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How Do You Advertise A Dive Trip?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Scuba_Noob, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Scuba_Noob

    Scuba_Noob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Victoria, BC
    1,000
    195
    0
    Hi,

    Basically, I want to know how experienced people organize dive trips. I've done a couple before where I helped out, and there have always been so many administrative issues. For example, last-minute drop-outs or people not committing. How do you get people to commit to an expensive trip?

    A friend of mine had the idea of making people pay in full when they reserve and have the option of selling off their spot if they can't make it. If they can't sell off the spot, then they lose the full cost. At least it would make a stronger commitment. However, that restriction might lead to fewer people being interested.

    I was always of the philosophy of 'foot in the door'. Pique their interest first, get a little bit of a commitment, and then introduce the cost. For the previous trip, the drop-outs voided their deposits.

    How do you do advertise a semi-expensive (sub-$1000) trip effectively, maintain commitment, and prevent last-minute drop-outs?
     
  2. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
    9,896
    2,637
    113
    Charge them specific dollar amounts as they are due to your trip broker. Explain to them what is non-refundable per your operator.

    If they need a $100 deposit by May 1, make sure that everyone has their deposit in.

    If you need another $500 by July 1st, let them know that in advance.

    If the final payment is due by Sept 1, let them know and get that collected.

    Let them know what the cancellation policy is throughout the process.

    Airfares? I would send them through a specific travel agent, or at least tell them when they have to be standing at the gateway airport to meet you upon arrival and meet up with ground transportation.

    The second part of your question deals with "advertising". That refers to spending money to get people's attention, and that just really won't pay in such a segmented market. Start a dive club, associate with dive shops, consider the utility of a PR news release placement in local sports related publications.

    I just recently posted a trip here on SB that I was looking for other SB types to join me. I don't want to sell them a trip, just was inviting them along~ make their own arrangements. I really doubt that there will be any takers, people just don't book trips that way- it's usually a group of friends (a de-facto dive club) that just get the urge.
     
  3. Scuba_Noob

    Scuba_Noob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Victoria, BC
    1,000
    195
    0
    It's just that if we get more people, it's usually significantly cheaper. That's why advertising would be ideal.

    But how do we advertise what we don't have? We can't really. We need to arrange with the dive resort beforehand to reserve the estimated amount spots in order to arrange a good deal. And then we need to fill those spots with people - sure, some are regular dive buddies, but it'd be a better deal with more people.
     
  4. koozemani

    koozemani Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Tucson, AZ
    2,086
    671
    113
    I think you just advertised it.
     
  5. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    3,530
    1,542
    113
    The best rates are obtained when the trip organizer buys a "package" including all transportation, lodging, and diving. They run a risk of not selling all the slots, so experienced LDS's and dive clubs have usually learned that a trip should be scheduled and advertised before it is purchased, getting "pre-sales." Strict payment schedules and forfeitures if any payment is not met are essential. Partially paid trips are fairly easy to fill, if the organizer charges the "replacement" only the balance due. There are also web sites that broker unsold trip slots to help the group providers cut their losses, and you can get some great last minute deals as a diver. To succeed in any group travel you need expert knowledge and experience in the industry, as well as good capitalization. It's not for the faint of heart or amateurs. We rarely go on group trips unless we created them, and we limit our groups to 6 people counting us. We deal with people we know, and that we know will pay their way.
    DivemasterDennis
     
  6. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    3,966
    768
    113
    If organizing a trip be prepared for problems that will appear. Someone may have issues with a roommate/someone may not like their room/someone may throw a hissy fit if room not ready on arrival..Also if an dive accident occurs,can be totally not your fault, you may not even be on the boat at the time it occurs,can be an accident where a 4lb weight falls on someones foot or a near drowning/drowning you should have liability insurance,which a divemaster/instructor/LDS will have. I have run many group trips for LDS's and there is usually some kind of issues that arise. The trip leader is truly on a working trip,not a true vacation trip.
     
  7. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    7,047
    3,441
    113
    This is how I do things and it has worked out great. I never have a problem filling my spaces. My method is this. First off there are a group of us who like to travel together and I call it my "core group". I will get up with them and find out where they would like to go. For example, several of us have never been to the Socorro Islands and have been wanting to go there. So I looked into all the liveaboards that go there and decided on the Rocio Del Mar. The boat hold 20 and I already had a definite 12 and other possibilities. So I booked the entire boat for 2014 to get the week I week I wanted.

