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How Marketing to Females Helps Grow PADI Pro Course Enrollment

In 2015, PADI® launched the first international Women’s Dive Day event with the goal of highlighting the significant and meaningful contributions female divers have made to the sport and encourage more women to explore the underwater world. Over the years, in partnership with PADI dive shops and resorts worldwide, efforts promoting women’s roles in scuba combined with targeted marketing efforts has helped close the scuba certification gender gap with more than 40 percent of PADI recreational certifications now issued to females.

However, the gender ratio story is somewhat different when looking at the more than 128,000 PADI Professionals worldwide. Globally, less that 25 percent of PADI Divemaster and Instructor certifications are issued to females – far less than the 40 percent of entry-level certifications earned by women. Targeting female diver audiences to become PADI Pros spells opportunity ­ – after all, who wouldn’t want to increase their divemaster or IDC course enrollment by +15 percent?

Following are some tips for growing your divemaster and Instructor Development Course enrollments, along with real-world feedback from some passionate and highly productive female PADI Course Directors.

Why Women Go Pro

To help understand female motivations to go pro, we connected with these female pros to find out what motivated them to become PADI Instructors, and then Course Directors. (Spoiler alert! Like many PADI Pros, passion for adventure, exploration and conservation are driving forces towards becoming a pro.) 

PADI Gold-level Course Director Charlotte Faulkner is also the training manager for Queensland, Australia-based Divers Den. She attributes her love for animal conservation, combined with desire to work directly with people to change their views about ocean conservation, and a love of diving as driving factors for pursuing her pro level ratings. “When I was working as a divemaster, I realized I could instill a passion for marine conservation within the people I was diving with,” says Faulkner. “I took my IDC to become a PADI Instructor which enabled me to spend more time with divers and influence them to contribute to conservation efforts during their daily lives.”

PADI Course Director Charlotte Faulkner

Victoria Cole, PADI Platinum-level Course Director and owner of female-operated PADI Five Star IDC Resort Infinity2Diving, got her PADI Open Water Diver certification at a very young age. Whenever her family vacationed near the water, she asked to go scuba diving. As soon as she turned 18 years old, she booked her divemaster course and says it was the best decision she ever made. “I finished my Economics degree and started to travel the world on a one-year trip . . . which ended up being the rest of my life.”

Cole also runs Pro Dive Vibes with business partner and PADI Platinum-level Course Director Ivana Inglesina. While Inglesina didn’t start diving as early in life as Cole, taking her first breaths underwater in her mid-30’s, she is every bit as passionate about diving. “I went completely bananas for diving when I started exploring World War II wrecks in Coron Palawan, Philippines and decided to live my dream,” says Inglesina. “I chose to do my IDC in Borneo, Malaysia . . .  I’m so happy to have found a profession that when I wake up in the morning I never feel like I am going to work.”

PADI Course Directors Ivana Inglesina (left) and Victoria Cole (right)

Tips for Attracting and Enrolling More Females into Pro Courses

Tip #1:  Ensure Your Staff is Female-Friendly

Take a close look at your staff and ask yourself if it’s female-friendly? (Or, better yet, survey some of your female divers to find out what they think.) While many instructors are great at connecting with potential students regardless of gender, having at least one female pro on your team helps set the stage for other females to go pro, too.

As Cole says, “I feel that this industry needs more females at the top. At Pro Dive Vibes, we actually teach a lot of female divemasters and instructors as they feel more comfortable with two female PADI Course Directors.” Adds Inglesina, “So many female divers come to train with us at Pro Dive Vibes thanks to our hard work and super cute way of teaching.”

Cole employs a high number of female pros at her dive shop and says it helps increase female enrollment in pro level courses. “At my dive shop in Mexico, ever since we opened we’ve been known as the female dive shop. We have over 70 percent female staff and have always been under female ownership and management. It actually was never the plan, but it is amazing to create an environment where everyone feels at ease.”

While having female pros on your team can help encourage more women to enroll in your classes, Faulkner firmly believes professionalism is the key regardless of gender. She says, “I do believe having a female Course Director [on staff] influences other women to take the step, perhaps because they can relate to me more, just as the males in the class can relate to our male Course Directors.” However, she adds, “All in all, I really feel gender does not influence people here in Australia, it’s more the quality of our Course Directors and the level of training that we deliver.”

Tip #2: Highlight Female Dive Pros in Your Marketing Channels

Across the globe, female PADI Pros are supporting local communities, leading adventure, protecting the ocean, and living their dream. Be sure to feature stories of your own female pro staff in action across your digital channels, including stories of their journey to becoming a PADI Pro.

Tip #3: Ensure Your Images Fuel Female Imaginations and Aspirations

Pay attention to the images you’re including in your marketing channels. If the dive leader in your images is always male, it can make it more difficult to paint the picture of becoming a female divemaster or instructor. While including images of your own staff is always best, you can also find photos of women dive pros in action in the new Pro Acquisition Marketing Toolkit. Available in 15 languages, you can find the toolkit in the Pros’ Site Marketing Hub.

Tip 4: Segment Your Email List for Better Results Targeted email sends are much more effective than “one size fits all” mass emails. While every email you send doesn’t need to be gender-specific, try segmenting your list to target women divers and include content and imagery highlighting women in power positions to support your pro acquisition marketing efforts.

Tip 5: Offer Female-only Become a PADI Pro Events and Pro-level Courses

For women entertaining the idea of becoming a PADI Pro, an all-female Become a PADI Pro event, and Divemaster or Instructor course may help inspire confidence and boost enrollment.

Faulkner is applying this tactic from the very first breath underwater with the goal of creating  all female IDC programs in the future. “We are holding a female-only introductory dive evening to encourage the local community to try diving and remove the hesitation of women in the area who may be intimidated by male instructors or other male students. This will lead to female only open water courses which we hope, using the PADI ladder, could lead to all female IDC programs.”

Cole and Inglesina have a goal to conduct an all-female IDC and IE in 2023. “We tried in the past, but always get a boy enrolled at the last minute,” laughs Inglesina. Adds Cole, “We have always dreamed of running a full female IDC and would absolutely love to plan one in 2023 … this would mean so much to us! We have been talking about setting a date with two female PADI Instructor Examiners, too!”

Ready to Grow Your Pro Courses?

Faulkner, Cole and Inglesina shared a few additional thoughts and tips for growing pro level course enrollment:

Faulkner: “Embrace diversity and students as they are, and whatever their interests are we need to encourage them to pursue. Whether male or female, divers could be interested in the more technical sides of diving, or more technical specialties, or may have more of an interest in creative photography, or environmental-based specialties. Our job as professional educators is to openly encourage professionals to pursue their interests whatever they may be and regardless of gender.”

Inglesina: “Be kind, caring, professional, direct and rewarding. Praise more and, most of all, be strong when needed but also gentle and understanding. Don’t forget to listen to the diver’s needs, goals and desires.”

Cole: “If you want to improve your female enrollment, I would advise doing the same for all of your students: Be kind, care and give your divers time to develop their comfort in the water. Believe in your divers and guide them to make their dreams come true.”

Related articles:

How to leverage the PADI Job Board to Fill Pro Courses

New PADI Pro Acquisition Campaign

The post How Marketing to Females Helps Grow PADI Pro Course Enrollment appeared first on PADI Pros.

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