A Message from Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO

PADI President and CEO

There’s been an exciting change of PADI® ownership to a consortium of conservation-minded family investors. This conglomerate of family wealth investors, based in North America, are run similar to foundations and endowments, who invest long-term in cause-oriented premium brands with dominant market share positions that show steady and consistent growth.

As PADI president and CEO, I’m committed to leading the organization into its next 50 years, as is the entire PADI executive team. Together, we will continue to grow the PADI brand and through our stewardship efforts ensure PADI is not only the best in the world, but also best for the world.

This is a positive transition for the organization as the family wealth investors will hold and nurture PADI for many years. This group is closely aligned with PADI’s mission and supports PADI’s efforts to remain stewards for this amazing brand we all love. The new ownership group includes philanthropists drawn to PADI’s commitment to ocean conservation and preservation. And, most importantly, they respect the organization’s dedication to PADI Member support.

Focus remains on the following global priorities:

  • best-in-class support to ensure PADI Member prosperity and growth
  • new diver acquisition initiatives to attract millions of consumers to the sport and train them to be comfortable and confident divers
  • long-term diver engagement and retention through encouraging divers to explore and seek adventure in the underwater world
  • a deeper purpose vision to inspire all divers to ultimately pay it forward through ocean conservation, marine animal protection, community support, and the healing powers of scuba.

This transition marks the next evolution of the PADI organization and is a positive move for PADI Members and the entire dive industry. As my personal friends, I can confidently say that PADI Founders, John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, would be extremely proud of this next step for the PADI organization and heartened to see that it has transformed into a global force for good for scuba diving and the ocean planet.

I thank you for taking the time to read this message. To all PADI Members, I want to reinforce my personal appreciation of your role and contributions to dive training excellence and aquatic conservation advocacy. You are the heart of the organization and the entire PADI staff remain focused on delivering the best service and support to help you succeed. Together, we are – and will continue to be – The Way the World Learns to Dive® . Be best. Be PADI.

Best personal regards,

Drew Richardson

Drew Signature

President & CEO

PADI Worldwide

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.

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“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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

Take Active Steps to Keep Your PADI Pro Career Fresh

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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 TecRec® 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

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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 

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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®

 

Facebook Ads – Beyond the Boost

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For many business owners, boosting a post on Facebook is their only experience with online ads. Boosting a post is very convenient, but so is getting dinner from a drive-thru instead of making a healthy meal at home.

So it goes with time spent making a “real” Facebook ad. As we’ll show in the following article, targeted ads produce better results, and cost 50 – 80% less.

Boosting a Post Vs. Creating a Facebook ad

Boosting a post means paying to have a single piece of content from your Facebook page shown to more people (also known as reach). Boosting is okay for awareness campaigns like letting people know about your underwater clean-up, free DSD weekend, or other public event. But for something you’re trying to sell (a dive computer, open water class, etc) boosting is a not the best option.

Boosting offers minimal targeting, no conversion tracking, and no ad testing (among other things). Not to mention: a single Facebook post probably isn’t going to sell someone on a multi-hundred dollar dive computer or scuba class. For that, you want people to call or visit your website.

Using the Many Features of Facebook Ads Triples Sales
There are many many ways to use Facebook ads and it’s hard to know where to start. Below is a short list of ideas with real-life examples.

Our case study features Pocket Weights, a company that sells dive weights online and via brick-and-mortar retailers. Like many small businesses, Pocket Weights wanted to reach a lot of new customers but only had a small budget ($2-$3 per day). This doesn’t go very far when you’re trying to reach all the scuba divers in the U.S. To get the most clicks for the money, we used refined targeting, tested multiple ads and other Facebook features to triple their sales.

Multiple Ad Testing
One useful feature of Facebook ads is the ability to try different images and text. It’s fun, a bit like running a mini-experiment.

The ads below targeted Facebook users who were interested in scuba diving and SCUBAPRO (they had to like both). Can you guess which of the ads below received 50% more clicks than the others? Or which one received only one click in three weeks?

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The large, close-up shot of the BC pocket  received more than 100 clicks, while the ad on the far right, received only one click in the same time period. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Interestingly, when we used the same images targeting Aqua Lung fans, the most-clicked ad was entirely different. Aqua Lung fans liked the smaller ad with the blue “Free Shipping” stripe. It  received seven times more clicks than the next most popular ad.

