Chapter 6 – Population Breakdown

cropped-dsc_0457-200DIVE LOCAL – A Dive Industry Community Effort
Population Breakdown of DIVE LOCAL
By Gene Muchanski, Executive Director,
Dive Industry Foundation


Local diving communities are built and developed by the number of diving businesses in a particular geographical area and the number of divers that reside there.  The more divers a geographical location has, the more likelihood diving businesses will want to locate there.  More diving businesses create more new divers.  The number of diving businesses in a local diving community increases as the diving population increases.  The Dive Industry Foundation’s mission is to encourage the creation, growth, and continuance of Local Diving Communities across the globe.  Our purpose for writing this chapter is to show the industry how Local Diving Communities (markets) are created, how they grow, and how they are nurtured.  It’s important for Dive Industry Professionals to know how important Local Diving Communities are to the Global Diving Community and the Global Diving Business Network.

Business Population Breakdown:  The first step in addressing the diving population breakdown is to realize what creates the population to begin with.  We start the process by introducing the four pillars of market growth in the diving community.

The 4 Pillars of Market Growth

  1. Diving Instructors
  2. Dive Stores
  3. Dive Boats
  4. Dive Clubs

Diving Instructors create the market and the demand for diving related programs, products, and services.  I don’t want to limit the discussion to Scuba Instructor because diving is a big tent that includes many types of diving. When we talk about diving instruction, we should be referring to snorkeling, free diving, mermaiding, scuba diving, technical diving, and all the other forms of diving.  Instructors start off by teaching their family and friends how to dive, and as they gain more experience, their circle of influence grows.  Diving Instructors are the core component of our industry because they are the ones who create the market that we make our living from. 

Retail Dive Stores are usually the first point of contact to our recreation for the general public.  Stores have a public store front and are open for business on a regular basis. Dive Stores teach diving, sell and service diving equipment, take people diving, and keep divers active.  It’s important to remember that the Instructors at the dive store are the ones responsible for creating the market.  It’s our job to acknowledge that Dive Stores are the ones who grow and maintain the market by providing and following up with post certification activity.  Creating a market by teaching people how to dive does the industry very little good if certified divers don’t buy their gear, go diving, and stay active after certification.

Dive Boats are the champions of local diving.  They are responsible for taking people diving and keeping divers active.  Our industry would be at a loss if not for local dive boats.  Boat diving has come a long way from the early days of “an instructor with a boat” that took scuba students diving.  It has grown into an important part of our industry.   Most of the dive boats that charter for hire are well built and maintained vessels, operated by a licensed Captain and crewed by a certified Deck Hand or licensed Divemaster.  Dive Boats are owned by Instructors, Dive Stores, or Professional Charter Boat Companies. Because chartering is usually a seasonal part-time business, dive boat operators do not have a large enough marketing budget to promote their business in the media and at local diving shows and events.  The Dive Industry Association provides a low-cost membership in their trade association to help dive boat operators deal with the business of diving issues for this segment of the industry.

Another very important segment of the local diving community is the Local Dive Club.  Although not as popular as they once were, Dive Clubs are still very active in parts of the country.  Dive Clubs keep divers active in the recreation.  Some clubs are dive store affiliated and some are independently operated.  Diving is a social activity and meeting face to face with other divers on a periodic basis is an enjoyable way to stay active in the recreation.  If managed correctly, active participation in a local dive club could be the glue that keeps our industry together.

There are other stakeholder groups in the diving industry that build, support, and benefit from a strong and successful local diving community.  Because of the way our industry’s channel of distribution works, traveling sales representatives have become the link between the local dive businesses and their distantly located vendors, the equipment manufacturers, training agencies, and travel companies.  The bulk of total industry revenue comes from the sale of diving equipment, training courses, travel programs, and lifestyle products.  The producers of these products are nationally located as opposed to the buyers and resellers of their products who are the Local Diving Businesses.  The challenge of bringing buyers and sellers together has been dealt with by having local sales representatives calling on their local accounts during the year or meeting with them at regional shows and events in addition to the one annual national trade show.  To increase wholesale orders, Regional Diving Communities can organize local buyer-seller events for qualified retail buyers who are unable to attend the national trade show.  This option would increase sales on an industry level and strengthen the concept of the Local Diving Community.

Dive Industry Professionals Actively Engaged in the Local Community

  1. Equipment Manufacturing Sale Reps
  2. Training Agency Reps
  3. Visiting Travel Advisors

No one outside of the local diving community spends more time in the territory than sales reps who work for dive equipment manufacturers, training agencies, and travel companies.  Some of the Sales Reps, or Sales Agents as we call them, live in the local community, but most travel to many dive communities in their territory.   Face-to-face selling is one of the most expensive and time-consuming ways to sell programs, products, and services, but in our industry, it is the most effective way to conduct wholesale business.

