A major agent initiative launched last year by North America's
largest dive certification organization offers travel retailers a
new set of tools for learning about and selling dive travel.
The comprehensive program is an effort by the Professional
Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) to encourage travel agents
to direct bookings to the more than 900 resorts that comprise
PADI's International Resort Association (PIRA). "Travel agents are
already sending people to resorts, so why not give them a reason to
focus on PADI resorts," says Bill Hamm, manager of PADI's
International Resort Association.
The program marks something of a departure for PADI, which
traditionally has viewed agents as competition for its North
American dive shops, some of which sell dive travel themselves.
Hamm says the organization decided to target agents when it
realized that the agent industry was beginning to educate itself on
The cornerstone of PADI's travel agent initiative is its Secrets
to Selling Dive Travel information kit. Available to agents for
$49.95, the kit includes a 28-page booklet titled "Secrets to
Selling Dive Travel"; promotional materials detailing PADI programs
and benefits; a Dive Travel Handbook binder; a directory of PIRA
dive travel resorts; dive travel brochures provided by member
resorts, and quarterly copies through the remainder of 1999 of the
PIRA Connection agent newsletter, which contains information on
travel specials and contests.
The Secrets to Selling Dive Travel booklet contains an
introduction to scuba diving that gives an overview of the sport,
dive gear, certification programs and terminology. Another section
focuses on tips for selling dive travel and provides suggestions
for marketing, building relationships with local dive centers and
orchestrating theme nights.
The booklet also explains PADI's various programs and branches,
including the PADI Travel Network, a dive wholesaler that
represents hundreds of PADI-affiliated resorts. The PADI Travel
Network pays commissions (varies but most pay 10% on land packages)
to agents (as well as to PADI dive centers). Although the PADI
Travel Network has been around since 1989, the drive to encourage
agents to book through it is relatively new, Hamm says.
OTHER AGENT INITIATIVES
Other PADI programs for travel agents include:
Dive-O-Rama Referral Madness. Agents are encouraged to
give clients Dive-O-Rama forms that can be redeemed for a free
in-pool Discover Scuba experience at a local PADI Dive Center. The
names of both the referring agent and Discover Scuba participants
will be entered in drawings for prizes including a dive vacation,
dive gear, sunglasses, etc. The program, which runs through Dec.
31, is designed to introduce consumers to diving and to encourage
agents to establish relationships with local dive shops.
P-Notes. The summer 1999 issue of the PIRA Connection
newsletter contains coupons, called P-Notes, that agents can give
to their clients to redeem at local dive centers for a $10 discount
off a dive certification class or equipment.
Agent seminars. This fall, PADI will launch seminars,
initially in southern California, designed to introduce agents to
recreational scuba diving and dive travel. According to Hamm, who
notes that PADI's expertise is in education, the seminars will be
accredited by ICTA.
For additional information on any of PADI's agent programs or to
order the Secrets to Selling Dive Travel information kit, agents
may contact Annette Moore, PIRA customer service representative, at
(800) 729-7234; (949) 858-7234 ext. 535, or [email protected].