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Guiding Experienced Divers

Unlike new divers, who are happy just to be underwater and think everything they see is awesome (because it is), those with a few dives under their belt can be a bit of challenge. As a professional guide, how do you keep your most experienced divers happy?

Guiding experienced divers can be a bit of a challenge, but even well-traveled divers want to be impressed. Here we’ll offer a few suggestions to help you dazzle the diver who’s seen it all.

Talk to them

You can’t know what someone wants or expects if you don’t ask. Find out what brought them to your area. Is there a certain creature or dive they’re looking for? Find out if they’re shooting photos or video and if there’s a particular shot they’re looking for. The more you get to know them at the beginning of the trip, the better you’ll be able to fulfill their expectations.

As they start telling stories, listen for hints and clues. Someone might have 5,000 dives, but if you’re diving in caves and none of their experiences have been in an overhead environment, they may need some assistance.

Set expectations

After the introductions and getting a little bit of information from your guests is the time to set proper expectations. A dive operation will always put images of clear, beautiful water and every possible fish on their website, but it’s important to let guests know if certain creatures are only seasonal. Once you set realistic expectations, make sure that you follow up with all the amazing things you can guarantee from their dives. It is also important to discuss what to expect from the weather during their trip.Finally, make sure to cover your procedural bases. Give guests plenty of warning about their proper behavior above and below the water

Know when to back off

Everyone loves an attentive dive guide, ready to help them with the smallest tasks when needed — the key is knowing when the time is right. Ask your guests if they’d like help donning their equipment. If they say no but continue to struggle, be nearby and offer your assistance again. If they still say no, you should offer assistance to other guests and allow the more independent parties to come to you if they so choose.

Underwater can be a bit more difficult as miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings. Sometimes you and a guest will have no problem, and at other times it will be best to wait until you surface and have the conversation in private.

Spend topside time with them

One of the best moves a guide can make is to spend time with their guests after a dive. People want to tell you what they saw, and what they got the most excited about. This information is invaluable when it comes to planning the next dive, and builds rapport as well.

On the flipside, find out if anything happened on the last dive they didn’t care for that you can correct. This is your time to shine. Make them feel comfortable and reassure them that you know what you’re doing.

Stick to your guns

An experienced diver respects a guide who knows what they’re doing and holds to their principles. If you promote conservation, don’t ignore the guests that are chasing marine life or damaging the reef. If you set a depth or time limit for a dive, don’t go over it. In a diver’s eyes, you’re there to run the dive, so run it. Execute your dive plan, and if there are variables that may change the plan, let guests know up front.

Finally, you may someday have guests that you just can’t make happy. Try your best, but don’t take it personally. Spend your time with guests who are there to benefit from your expertise. You can’t please everyone, all the time, but most vacationing divers are predisposed to be in a good mood, so be enthusiastic and upbeat, and you’ll impress even the most experienced diver.

 By Adam Straub