If you had a chance to sit in on casual conversation with a group of dive industry executives, you might hear someone comment about how the diving business is run by hobbyists. By that, they mean people who fell in love with diving and found a way to make a living at it. The conversation usually winds up with the group wondering how much farther along diving would be if it was run instead by a solid collection of business school grads.
They stop short of lamenting the ‘hobbyist’ issue because most of them — most of us – come from the same place. So the debate hangs on the question; is it a good thing or not that the industry revolves around people who started a business because of a passion for what they do?
I think the answer to the “good thing or not” question is simple. You can see it by observing the upcoming Scuba Show, which is a perfect microcosm of our industry. Consider that a thousand individuals who own and represent every segment of the scuba industry will come together to share what they do with you. The different business segments of the diving industry, with all of those hobbyists by the way, include diving’s retailers, instructors, certifying agencies, dive travel wholesalers, charter boats, dive resorts and live aboards around the world, and of course the people who make your dive equipment. I almost forgot dive media. That’s a lot of disciplines run by passion.
As it turns out, the missing part of the debate is you. It is your excitement for diving that drives the entire industry. Scuba diving has a very unique consumer/industry bond – one that is based on passion. It is a chemistry much different from a consumer buying a microwave. We are all sharing in adventure and nature on a pretty unique and emotional scale. And that’s precisely why the hobbyist business model works. It is a shared passion.
We actually observe the dynamic each year in our Scuba Show’s post-show surveys. Along with coming to see all the products and services, you like to connect to diving in the atmosphere of all of the people who participate, and the people who make it happen. And for the exhibitors, as strongly as they feel about what they do and about sharing it with you, it’s interesting how much your passion turns back around at the show, and fuels them. Our shared love of scuba diving and the undersea world creates the spirit that is the diving community. I encourage you to observe that this year at the Scuba Show.
A final note. The purpose of a dive show is to support the regional dive community. It is a way for a diver, or someone who is thinking about trying diving, to personally connect with diving as the complete picture. Hopefully you get excited about what to experience next, and when you return home we want you to connect with your local dive community — the retailers, clubs, instructors and charter operators who can make it happen for you. So if you are wondering what the show is all about, the answer is also what the industry is about. It’s all about passion. And it’s all about you.