PADI Members Improving the Lives of Veterans Through Diving

The PADI organization salutes active-duty military personnel and veterans across the globe along with the many PADI Members who offer dive programs to support them.

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Diving has proven therapeutic benefits for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other mental and physical challenges. Recognizing the healing power of diving, PADI dedicated one of its Pillars of Change to healing and wellness, which focuses on helping others live fuller lives through scuba or freediving.

PADI Members have a long-standing history of offering dive training to armed forces personnel, past and present, to improve their quality of life, promote healing and help them reconnect with themselves and their families. Here are just a few examples of PADI Members who are making a difference:

  • Founded by PADI AmbassaDiverTM Cody Unser, the Cody Unser First Steps Foundation (CUFSF) has given thousands of individuals with disabilities the experience of scuba diving.  Since the CUFSF Adaptive SCUBA Program was founded 2001, Unser has been helping the dive industry to integrate people with disabilities into the sport.
  • Force Blue is a non-profit organization that unites US Special Forces veterans with the world of marine science and conservation. By “giving a cause its warriors, and warriors a cause,” Force Blue provides veterans with a sense of purpose while also developing an army of expertise that deploys to help restore and protect our oceans. Together with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), Force Blue is currently working to physically stabilize Caribbean corals damaged by Hurricane Irma and repair CRF’s precious coral nurseries. On 6 November 2017, Force Blue released a full-length documentary, “Mercy, Love and Grace; the Force Blue Story,” that tells their story. Watch the trailer here.
  • For more than 40 years, A-1 Scuba & Travel Aquatics Center in Colorado, USA, has been dedicated to sharing the joy, excitement and freedom diving has to offer to people with disabilities. They offer an annual adaptive scuba group trip and, in partnership with Craig Hospital, they provide free try scuba experiences for those with physical challenges.
  • Deptherapy, a UK-based charity, helps rehabilitate injured service personnel through scuba diving, has enabled people like Armed Forces Veteran and PADI AmbassaDiver Chris Middleton to have a second chance at life. Despite suffering terrible injuries (including the loss of both his legs), Middleton has challenged his disability head on with the help of Dr. Richard Cullen and Deptherapy. “The thing about scuba diving is the weightlessness. There’s no more phantom pains. There’s no more PTSD flashbacks,” said Middleton in an interview with BBC Three. He is now inspiring other injured servicemen and women to take up diving.
  • Patriots for Disabled Divers (PFDD) is a non-profit organization founded by Jeff and Merial Currer, owners of PADI Five Star IDC Patriot Scuba in Virginia, USA. Bringing together PADI Five Star IDCs across the United States, PFDD has trained more than 600 wounded military veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, amputations and other injuries, along with their family members.
  • Syed Abd Rahman, PADI IDC Staff Instructor and founder and director of Kids Scuba in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is committed to building confidence, independence and self-esteem in the lives of children, adults and veterans with disabilities through the sport of scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities.
  • The WAVES Project is a non-profit program based in California, USA, that provides veterans and their dive buddies with training with scuba training. The organization works with military personnel with a wide range of disabilities, including brain trauma, and double and triple amputees. Watch one story of how the WAVES Project helped Sgt. Juan Gonzales USMC (Ret.) find relief from PTSD here.
  • The Ocean Enterprises Foundation, established in 2013 by Werner and Myra Kurn, is currently working with wounded veterans teaching them how to scuba dive and aiding with their transition back to regular life at home. Its mission is to ensure that no person will be precluded from diving because of physical or financial hardship.

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For more than 30 years, Trident Veteran Adaptive Programs (TVAP) has helped thousands of disabled veterans around the United States reconnect with themselves and experience adventures that will enhance their lives. To further support all divers of all abilities through its Healing and Wellness Pillar, PADI launched its Adaptive Techniques Specialty course and the associated PADI Adaptive Support Diver Specialty subcourse at 2017 DEMA Show earlier this month. The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course provides PADI Professionals – divemasters and higher – with practical techniques and approaches proven to be effective when teaching and assisting divers with varying abilities. It is uniquely designed to educate and empower PADI Professionals who wish to make scuba and freediver training more accessible. The PADI Adaptive Support Diver course is for divers who want to learn how they can best support dive buddies with physical and mental challenges.

“We are thankful for the service of military members around the world who sacrifice so much for all of us. Through the new PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course and by sharing stories of triumph over adversity and illness that testify to diving’s healing power, PADI aims to help others to find personal transformation and healing, both mentally and physically,” says Drew Richardson, PADI Worldwide President and CEO. “The work that PADI Members do every day is about people, about transforming lives for people of all abilities. As an organization, that is our deeper purpose. That is our biggest triumph.”

