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Don't adjust your sets... this thread is "locked" on purpose! Over the next few days, NetDoc and Il be posting a brief Journal about the previous day's happenings in the lives of your favorite administrators.
For ScubaBoard DEMA 2004 began with an hour wait in the Houston Convention center Starbucks while NetDoc and myself sat around chatting with various other attendees who, like ourselves, had come just a little too early expecting to encounter traffic or parking problems of which there was none. Shortly before 10am the doors opened and several thousand industry professionals poured in to the massive convention center. While it was immediately evident that attendance was far from at its potential capacity both for attendees and exhibitors, there was a good sense of hustle early on.
Our day got off to a busy start after we met up with Natasha and accompanied her through numerous travel operators and resorts from Cozumel to Bonaire to Sapian and just about every other part of the globe. As the day continued on we were able to sample some of the convention’s fine dining where we met up with Curt Bowen, SubMariner and party. Shortly after lunch we returned to our browsing only to get a call informing us of a database problem on the board; for the next half hour I worked to trouble shoot the database from the middle of the convention floor with NetDoc and Natasha continuing on into the unknown. After the server issued was resolved and Natasha departed for the day, Netdoc and I spent most of the remainder of our time around various booths where we met numerous unexpected ScubaBoard users and convinced a few new users to join our community as well.
Around 5pm as the day was coming to a close and vendors began packing up their booths for the night, NetDoc and I stumbled across UTC Sports in the back right corner of the convention center. Besides sharp looking wetsuits and BCs, UTC had a sign up offering free refreshments and a 5pm drawing for a free dry suit, so naturally NetDoc and I went in to see how our luck was holding up and take a load off our feet. Low and behold not more than 10 minutes later NetDoc was the proud owner of a brand new dry suit, a free dry suit I might add. Obviously this was an unexpected but rewarding end to our day after NetDoc collected his prize, we returned to the hotel for the night. We would like to thank UTC for this promotion and for picking the right business card for the winner as well!
Talking with other attendees and exhibitors it is evident that this year’s DEMA is not off to a stellar start in terms of attendance numbers, but that isn’t the whole story, indeed the show has just begun and while numbers may not be high or visibly high, there is activity on the floor. Only time will tell how the convention plays out and the impact that may have on next year’s show; as for ScubaBoard things are going well! Everyone is tired after just one day on the floor but we are certainly looking forward to returning early tomorrow for round number two.
Today’s encounters included numerous businesses of all types from travel agencies and resorts to manufacturers and publications, including (but not limited to):
Anse Chastanet Resort in St. Lucia, Underwater Adventures in Baton Rouge Louisiana, Mixed Gas Technologies in Garland Texas, Kosrae Village in Kosrae Micronesia, Captain Slate’s Atlantis Dive Center in Key Largo Florida, Sam’s Tours in Palau, PSI in Fairfax VA, Technisub in Genova Italy, Tech Diving Limited on the internet, Plaza Resort Bonaire in Bonaire and many, many more. Look for photos of these company’s booths in the photo gallery and for more information on each business in the coming days!
If you visit our photo gallery at http://www.scubaboard.com/gallery/sh...ry.php?cat=774 you can get a brief glimpse into some of the happenings and encounters made on the first day. With all the meetings, errands and the problem on the board I didn’t have much time for photo formatting but with a few dozen photos it should be more than evident as to what DEMA looked like on day one.
Day 2: The alarm went off at 7:00am… no not the “wake up alarm”, but the FIRE alarm! Luckily it was merely a flooded room (not any of our rooms) which caused all of the problems. After a short time waiting outside we were able to return to our rooms to finish getting ready.
We arrived at DEMA 20 minutes early and found a place to plan our strategy. We had seen a good number of people the day before, and we were hoping for a repeat performance. Well, we got it!
Even though attendance is off, it appears that business is going great for many of the exhibitors. Although fewer in number, it appears that the attendees are of higher quality. There is consequently more time for the vendors to discuss features and benefits of their product line. This is a real plus for building long term relationships.
I got to see my ITC Director Wayne Mitchell from Abaco Dive Adventures, and finally got to meet Peter Oliver, the editor of NAUI Sources Magazine. Tech Admin got his picture taken with the model from Solar Tan Through Suits, and I even planned a trip to Fiji through Anare Senibulu of the Fiji Visitors Bureau to do a resort review. Of course we got to see some of the people we met the day before and that was way cool!
The evening brought us to the “Ducktail Party” for the Women Divers Hall of Fame. ScubaBoard sponsored a “Corporate Duck” which lost to most of the other ducks. Tech Admin had tried to reboot our “Net Duck” half way through the race, but to no avail! However it was a GREAT EVENT for a GREAT CAUSE and we encourage everyone to support this fine institution.
