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Why do Dive Centers and Professionals do it to themselves?

Discussion in 'Business of Diving Institute' started by Industry Outsider, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Industry Outsider

    Industry Outsider Angel Fish

    Having been around the dive industry for 30+ years, I am always amazed at the power of Certifications Agency sway over dive centers and instructors. Despite the fact that X Agency etc actually do not teach people how to dive, or even train the instructors who teach people, they seem to have convinced the dive centers and instructors, they would not survive without them.

    What frustrates me the most is that dive centers actually do 99% of all the advertising for training agencies. Visit any website, and they explain why they need to XXX Certfication course often making the certification logo bigger than there own business on it and there store.

    The reality is the dive centres do 99% of the real training and X agency provides theory material that is verbose, boring and up 100% overpriced. ( Online Video and a storing a record of Certification won't cost more than a couple of dollars). Dive Centers and staff do the real training, take most of the risk, yet are ripped off by certification agencies. The worst part is that some dive centres will try and say they will only take X certification. Probably complain about the cost!!!!

    Think about it. If you had a student complete do 8 hours on online training vs someone who just did the practical (pretty sure the instructor could tell them not to hold the breath), who would be the more competent diver?

    I raise this because of it something that is obvious to me, but then I am not a dive instructor so I am not invested in any particular agency.

    I challenge any dive center to take their agency off there website/store and see if the world would end. I can say from experience it won't. If X certification is such a powerful brand then let them prove their worth. My experience is that if you tell the customer they need X certification, then, sure enough, the customer will expect that.

    Maybe I am crazy and want to hear some others thoughts.

  2. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    I am associated with a dive shop in a resort town. Associated because my wife is a repair tech there. The facility teaches all kinds of agencies, but fully 50% of the customers come in and "want to get their PADI". Now, they wouldn't know a PADI from any of the alphabet soup if they tripped over it, but try to hand them off an SSI card after they paid for their "PADI"

    I used to run a liveaboard. I don't know how many times I heard "I just got my PADI".

    They are the 800 lb gorilla for a reason. Google "Learn to dive" sometime.
    AfterDark, Griffo, Marie13 and 5 others like this.
  3. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    So I googled "Learn to Scuba Dive". PADI is in 1/4 of the results, and SSI is first mentioned on page 4.
    AfterDark and Industry Outsider like this.
  4. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    It's all about the search engines. If you hitch your website to another, far bigger website, then your site will benefit. Get them to put your website on theirs and the benefit is ten fold. In that respect, more dive shops and instructors should put their info in their signature line here.

    In addition, becoming a dive center is almost as emotional as becoming an instructor. They are often as proud of their agency as they are of their accomplishments.

    Finally, there is no fully online Scuba certification. Sure, you might complete the knowledge portion online, but the pool and open water sessions must be done with an actual instructor.
    Miyaru, AfterDark, couv and 1 other person like this.
  5. FindingMenno

    FindingMenno PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    I largely agree with you, the 'balance of power' in our industry is a strange one. Basically we are 'held hostage' by the training agencies, which business model is basically selling a) training materials and b) licences to those that want to train using these training materials. Their business model does not generate a lot of revenue on certified divers going on some fun dives, either locally or as a trip.

    So the business model is one that actually largely hurts a lot of other players in the industry (dive shops and pro's). Training agencies thrive on 'the more pass through the gate', and substantially less on repeat divers which is what the rest of the industry benefits the most form.
    So actually the interests of the largest and most well known names in our business are not necessary aligned with everybody else.

    Andy (Scubatech Philippines) explained it best in his excellent blog post: An Evaluation of the Modern Scuba Diving Training Industry %
    wetb4igetinthewater likes this.
  6. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    PADI Travel | Scuba Diving Vacations
    And they are changing that. PADI Travel | Scuba Diving Vacations

    If that works, how long before other agencies follow? And of course should it work well would the next step be branding and selling dive gear? The dive industry is changing, and it looks like using the PADI name to take over lucrative portions of the business seems to be the major move.

    dead dog and AfterDark like this.
  7. Linke Seitentasche

    Linke Seitentasche Angel Fish

    I have to admit that sounds like some excellent business strategy right there.
    Hoyden likes this.
  8. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    I would not be surprised if we see more gear manufacturer/certification pair ups like SSI/Mares. Not sure any of the gear manufacturers is big enough to buy Padi though Johnson Scubapro/Aqualung/Huish probably could take on SDI/TDI
  9. martincohn

    martincohn Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: USA
    Don't Scubapro my TDI!
    dead dog and Bigbella like this.
  10. Industry Outsider

    Industry Outsider Angel Fish


    If you Google Learn to Scuba dive or Learn to dive, the result will vary greatly based on the location google thinks you at. Then also factor in what do people type to find a dive course. Logically it would be Learn to dive or Learn to Scuba Dive, however, when I look at my own adword search list, Adword planner and Google Trends is not the only way people find this information.

    One of the most common ways people find Learn to dive course is type Scuba Diving 'Location' as just one example. Some will refine there search once after this and this is where a lot of customers are met with a statement like "The X Open Water Course is the world's most popular and widely recognized". People see this X certification from multiple dive shops say much the same, its no wonder customers ask for it and have little understanding.

    Despite common sense, people do little research when purchasing items and Anchor Bias dictates they place more wait on the first bit of information they receive and disregards a lot of information after this (link below).

    When you look at the keyword word planner and Google trends, it's clear that a certain Certification is the only recognized brand that a non-diver may have heard of and search for. However, there are lots of other generic keywords.

    Why do "50% of customer come in and ask for it?" Can anyone point me to an AD on TV/Cable, Newspaper, radio which lets people know they need a particular Certification?

    I have never seen one. All the advertising for a Cert Agency is on the outside of dive centres, on brochures and websites. I am amazed when the Agency Logo is actually Bigger and more prominent than the business Logo that has paid for it. The irony is the Dive Centers and its professionals I believe do most to of the influencing on certification.

    While you may want to include a brand of Certification, placing too much importance on this, will mitigate your value in the whole process.

    Great to get some thoughts.

    Use Google Keyword trends Comparison
    https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=US&q=scuba diving,learn to dive,scuba lessons,padi,scuba diving
    Anchor Bias
    Cognitive bias definition, examples and marketing use cases
    dead dog, undrwater and wnissen like this.

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