Capitalize on US Holiday Shopping Trends

Written by Megan Denny

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts retail sales will increase 3.6 to 4 percent for the 2017 holiday season. To capture these holiday dollars, you need to have a plan. Let’s look at holiday shopping trends and ways you can help shoppers set their sights on scuba gifts, starting now.

Did you know that more than 50 percent of shoppers have already started thinking about gifts for friends and family? An NRF survey of more than 2,000 consumers found more than half of shoppers begin researching their holiday purchases by October, but most don’t buy anything until mid-November (source NRF).

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According to the NRF, 25 percent of holiday shoppers in 2016 used online wish lists, and 60 percent would like to use online wish lists in the future. Online wish lists allow consumers to type or copy/paste links to products they would like to receive as gifts. Gift givers can search for wish lists using their friend or family member’s email address. If your website is powered by Shopify, wish list plugins are available. Another option is free wish list creation sites, like Giftster, where you can create groups and invite customers to create a diving wish list.

The number of people who purchase holiday gifts online grows each year, especially for those younger than 45. But don’t write off this important demographic. A recent study found more Millennial and family life stage shoppers are planning to increase holiday spending this year compared to those in older age groups.

Half of US consumers visit retail stores to gather gift ideas. Strategic pricing and packaging items can help to prevent showrooming, when a shopper visits a store to check out a product then goes home to purchase it online. Bundling products makes it challenging to compare your prices with those of an online retailer.

Limited-time offers give shoppers a reason to buy now instead of going home and “thinking about it.” Consumer research backs this up: 39 percent of shoppers choose to buy in-store to take advantage of a special offer or promotion. Give shoppers a reason to think twice before walking out of your store.

Taking time to promote gift ideas and create packages can pay significant dividends.

Start by jotting down the top 10 items in your store that every diver should own. Choose products in a wide price range, from $5 to $500 US (the average American spends a total of $400 to $900 on holiday gifts). Take photos of the products being modeled by a smiling staff member, and include the list and photos in your November and December email newsletter. Post one idea along with a photo to your social media channels once per week leading up to the holidays.

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In addition, create product bundles for a variety of budgets. Save-a-dive kits, dive travel kits and the PADI eLearning Gift Pass™ may appeal to nondivers who may be intimidated about purchasing scuba equipment.

Next, set up customer wish lists, either in-store or online. An in-store wish list could be as simple as a list on your store computer, or even a clipboard behind the counter with customer names and information. Digital options are described above. Promote that you have customer wish lists on social media, in your email newsletter and in-store.

PADI Inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame

The PADI® organization joined the ranks of the most honored game-changers in the diving world as a 2017 inductee into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF). Founded in 2000 by the Ministry of Tourism of the Cayman Islands, the ISDHF recognizes individuals and groups who have contributed to the watersports industry, especially in the Cayman Islands. This year’s induction ceremony for PADI and fellow inductees was hosted at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort on 29 September 2017.

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PADI was honored as an “ISDHF Pioneer” that set the foundation for standardized scuba training programs. From PADI’s humble start in 1966, the organization has grown to be the world’s largest diver training organization of more than 133,000 dive professionals and 6,400 dive centers and resorts spread across 186 countries. PADI Members make diving accessible globally while putting a strong focus on conservation, community, underwater adventure and exploration through the Four Pillars of Change.

“On behalf of the entire PADI organization, we’re honored to have our work and continuing efforts recognized by the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. PADI’s mission is to be a force for good – to be the best in and for the world,” says President and CEO, Dr. Drew Richardson. “By empowering divers and engaging them more effectively at the local level globally, global change is inevitable. With every diver certification issued, PADI creates a growing number of ocean advocates to help defend and preserve the marine environment for generations to come.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

Jumpstart Your Holiday Game Plan

Written by Megan Denny

According to a 2017 study published by Forbes, consumers plan to spend more on holiday gifts in 2017 than they did in 2016. If you don’t already have a plan to cash in on this holiday spending, here are a few proven techniques to encourage customers to give the gift of diving.

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Inspire Customers

Use your email newsletter and social media channels to promote your top gift ideas for scuba divers (male and female), and don’t forget about scuba-related gift ideas for kids. When customers can knock out a large chunk of their holiday shopping at your dive center, everyone wins.

Bundle Items to Discourage Price Comparison

The number of people who purchase holiday gifts online grows year after year, but only a small percentage of consumers buy 100 percent of their gifts online. Strategic pricing and promotions can prevent showrooming and give you a bigger slice of the holiday shopping pie.

