On April 26 and 27, scuba divers from around the globe will converge at the first San Francisco Scuba Dive and Travel Adventure Show (SFO Dive Show), held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Managed by US Dive Shows, the two-day convention celebrates all things scuba with dive travel with live entertainment and seminars, and activities geared toward non-divers and those interested in joining the sport.
Article by John Tapley; photos courtesy Brian Miller
The SFO Dive Show will open its doors on Friday 26 at 8 a.m. with Industry Day: a series of programs and seminars designed for continuing education for divemasters, instructors, underwater photographers, dive retailers, and dive travel operators. Example exhibits include a PSI-PSCI cylinder inspection program, regulator repair, and a Reef Check seminar on ocean protection and business. After the day comes to an end, guests will enjoy a social and happy hour down the street from the convention center. Industry Day is not open for public participation: interested parties must register in advance.
Saturday 27 marks the consumer portion of the SFO Dive Show where the public is welcome to join. The show will boast over 60 exhibitions, which run the gamut of scuba diving, liveaboards, exotic travel and lodgings, apparel and lifestyle, and many other flavors. Non-divers interested in answering the call of scuba can earn Discover Scuba Diving certificates. Live entertainment and Caribbean music and other activities, such as a silent auction, will round out the day.
“Our activities on the floor are interactive so consumers can participate,” says show organizer Brian Miller. “We have the Companion Travel Program where individuals will buy raffle tickets. They’ll be able to walk around to one booth after another, and at booths with a sign and fish bowl. They can choose, for example, 50 percent off pre-companion travel for this resort or that one. It keeps people nice and active on the show floor.”
After the show floor winds down on Saturday evening, celebrants will enjoy presentations headlined by luminaries in the world of diving. The VIP Theater experience is scheduled to include acclaimed underwater photographer Amos Nachoum, visual artists Andy Sallmon, Allison Vitsky, and Jason Bradley, and filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall.
“The outline of our evening program is a little different than what you’d see at a lot of dive shows. It’s a TED-talk performance where people will come up and speak for 10 minutes; another for 15; another for 20. They’ll give presentations on themselves, the technology they use, and their adventures and experiences. We did it in DC and it was an excellent program with an all-female cast, which was fantastic.”
For Miller, the SFO Dive Show is an extension of his lifelong dedication to the world aquatic and his 45-years-experience in the dive industry. As the head of US Dive Shows, he has successfully managed two conventions in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington DC. Participants at these shows asked him to expand to the west coast, and thus the SFO Dive Show was formed.
“I’m from California and when I worked for Aqualung, I taught regulator repair to stores throughout the region – through Northern California,” says Miller. “I knew a lot of the dealers up there and wanted to start working with them again.”
For him, the biggest takeaway from the show is connecting scuba explorers both green and seasoned with local dive retailers, and in turn, foster a healthier scuba diving community in Northern California.
“I hope they have a better knowledge of local diving businesses: who they are, what they do, and where they are. So often I’ve heard, as an exhibitor at all the different dive shows across the country, is that consumers don’t know there’s a dive store there.
“I’m dedicated to local businesses working better and we do that as a group. We don’t do this by ourselves. Too often, a dive retailer starts out and his objective is to conquer the world and be the best or put someone out of business. It’s always been my goal to expand the local regional business and do what we can to work together and help everyone out. If the consumers walk away saying, ‘I like everybody here,’ then that’s when we win.”
Tickets for the San Francisco Dive and Travel Show cost $35 at the door; visitors who purchase tickets in advance can enjoy a discount of $10.
For more details on the two-day scuba extravaganza, including ticket orders and a full list of exhibitors, seminars, and programs, visit www.sfodiveshow.com.