The Golden 30


We’re leaving money on the table. 

As a marketer, I’m driven to help clients get more business through the door, but in my travels, I’m seeing a lot of DZs not capitalizing on the customers they already have. 

How much revenue could your business generate if you were able to receive an additional $20 from 30% of your tandem students? 

If you’re not creating a reason to force foot traffic into your store, then you need to create one.

Let’s do the math. If your DZ does 2,000 tandems annually then that would equate to an additional $12,000. What if we could convert a higher percentage or better yet, a higher per customer dollar spend than $20?  I think this is entirely possible.

Missed Opportunity

Many DZ’s are missing out on a major opportunity with post jump sales that should be occurring between your guests landing and leaving the facility. We’ll call that period of time the Golden 30. 

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The Golden 30

Consumer purchasing decisions are often based on emotion. As documented in Psychology Today, fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts) to make a buying decision. 

If we’ve done our jobs well, then our guests are in a heightened state of being that retailers attuned to the psychology of purchasing can only dream about. 

Take for example the beauty of the retail experience at a high-end mall – the Apple Store, Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, Crate & Barrel or Lululemon. Every aspect of the retail experience has been scrutinized to create an emotional experience – lighting, interior design, music (both its content and volume) and smell. These stores have a limited time to capture a customer to walk into the store, engage with the products by touching, feeling and hopefully asking questions or trying something on. The pathway to purchasing something is delicate and can be thrown off by a phone call, a crying baby or a price point that seems well-beyond our budgets and it’s why there is so much attention focused on every aspect of the experience.  

Entrance to an Apple Store


In the multi-million dollar business of skydiving, we should be paying more attention to the Golden 30. As I visit DZ’s around the world, the trend is much the same. A tandem instructor is usually seen rushing away from their students to meet the next one. This usually occurs in the hangar or sometimes in the field leaving a student one option: to slowly come down from their heightened and optimal buying state. 

A Closer Look 

I’d like to challenge DZ operators to look closely at where their guests are going post jump. If you’re not creating a reason to force foot traffic into your store, then you need to create one. As a former DZM, I focused on this to the point of changing the entire traffic flow of our guests utilizing the store as the central meet-up point. Admittedly, making this change threw everyone off as it was so different, but after a six-month experimentation, the numbers didn’t lie. We were asking ourselves why we hadn’t made the change years before. 

Points of Interaction 

Examine the primary points of interaction with your guests and then take note of what happens immediately following the action. What are your guests left doing? Oftentimes it’s waiting for their next directive. That wait time can set things up for small sales and a bigger sale post-jump. 

1. Check-In & Paperwork followed by waiting. 

2. Training followed by waiting. 

3. Gear-Up followed by the skydive.

4. De-Gear followed by waiting. 

5. Signing of Certificate and Closing followed by waiting for media or departure. 

Meet-Up Point Followed by Examine
Check-In & Paperwork Waiting for next directive Where are they waiting?
Training Waiting for next directive Where are they waiting?
Gearing Up Skydving Where are wallets and valuables being secured?
De-Gearing Signing of Certificate Where is this taking place?
Signing of Certificate Shopping or Departure? What is their behavior after the jump?

Understanding the main points of interaction followed by lots of nervous waiting presents an opportunity for small sales and the familiarization of the retail space and its offerings. My goal was to intersect the points of interaction with the retail space being the central meet-up point where check-in and meeting with instructors always took place.

Apparel sales and second chance tandems generally won’t happen until after the jump, but capitalizing on drink sales like water (excellent profit margins), coffee (an inviting aroma with excellent margins) or even Starbucks Frappucino’s bought from Costco or Sam’s Club is an easy sell.

Assuming there have been minimal delays from check-in to boarding, the critical piece to additional sales is what happens after the jump during the signing of the certificate of achievement. Ask yourself the following questions:

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Questions To Answer

1. Where is this interaction taking place? 

The signing of the certificate of achievement provides closure to this life-changing experience. It’s the cherry on the top and where this occurs is critical. While it would be more convenient to do this in the hangar, it needs to be taking place in the retail space / area. 

