November. That means turkey, football, ski season and DEMA time again!! The annual scuba trade show rolled into Las Vegas so we packed up the family truckster and headed to Sin City to see the latest and greatest. We planned to head out around 6pm and spend the night in Mesquite before making it to Las Vegas the next morning in time for the first of many seminars at 10am. Well, after dinner with my parents (the baby sitters) and finishing homework with the kids, 6pm tuned into 8pm. We then received a call from my dad as we neared Yuba Reservoir asking where the extra set of keys were? (They were in Tee's purse in the back seat.) We back tracked and met a neighbor in Provo and after stops in Beaver, Cedar City and Mesquite to sleep a little, we pulled into Vegas at 8am bleary eyed and ready for DEMA.
A quick reminder, DEMA stands for the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association and is the trade association that manufacturers, training agencies, resorts and dive shops all belong to. The DEMA show brings us all together under one roof once a year. This is an opportunity to network with other shops, see the latest toys, hear what PADI has to say and dream about what resorts we would like to visit (with our wonderful customers and friends!)
This year I was planning on hitting PADI's seminars pretty hard. They offer about a dozen different one hour seminars that talk about everything from Project Aware to webpage design. PADI members get credit for attending seminars as long as you include the ones on Standards Update and Risk Management. Standards is always interesting as they talk abut some of the new materials and programs we will see in the next year. By far the most interesting nugget was "Open Water Diver-Touch", the Open Water course on a tablet. PADI continues to be the first agency to tackle new forms of media and the tablet is next. It should be ready later in 2013. Risk Management is always an eye opener. They look at two or three scenarios that actually happened in the last year and tell us all the details in hopes we learn from other's mistakes. Next time you take a class and the instructor is a stickler about paperwork, you will know why. I attended seminars on Scuba Earth, Side-Mount diving, Marketing Ideas and about 5 others. I also attended (and passed) the Emergency First Responder Instructor Trainer course and an update for IDC Staff Instructors. Basically about eighteen hour's worth of PADI, PADI, PADI. It was all great stuff and you may notice a few changes here and there in our day to day business as a result of it. Barry Dunford, our PADI regional rep, took the time to introduce me to the owner of another dive shop that also works with some big universities and we shared some war stories and ideas on how to grow the programs.
We looked at some resorts for new trips. I have a friend who used to work with the Aggressor Fleet (we booked our October 2012 Cayman Aggressor trip with him) but recently went to work for Atlantis Resorts in the Philippines. You can get some great deals in the Philippines. Ten to fourteen day trips for the same price as a week in Fiji, about $3500. We also are planning a Blackbeard's Cruise for our BYU program at the end of winter semester 2014. Of course the trip I'm most excited about is a Florida Keys wrecks-only trip. I have talked about doing this trip for a few years. Spend a week in the Keys and dive nothing but wrecks. We talked to a few shops down there and they said three days in Key Largo and two days in Key West would do the trick. Fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale and head south. If this trip goes well, we will do another week in the panhandle and dive the wrecks up there. I am hoping to do this in the spring but will have to see how busy the shop is and if I can get away.
And of course, we looked at gear. Scubapro is celebrating their 50 year anniversary and had a cool display of all the regs they have made. They have a few different versions of the MK 25-S600 regulator available. This has been their best selling regulator. They will have the regular version, a tech black, a full titanium version and the gold-plated one!
Not real gold plated but super cool none the less. They have also redesigned the G250 into the G260 and I swear it looks like a jet turbine. Mares had some great new bags we will be looking closer at and Henderson's Aqua Lock wetsuits will be showing up in the shop soon.
Of course, we like gadgets. One of my favorites was the Scooblite. It's the size of a glow stick but filled with some naturally luminescent materials. Once you charge it in light for a few minutes, it will glow for over an hour. No batteries to change, no wrappers to worry about, no chance of flooding. Same cost as tank light (about $20) and it will last for about five years.
My other favorite was the Dry Case dry bag. One size fits all of the latest smart phones or point and shoot digital cameras. You lock the bag, suck the air out of it and away you go.
You can dive with your iPhone and play music, take pictures or video, take or write notes or run apps. Underwater headphones will allow you to enjoy some tunes. How about watching Finding Nemo while making a long safety stop or deco stop? They also make a tablet size bag. Give us a week or so and we will have them in stock.
DEMA is a great way to recharge the old dive shop batteries and get back into the swing with new ideas to grow the business as well as new travel plans and dive toys. Stop by we'll show you the latest and greatest!!
Let's go diving!