By guest blogger Adam Straub
You’re in your cubicle on a boring Wednesday afternoon, and your mind drifts, as it often does, to fantasies of running a dive resort on a small, exotic island, all from a poolside lounge chair. This scenario doesn’t have to be just a cubicle fantasy. If you’d really like to make the leap to managing a boutique dive resort here are some tips to turn your dreams into reality.
Be A Multi-Tasker
There are many elements at play when managing a small dive resort, and you’ll have to address them as a one-person army if need be. Over the course of a few hours you’ll be booking reservations, checking guests in, settling bills, and planning dives, courses and activities. Then you’ll need to switch gears to balance your books, plan the daily budget, organize and manage your staff and check the daily weather. Before you know it, you’ll be suiting up to go for a dive while organizing transportation for guests from the airport to the resort. The more experience you have in a multi-faceted work environment, where lots of different tasks fall onto your plate, the better. Before being given the golden key to the castle, you’ve got to put in some time. Resort owners are looking for people with experience in more than one area. Candidates with the most diverse portfolios get moved to the top.
It’s Not Just About the Diving
Diving and management experience are perhaps two of the most obvious skill sets that should appear on your resume, but what about accounting? Do you have marketing or maintenance and mechanical skills? Can you speak more than one language or words and phrases from many different tongues? All of these things can be invaluable when it comes to setting you apart from the field.
It should go without saying that any hospitality or service-related experience should be right at the top of your resume as well. From summer bartending gigs to front-desk reception work to retail experience — anything that shows you have experience as a warm, welcoming ambassador. Highlight the credentials that show you off as someone who’s eager to greet guests and give them the service and vacation of a lifetime.
Maintain Your Reputation and Relationships
Having a great resume and a few years of experience are key, but just as important is having a sterling reputation. As you progress in the dive industry, you’ll learn just how small the diving community is. That people do talk and bump into each other all over the globe. The impression you left behind at your previous posts will make or break your opportunities.
And it isn’t just employers and dive pros you need to be concerned with. Was there a scuba student you constantly made fun of? Did you help a customer find the perfect mask for their face shape? These people also talk, and they talk online in public forums. And yes, they will include your name, so make sure they are using it happily.
Also, foster ongoing pleasant and professional relationships any chance you have. It helps immensely to provide a prospective employer with glowing examples of your positive reviews. In this day and age, online reviews are everything.
Now the kicker — how do you find these gigs? Positive relationships and personal contacts are key, but if you’re just getting started you’ll have to do a little research. Word of mouth will eventually lead you to meet so-and-so who went on a charter with and heard about an opening in Eden because the prior manager fell ill or left for their next adventure, so always keep your ears open and chat people up, because you never know where an idle conversation can lead.
Keep an eye on the dive-agency employment boards online. Found a posting for a small resort in Bali that was filled three months ago? Follow it up. Check what other boutique resorts are in the area and send inquiry letters along with your resume. And be persistent. Check in every couple of months until a position opens.
Now, how do you make sure living the dream doesn’t turn into living the nightmare? Do your research and ask hard questions. You may annoy or insult someone by asking if the resort is currently turning a profit or if there have ever been any dive-related accidents, but it’s better to risk causing discomfort or losing an offer than to find out after you’ve flown thousands of miles that the resort was set up illegally, theft is a rampant issue with your staff or that the compressor is powered by gerbils running on a wheel.
Running a small dive resort is hard work and a tough gig to land. But once you’ve begun planning business calls around dives and started seeing the happiness on the faces of people desperately in need of a getaway, you’ll wonder why you ever stepped a closed shoe into an office instead of a flip-flop by the pool.