Bundling products together makes price comparison (and therefore showrooming) a challenge. When you bundle a mask/fin/snorkel set with a gear bag and free defog for 20 percent off MSRP, it will be very difficult to compare your price with an online retailer. Combining training with gear is another way to prevent comparison shopping, such as packaging a camera and digital underwater photo course.

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Highlight Local Expertise

If your dive staff wear a particular brand of BCD, wetsuit, dry suit or other gear, be sure visitors to your store know why. For example, a lightweight BCD may not have sufficient lift for someone who dives in cold water in a dry suit or thick wetsuit. Or, some dive computers may have a small display that’s hard to read underwater.

The average diver walking into your store may not think of these things. Post gear reviews or small signs with bullet points highlighting the features and benefits of your favorite products – these can act as a  “silent salesperson.” Be sure staff are trained to explain the consequences of going with the least expensive item when it does not meet the diver’s needs.

Include a Warm and Fuzzy Feeling with Every Purchase

One way to encourage divers to spend their holiday cash with you is to partner with a local charity. Offer to donate a portion of sales, host a canned food drive, or promote the charitable work you and your staff do year-round in the community. Ensure your charity partner cross-promotes your business in their email newsletters and on social media.

Another option is to give a little something to the gift giver. For example, if shoppers spend $250 US or more in one transaction, give them a $25 US gift card to use in 2018.

Offer a Flexible Return Policy

In 2016, 22 percent of shoppers backed out of a holiday purchase due to an inconvenient return policy (source NRF). Post signs explaining your return policy in prominent areas near the register, on a mirror or on the changing room door.

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Invite Customers to Create an Online Wish List

Online wish lists allow consumers to type or copy/paste links to products they would like to receive as gifts. Gift givers can search for wish lists using their friend or family member’s email address.

There are several websites that allow customers to create and share wish lists. One option is Giftster, a free wish list creation site with a group function (designed for families) that could also work for dive shops. After creating a group, type in email addresses to invite people to create a wish list. If your website is powered by Shopify, wish list plugins are available.

Holiday Sales Bring in Big Returns

For many retailers, 20 percent of their annual income comes from holiday sales. Taking time to promote gift ideas and creating packages can pay significant dividends. The sooner you start, the greater the returns will be.

Aligning with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the first global alliance working to solve the worldwide problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear, known as ghost gear. Founded by World Animal Protection in 2015, the GGGI works to reduce the volume of ghost gear, remove and recycle it, and rescue entangled animals. By aligning with the GGGI, the PADI® family can help mobilize divers to look for and report harmful ghost gear that annually entangles and kills marine life including hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds.

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PADI joins GGGI as a member of its global solutions group to help develop new ways of mitigating the ghost gear problem. This complements the efforts of Project AWARE®, which actively works as a GGGI member to build evidence through its Dive Against Debris® program. Working together, the goal is to develop and implement projects to reduce and remove ghost gear from the ocean. This includes equipping PADI Divers with the knowledge and techniques to identify, report and, with proper training, safely remove ghost gear from waters, creating a global movement of millions of underwater eyes on the lookout for ghost gear.

More than 640,000 tons of fishing equipment is left in the world’s oceans each year, with reports showing that this debris affects more than 800 species of marine life. Many nets lost in global waters are enormous – often far bigger than football fields – trapping and killing marine life under the surface. Mostly made of plastic, ghost gear is also highly durable and can persist in the oceans for up to 600 years.

“We are happy to team up with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative,” says Drew Richardson, PADI Worldwide President and CEO. “PADI is committed to protecting the ocean planet and, with our unique underwater vantage, the dive community can play a significant role in locating marine debris. Along with Project AWARE, we look forward to working with the GGGI to empower and mobilize PADI Divers to join the fight against ghost gear.”

“We are proud to welcome PADI, with its millions of underwater eyes around the world looking out for ghost gear, as a pivotal new member for the GGGI,” says Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. Oceans and Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, the GGGI’s founding participant. “Ghost gear is a true global problem that knows no borders, and PADI will surely play a crucial role in helping us to locate, remove and recycle ghost gear, which causes such immense suffering for marine animals.”

To learn more about ghost gear and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, visit www.ghostgear.org.

