Thanks for joining us here at BlueOceanNetwork.com! My name is Laurie Wilson and I'm the publisher of DTBN. I'm addicted to learning and I LOVE the ocean. I am a diver, a writer, a speaker, and an adventure-maker and my passion is dive travel. I love to share what I've learned to help make selling dive travel more effective, profitable, sustainable, interesting and fun for you. We're in the business of selling FUN after all... ; )
My background is hospitality & tourism management, and I've been lucky to play a part in dive travel since 1989. I've worked in a variety of jobs in our industry (more info on my LinkedIn profile) that's given me an amazing overview and unique insight into the business of dive travel.
When I started a 4-year stint working in the dive mecca called the Cayman Islands, as Sales & Marketing Manager at Sunset House Dive Hotel, it quickly became clear that there was a desperate lack of dive travel education to help Sellers of Travel effectively sell dive travel.
It dawned on me that in order to market Sunset House, we needed to back up a bit and teach Sellers more specifically about dive travel and how to market it to their own customers and clients.
As I toured dive retailers and travel agents around our resort property and hosted them on boat trips as part of Cayman Islands Depart. of Tourism (CIDOT) familiarization trips (FAM's), I began explaining - in more generic terms - what divers are looking for in a destination, in accommodations and in a dive operator, how best to match client abilities and needs to the dive experiences, the various pieces that go into creating a successful dive travel itinerary, and how to close sales and find more clients.
These tailored talks for FAM participants gave travel pros an on-site crash course on how to sell dive travel at one of the world's top dive destinations - and in the process I must have done a record number of Stingray City trips - for being one of the 'office gals'.
My site inspections-turned-walking-mini-seminars were unlike anything else agents had ever experienced on a FAM trip. Word got out, and our property tours became so popular that the CIDOT made sure Sunset House was always slated for CIDOT FAM trip schedules. A side benefit - our resort was also included in a whack of marketing promotions including photo shoots, TV programs, documentaries and more.
Expanding on this education theme, I got the go-ahead to lead seminars for Sunset House at the trade-only DEMA Show. To our dive hotel team's surprise, our talks ended up being standing-room only, catching the attention retailers and wholesalers alike. The resort's occupancy increased by 25%, new repeat customers near-doubled, and DEMA Show management invited me to be a regular DEMA Show speaker as part of their business seminar series.
It was so obvious there was still a huge need for dive travel business education, yet nobody was filling the void with a fulltime education service. So when I left Sunset House in 1993, I founded the Dive Travel Resource Group (DTRG).
DTRG's mission was simple: to provide business education and resources that help dive and travel professionals to sell dive travel.
I've worked with SCUBA magazines (legendary Skin Diver publisher Paul Tzimoulis and photo pro Geri Murphy taught me so much about selling dive travel); national and international travel associations like ASTA and PATA; large travel conglomerates (such as American Express and Liberty/Gogo); liveaboards (including an exceptional opportunity to work with Anne & Wayne Hasson of Aggressor Fleet); all kinds of resorts, dive operators, dive travel wholesale companies and many tourism boards.
NOAA invited me to market America's National Marine Sanctuary program and non-profit REEF got me involved in their Public Relations efforts to encourage environmental awareness and sustainability to their peeps. To date, I've contributed more than 150 business articles to trade magazines and trade newsletters, and created mini-guides that help you sell dive travel.
Over the years, I've had the honor of collaborating with some of the 'who's who' in the dive industry. One of the ways to share this wealth of industry wisdom was to develop the full day "Dive Travel Conference" which gave me the opportunity to showcase the generous knowledge of our top industry pros.
This initiative quickly expanded in scope to provide year-round DTRG seminars at U.S. regional dive and travel shows, international dive shows and trade conferences, along with regular webinar presentations for The Travel Institute. At last count, more than 15,000 Sellers of Travel have participated in these learning programs and events.
Get an OceanView.
The next obvious step? Take this knowledge on-line to provide 24/7 news and resources focused on the needs of our ocean tribe. And that's how this site came about. I have to scan the news to stay on top of the latest in diving, adventure travel and eco-tourism - so why not pass on what I've learned to you? So. I did. And here it is.
Now there's more in the works on the education front to offer you, but in the meantime, please get the most out of this site by signing up for free news updates via "OceanView" e-News. It provides subscribers with a summary of the top news stories we post to this site. To get a copy of OceanView, enter your email address in the box on the right-hand side of this page, and click on the Submit button.
Thanks again for diving into BlueOceanNetwork.com! And please stay in touch - I always want to know how we can make your job easier, have more impact, be more profitable, and have way more fun!
Publisher, Knowledge Gatherer, DTBN.com