As we look back on 2020, there are a lot of things we’d like to forget. But, there are important things worth remembering too, like the Divemaster from Canada who paid the renewal fees of two PADI Instructor friends in Mexico.
The divemaster, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote, “They have given me so much and I want to give back. I don’t want them to miss out on employment because they can’t afford to renew.”
Even during the worst of times, PADI Members found ways to create positive change and help divers achieve their goals. Here are a few of their stories:
Connecting with New Customers in Borneo
Richard Swann, a Platinum PADI Course Director and Managing Director of Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures, transformed his dive operation from one that depended entirely on tourists to a diversified business.
“As we entered lockdown, we began to realize the impact to our livelihoods and industry. The future was looking very bleak, to say the least,” Richard wrote. “As many did, I took this period to adapt my future plan with no real way of knowing what would work; but felt nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Though currently based in Borneo, Richard had experience managing dive operations in the UK and Brunei — areas without a large tourist clientele. So the new plan included marketing dive training to local residents and Borneo nationals. The shop reduced prices by removing unnecessary costs such as transfers, and its customer base started to grow.
“We set about making diving ‘cool’ in the local community and used various tools from the PADI toolkits and our own wealth of photography,” Richard said. “A huge selling point was how the dive experience had improved [without tourists]. Local residents had the place to themselves.”
Before long, instructors were up-selling continuing education and professional courses to their new customers. “We managed one IDC, a handful of divemaster candidates and also some EFR Instructors after lockdown ended,” Richard said.
Richard and his team also:
- Conducted virtual field trips for international universities using Zoom, video and live chat
- Beefed up offerings in their online shop to include home fitness equipment in addition to dive gear
- Updated their PADI Adventures app account listing
- Sought new business from government agencies who needed equipment servicing such as hydros, regulator and dive computer services.
- Raised money to remove discarded fishing nets (aka ghost nets) and recruited local divers to help out
“Overall I would say the back-to-basics approach and lots of hard work, combined with experience and a team spirit attitude with our PADI Office has yielded success,” said Richard. “We are currently on a second wave of lockdown, but enjoying the confidence of our proven survival first time round. So we remain optimistic for the future.”
Buoying Jobs and Coral Reef Health in Hawai’i
Jeff and Teri Leicher, owners of Jack’s Diving Locker in Kona, Hawai’i protected local reefs and PADI Member jobs by investing nearly $30,000 US in mooring buoy repair. Mooring buoys give boats an alternative to dropping anchor and damaging coral. Surveying and repairing the buoys employed ten out-of-work divemasters and boat captains for three months.
Funding for the mooring buoy repair project came from the US Paycheck Protection Act and donations to the Malama Kai Foundation. Extended Horizons Scuba on Maui and Seasport Divers on Kauai completed repairs on their respective islands.
Read more about this story in Scuba Diving magazine.
Course Director Achieves 100% ROI During Pandemic
André Gusson attended the July 2019 CDTC, and nine months later the pandemic hit. So when André wrote to us in October and said he already made back the money he spent on his CDTC program, we had to know more. Here’s what he wrote:
“A few weeks before social confinement was officially announced in Brasil, we had to choose between a ‘wait and see’ or ‘roll up our sleeves and work hard’ approach. My motivational motto is: never go down without a fight,” André said.
“I set up a classroom in my living room and got adapted to video conferencing platforms. There were quite a few challenges, a lot of mistakes, but also a lot of successes. Between March and July I taught classes almost every day, all sorts of courses, even IDCs and specialty instructor courses.”
Here are a few of André’s certification stats before and after lockdown:
August to December 2019
OWSI – 4
EFRI – 6
Specialty Instructors – 30
January to November 2020
OWSI – 6
EFRI – 5
Specialty Instructors – 33
“By continuously teaching online classes throughout the most critical months of the pandemic, I had a lot of students ready to get in the water when it was safe to get back to face-to-face activities,” André said. “And so we did! Now, that social distancing is not as strict and the dive sites are partially open, we have been working almost normally since August.
“The pandemic made me grow a lot as a professional,” André said. “It has been the most challenging period of my life, but I had to keep teaching and smiling and keeping the passion alive.”
Italian Instructor Issues 200+ Certifications
Grazia Palmisano, a PADI Master Instructor at Orca Diving Center wrote, “we interpreted the crisis as an opportunity to invent new ways of diving, adapt our services and continue working despite the fact that the world had stopped.”
“I never interrupted work, even during the lockdown. Social media and online communications allowed us to remain constantly connected and virtually close to our students and divers. We pushed the throttle on the digital mode and got ready for when we could return to the water,” Grazia said.
Grazia’s diligence paid off. When restrictions lifted in the small town of Porto Cesareo, Grazia wasted no time helping students achieve the diving goals they set during lockdown. As of this writing, Grazia has issued more than 200 PADI certifications in 2020 and will be a PADI Elite Instructor for a 5th consecutive year.
Business of Diving / Business Support, good news stories, PADI Pro’s, positive storiesPADI Pros