We recently hosted a dive trip where most of the guests departed the boat extremely unhappy. This is very unusual, and very regrettable to us. It did make me think, however, about why this happened and if any of our customers’ dissatisfaction could have been prevented. No doubt the boat’s mechanical problems were the major factor. But, the guests were able to dive every day, just not every place they thought they might go. The mechanical problems also made one of the most expensive cabins uninhabitable. The guests assigned to that cabin were greatly inconvenienced, but they preferred to sleep in the salon rather than exchanging rooms with us. These folks certainly did not get good value for their money. We have been around this business for a long time and know that boats are boats, and if they can break down, they usually will. Stuff happens, even with the best of intentions and maintenance. Together with the company, we are going to come up with realistic compensation for everyone.
What I don’t really get was the progressively worsening attitude of some guests as the trip proceeded. They were on the boat for the duration. They were diving in a remote and exotic location. They were seeing animals that they had never seen before. They had also paid a lot of money for the trip. Why couldn’t they make the best of it and enjoy what they were experiencing instead of constantly looking for more reasons to be angry? With a few weeks of hindsight, I think the power of unfulfilled expectations caused most of their discontent.
These people had not really done their homework on the area. They expected to dive in consistently clear water in a place not known for great visibility, they wanted drift dives, but refused to dive in currents, and they expected to see animals that don’t live in the region. No wonder they were disappointed! Despite our best efforts at pre-trip education, they still compared where they were to what they had hoped it would be. They did admit to not reading most of the information that was sent out or, for that matter, not reading anything else on the region except “hearing” it was supposed to be great.
As diving tourists you shoulder some of the responsibility for the satisfaction you derive from your trips. Yes, your level of preparedness ranks right up there with the travel agents, tour operators, dive guides, and weather gods. Your responsibility is to be informed. Before you book, read everything about where you plan to go and decide not only if it’s right for your skill level, but also if the area will fulfill what you desire in a dive vacation. If you are a beginning diver with just a few logged open water dives, don’t push your limits by booking a trip to Galapagos. If you want to see schooling hammerheads, why book a trip to Boniare? Likewise, if you don’t like diving in open ocean currents, why book a trip to Cocos?
We believe in striving for maximum value fulfillment in all aspects of life, whether it be personal relationships, work or even vacations. But fulfilling expectations is a two way street. Perhaps only in the movies can a person do the impossible and make a school of hammerheads pass by on command. If I could I’d that I’d be in Hollywood instead of writing this blog.