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

 

Going PADI – The Best Decision

Switching training organizations is rarely an easy decision, but when a business becomes a PADI® Dive Center or Resort, the results can be truly outstanding. Last year, more dive centers and resorts joined PADI than ever before.  A case in point is Dive West, in Dallas, Texas, USA, that chose to go PADI in December 2015 and has since become a thriving PADI Retail and Resort Association member. Dive West’s management was motivated to join PADI after experiencing a decline in satisfactory customer service from another dive training agency.

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“Top-flight customer service is an essential element of the PADI Member experience,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “Life in a PADI Dive Center is often hectic, so quick and efficient service is imperative to allow dive center staff to deliver the same to their customers. That’s why PADI Regional Headquarters puts so much emphasis on exceptional customer service for members.”

Dive West finds PADI customer service outstanding. “PADI staff are always Johnny-on-the-spot,” says Brandi Farch, Dive West Store Manager. “We never have a problem accessing PADI services or reaching the right person on the phone.”

After joining, Dive West took advantage of PADI’s business consultation services, which has been an important factor in the store’s success. Like many businesses, Dive West had struggled to find the right pricing for their services and had been stuck on the same course pricing for more than eight years. However, trusting in the power of the PADI brand and PADI’s innovative marketing programs, Dive West instituted what they felt was more realistic, value-based course pricing and has thrived as a PADI Member ever since. “In less than two years with PADI, we’ve already exceeded the number of diver certifications we completed in the previous three years with our prior training agency” says Farch. “Joining PADI was the best decision we ever made for our store.”

Not surprised, Richardson says, “The PADI System of diver education brings student divers through the doors of PADI Dive Centers every day around the world. PADI’s proven marketing strategies and innovative marketing tools, such as a free annual marketing tool kit, also bring in customers.”

“We love the marketing tool kit and look forward to it each year,” says Farch. “I’m excited to decorate the store with all the new banners, flags and other point-of-purchase items, and I put it all up as soon as the kit arrives.”

“We’ve also enjoyed an increase in both walk-in and drive-by traffic since we switched to PADI. I believe this is partly attributable to our PADI-designed window wrap,” Farch explains. “Previously, we had a simple marquee sign that said ‘Dive West’ on our storefront. Many people didn’t even realize we were a dive shop. However, the window wrap dramatically changed all that. Now we’ve got ‘LEARN TO DIVE’ in great big letters, the PADI logo and other attractive graphics on our windows. People know we’re a dive shop and they drop in to check us out.”

Farch also appreciates the name recognition PADI enjoys. “People recognize PADI; we no longer have to spend all day explaining the difference between the various dive training organizations to potential customers.”

Closely tied to this recognition is the increased availability of instructors. “One of the best things about switching to PADI has been the increase in the number of qualified dive professionals who can work for us,” says Farch. “We used to have a lot of trouble getting instructors; nobody wanted to pay the money to become an instructor for our former training organization because it simply wasn’t beneficial enough for them. Now, we not only have seven or eight PADI Instructors on staff, we are also growing our own divemasters. In fact, we’re nearly finished training our first class of four PADI Divemaster candidates.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive.

 

Put the Master Scuba Diver Program to Work

The PADI Master Scuba Diver™ rating is often described as “the black belt of scuba.” While most people know what a karate black belt is, entry-level divers may not understand the prestige of the Master Scuba Diver rating. You need to inspire all your customers to join the elite group of divers who reach this level.SI_MSD_OWOLJan07-0701

Why? Because it’s not only the ultimate rating that signifies an accomplished and experienced diver, but also because you gain a customer who takes eight courses, commits to more than 50 dives, and will likely purchase a full set of gear. There are at least three reasons why you should implement or bolster your Master Scuba Diver program today:

  1. Offer and fill more courses. The Master Scuba Diver program sets goals for your customers and they enroll in the courses needed to reach their goals.
  2. Support active divers. The more training your divers receive, the more dives they make, the more gear they purchase, and then they dive even more.
  3. Create loyal customers. Your diver retention rates will increase as your divers become more competent and comfortable in the water.

Here are a just few ideas for raising awareness and interest in your Master Scuba Diver program:

  • Create a wall of fame in your store to recognize customers who have achieved the prestigious Master Scuba Diver rating.
  • Publicly chart the progress of current Advanced Open Water and Rescue Divers to encourage friendly competition among students.
  • Invite Master Scuba Divers to be guest speakers at your next course orientation.
  • Give special recognition to your Master Scuba Divers at a dive club meeting or store BBQ.
  • Develop a five specialty program for your area that showcase local diving, or perhaps focuses on the environment – Cold Water Master Scuba Diver or Eco-Master Scuba Diver.
  • Offer an exclusive dive trip only for Master Scuba Divers.

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