Submerged Nation recently appealed to the Australian dive community to support their Local Dive Stores (LDS), to ensure they survive the current uncertainty and prosper through the summer, to be there for years to come. See Story here.
It seemed like an appropriate time to reflect on the past 18 months…
For ourselves, with close to 94% of our business being driven by international clients, the border closure in 2020 represented a big but not unexpected challenge – we first contacted our Expedition Travel Clients as far back as 17th January 2020, when we were first advised of the pending ‘corona outbreak’ (as it was being called at that stage) by our Compliance Risk and Diligence advisors. Since then we’ve been operating under our Business Continuation Plan (BCP Protocols) – little did we realise at the time it would be for quite so long. You can read some of our post here. For most of 2020 it changed significantly how we did business, and we can proudly reflect that not a single Training or Expedition Customer was left out of pocket, with complete refunds achieved across the board, not just from ourselves but our travel partners – thanks to the Airlines (Emirates, Qantas and Singapore) and our accommodation partners, ground transport suppliers and the many others who we work with to deliver our Expedition services.
As 2020 progressed and we rolled into 2021, we found ourselves with unprecedented levels of bookings from our domestic customers with FNQ very much open for business, creating such demand we are still fully booked over a year in advance, resulting in us having a significant re-think on how we approach training bookings.
In late 2020 we began working with our International Clients again, albeit without them visiting Australia, we once again were able to offer Expedition Diving in various parts of the world working within travel bubbles. If you’re interested to see where in the World we could take you in 2022 and beyond – here are some of our popular LUXE Expeditions – or let us designed something just for you. In August we received Safe Travels Accreditation from WTTC, as part of our continued best practice approach.
As a company we passed a milestone in early June 2021, with everyone on the team double vax’d. A champagne moment for the team.
While we’ve remained extremely busy, we’ve noted as we come out of the September School Holiday period, local accommodation bookings for Port Douglas were sitting at around 1/3 of the previous levels, with travellers unwilling to cross borders (those who can anyway) risking being trapped. As a team, we have an active ‘support local’ plan – and we can be found more often than not, out enjoying the hospitality of the local restaurants, a “sacrifice” we are happy to make. :-)
The next challenge facing the Scuba industry is the supply chain issues created by ballooning freight costs (FCL Sea freight now costings us 700% more), airfreight availability becoming increasingly difficult and numerous temporary (and sadly some permanent) factory closures, quality products are increasingly difficult to source, with some lead-times out to 8-9 months. We are working hard to ensure we have stock on hand to meet your needs, but we have noticed significant increases in demand as well, a perfect storm. You’ll see a few more than usual “Out of Stock” notices, which basically means we don’t expect stock for at least 30 days or longer, “Back Order” means stock is a week or so away (but keep in mind it might pre-sell, so talk to the team to get your order in) and of course for us “In Stock” means just that – I could walk around the warehouse and touch it. More info on this topic here.
I’ll talk more next time about new products, shortages, and how supply chain issues are changing the face of Scuba, often in a good way, with production innovation and creating opportunities to ‘reset’ poor industry practices.
“Open for Business” (April, 2020)
“Expedition Travel in 2020” (April 2020)
“Best Practice” (June 2020)