation: great colleagues, truly staggering location and best of all actually making a (modest) living in the dive industry.

The core of the work was running Discover Scuba Diving experiences for cruise ship visitors. We’d go down to the dock to pick up the guests on our custom trucks, complete with fringed sunshades, bring them by the shop for the dive briefing and then drive over to this magical little sandy beach where we had a tour laid out. It was an extremely well organized system and ran like clockwork. It was great fun, at first.

Six months later, let’s just say that I didn’t look forward to the next DSD with the same enthusiasm. For PADI Pros, and for professionals in any line of work, it’s important to take active steps to keep things fresh. Here are a couple of ways to do just that.

The big one is to simply mix it up. Variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life. In my case in the Virgin Islands, I positioned myself to get assigned to Open Water Diver courses. All it took was letting my boss know I wanted to and a bit of persistence. While the opportunities were not as abundant, the difference it made was staggering and as a bonus, I went back to the DSDs with renewed vigor. I also, with some success, looked for every opportunity to enthusiastically promote the Open Water Diver course. The result was good for everyone: DSD participants became divers, the shop benefitted from return customers, and I staved off ennui.

This approach works at all levels and in all locations. Later, running a fledgling dive business in Ireland, the dominant course was, as you might expect, Open Water Diver. The solution in this case was to prioritize continuing education. The joy of running the first Advanced Open Water Diver course was memorable. It made use of different dive sites, was much easier and more profitable to run (all that stuff in the IDC is true!) and the participants went on to become long term customers and firm friends. Everybody wins.

Another great way to keep enthusiasm high is to take another, different, course yourself. Recently I bumped into a friend and part time colleague in the coffee shop. Hugh is a PADI Divemaster and a great coxswain. He’s one of those people you are always happy to see when teaching a course or running a dive trip. He mentioned he had just signed up for the Tec 40 course. He said he was really looking forward to being the student for a while instead of the divemaster. He was also just curious to see what the Tec Rec courses were all about and felt that even if he didn’t go down the hardcore Tec road, the skills and knowledge would certainly not hurt his recreational deep dives. He’s still going to become an instructor (and I know he’ll be a great one) but this little “detour” is nothing if not fun.

Do everyone a favor, especially yourself, and just do something different once in a while as a PADI Pro. It’s not hard to find something fun to do underwater.

Dive Shops Significantly Increase Certifications After Going All in with PADI

26Apr17_SwitchPADI1

A increase of 14 times is what happened to Aqua Sport’s specialty certifications in 2015, the year after the dive facility with operations in Eilat, Israel, and Taba, Egypt, went all in with PADI.

In addition to the increase in specialty divers, PADI® Divemaster certifications quintupled after this dive center chose to make the change. Certifications across the board continued to increase throughout 2016 and this year as a PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center, Aqua Sport is on track to train more instructors than in any year previous.

“We began crossing over all our instructors to PADI at the end of 2015,” says Dafna Budden, co-owner of Aqua Sport. “We understood that further education was key to increasing our sales and that PADI would be the best diving organization to help us achieve that. With PADI’s marketing materials, resources and professional support, we felt we could increase our sales in specialties and professional education and are pleased to report this was achieved.”

Aqua Sport credits PADI’s strong brand as a key factor in its monumental business growth. In 2016, more than two billion consumers learned about PADI Dive Centers and Resorts through media exposures and targeted advertising, including social media messages encouraging certified divers to seek additional training.

Of PADI’s education materials, particularly the digital options, such as PADI eLearning® and the PADI Open Water Diver TouchTM, Budden says, “This is a great marketing tool. Students really enjoy the PADI digital learning and love the interaction with the Touch manuals.”

In addition to benefitting from PADI’s marketing horsepower and educational materials, Aqua Sport appreciates the dedicated customer support team. “The customer service that we and our clients receive from PADI is very important to us,” says Budden. “The PADI staff assigned to our account are professional, helpful, friendly and always on hand to resolve any issues, offer professional advice and guide us where necessary. We are very pleased with the PADI programs and how successful they have proven to be.”

