Blog article by John Kinsella
I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning. A “relationship expert” was making a good case for online dating. People are busy these days, she said, the traditional ways of meeting people aren’t working, and, in the USA at least, starting a relationship online is the new norm. But, and it’s a big one, the friendly relationship expert pointed out that for the new online relationship to actually work for real, the trick is to meet, in person, soon.
It made me think about something that has come up a lot, both recently and consistently over the years, in the dive business: Starting relationships with new customers online may be the new norm, but time and again, successful dive businesses and dive professionals manage to turn the conversation to the social end of things. When I’m trying to find out why a particular business does a great job of attracting the Millennials, I’m told that hosting barbecues at a local shore diving site is an important factor. When I want to uncover the secret to making women a bigger proportion of the business, I’m told that one vital thing is to make the dive resort an easy place to hang out with the family. And so on.
And then last weekend I found myself at the annual divers’ party. It’s a simple formula: A few tables reserved at a central hostelry, some finger food, and making everyone feel welcome. Everyone on the mailing list, old and new, is invited. There were people there with two decades of dive experience mingling and chatting with people who finished open water course two weeks ago. Everywhere I looked there were small animated and ever changing groups: Ray was holding court on his new rebreather. He started talking about this at least a year ago and recently bit the bullet. Brian was buzzing about a recent dive trip to the Arctic, you could actually see the enthusiasm infect those around him (though a few did regard him with a look often reserved for those who have lost their minds). Willie was talking about an underwater film shoot he’s working on, and I think he managed to sign up another batch of victims for his latest experiment on the night: “Just hold your breath, look natural, smile, and I’ll have Jimmy here tie this rope to your waist and jerk you underwater violently on cue.”
There’s no denying people enjoy a good night out in the company of friends. Perhaps it’s even more important than ever these digital, social media dominated, days to take a look at the real social part of your business. Anyone up for a barbecue?