The foundations of any business-customer relationship are loyalty, trust and confidence. As PADI Members worldwide have experienced, the pandemic with its enduring lockdowns and border closures has put considerable strain on these foundations. As borders around the world slowly begin to open and we adjust to the ‘new normal’, the question is; ‘how can dive business work to build these foundations back to pre-pandemic levels?’
To help address this, PADI has outlined 5 ways to instil customer confidence in scuba diving activities as the world begins to reopen and recover.
Keep Up With the Latest Government Requirements
Government regulations around the world have been subject to change at extremely short notice, so it’s important to keep on top of all changes and ensure this is communicated to staff and customers in your dive business. In some markets, Governments enforce additional restrictions including those on capacity, mask-wearing or the implementation of QR codes for contact tracing. If this applies, be sure to adhere to these regulations to keep your business, customers and staff safe.
For those dive centres who cater to tourist markets, whether domestic or international, we recommend staying up-to-date on government regulations for those target markets. Keeping up to date with this information can help inform advertising and marketing decisions. For example, it may not be the most effective tactic to advertise to an audience in a city/island that may normally be a source of customers but is currently in lockdown.
Communicate COVID-19 Protocols to Potential Customers Online
In 2021, many customers will come in contact with a business for the first time online. More often than not, this can be the place where first impressions and purchasing decisions are made. It is important to communicate pandemic protocols to any existing and potential customer base online. Places where this policy can be outlined include;
Social media channels – a Facebook or Instagram Live video can be used to showcase updated sanitisation policies to potential customers online
Dedicated website page can be used as a one-stop-shop for communicating all COVID-19 protocols. Consider utilising video and imagery to make this engaging
TripAdvisor – Ensure listing is updated to reflect any changes in policy that may affect potential customers
Email marketing – Communicate flexible rescheduling or cancellation policies directly into the inbox of existing customers
Remember to include items like the policy for keeping hire equipment sanitised, pandemic protocol staff training or social distancing in action. Showing potential customers that you are on top of your game when it comes to health and safety will go a long way in establishing confidence.
Minimise Confusion and Inform Booked Customers of Protocols Prior to Arrival
Customers may be unfamiliar with the COVID protocols your dive business has in place, so be patient and, where possible, take the time to inform customers of these prior to their arrival. This information can be included in a confirmation email, or, if time permits, add a personal touch by giving customers a call.
As mentioned above, QR codes for contact tracing may be a local regulation. When this applies, ensure that all customers are communicated to prior to their arrival – especially if the customer has come from a region where such regulations are not common place.
All PADI Members are able to access resources including the “Eight Simple Steps COVID-19 Risk Reduction for Divers” poster along with the PADI and EFR Course Precautions to Avoid Disease Transmission. Refer to your regional resource hub for this information.
In June 2020 the Diver Medical was updated to include COVID-19. Ensure all customers are aware of this change and are completing the new Diver Medical.
Train Staff on Updated Protocols
Take the time to train all staff and ensure that they understand the new or updated pandemic protocols put in place. Customers will see this cohesive safety message from both management and staff and will feel confident in choosing your dive business.
Consider assigning a staff member to be responsible for cleaning and make them easily identifiable to customers. This communicates to customers that their safety is of highest importance, helping to build back that trust which is paramount to customer confidence.
Have Cleaning Stations Available
Place cleaning stations at various locations in the dive shop, boat or any other high-touch areas to give an air of cleanliness to potential and existing customers. This will help customers to feel safe in increasing their level of trust, assisting in building back a sturdy customer-business relationship.
Cleaning stations may include;
Hand sanitising stations to encourage customers to clean their hands upon entry and before handling equipment
Hire equipment cleaning stations where customers can actively sanitise their own high-touch hire gear, including regulators and masks or a highly-visible cleaning stations that customers can observe equipment being cleaned
For dive businesses in regions where mask wearing is highly encouraged or mandatory, it may be useful to keep a stock of masks that can be distributed to customers where needed.
Reduce Transmission Risk with Digital Learning
Many PADI Members worldwide have already made the switch to digital learning, for those that have not yet made this change, the current situation presents the perfect opportunity. Utilising PADI eLearning limits the period of time that customers physically spend in a business, protecting both dive shop staff and customers, limiting the risk of disease transmission. Additionally, PADI Members utilising PADI eLearning can access customers in markets outside of their own. PADI eLearning can be used to help prepare a dive business for the vacation audience, in order to have customers ready to dive when their region opens up again.
The simplest method of delivering PADI eLearning to students is via a PADI eLearning Affiliate Link. PADI Members have access to a unique PADI eLearning Affiliate Link that automatically affiliates PADI eLearning students to their store, generating revenue around the clock. These links can be added to a website, social media and other marketing materials.
For more complete information about PADI’s COVID-19 training policies, visit the Training News page on the PADI Pros’ Site or contact your PADI Regional Manager.
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Business of Diving / Business Support, Covid-19, Customer Service, travelPADI Pros