Contributing editor Marilee Crocker speaks with Regina
Franklin, executive director of Diving Equipment and Marketing
Association about the growing opportunities for agents in dive
TW: Recently, several key members of the dive
industry have introduced initiatives aimed at agents. What's
prompting them to do so now?
Franklin: We recognize that a great number of
people utilize agents on an ongoing basis to plan their vacations,
and it's important that we [in the dive industry] utilize the agent
community. Some retailers in the dive industry do an effective job
at selling dive travel, but that is the exception, not the norm, so
if a customer comes in and says, "I want to go to XYZ destination,"
One of the things that's driving this now is the advent of the
Internet. Specialty vacations like diving offer a unique
opportunity for travel agents, because if [consumers] are not
familiar with a location and its facilities they will have a
challenging time trying to book a dive vacation themselves. That's
where the services of an informed agent could really be
TW: What are the most important first steps
agents can take to become involved in dive travel?
Franklin: Ideally, they would either be a diver
or be willing to go and do a dive experience [so they] have an idea
of what's involved. That will create an immediate feeling of
identification with the [client], and when a consumer asks specific
questions it will help the person selling to understand the basics.
Diving has specific details that people need to know about because
of the equipment involved and things like flight times [see Dive
Basics below] and dive times. It's important to be knowledgeable
about those issues.
There are lots of places you can gain an overview about diving.
You can do a resort course, or most dive stores offer introductory
in-water experiences where you spend a few hours in their pool and
talking to them to become familiar with clients and their
One thing I've seen done effectively by travel companies is to
make themselves available to talk about their services at a dive
store's specialty night.
TW: How can participation in DEMA [Diving
Equipment and Marketing Association] help agents who want to sell
Franklin: A lot of agents are not familiar with
how the dive industry is structured so they don't know where to
begin. It's important to network and know who the players are. DEMA
is the primary network for the diving industry worldwide and
certainly can help with that.
Also, we have a trade Web site [ www.dema.org] where we can list agents who want
to specialize in dive travel. And we have just launched a consumer
Web site [at www.time2dive.com]. We're drawing consumers in to that
through a response mechanism to an advertising campaign in dive and
nondive publications, and we are aggressively marketing the site
through reciprocal links and search engines. Through membership in
DEMA, agents have direct access to consumers as part of this
Agents may obtain more information on membership in the Dive
Equipment & Marketing Association by contacting the
organization at (714) 939-6399, fax (714) 939-6398; e-mail: [email protected].Dive Basics
Agents who are booking dive vacations are advised to keep these
essential dive travel guidelines in mind.
C-Cards and log books. Dive clients should be
reminded to bring along their C-Cards (short for certification
card) and their log books when traveling. A C-Card provides proof
to dive operators that an individual has been certified to dive,
and a log book, a record of a diver's underwater experience, helps
dive operators assess the diver's skill level.
Air travel limitations. Divers should be
cautioned to wait 12 to 24 hours after diving before flying, since
flying with residual nitrogen in the blood can cause physical
problems. Travelers are free to dive immediately after flying.
Matching destinations and clients. Before
sending dive travelers to destinations where underwater conditions
make for challenging diving, make sure they have sufficient diving
Excess baggage. Check with airlines regarding
baggage surcharges and restrictions for dive clients who will be
carrying their own gear and underwater photography equipment.