DEMA is to this dive pro what Disneyland is to little kids. The DEMA Show is a yearly event put on by the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, alternating between host cities Las Vegas, Nevada and Orlando, Florida. It is comprised of 2 parts – the massive trade show floor exhibiting everything from the latest and greatest in dive gear to any spectacular dive destination you can imagine, and countless seminar sessions hosted by manufacturers, training agencies, resort operators, and various others. The DEMA Show is open only to dive professionals or those working within the industry. In fact, its the reason I ended up undertaking my PADI Divemaster course when I did last fall in Cozumel…because my fiance Warren was going and I didn’t want to miss out!
I’ll give you this much, as I have nothing else to compare DEMA to, having not attended any other scuba related trade shows or events on a large scale, perhaps my perception of the show is an awful lot like that of a little kid staring up at Disneyland for the first time. Total awe and excitement, with a healthy dose of innocence thrown in. Beyond the sheer joy of surrounding myself with people who love scuba diving the way I do for 4 whole days, there’s also huge educational opportunities by attending a ton of seminar sessions, usually 3 to 6 one hour sessions per day. My favorite seminars are usually the ones hosted by the Divers Alert Network (DAN) and cover everything from diving physiology to marine toxicology to recompression theory and back again. This is where my nurse geek gets to come out and play with my scuba geek! The seminars are also a wonderful opportunity to catch up with my training organization PADI, by attending sessions on Risk Management, Standards, and Project AWARE, among others.
Our first DEMA was in November of 2012, in Las Vegas. We wandered the massive trade show floor at the Sands Expo Center wide eyed and bushy tailed, soaking in the organized chaos. I was overwhelmed. It probably didn’t help that every night after the show we hit the strip with friends. It was a blast! And oh so exhausting. Lets just say that this year, in Orlando, I made sure not to schedule any 8am seminars!
This year, we went in a little more prepared to tackle the madness of DEMA. Our game plan was simple: research locations for our next group dive trip, find a wholesaler to set it up for us, and check out a few key products we’re interested in getting our hands on (at great DEMA discounts I might add). I discovered that a big focus of DEMA for a lot of people is the networking opportunities, which is a largely foreign art for this nurse. Turns out though, it doesn’t take much chit chat before so and so is introducing you to that guy who knows this other guy that can totally help you out with something. Cool beans! I sure have a lot to learn.
We met some super cool people in Orlando, made some new friends, did some great product research (can’t wait to try out some of the new wetsuits!) and even got to spend some time with the owner of the eco resort we’ll be visiting on our honeymoon in May. More about that incredible place later though…its a post all its own! I definitely felt that this DEMA was far more productive than the last, though every bit as fun. I can’t help but feel like I’m “in the know” after the show – up to date with PADI, the latest research at DAN, the newest gear and tech, and hottest travel destinations. What a thrill! Speaking of the hottest travel destinations…we did manage to figure out where we’ll be taking our next dive group… Ready. Set. FIJI!