Choosing a great dive operator25th June 2015 | Sam Helmy
Day one of your dive holiday- the sun is out, the sea is a beautiful azure blue, you have had breakfast and turned up at the Dive Center to register and start your first day of an amazing diving holiday. If you have chosen your dive operator wisely, you will go home with a week’s worth of amazing memories and stories to impress your fellow diving friends. However, if you have chosen unwisely, in a week’s time you will be on your way home, annoyed at missed opportunities, bad service and with an overall unpleasant experience. So, how to choose the right dive operator?
After you have decided on your diving destination, a good place to start finding a good dive operator is to reach out to your diving friends and diving community and ask if anybody has been where you are going and has any recommendations for you. Unless you are going half way around the world, in all likelihood someone you know has been there before, or they know someone who has.
Online review sites
Online review sites can be a very effective way of finding a reputable dive operator. There are several reputable travel and diving review sites around. Now, you simply need to grab yourself a coffee and start reading through the reviews. If an operator has tons of great reviews and just a few bad ones, have a peek at the less than flattering reviews. You can learn a lot form them, and some are downright funny. I have personally seen a reviewer give a two star review due to the lack of filter coffee on the day boat, despite saying everything else was excellent and he saw a whale shark and a few mantas on his trip!
Dive forums also are excellent tools for searching out dive operators and sites in a specific location. Most forums have sections dedicated to specific destinations. There, you can talk to people who have experienced the area, either as guests or as dive professionals working in the region. One thing to be wary about on these forums is guerilla marketing activities, where some people log on and covertly recommend their business, or a business they work for.
By now, you have an idea where you want to go, and have selected a shortlist of potential dive operators. Time for some more web browsing and more coffee, as you start to check out the websites of the operators you are interested in. You are looking for a smart, easy to use website, with plenty of information about the location, the dive sites and the conditions in the area, and projects the operator is involved in. Websites that are just basically a price list and pictures of the team are just not good enough in today’s world. Check out prices but don’t book just yet - we will talk about that a bit later.
In this day and age, not having a social media presence for a dive operator is downright crazy. They are trying to attract clients from overseas, and social media is the ultimate way for customers to have a look into the day to day operation from afar. Check out the operators’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Have a good look around to ensure that the companies are active, that they have tons of items about clients, such as ‘diver of the week’, ‘student of the week’ etc. This is a good indication that an operator cares about its clients and goes the extra mile for them. Also, examine the pictures for group sizes, sightings and general diving practices.
Prices and booking
By now, you are out of coffee and down to two or three potential dive operators - it’s time to talk money and book your dream dive trip.
In diving, the expression “you get what you pay for” has never been truer. Whilst it is tempting to view the bottom line as the only factor in choosing a dive operator, don’t be fooled by this, in most global locations, good dive operators’ prices are 3$-5$ more expensive per dive compared to the lowest prices. That small difference is what allows good dive operators to have good maintenance standards, equipment reinvestment and flexibility to give YOU the best possible experience.
Feel free to contact the operator for a quote, however don’t be fooled by the pretty common “if you book with us today you get a 10% discount” line. This is just a marketing ploy for the operator, most dive operators give a 10% discount to repeat customers and it is factored into the prices. You are generally better off booking through a third party or agent.
(This is because websites like diviac.com work with dive operators on a long term basis, and supply the dive center with a volume business. The operator then gives the third party a much bigger discount than to a standard booking, and the third party passes a bigger proportion of the discount on to YOU. In diving, booking through a third party should always be better value than directly from the center.
With over 10,000 dive operators, 700+ liveaboards and 900+ dive destinations, Diviac Travel is one of the best places around to book your next dream dive trip.)
So, choose and book wisely, Happy diving!