change_for_the_better_525x295, blue ocean summit, ocean change makers, ocean activists, sustainable tourism, sustainable diving(Blue Ocean Network.com – Monday June 9, 2014) — The Blue Ocean Business Summit, a first-ever online industry gathering, took place June 2-6, 2014.  The new business event invited all stakeholders to the table to discuss the future of the dive industry and the imperative to bring the ocean into their businesses as a full partner.

During the online conference, Summit Host Laurie Wilson took attendees on a 5-day adventure along the path towards sustainability, introducing them to an eclectic cross-section of the industry including dive retailers, travel pros, group leaders, resort and live-aboard operators, scientists, academics, community activists, photo-journalists, media representatives, and non-profit organizers. The event attracted opening keynote Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind, and closing keynote, Dr. Carl Safina, PBS TV Host of “Saving the Oceans.”

These trailblazers generously shared their challenges, lessons learned and best practices to successfully ride the big waves of change already happening in the industry. They provided a sense of support and community for those who may be experiencing a rocky business environment, characterized by feelings of uncertainty, worry, overwhelm and lack of clear direction.

Big Ocean, Big Picture
The first day, entitled Big Ocean, Big Picture gave participants a powerful grounding in the new business imperative – the sustainable business model that incorporates a triple bottom line approach, recognizes all stakeholders and overcomes competitive conflicts through common ground collaboration. 

Lightning Strikes
It was an aha moment for some, when the realization hit that the dive industry is actually a member of the marine tourism industry (and not vice versa) since most people learn to dive and buy gear to prepare for travel to dive destinations. One of the world’s largest industries, Tourism is under intense pressure to become sustainable because of the negative impacts it has on the environment and local communities.

Redefining the Dive Resort
The second day delved deep into the resort experience, determining if tourists even know or care about sustainable tourism, and what successful resorts are doing to redefine themselves in light of the new blue business reality revealing itself right now.

Honest Talk About Marine Conservation
Ocean issues finally had their say, when day 3 dived into the heart of the matter that will make or break our industry. Participants learned exactly what is going on in the underwater world and how people, considered ‘lower tier’ stakeholders in the dive industry, are already on board as a powerful part of the solution.

Traveling Towards Sustainability.
In Day 4, the discussion turned to underwater experiences, and where the dive industry sits in terms of eco-sensitive education and environmentally-friendly travel. The big key question was: What must we do to protect our businesses and grow the industry?  It became clear that the traditional dive business model is grossly inadequate to prepare us for the new business reality. And those who continue to follow it will pay a price.

Change Comes Through Action
Throughout the Summit, there was much talk about what business owners could do. On day 5, Summiters learned from men and women of true action that talk is not enough. In fact, too much talk is stalling the process, by giving people the false sense of security that talking is actually doing something – when it’s clearly not. We are being called to action, but the good news is, action starts with baby steps. Many baby step options were provided throughout the Summit.

Creating a Community of Change-makers
Summit Host Laurie Wilson commented, “With this Summit we are creating a community of change-makers, who are tired and dissatisfied with the traditional ways that aren’t working. They love the underwater world, and they want to make a difference while making a good living. For them, it can no longer be business as usual.”

Wilson explained that successful dive business owners are deeply connected to “Why” they went into business in the first place, and are inspired by the positive impact they can bring to the world by running a financially profitable business. Says Wilson, “This is the fundamental quality of a sustainable business model, and it’s now finding its way into all forward-thinking industries.

“As H.G. Wells so famously said, ‘We must adapt or perish.’ It’s clear from Summit comments, that our online participants understand that sustainability is not an option, nor is eco-lip service, and having that mindset puts them on the leading edge in the new business reality.”

About the Summit
The Blue Ocean Business Summit 2014 brought together 21 thought leaders, trailblazers and action-oriented business people from seven countries who generously shared their in-the-trenches stories, valuable insights and hard-won knowledge with attendees during the week-long online gathering. Two hundred and sixty-four people participated in the password-protected Summit while 1425 people followed the daily highlights on the Summit’s FaceBook page. After the Summit, on World Oceans Day June 8, Summit access was opened up all day for attendees to listen to all replays again for free.

Summit-To-Go
For those who missed the event or want to take a deeper dive, the Summit offers a downloadable Summit Resource Guide  that contains valuable tools, checklists, background and reference material that can be referred to again and again.

Access to audio replays of all 21 speakers is included in the purchase of the Summit Resource Guide, along with written highlights of each of the 20 sessions.  A portion of Resource Guide sales will support Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize project to create a system of marine protected areas around the world. The Blue Ocean Business Summit Resource Guide and audio replays will be available for US$79.99 at BlueOceanBusinessSummit.com.

First-Ever for the Industry
Creator of the Summit, Wilson said “There’s a reason why this was the first-ever online event for the dive industry. It was a huge undertaking with many moving parts, a smorgasbord of technological requirements, time zone considerations, internet issues and the ability to track down and engage an eclectic assortment of brilliant and busy people, many of whom are often on boats. And then we had to bring everyone up the online learning curve since very few people were familiar with the workings of an online Summit.

Wilson admits, “It turned into a bit of an octopus. There was intense research, multiple team collaborations, bringing on techno whizzes, changing platforms, long days, late nights, a large financial investment, a lot of faith, a lot of skype calls, and even more coffee. But now that we know how to do this, we’ll be doing it again. Perhaps via video, or maybe even a live in-person event. We’re looking at all the options. This is clearly an idea whose time has come. People are ready.”

For more information on the Summit and downloadable Resource Guide visit BlueOceanBusinessSummit.com