Dive Equipment Sales Reps:  Sales Reps have been used in our industry from the very beginning.  Today, diving equipment companies may use both in-house salespeople and outside sales agents.  Most outside sales agents are independent contractors and carry multiple lines, whereas in-house salespeople are most likely to be employees.  Sales Reps that represent the larger manufacturers are assigned territories that may include, on average, seven states and 163 dealers.  Sales Reps for the major lines normally focus on their primary company and may also represent another non-competing brand.  The bulk of the industry’s sales force either works for a professional repping company (sales organization) or independently.  Smaller companies usually do not have a sales team.

Outside Sales Reps visit their Dealers on a seasonal basis as often as they can.  Reps have used Regional Dive Shows, Regional Dealer Meetings, and National Trade Shows to meet with their Dealers.  When such an event is well attended, the sales meetings can be very cost effective.  Although a Sales Rep can make a very attractive living as a Rep, traveling to meet with their accounts individually is very expensive.  In past industry surveys, we discovered that Sales Reps spend on average over $33,000 a year on travel and are on the road 183 days a year.  Sales calls for dive equipment Sales Reps average $203 per Dealer.

Training Agency Reps:  The role and responsibility of Training Agency Reps has changed many times over the years.  Depending on the training organization, Agency Reps can operate regionally, nationally, or even internationally.  It all depends on the size of the organization and their business model.  Some Agency Reps focus on training, some on service, and some on sales.  Again, depending on company and business model.  Agency Reps can either focus exclusively on training whereas other agencies allow their Reps to represent diving equipment companies.  Either way, from our point of view, this makes the Training Agency Reps an important stakeholder group in the Regional Diving Territories and the Local Diving Communities.

Visiting Travel Advisors:  Salespeople from dive travel destinations, dive resorts, and dive operators have always visited local dive centers and dive clubs whenever they are in town for a regional dive show or event.   To create a sales force to call on group travel buyers throughout the year may be a little cost prohibitive.  We have seen in recent years, with the increase in travel shows, that Tourism Bureaus and Trade Organizations are sending their sales representatives into the field to conduct travel seminars and sales meetings with potential group travel buyers.  This trend may be an opportunity for Local Diving Communities to plan local diving shows and events to attract the travel industry as participants, exhibitors, and sponsors.

When we look at the population breakdown of the local diving communities, we see that some of the dive industry professionals are locals, and some are frequent visitors.  Local diving communities are also supported by people and businesses outside of the local territory that may visit only a few times a year.  And that’s OK as we’ll explain.  Certified scuba divers can also be classified as residents, frequent visitors, or occasional visitors.  All of these Dive Industry Professionals and certified divers help make the local diving community what it is.

Other Stakeholder Groups: There are other important stakeholder groups in every Local Diving Community.  As the Local Diving Business Community grows, businesses that support the diving community enter the market.  As more divers are certified in the communities, businesses that support divers also enter the market.  There are a few exceptions to the rule.  Besides more divers and more dive businesses, geography plans a major rule in attracting diving and diving related businesses.  Equipment manufacturers are influenced by proximity to their suppliers.  Resort Destinations and dive operators choose their location based on what they sell.  Non-profit organizations choose their location based on a variety of reasons.  For these reasons, it’s important that we identify each of these stakeholders because of their value to the local diving community rather than the reasons they chose to locate there.  It is our purpose in publishing this series to identify the stakeholders that make up our local diving communities and to think of ways we can interact with them to our mutual benefit.

Other Stakeholder Groups

  1. Diving Equipment Manufacturer
  2. Equipment Distributor
  3. Service Provider
  4. Media Company
  5. Trade Association
  6. Training Association / Certification Agency
  7. Non-Profit Service Organization
  8. Shows & Events Operator
  9. Travel Business (various)
  10. Industry Professional
  11. Certified Diver
  12. Friend of the Ocean

Each stakeholder group will have a different function in their Local Diving Community and each Local Diving Community will have a different mix of stakeholder groups.  It is our mission to identify, define, organize, grow, and maintain Local Diving Communities around the globe.

For more information contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL.  Phone 321-914-3778. Email:  web:

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About divelocal

Executive Director of Dive Industry Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 charitable organization. We are the Founding Sponsor of DIVE LOCAL and soon to be just one of many.
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