Rutger Thole

Don't look for quick and easy fixes

16

4

The New Way the World Books Their SCUBA dives

It all started 10 years ago but I'll keep it short

For some odd reason I decided to become a scuba instructor 10 years ago. I was 23. 

I rented my appartment quited my job and moved to the Caribbean, learned to scuba dive and 1 year later I became that scuba instructor.

2 years later I was back home and I landed a job. 6 years later and 3 jobs in between I realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I wanted the scuba dive life style back. "Work hard play hard"

Being a bit wiser and older and worked for a new Amsterdam based start up I learned quite a lot about sales & online marketing. 

And then it hit me!! 

I would build the first reviews based / comparison site for scuba dive courses and dive packages. Yeah! If TripAdvisor and Booking.com can do it... I can do too :)

Now 3 years later she is still standing and is slowly growing into something beautifull. Babys are ugly too when they are just born :) 

We have some traction, happy partners as in dive operators and visitors who compliment us with the fact we build this. 

All good, but now it is time to take it to the next level.. 

I joined this course to learn from fellow students and would love to have feedback on what I do and how I do it. Don't be gentle :) 

One of the hardest parts of running this star t-up is doing it alone. Ofcourse their are ambassadors and fellow start up founders i talk to regurly but when it comes down to it I do it all. That said I love it and i can see here grow and I believe it will not be long before I can reach out and look for a dedicated co-founder. 

Thank you in advance for your feedback and I look forward to finish this course with you all.  Below my first take in the 11 Q's 

I will dedicate my mornings the next few days to furter enroll in this class and will upload all progress and insights here. 

Your Business or Brand:

Bookyourdive.com is a Amsterdam based bootstrapped start-up where scuba divers can review, compare and book scuba dive packages and scuba lessons with dive operators all over the world.

For scuba divers

We make it easy to find and contact (multiple) scuba dive operators to make a request for booking. We are active bloggers and publish content about scuba diving (destinations)

For dive operators

We generate leads  and exposure for your business.

11 Questions:

1.) What is Marketing for? What does this department/function/budget exist to do?

Create awareness about who we are, what we do and why we do it. Market to stand out of the crowed, be different.

2.) What are we allowed to touch?

In this case I am allowed to touch it all J  for the simple reason I am the founder and the only employee. This is what makes it difficult too. There are more elements  I would like to touch but not able to do like I would or should.

3.) What can we as marketers measure?

We can and should measure all online output. These are – CTR on specific pages on the website, CTR of specific social media channels used. Number of returning customers, newsletter sign ups, customer satisfaction and so on.

99% of our outreach is via our social media channels like: 

4.) What can we change?

We can change the scuba diving market. How people book their scuba dive packages / trips.

The new generation does not go into a brick and mortar shop and goes home with tons of brochures. They do their research online, read blogs, reviews, and watch videos before reaching out in order to get a quote or make a reservation. 

We should become their one stop shop!

2nd :

We can change the way dive operators market their business. Many of them do not have the time and or skills to market their business like they should in 2014. Bookyourdive should be one of the go to platforms where a dive operator promotes his business in order to generate online exposure, customer reviews, leads and sales.

5.) What promise are you going to make?

We promise we make a scuba divers life easier when it comes to find the right dive operator to book a dive package with. We promise we share and unlock all the information and content we have about a specific destination or operator on 1 page. We promise a reply from a dive operator within 24hrs after an inquiry is made.

We promise we make a dive operators life easier when it comes to creating online exposure.

We promise we will send you all the customer data without any delay so you can follow up an inquiry made via our site directly.

6.) What’s the hard part?

Earning online shelve space :)  Although we have a potential online global audience it is difficult to reach them. To my best of knowledge we use the all the “free” tools out there and are very active on social media and publish regular content.  We do have traction and traffic and I believe we have active tribes, which we engage with almost 24/7

That said generating high quality web traffic which converts into actual requests for booking is the hardest part I have learned in the last 3 years.

7.) Should your organization be making trends or following trends?

We are definitely following a trend here. Where we used to go to a brick and morter travel agency we now go online and we use sites like Booking.com, Expedia TripAdvisor and AirBnB. 

We do the same as the big boys mentioned above but we stick to scuba diving only.  

Like AirnBnB disrupted the hotel market on a global scale by making it easy to connect people to private house owners. I believe Bookyourdive can become the AirBnB for the niche of scuba diving.

8.) Where is the risk?

The risk for me as a marketer / founder is that eventually we are not able to make a viable business which means we need to stop doing what we are doing now. If that would happen I had the time of my life and chased my dreams and really made an effort trying to change something.  That said, there is no real risk since I have learned so much I have won already. 

The risk for a dive operator could be that negative reviews are being added to his profile page, which could hurt his image.  Some operators do not want to give full disclosure regarding pricing, when we ask them to do so.  They see this as a risk. (I never fully understood why)

9.) Who is in charge?

I am! No doubt, for the simple reason I run this company and I do not have any dedicated employees or co-founders.

10.) Marketers spend money. Where are you spending the money? What is it for?

We started /build the company 3 years ago. 50% of our budget was spend of development, 25% was spend on marketing which consisted of traveling to scuba dive shows, meet and greets with potential clients and content marketing (blogs) We spend a small sum on Online ads like Adwords or Facebook ads. The other 25% was spend on monthly  “management fee” so I could pay my bills since I quitted my day job.

The goal was to build a platform and connect with the dive operators worldwide who wanted to market their services. That worked and still works.  By doing so the platform would come to life and would have value for scuba divers.

Now, early 2014 we are heading to a point (but where not their yet) where we can make a living of the monthly revenue.  I would probably spend this money in further development of the site in order to make it better and to make it the first choice to go to for scuba divers and operators alike.

Why go anywhere else if bookyourdive.com can fulfill all your scuba diving needs”

11.) How should you be spending your time?

I should spend more time getting out if the office! Talk to clients, users and learn how we should evolve.  I should spend time reaching out to prospects who will add immediate value for our visitors and the site. I should spend more time generating awesome scuba diving (destination) content like video’s and interviews. 

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