Why DEMA Should be Open to the Public

At least for a couple of days anyway!

by David Miner

DEMA (Dive Equipment Manufacturers Association) is the only international diving trade show where thousands of diving professionals congregate for four days to immerse themselves in the diving industry. DEMA is all about diving! Diving equipment manufacturers, dive travel businesses, diving educators, and diving professionals fill thousands of square feet of a convention center to do business, promote the sport of diving, build relationships, have fun, and educate themselves. There is no other diving trade show where ALL of the diving industry comes together at this level. The amount of diving experience, knowledge, and information to be had is overwhelming, which is why it takes four days to get through it all. The other big trade shows around the country are typically two days and about half the size (or less) of DEMA.

The diving public is not allowed to attend DEMA. It is only open to people in the diving industry, like dive instructors, dive masters, dive shop personnel, and anyone else in the diving “business.” If you are lucky enough to attend, you get to see the latest dive gear from all the big equipment manufacturers, you get to see and collect information about all of the great diving locations and trips around the world, you get to communicate with leaders in the industry, and you get to be apart of and participate in a huge diving event…something that the diving public could really benefit from, be motivated by, and truly enjoy.

Diving is all about the latest and greatest dive equipment, the great diving locations around the world, having fun, and being apart of something…a community of individuals who likes to do the same thing. To go diving, you need a buddy. This brings together friends, husbands and wives, and creates the need for diving clubs where people get together to talk about diving and go diving together…meaning that participating in diving unites individuals and brings people together. And what is a trade show? A trade show is the gathering of people who want to get together to talk about, learn, meet people, and have fun participating in the thing they love to do, which in this case is scuba diving.

Diving is a sport where some people participate year-round and others only do over the summer months. Some divers focus on diving only when they take their exotic trips each year and other divers think about and go diving weekly or monthly. Unfortunately, some newly trained divers never dive again after their class because they can’t find a buddy or don’t find an “in” and get attracted to something else. The point is, that many divers move in and out of the sport throughout the year, some are always diving, some only dive during the summer, and others never get going in the sport after getting certified. This translates into the potential of losing many people in the sport every year…something the diving industry shouldn’t want to happen. If someone is thinking about another sport because of the weather outside and they get involved in something else, they could easily forget about diving even when summer comes. Their time and amount of money they have to spend on hobbies is limited and if diving becomes second or third in their list of hobbies, it could easily be dropped.

With anything, if you’re active or want to become active in the sport, you gravitate towards other people doing the same thing. If you play golf, you want to become a member of a country club to be apart of that atmosphere and community. The same thing goes for divers and the diving community.

There are no diving country clubs, but there are dive clubs and organizations around the country and world bringing divers together. There are dive shops that promote dive trips that bring people together in the local area. There are websites, like Divingindepth.com, and others that create a community for divers to talk about diving, read about diving, and participate in diving (cyberly). There are consumer-based trade shows like Beneath the Sea and The Scuba Show that allow the diving public to participate. All of these unite divers, keep divers interested in the sport, and help to promote the sport.

DEMA is a huge four-day event that focuses on just the diving industry, not the diving public. Why is this? Because of the size of DEMA, the locations of the event each year, the multitude of exhibitors, and the notoriety of the event, DEMA and the entire diving community (both the industry and public) could benefit by allowing the diving public to participate. With more diving events for the diving community to participate in, the more chance there is to keep their interest in diving no matter what time of year it is. This means that more gear will be sold and more dive trips will be booked. DEMA is typically towards the end of the year (this year it was in November), meaning that if DEMA allowed diving consumers to participate, dive shops, dive travel businesses, and gear manufacturers could see a significant increase in their Holiday sales.

The gear that is promoted at DEMA, the great dive trips and locations that are promoted, the amount of information available is ultimately for the people that participate in diving. By allowing the consumer to see the new gear coming out, to get information about dive trips all over the world, and to communicate with leaders in the industry, DEMA could single-handily help to keep and boost the interest and excitement of thousands of divers, boost sales for both the manufactures and the dive shops, and unite the diving community in another yearly event. If DEMA needed to limit the number of “pubic,” one way would be to require everyone to present his or her certification card to get in? With this, at least, DEMA and all the exhibitors would know that everyone attending the show was a diver.

It should be everyone in the diving industry’s goal to promote diving, help to grow the sport, and to keep diver’s interest in the sport. DEMA could be a major influence on helping to keep with this goal. So what do you say DEMA? Would you consider opening your doors to the diving public (at least for a couple of days anyway)?