Here is a list of the Booths we got to visit with: Air Pacific, Anare Senibulu, Zeagle Systems Inc., NAUI Worldwide, Kai Viti, AMOxTEC, Worl Watersports/Divers Direct, OTS (Ocean Technology Systems), Monroe County Tourist Development, McNett, Manta Resort/Blackbird Caye (Belize), Underwater Society of America, Travel Alliance Management, Aqua Cat Cruises, Solar, TUSA/Sea & Sea, Nimar, Tilos, Oceanic, Scuba Shack (Maui HI), Scuba Caribe, SeaLife/ReefMaster, M& J Engineering, and Etiflex!
Many of these great vendors can be found in our Gallery section.
At the risk of being “cliché”… day 3 was a repeat of days one and two. We got to the show a bit before 10:00am when it opened. We tried to plan our “strategy” but that’s really hard to do when this is your ”first”. My greeting was well rehearsed by now: “Hi/Bulla/Aloha/Hola, I’m Pete Murray. I own the World’s largest Scuba Related Web Site, ScubaBoard.com. You may have already heard of us, but if you haven’t there are thousands of your current and potential customers who have. May I take a moment of your time?”
At this point my mission was three fold… at LEAST three fold:
Sell our advertising so we can upgrade our servers and allow Tech Admin and me to devote more time to ScubaBoard maintenance and development. Hey, I would love to be free to travel the country attending ScubaBoard Club Dives and such!
Recruit new users to our board.
To create alliances with other businesses and experts so we can have the finest and most informative board possible.
We did OK with all three, but I sure wish we had more success with the advertising.
As for number 2… we will be tracking this and should see a good spike in users.
As for number 3… well we shined here! It was GREAT to meet so many “Scuba Gods and Goddesses” and to talk to them about our mission. Will they all come? I don’t think so… but at least a few should, and we will be thankful for that. The real fun will be coming in the coming months when we present some GREAT diving opportunities that we were able to negotiate. I will be at least two of them (Wreckmania III and a Bonaire trip) and I encourage you to keep a look out for them.
We also made alliances with Wreck Diving Magazine and Shark Diving Magazine and are working with ESPN and a few of the dive agencies.
As for the exhibitors, well some seemed very pleased and others were definitely NOT. It had nothing to do with the attendance at this point, but at their ability to close deals. Hey, that’s why they were here, and being one of those trying to ink some deals myself, I could relate!
The high point was dinner! We had eaten at “Eat-zi’s” the last two nights, which is DEFINITELY Houston’s best kept secret. You should go if you are anywhere in the area. As a good friend told me, you could eat there every night for a year and still not have the same meal…. 71 chefs, 22 bakers... well you get the idea.
But dinner tonight was at houston’s “The Aquarium”. We were invited by Christi to join her and a great bunch from the Diver to Diver board. Awesome food, great scenery and even greater company… who could ask for more?
Well here it is Saturday and we are on the last day of DEMA. I am starting the day a bit upbeat… we have an appointment at 11:00 with Plaza Resort Bonaire (they signed) and a few “dynamic appointments” with some others. At this point it appeared that our BarBQ would be standing room only, and tired as I was, I was still psyched at the possibilities.
The new ScubaBoard banner was safely stored in our rent-a-car and the final arrangements had been made for the evening. Tech Admin slept in a bit late (he earned it), but we made it to DEMA fifteen minutes prior to its daily opening. We were going to leave early, so time was precious. We were also going to try a new plan of attack… Ted was going to hook into the wireless internet available and I was going to cruise booths.
Well, hooking into the internet was much, much harder than it should have been. I finally got to work around 1:00 instead of 11:30 with much to do and little time to do it in.
First was a stop for Dee… she had to get something for Beast. Then a stop at Inon… these great folk were lending me a flash for my upcoming trip to Fiji (expect a full daily trip journal and gear review). I also had stops with various manufacturers, agencies and what not. I did not have much time to take pictures, but I tried anyway!
Most of the booths started packing up around noon. There were a ton of specials (they didn’t want to ship things back) and if I wasn’t so rushed, I might have been able to score some cool stuff. My last appointment was at 3:30 and we were headed to the BarBQ by 3:50.
DandyDon’s directions were great, but we couldn’t find them. So I called Dee and got another set and they worked well too. We got to “Backdraft BBQ” a few minutes late, but were not the last ones to arrive. At this point, I would like to point out that I won’t tell everyone that Natasha was the last to make it. She made me promise, so I will not divulge this information!!! No, no, no… don’t ask ‘cuz I just won’t break my promise!!!
Dinner was cozy and it was wonderful to trade dive stories with everyone. No one made me show them my Manatee bruise, and there was general agreement that she might have been asking me out on a date. There was also no noticeable disagreement when I mentioned that people often mistook me for a manatee and would push me “back in”. In fact that seemed more plausible to them then being attacked by the gentle giant! Hmnnnn, maybe I need to run more?