These are just a few reasons why more dive centers and resorts joined PADI in 2016 than in any previous year; retail and resort membership now exceeds 6400 members globally. If you have questions about going all PADI, contact the Territory Director, Regional Manager, or Regional Training Consultant for your area at your local PADI Regional Headquarters.

Embracing Initiatives to Support Our Oceans 

19Apr17_Andre_cleanup

PADI® has a longstanding history of conservation and is building on that by joining forces to further support two of our Four Pillars of Change: Ocean Health and Marine Animal Protection. While continuing to support Project AWARE® in its efforts to reduce marine debris and protect endangered sharks and rays, there are new initiatives with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme and Mission Blue™.

Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet

Alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, allows the PADI family to increase efforts to conserve and sustainably use marine resources. By joining the #SaveOurOcean dialog initiated by the UN Development Programme, you and your divers can engage in conversations to increase awareness about the importance of ocean health and its effect on the bigger sustainability agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

Mission Blue™. – a Dr. Sylvia Earle alliance – focuses on growing the number of protected marine areas. Sharing stories of Hope Spots – a term for special places critical to ocean health, dubbed by Dr. Earle and Mission Blue – help identify areas that are precursors for marine protected areas. Nominating Hope Spots provides an opportunity for the PADI family and the dive industry to help reach the goal set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress to protect 30 percent of our world’s oceans by 2030.

One Dive at a Time

Project AWARE continues its vital work to protect our ocean planet. From collective action in local communities to large-scale change at the policy level, Project AWARE partners with you and your divers to reduce the amount of marine debris entering our ocean and protecting the world’s most threatened species of sharks and rays. Diver support is imperative for the oceans’ future and you can encourage everyone to dive into action and show their support through direct donations to Project AWARE, as well as in grassroots efforts including Dive Against Debris® and Adopt a Dive Site. Check out Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers Action Kit for tools you can use to inspire action.

Lend your support for global efforts to improve the future of the oceans under the structure of our Four Pillars of Change. By taking action to reduce marine debris, establish more marine protected areas and protect marine animals, together we can increase biodiversity and work toward sustainable management of the oceans and their resources. PADI Pros and divers drive change every day and have stories to share to inspire others to do the same. If you have a story you want to share, email fourpillarsofchange@padi.com.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Get Going with the EVE Complete System

In the previous two PADI® Surface Intervals, you learned about the EVE Complete System and why you need the system. Now let’s look at the support you receive to get the EVE Complete System up and running.

image_03

Whether you’re just starting with the EVE Complete System or upgrading any part of it, the process is simple. You’ll be guided through each step, so you can maximize your use of the system. Personalized help and demonstrations show you how to get going with each component, including the following:

EVE

  • Creating or updating your database
  • Training on setup and configuration, ready for in-store and online application

EVE Agent

  • Importing the more than 100 new marketing assets and campaign tools
  • Importing the more than 100 new email and newsletter templates available for simple customization and ready for you to send to your divers
  • Training about how to edit, customize and add to these campaigns and emails

EVE Website

  • Creating your initial template design
  • Populating your website with more than 120 pages, including information on every PADI program
  • Webinars where you’re guided through how to further enhance and modify your website by the simple use of your own content management system

EVE OnLine store

  • Creating and setting up your online store
  • Linking your online store to your website and to your EVE database for seamless, synchronized information, pricing and scheduling
  • Providing more than 10,000 library images for you to use
  • Training on how to manage, organize and populate your online store

EVE Data Hosting

  • Setting up your unique access to the online servers
  • Managing your backups and data protection
  • Tying all aspects of the EVE Complete System together

Additional EVE support and training

  • Providing a comprehensive Help Manual
  • Providing clear “how to” information in the User Guide
  • Maintaining and developing a Video Library of tech tips and FAQs for all areas
  • Being on hand to answer your questions via the Community, FAQs, Blogs and the Contact Form areas of the evediving.com

Get the EVE Complete System to enhance your store’s approach to business, marketing and sales. Plus, take advantage of EVE Business Consulting, which is based on more than 100 cumulative years of experience in the dive industry. Act now by going to www.evediving.com to find out more or contact info@evediving.com to see how you can use the EVE Complete System to upgrade your dive business today.