    The "retail price" is going to be $3295 per person. However, we will earn two free spots as well as some commission. Here is where I differ from the typical dive shop or advertised group trip. I take the free spots and a majority of the commission and discount everyone's price. On this particular trip I will be able to discount everyone's price by a minimum of $500! So the price will be $2795 instead of the $3295. Once I sent out my e-mail to all those folks I know who were thinking about it, I filled the rest of the spots in less than a week and I now have a wait list. I run all my trips this way. I pay the same price as everyone else and no one goes for free. We all get to enjoy the benefits of "group buying power". I find when you offer folks a deal like this, they are usually quick to sign up. There have been a few trips that I did not quickly fill with my regular group and advertised here on ScubaBoard and got great response. Everyone loves a deal and we are all adults and don't need a "trip leader". I can also tell you that all of this takes very little effort on my part. It's usually a few phone calls and e-mails. I read and hear all the time about all the work that goes into putting together a trip and how the "trip leader" earns their free spot but I have yet to discover it after putting together maybe 15 trips. That's usually a line the dive shop gives to folks to justify up-charging people for trips.

    Of course I make sure I am aware of all the important dates like when I have to turn rooms or unsold spaces back to the resort or liveaboard so I never have any financial risk. I find out when deposits are due and I get deposits from my folks about two to three weeks before that. I also let folks know that once they put down a deposit, it is non-refundable unless I can get someone to take their spot. I have never had to keep someones deposit as I have always been able to fill a spot when someone drops out but that's rare for us anyway. One other thing I have found is most folks prefer to do just one deposit and then the final payment. So if I have to make two payments to the resort and then a final payment, I collect enough deposit from folks to cover the first two payments.

    Without a doubt the key to success for me is the discount I offer to folks. I can't tell you how many times I have had my friends and dive buddies tell me how much they appreciate my willingness to "spread the wealth" so to speak. But I wouldn't do it any other way. Most of these folks are very good friends and if they are new travelers with us, they usually become good friends. I wouldn't feel right going on their dime.
     
  8. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    23,964
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    You have a serious uphill battle for a sub $1000 trip, and I'll tell you some of the reasons why. First of all, folks who want someone to arrange their trip for them are usually folks who don't have the time and inclination to arrange their own. They are usually international travelers on their "big trips", and trip planners like dive shops and travel agencies know the tricks to making these types of trips successful, like the extra night in the hotel or the correct flight to take. Smaller trips are usually domestic or closer to home, and the diver can usually use miles for travel and arrange their own trip just as easily to fit their schedule. Now, you are just getting into the travel arranging game. It's likely that you don't have Errors and Omissions insurance, you haven't worked with 100 quirky dive operators, and you just don't have the experience to pull this off successfully. So if you screw up someone's long weekend, the someone has no recourse to come back at you for doing so. I would be very careful how I "advertised" a dive trip, you are opening yourself up to liability. I can tell you horror stories of trip organizers who may never get out of the lawsuit they are currently fighting.

    My advice to you is, get your core group together, negotiate a rate/price/dates with the operator of choice, and do the best you can on air. I wouldn't advertise a thing.
     
  9. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA
    6,374
    1,289
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    I "organized" a trip on the Kona Aggressor for 14. We did not start the booking process until we had 14 friends and buddies in agreement. With 13 we were able to get the 14 berth free. By getting a 14th person we were able to reduce the costs for everyone.

    Payments were all done as per Aggressor's requirements. I think since the start of the year we've had four payments. Anyone who was going to bail would loose what they had already put in. Since the group was "invitation only", substitutions would be at our discretion only.

    Trip is fully paid up and we still have two months. We even tacked on a small percentage with each payment to start the "tip fund".

    Travel arrangements are the responsibility of those participating. I provided flight and hotel information, but that was it.

    This was my attempt at "organizing" a trip. Most of the organized trips I have been on have always been by invitation - we all have a pretty good idea who we are going with. Usually by the time the word is out, the trips are full. We do short weekend trips to the west coast, but again those are typically dive and hotel packages. Transportation there is your own responsibility.

    I put organizing in quotation marks, because there really was not much to do other than gather a good group of people, select some dates, book the boat, and collect the money. No travel arrangements, no hotel arrangements, etc. Anything more complicated than that and I am using someone who does it on a regular basis.

    Bottom line is...if you have to put out any any funds to make or hold a booking or place a deposit, etc. the folks you sign up have to start paying their share right away.
     
  10. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    36,349
    13,591
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    We've been involved in organizing a couple of trips, and I've learned some big lessons.

    Never commit financially until you have everybody else's money in hand. I ended up holding over a $10,000 liability when the 8 other people who had said they wanted to join us on a Red Sea trip suddenly had something else to do. I was extremely lucky to fill enough spots so that we didn't take a complete bath on the trip. Don't believe anybody until they pay you -- we did a trip to God's Pocket, and polled the participants about whether they wanted to come back the next year. We had more than half say yes, so we blocked out the time with the dive op (but thank goodness, didn't put much money on it). When it came time to ask for deposits, NO ONE wanted to go any more.

    Honestly, I think the easiest thing is to put feelers out to your friends and say you're interested in going to "x" place, does anyone else want to come along? Then let them make their arrangements independently. You don't save the money of a group buy, but at least you aren't at financial or legal risk for the trip.
     
    Searcaigh and Hawkwood like this.

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