Once again it was time for the annual Scuba Trade Show. The DEMA show brings together all the manufacturers, training agencies and travel places in one nice, neat location so Joe Diveshop owner can do all his planning for the year in one place. This year's location was in Las Vegas.
Some quick history. For years, the show took place in February. A few years ago, they changed the dates to the fall. This got some people mad. Then they scheduled it in Houston last year, which got more people mad. I guess Houston lacks the sex appeal of Vegas, New Orleans or Miami (the last few places to host). The location, the timing and the fact that the industry as a whole has been down since 9/11 made many shops rethink attending. Then some big names pulled out. Scubapro and Aqualung lead the way. They are the 2 biggest manufactures. That led to a number of smaller companies not going. In fact Dive Utah only sent 1 person to represent both shops when in the past 5 or more people have gone from each shop. Jim, our attendee, said that the show was definitely smaller. However I did hear from many who displayed at the show that they got a lot more face time with the people who were there and that by and large they were serious buyers and not just sightseers.
After last year, they surveyed dive shop owners to see where we wanted to go. I put in my vote for the Salt Palace but alas Vegas and Orlando won out. So the next 5 years will see a rotation between the two.
Most all of the vendors came back except Scubapro. That's not as big a deal for us as you might think. DEMA is the only time we get to see many of our reps from the various companies. Scubapro is the exception. Scott Dawson is our rep and he does a great job of keeping us in the loop, showing new products and visiting the store. Luckily he lives in Colorado and with 4 other Scubapro dealers on the Wasatch front he sees us on a regular basis. If fact I plan to have him speak at a dive club meeting this next year.
So, what was good? The first time you attend DEMA it blows you away. It's the ultimate kid in a candy store experience. After you've gone a few times, you realize that things don't change that much. Every once in a while things get shook up, like split fins 5 years ago, but most of the time it's the same old with a few new items. The cool stuff I saw this year was -
- Underwater MP3 player - I'm an MP3 player geek! Naturally I got excited to see these housings. They make a completely waterproof one for an iriver MP3 and a water resistant one for the Ipods (swimming, surfing but not depth rated). What do you think? Do you want a soundtrack while you are diving? I like getting away from it all so while it's cool, I don't think I need one.
- Aeris Mask with Head's Up Display - OK, now this is totally cool. Your mask is integrated with a display that shows depth and time and can be integrated to your hose-less air computer. These have been kicking around the industry for a little while but without a major distributor. The only down side is that they are teasing us with it. It is most likely a year away. With Aeris, that means maybe two. That's ok, I'll wait.
- KA at the MGM Grand. Granted, at $125 a ticket it had better be good and it was. KA is the latest Circ de Soule (spelling?) show and it was pretty cool. They have a stage that can rotate 360° and then angle up 90°. The performers are on lines so they are "running" up and down the stage. It changes the whole concept of what a stage should be. Overall, I still like "O" better but the stage work was pretty incredible. We also saw some old favorites. You can't wrong with the fountains at Bellagio or a gondola ride at Venice.
Now the next question is do I bring the kids to Disneyworld next year when it's back at Orlando?
Let's go diving!