Refine Your Audience and Pay 50% – 80% Less
As described above, we ran the same group of ads to people interested in scuba diving and a manufacturer. The use had to express interest in both in order to be shown the ad.

Facebook determines how much to charge based on an auction system. Numerous companies with large budgets want to show ads to scuba divers – the demand is high. A fair number of companies also want to show ads to people who like Aqua Lung, SCUBAPRO, and other manufacturers. Presumably there is little demand for the audience who likes both scuba diving and a manufacturer. Low demand equals a lower cost.

When you Boost a post, you can only target one Interest group. You may also be targeting the same group of people over and over. Choosing a smaller piece of the pie (refined interest) means better targeting and lower cost.

Cost comparison: single interest vs. refined interest

  • Interested in scuba: 87 cents per click
    $9.69 per thousand  (reach)

  • Interesed in manufacturer: 32 – 43 cents per click
    $7.40 – $8.16 per thousand (reach)

  • Scuba + manufacturer: 15 cents per click
    $6.07 per thousand (reach)

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Refining the target audience for your ads is especially good when selling dive travel. Let’s say you’re trying to fill spots on a Galapagos trip. Target your ads to people who are interested in both scuba diving and The Galapagos. Not just people who are interested scuba diving OR The Galapagos. You can also refine by behavior: an interest in scuba and a frequent international traveler.

Other ways to target your Facebook ads:

– Target people who already like your page, or friends of people who like your page. When your ad appears to someone who doesn’t follow your page, they see the smiling faces of everyone they know who are already your fans.  

If you’re running an ad to fill open water classes, why not leverage the social karma you’ve already built?

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– Have you ever thought of uploading your email contact list to Facebook? Target your newsletter subscribers with a special offer, or invite them to an event. Not every email will be a match, but it’s free to upload a list. In regards to privacy, Facebook says, “your information will be encrypted to protect customer relationships and you’ll be set to reach more people on Facebook.”

– Facebook can also create a “Lookalike audience” based on your email subscriber list, or the demographics of people who Like your page. This is a good option if you’re running ads to attract new Open Water sign ups as the people in the Lookalike audience won’t necessarily be divers. They will, however, be similar in age, income and geographic location to current customers.


Other Facebook ad options:

Carousel ads – these ads use multiple, square images and often perform better than single-image ads. They’re a good choice for promoting dive trips. How can you sum up Cozumel, The Philippines, or Raja Ampat in just one image? Carousel ads are also good for promoting multiple products.

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) allows you to show Group A one version of an ad and Group B a different version. With Pocket Weights, we used split testing prior to launching a Black Friday special.

We wanted to know whether the 20% discount offered in years past was successful simply because it was a discount. Would  a lower discount like 10% entice just as many people to buy? The split test was important because we didn’t want some customers to buy at 10% off then later see the 20% discount and get upset.

In the end, the 10% offer received zero response in our test. We ultimately rolled out the  20% off holiday promotion to all our contacts.

Capture email addressesFacebook Lead Ads help grow your database by inviting potential customers to share their contact details in exchange for information. For example, an IDC Center might promote a PDF guide to “How to Become a Scuba Instructor in Six Months.” Interested Facebook users click the ad and fill out a form to request the guide. Facebook conveniently pre-populates much of the form and sends it to the IDC Center.

After receiving the new customer’s name, email, location (the form is highly customizable) The IDC Center sends the prospect their guide. The store can then follow up using MailChimp, Constant Contact, phone, Facebook messenger, etc.

In the case of Pocket Weights, we created a Guide to Scuba Weighting eBook. Anyone who completed the Lead Ads form was automatically added to a our MailChimp contacts and sent a special promo code to buy Pocket Weights in addition to the eBook.

Below are the results of a 30-day ad spend on Facebook in 1st Quarter 2017. Though the eBook results were low (only three people filled out a form) the conversions were good – not to mention the low cost per click.

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Though convenient, choosing to Boost a post on Facebook isn’t a healthy use of your advertising budget. Utilizing just one of the many Facebook Ad features can bring in better results at a lower cost. Try Facebook ads, and if you get stuck, just do a google search for the issue you’re experiencing; there’s a video tutorial for just about anything these days.