Sunday, November 23, 2008

Delusional?


To say the least, my DEMA 2008 has been a memorable one.

Apart from the usual socializing and hunting for the newest and coolest gadgets and dive destinations, it has been an occasion to celebrate many old friendships, to meet some great new people and to -finally!- attend the marriage of my good friends Paul and Karen.
On the business side of things, insiders assure me that despite being kinda "slow", the overall "quality" has been excellent. In fact, bookings are fabulous and the future looks brighter than ever!
All-in-all, a fantastic event!

Las Vegas is an old haunt of mine and I took the occasion to meet up with some of my old gang of Lawyers, Bankers and other equally despicable pillars of modern Society.
With one notable exception who has sold out just in time, many are still very much in the thick of it and having progressed to ever higher executive levels, they dispose of unique insights normal mortals can only dream of. To put it mildly, what has transpired over copious amounts of Dom PĂ©rignon, aged ribeye and tartufi d'Alba is very very frightening indeed.
The Party is truly over.

Which begs the question, what about our Industry?
Has the Show been nothing but an overly optimistic and ultimately, delusional bubble of hype and self-promotion, soon to be pierced by conditions in the Real World at large?

At the risk of being the party pooper - I fear it has, at least for some of us.
From what I can discern, a recent glut of operators, many of which liveaboard vessels, has clearly led to the oversaturation of some destinations. With the pie shrinking -and it will-, those markets will have to revert back to their true capacity. As always, this will be painful - but having said this, it'll likely most effect those businesses who bring little value to the table, be it in terms of product, service, pricing or pure and simple know how.

Like in the Real World, we shall require a change of paradigms - away from the culture of smoke&mirrors and back to the boring "traditional values", foremost of which honest hard work.
But also, living within one's means whilst observing strict fiscal discipline; a commitment to quality and safety; understanding, managing and spreading one's risks; the willingness to constantly improve on one's skills and to refine one's product; knowing the client's expectations in order to provide him with impeccable service; prudent demand-driven expansion and market development.
Sounds trivial but it is true never the less - the adage that there's no such thing as a free lunch has never been more true than now.

With that in mind, we will most certainly survive.
Smaller maybe - but likely, as a whole, more professional and hopefully, equally profitable.

2 comments:

Shark Diver said...

Welcome back to the Cyber World. I liked your analysis of the industry going into 2009. Only an ex banker could line that up the way you did.

The run towards "quality animal encounters" will be a hallmark of 2009-10 methinks. For sure "value" will be high on divers agendas.

We will be loosing a simply massive segment of divers for 2009 no doubt. Market contraction is never a pretty thing to behold but lessons get learned and people adapt or perish.

Shark diving as a general rule will do well because of the nature of the animal encounter. Given a choice divers will more often choose sharks over reef dives.

One of our best seasons was during the .Com recession of 2001-2.

DaShark said...

I sure hope yer right my friend!

This sure aint anything like the .com bubble.
The newly crowned messiah has got his work cut out for him and nobody should be fooled by some great sound bites and a couple of dead cat bounces on Wall Street: it's gonna be long and it's gonna be ugly.

But as I said, so far so good!
Fiji is beautiful, safe and friendly and above all, easily accessible and relatively cheap, especially now that the greenback is picking up momentum. And we got great great diving, not only with our wonderful Sharks - overall, a fantastic package!
Fingers crossed!