NUMBER CRUNCHING – never fun so let’s try to make it an easy read!
The annual price review has never been so demanding!
………. and when speaking to many of you, you have been absolutely astonished at the Tsunami of change that operators are facing at this time. So, we decided to give our price review context, and a wee touch of tongue ‘n’ cheek humour.
So where do we start with the task of telling customers what has changed; and that message that no-one wants to hear, “our prices are going up”. They simply have to, and here’s why!
We all get those letters, “sorry after serious consideration we regret to have to advise you of price rises”, our “prices have been held for over 2 years”, and “our costs have risen”, PAh, same old, same old! But here we are now, the unfortunate ones writing that explanation, and truly, the severity of the situation cannot be under-emphasised!
Having completed an extensive review, the conditions have become more complex and challenging than ever. For you to understand how daunting it is for a small company to commit to a fixed diving expedition price for the next year, that task needs to be given context.
PRIORITY no 1!
We recognise that it’s important for you as a group of divers, who are dependent on each other for a trip to proceed successfully, to have a transparent fixed price. For the expedition organiser that is a must, their job is thankless and hard enough! No surcharges, no extras, no caveats – simple!
THEN, set that entirely understandable need against the backdrop of an extremely volatile and uncertain economy, the very real losses of the pandemic and the tsunami of legislative change facing small business who are being asked to simultaneously survive and #buildbackbetter, then achieving that no 1 priority becomes more difficult.
Yes, this all sounds like the preamble to a price hike – but it’s real!
Here are some of the facts.
We were forcibly closed for 2 whole seasons by pandemic law, due to the household mixing rule. The marine sector was largely forgotten in financial support, and the amount eventually received in grants of any kind, amounted to about 1 week’s charter! That barely covered our insurance obligations for 1 year, never mind anything else. We had to fund 2 years of fixed costs ourselves.
This also coincided with us having already started to implement the improvements and evolutions identified in our 2020 Vision survey. Who remembers that? 🤣
………….. and look how ironic that turned out
With those aspirations in mind, and blissfully aware of what was on the global horizon, a month before the pandemic unfolded, we started to make changes to the dive centre accommodation. This was intended to create a more contemporary, spacious and sociable space – perfect …………and so it started! We ripped out the kitchen, to swap it into the dining area, knocked through walls to the sitting room, took down ceilings, lifted floors, and started rewiring. Cue the electrician and his news, that Fire Safety Legislation was changing, thankfully he was forewarned because most of us weren’t, it was 2019! OK, fair enough, but it wasn’t just that the WiFi interlinked detectors heads were required, in more complex systems of bigger buildings, it was also about the kind of wire that joins those heads together. So, you guessed it, rewiring = holes in the plasterboard, everywhere 🙁, and now we need a plasterer too, and a total redecoration.
…. and then the Pandemic arrived – all stop! ……….. in retrospect, that was maybe just as well, because then, along came #Buildbackbetter #ZeroWaste #Foosilfuelreduction #Climateemergency, and suddenly it was all about using the closed pandemic time, to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of holiday accommodation. The requirement of an EPC, which will soon need to be at a minimum leval or your premises will not secure a short term let license. Thankfully we hadn’t plastered and redecorated! Since then, the windows have been replaced, then more ceilings and walls are down, Kingspan and Superfoil are being put behind the plasterboard, and now, we really do need that plasterer and,…… maybe a wee lick of paint 😉 .
……… but never mind, it will be toasty and might save money when we reopen!
Then along comes the ScotGov Short Term Let Licensing proposal, which has since progressed to legislation, yes, and a lot more work and, ………. YES, even more expense, and submissions must be complete by 31st March, with a fee off-course, for existing accommodation providers to be allowed to continue to trade!
………it’s okay we’re on it!
So, we had also committed to re-engining the charter vessel. Yes expensive, and especially because in reality, an engine refit, always turns into a major vessel refit, fuel lines, water intakes, electrics, switches control panels, pumps etc. I’m thinking a new boat would have been cheaper 😉 But, really, it will be great at the end of the day and it does contribute towards our reduction in fossil fuel dependency and our Carbon footprint and our #energyaudit!
We were very excited when the engine order was placed at the end of January last year, with delivery being due in late April and many months of happy expeditions planned for over the summer. But, to cut to the chase, as some of you will know, there was a very serious and unanticipated disruption to international production and supply at the factory, resulting in a delay in delivery until the very end of August 2022! Readers of the previous post will see Gordon’s delight when they did arrive in mid October.
……… Cleaner, greener, power for your 2023 expedition – WooHoo!
We are also committed to installing a dive ladder or gate, ……… BUT you can’t do that without naval architects, surveyors and manufacturers. Yes, more expense., ………. it’s a bit of a repeating theme here.
……… but, at the end of the day, we know that the divers will love it!
So, staying at sea, and looking to the future, there was training of the young workforce to be done. Embracing the move away from single manning of passenger vessels at sea, and the boys leaving school it seemed logical to ‘get it done now’. So, off the MacKay boys went to Stream Marine Training for refresher training and 1st time courses. 3 x STCW courses [Firefighting at Sea, Personal Survival Skills, First Aid at Work and more] it doesn’t come cheap! ………………oh, we forgot to mention RYA Commerical Powerboat and VHF Radio! ……….. and so, with dive trips cancelled due to a shortage of engine power, money had to be earned and the boys all went off sub-contracting at sea for the summer! Much Kraken was consumed, I fear!
……… but, back to the price review!
Time to look at running costs, and while we thought it would all be about electricity (we use lots – but it’s green!) and fuel (we hope to use less 😉) and prices being inflated and volatile. Add to that insurance – eek it’s even more expensive than normal, anything metal has doubled, anything we buy that’s imported has too, so that’s everything really, ……………… and its eye-watering!
……….. and until the pandemic our prices remained constant for almost 10 years – yes, we have been well and truly told off for that by our accountant!
AND, when YOU book, and pay a deposit, we hold that money in a secure account in order that it can be refunded if necessary. That’s always been the case, ever since we started, every expedition we have ever run. But what’s changed now is that we have to pay VAT when you pay us the deposits, not when the trip is delivered as was the case before. BUT we are not permitted to use the trip money until the trip is delivered. In short, we have to pay the VAT on your expedition ourselves, before we can use the money paid for that expedition. Crazy – but there you go that’s how it is!
Really, we are giving background to the considerations, challenges, drivers and delays in these price reviews. THANK YOU for your patience.
Summed up, lots of improvements, upgrades, price rises, while aiming to keep expedition planning simple with fixed costs, no hidden extras, good service, great fun, loads of expedition delivery experience, knowing how to get it right for you, AWESOME DIVING while creating a sustainable model that allows us to stay around a lot longer to deliver,….. well,
…………… much more of that diving nonsense and adventures with our great customers!
You gotta laugh!