To avoid inefficiency, tandem students preparing to go on a call should be called to the store to meet with their instructors which allows for a smooth transition for the instructor to finish with one student and easily find the next student to reduce any delay. 

2. What is the quality of the certificate of appreciation? 

If the certificate is more of an afterthought where it’s poorly designed and printed on a cheap piece of copy paper, then you’re sending a message about your brand and the experience right before the opportunity for a sale to take place. You’ve offered a life-changing experience, make sure the certificate of achievement reflects this. This interaction should set up the next interaction – they need to walk away with something else that showcases the experience in the form of a tee shirt or a hat or a hoodie. 

3. What is being given to the students in this moment? 

In addition to the certificate of achievement, provide a well-designed coupon for $3 OFF a hat or a tee shirt. This incentivizes someone to look at your offerings. Everyone loves a deal which is a perfect match considering the mental state of your guest in this moment.  

4. What is the instructor saying to the student in this moment? 

Tandem instructors have built this enormous trust and relationship with the guest and what they say and how they say it can greatly influence the purchase of another tandem skydive, enrollment into AFF or the purchase of a tee shirt. Some coaching with instructors can help DZ sales and additional work for the instructor. 

5. Where is the student’s wallet? 

A critical piece to a sale is the location of the student’s wallet. If they secured their valuables in the car, then the opportunity for a sale greatly decreases. Once they get to their car, there is a high likelihood that they will engage with their phone between calling friends, texting and getting on social media – all distractions from a sure sale. 

If a guests wallet can be secured in the retail space and then returned the likelihood of sale increases dramatically. 

Two Keys – Traffic Flow and Retail Space 

There are two critical keys to seeing an increase in sales. The first is forcing 100% of foot traffic into the retail space as highlighted above. The second is having a good layout. There are a few retail basics you must adhere to in order to drive additional sales: 

- Clean. The layout of your retail space must be clean and uncluttered and allows enough room to look and touch different apparel items.

- Well-Branded. It should go without saying but have good branding. If your logo is amateur and antiquated, it will affect sales. Invest in good branding that looks clean and kick-ass.

- Avoid Folding Tables. Don’t display tee shirts that are folded on tables. Few people want to mess it up. Use waterfall displays that show the entire shirt and easily allows people to pick up the tee shirt and look at it. Don’t use sales rounders. Waterfalls. 

Shirts on hangars.

Allowing a customer to easily grab a shirt and drape it across them to check for sizing is simple. Tip: have a mirror nearby.

- Variety. Have well-designed tee shirts, hats and jerseys. If the store looks scant and minimal to the degree where people can evaluate all you have in a quick moment, then expand your offerings. 

- Display. DO NOT showcase tee shirt designs behind the counter forcing people to ask to see a certain size. Sales will be minimal. 

- Never give tee shirts away. Some DZs give away tee shirts as part of their marketing strategy. This will negatively impact any apparel sales. 

- Make It Easy To Spend. If you have decent traffic volume to your DZ, consider purchasing an ATM machine. An ATM machine provides an additional revenue stream and makes it easier for your guests to tip instructors or buy more things in the store. The location of the ATM should be in the store.

  • 2018 DZ Marketing Conference - February 6-7, 2018

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About James La Barrie

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.

2 thoughts on “The Golden 30”

  1. “If a guests wallet can be secured in the retail space and then returned the likelihood of sale increases dramatically.” Good point, James. I think this is the first time I have ever heard that mentioned. Of course, a DZ will need to find a quick, easy, and secure method of providing storage of valuables.

    There is no mention of a logbook! It seems like almost everyone now days assumes that a logbook must be filled out manually, signed by the Instructor manually, etc., and that it takes too much time. Bullshit! All it takes is a little bit of work and planning. If your instructors are too lazy to sign a logbook, then make logbooks with graphics of their signature.

    When people take introductory airplane flights, they get logbooks, and an explanation of how their flight time and future instruction, (hint!) that they are going to take gets logged.

    A log “book” does not have to be a booklet. It can be printed on the back of the certificate. Duh! I have shown multiple dropzones how to do this, and it works well.

    1. Gary, great comment and idea. I will be delivering to you the greatest form of flattery and incorporating a logbook onto the back of our certificates! Thanks and happy holidays.

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