Ocean Frontiers staffers in company teal green swim shorts are a familiar fixture on Grand Cayman’s remote East End, manning the dive shop at the Compass Point Dive Resort or driving the dive boats and guiding dives. Those signature Ocean Frontiers green shorts have become a “hot ticket” item and status symbol among the company’s die-hard customers. Guests can win their own pair of green shorts if they dive all 55 dive sites at East End first – it’s called the “Green Shorts Challenge”.
“My goal in starting the challenge was to get my customers interested in the diversity of diving on this side of the island because I thought some of them weren’t seeing it,” says Steve Broadbelt, co-owner of Ocean Frontiers. “This is a motivation for them and it’s working.”
“I have completed the Green Shorts Challenge - as a matter of fact, I’ve completed the 55 dives twice and am well on my way to the third,” says Cecilia Sharp (in photo), who with her husband, has been diving with Ocean Frontiers since 2007. “We basically eat, sleep and dive for our stays at Compass Point Resort - which may last from one to three weeks. Rolling out of bed and walking to the boat is the best way to start any day on Grand Cayman.”
When a customer signs on for the Green Shorts Challenge, their dive history is recalled from Ocean Frontiers’ customized reservations system. The customer gets a printout of past dives to determine the dive sites they’ve visited and which dive sites they still need to dive. The customer then receives a challenge punch card with the dive sites listed, and every time they complete a new dive their card gets punched.
Once the challenge is met and all 55 dive sites have been visited, there is a celebration at the Ocean Frontiers dock complete with champagne and cake. The customer then receives his or her own pair of personalized teal shorts, a gold medal with the 'Challenge' crest cast into it hanging from a teal green ribbon, and a bronze plaque with their name on the dive dock at Compass Point Resort. The guest then becomes a part of Ocean Frontiers’ dive history and proudly wear their green shorts at Compass Point Resort.
“It is an elite crowd!” says Divemaster Brittainy Slade. “The Green Shorts challenge is exciting for the guests, it gives them an end goal, something to aspire to!” Slade says Ocean Frontiers staffers also get excited when a challenge is about to be completed and the activity on the dive boats is upbeat. “We all work hard and pray to the weather gods so guests can complete those last sites - we like cake and champagne too! And the celebrations are fun for everyone.”
Steve Broadbelt estimates that it takes about five visits to the island for a guest to complete the Green Shorts Challenge. Customers are signing up and returning to Grand Cayman, often twice a year, to dive those East End sites. More than 100 divers have completed the challenge since the Ocean Frontiers launched it two years ago.
“Even if they have been coming to Cayman for 10 years, we take them somewhere they’ve never been and we go out of our way to show them something they’ve never seen before,” he says. “Every day, every dive and every diver is unique and our goal is to know our divers and deliver the unexpected. Even seasoned divers are not beyond a ‘wow’ during one of our dives!”
Its this kind of attention to the customer’s dive experience that has made Ocean Frontiers a top dive operator. The company ranked highest in the Cayman Islands in the “Best Dive Operator” category of Scuba Diving’s 2014 Top 100 Readers Choice Awards. Founded in 1996, Ocean Frontiers is also one of Cayman’s most conservation-minded dive operations. Turning customers green, not only means awarding them a pair of green shorts, it also means making them aware of Cayman’s marine environment. Dive masters not only show guests the vibrant reefs and marine life of East End, they are also good stewards who educate visitors about conservation.
“Working for Ocean Frontiers requires putting in that extra effort to provide the green shorts service that we are known for,” says divemaster Becca Nutsch. “Sometimes this means working a bit harder, but it definitely pays off, especially when you see customers come back time and time again.”
“We were drawn to Ocean Frontiers by the great reviews of the operation and the quiet side of the island,” says Cecelia Sharp. “The staff at Ocean Frontiers is like family to us and we are spoiled by their Green Shorts service. No request is denied. They anticipate our needs and strive to make every diver happy and safe on the boat and in the water.”
Steve Broadbelt says the Green Shorts Challenge has been a great incentive program for the company and almost 50% of Ocean Frontiers divers are now return guests. Alumni help spread the word about this exciting dive challenge at East End. New customers also see what’s going on in the dive boats and they want to sign up too.