So, you’re a passionate diver who wants to make a lifestyle change. Further, you’d like to make an income from investing in the dive industry. There are many ways to make a return on a dive-business investment and combine your passion with work. However, as with any entrepreneurial venture, it takes hard work, commitment, and perseverance to run a dive business. Here’s an overview of the different types of business models, usually open for investment, common in the dive industry.
Investing in — and relocating to — a dive resort is one way to change your lifestyle and become involved in a dive business. Dive resorts typically generate revenues from selling accommodation/dive packages. They may also offer dive training and souvenirs. Some resorts enhance their dive packages further by adding unique programs like summer kid’s camps and specialized events, such as technical-diving or photography and videography workshops.
Knowledge of local legislation and labor laws is essential when investing in foreign countries. You must also become versed in local culture and etiquette. Knowledge of hospitality, resort/hotel management, and marketing skills helps with this type of dive business. If you can, attend dive shows and conferences to network with travel agents and dive centers.
If you’re not looking to relocate, local dive shops are usually already established in larger metropolitan areas. These businesses depend on dive-equipment sales, training, and travel to generate revenue. This type of business will require retail experience, inventory management, and sales knowledge. You’ll also need to have dive instructors on staff to offer training and lead group trips. Many retailers in this internet age must add value to their retail services to compete against online sellers. Offering dive travel to exotic destinations adds lifestyle to this type of business and also keeps clientele active and generates revenues during off-seasons.
Invest in yourself
Entry-level scuba instructors work for passion and lifestyle more than money. But if you specialize and gain time and experience in a specific diving field, you can increase your earning potential. Instructors who build experience in areas such as photography/videography and technical diving, or advance to become Instructor Trainers themselves, can make more than just a living and either work freelance or affiliate with a dive center/resort.
For those with maritime or sailing experience, investing in a liveaboard or sailboat/yacht that offers diving charters is a chance to combine two passions with a business model. This type of operation allows freedom to travel and relocate or to customize diving trips and itineraries. Yachts and liveaboards do have high maintenance costs and require additional skills as well like hospitality and mechanical knowledge for boat maintenance.
Our final business model combines the passions of travel and diving. If you’ve got extensive travel experience, attention to detail and enjoy logistical work and event planning, then promoting and selling dive travel can be profitable with minimal investment. Startup costs and can include a physical location or you can conduct business purely online. Travel agents work with dive resorts and liveaboards to book individuals, couples, or groups for dive trips, taking a commission. Attending dive shows, conventions and travel/trade shows is essential, as well as good marketing and communication skills. Travel agents often receive complimentary familiarization trips as a benefit of working within the industry.
Whichever business piques your interest, run your due diligence on any potential investment, especially in foreign countries. Pay attention to local customs, cultures and employment laws, as well as tax laws. Work in the field and country you want to invest in for at least several months before doing so to be sure that turning a passion into a business doesn’t become an unwanted burden. With the right research and business model and lots of hard work, you’ll find the dive industry is a great way to make a living.
Author Andy Phillips is a PADI Course Director and Technical Instructor Trainer. He’s got degrees in business/marketing and e-commerce, as well as over 20 years of professional and business experience in the dive industry. He offers consulting services for new dive businesses or people seeking expert advice for entering the dive industry.