I recently went to the PADI Business Academy (PBA) in Cyprus and I simply had to share this positive experience with all of you. As a relatively new dive center owner I have had a steep learning curve making the transition from instructor to owner. Today’s marketplace is hugely different to that which I learned in my Business A-level in the UK – oh so many moons ago – the PBA was such an eye opener to ways to move Scuba Monkey onwards and upwards.
The PBA opened my eyes in three major ways:
#1: Marketing isn’t a bad thing, you just have to know your audience and be able to take a personal approach. By knowing who your audience is you can better serve them, and this is a service like all others. You can make it an enjoyable one – both for yourself and for your prospective guests. The PBA taught us how to get the knowledge of things like website keywords, using online tools that have been at my fingertips since the beginning, but until the academy, only my web designer had ventured into this realm on my business’ behalf. Sure – my web designer explained things like google analytics to me, but Mark Spiers (PADI’s VP) gave talks and ran workshops which allowed a true practical application that led to greater understanding. Brilliant. I feel more in control, I feel calmer about the future and much much less confused.
#2: The PADI Pro website. I have used this site for close to 10 years and I honestly thought I understood all the tools available to me. Clearly not. The PBA went through every tab in the minutest detail and it was a shock to discover all the features that have been available to me all this time and had not been utilizing to full potential. Simple things like how enter your address into the store locator properly and allow your dive center to become searchable using navigation systems and smart phones. Cyprus, as the last split capital in the world, is notorious for being hard to navigate using standard GPS…..the PBA showed me such a simple fix to a problem that I have endured since I opened my doors in 2012
#3: Social Media. I was the youngest participant in this PBA, and I have been brought up in a technology rich environment (my father always shows off that he owned the first computer on the island in the early 1980’s). I honestly thought that this element of the PBA would be something that I could learn little from…after all, I already blog, link everything to the website, twitter and Facebook….what more could there be? A lot as it turns out. Marc went through every element of each platform that I already was active on…..and taught me little quirks and tweaks that could even further my marketing success. Things like scheduled posting on Facebook and how to highlight an important post are all features that have been at my fingertips, but have failed to use. The PBA not only taught me the value of these features, but also how to use them immediately. Great. I was definitely taken down a peg or two, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I have joined most other social media sites, such as Instagram and flicker and Pinterest…..I have been a member for quite some time…however the PBA again made me feel like a speck of dust in the internet wasteland by informing me about the demographics of users of these sites. It worried me to hear that Facebook was soon becoming outdated, that the Y2 and Z generations already considered this platform for the older generations. Scary isn’t it? The academy taught me that staying current to new trends will be an essential mode for dive center survival. This information did not make me loose heart however – again Knowledge is power and power means control. Workshops allowed us to use free tools like Animoto and Mail Chimp to better serve our guests and encourage them to be more interactive over all social platforms.
Bring it on…. The PADI Business Academy slogan of “Harness the Power” is true to its word…..I feel positive and energized for the 2015 season. I would recommend it to anyone – regardless of the size and history of their dive center.
Alexandra Dimitriou is a dive center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner at Scuba Monkey Ltd.