Skål USA Executive Committee Targets Membership Retention and Growth, Higher Industry Visibility
The 2017 Skål USA Executive Committee met by teleconference on March 6 to focus on the issues of membership stability, industry visibility and relevance, financial strength, and more engagement with its member clubs.
All members of the 2017 Executive Committee and staff were present for the call. President Holly Powers presided over the meeting.
President Holly Powers
President Holly accepted motions and approvals for both the financial report and Winter Executive Committee Meeting minutes. These are posted on the SkalUSA.org site.
President Holly reported on the exciting plans for the North American Skål Congress (NASC) meeting in Toronto, June 15-18 and encouraged clubs to send more than just their voting delegations. Please register here: nasc2017.torontoskal.org. The program has been set to maximize networking and educational activities, while minimizing official meetings. Skål USA will be covering the costs of Executive Committee members who attend. Spouses and others traveling with EC members will be at the cost of the EC member. Clubs sending a delegate will be eligible for a $500 credit. The 2018 NASC meeting will be in Mexico.
The 2017 Skål USA National Committee Meeting will be held on August 25th. This meeting will be in the format of a webinar. Registration information will be distributed in the coming months.
The 2017 Skål International World Congress will be held on October 5-9 in Hyderabad, India. More information can be found here: http://www.skalcongress.org/.
President Holly led a discussion on our representation and attendance at the International Skål Councillor meeting in South Africa in May. After a careful analysis of both the meeting content and an anticipated quorum, it was unanimously decided to expend the budget allocation for International Skål Councillor Cyndi Golden to attend.
President Holly also reported that new Skål USA Rep pins to replace the old SIUSA pins had been ordered and will be available for purchase at NASC.
President Holly will be visiting Charlotte, Washington, and Richmond March 21-25 to address club retention and development, as well as making calls on potential strategic partners. She already had a phone meeting with Terry Dale, President, United States Tour Operators Association, which was very productive. There should be between four and seven additional meetings held in Washington with key national travel associations.
President Holly thanked the Executive Committee for reaching most of our Skål clubs in the first round of calling in February, which was to club presidents. March phone calls will be to Skål USA representatives.
Vice President, Finance Alton Hagen
Vice President Alton reported that dues collections for 2017 are projected to be 10% below 2016, due to membership changes. Expenses were also reported to be lower than anticipated for a positive year. Administrators at ABA are doing a great job and the February numbers have been posted.
Due to the strength of the dollar, Vice President Alton recommended buying Euros at the excellent exchange rate of $1.06 per Euro to pay Skål International dues, by making a 10% deposit against the current rate now for 110,000 Euros later by working through AFEX, a currency exchange company affiliated with a Denver Skålleague. The EC passed this unanimously to save money for us.
Vice President, Administration Burcin Turkkan
Vice President Burcin started her report by listing six clubs who had not yet submitted their Club Database Forms to Skål USA. Various EC members will be following up on this. Some forms were not submitted due to the timing of club elections.
Vice President Burcin announced a club presidents’ webinar for March 15 at 3 pm Eastern. (The webinar has been held; was well attended; and was highly successful. The PowerPoint slides and a recording of the webinar can be found here: http://skalusa.org/skal-usa-postings/.
Vice President Burcin reported that the Skål USA Journeys newsletter was distributed to all members on February 28 and had already experienced a 28% open rate, which is excellent. She will look at ways to get even more members to open the newsletter and asked EC members to discuss this with club presidents and Skål USA representatives.
Vice President Burcin suggested an exit interview for non-renewing Skål members, noting that almost 35% of our membership decrease was due to a large group of non-renewing Young Skål.
Vice President Burcin also reported on the work of the eleven member Sponsorship Committee, which will be looking for event sponsorships and advertising for our media sites before the AGM in August. Burcin emphasized that use of Skål social media, especially our improved website, will drive our ability attract advertising support. The committee is working on a media kit and pricing for advertising on the various Skål social media, especially the website and newsletter.
It was reported that AFEX, our currency exchange consultants, is willing to offer its services to our Skål clubs and will pay any commissions resulting to Skål USA.
International Skål Counselor Cyndi Golden
ISC Cyndi led a discussion on the functioning of the International Skål Council, its quorum requirement, the role of the United States as the largest national chapter, the Skal 2020 Plan, and working with the new Skål International CEO Daniela Otero.
Cyndi will be giving a fuller report after the May meeting and will share the agenda for that meeting with the EC prior to that time.
Vice President, Membership Toni Koster
Vice President Toni reported that Skål USA membership was down 200 (10%) for 2017, compared to last year. It was, however, noted that clubs are not paying for late renewing members and that the numbers could change within the next month. Overall, our numbers have dropped from approximately 2,000 to approximately 1,800.
Vice President Toni reported on several specific club issues which she and Directors Dave Ryan and Jim Dwyer are addressing.
Vice President Toni announced that the Futures Committee would be meeting by telephone on March 16.
Director, Membership Jim Dwyer
Director Jim gave many specific reports about clubs primarily in the Northeast, highlighting the 40th anniversary of SI Central Pennsylvania, the 20th anniversary of SI Northeast Pennsylvania, and upcoming events of SI Philadelphia at Franklin Institute on April 28, SI Northern New Jersey at Six Flags Great Adventure on May 12, and SI New York at Coney Island on June 9.
Director, Membership Dave Ryan
Director Dave reported on joint fundraising with Skal Canada to find money for clubs and working to integrate Skal in Southern California with the large industry association PROST.
Director Dave also noted that SI Hawai’i is celebrating its 55th anniversary on May 25 and is interested in bidding on NASC 2019.
Director, Public Relations and Communications Steve Richer
Director Steve reported that Tourism Cares would be holding events in Oakland, California, March 23-24; Detroit, May 11-12; Providence, Rhode Island, September 14-15; and Toronto, October 26-27. All Skålleagues can attend at the member rate. President Holly added that there would be a Tourism Cares event at IPW in Washington in June.
Director Steve also reported that the Website Committee, chaired by Skålleague Tom Moulton of SI Tucson whom he had asked to take on this task, had met by conference call on February 23 and set up parameters to improve the Skål USA website and all its components. A broadly based committee of tech and web savvy Skålleagues is at work on this project.
Director Steve additionally informed the EC that the new Advocacy Committee had met on March 3 and recommended four issues for consideration, as follows: Project Time Off, a US Travel initiative; the proposed infrastructure initiative of the Trump Administration, particularly airport expansion, improvement, and intermodal connectivity; public/private partnerships for national parks; and freedom to travel with security and easier processing. The EC has requested more detail on these proposals for final action.
Director Steve also mentioned that both Skål International President David Fisher and Skål USA President Holly Powers will be on hand for IPW in Washington on June 3-7. He asked for any recommendations for specific Skål cities and prospective Skål cities to be visited on the floor of the IPW trade show. SI Washington will be holding a Skål event on the early evening of June 5.
EC meeting format change
At the suggestion of President Holly and with the added idea of a consent agenda by Vice President Alton, the EC voted unanimously to put reports in writing prior to monthly calls, put non-controversial items on the consent agenda, and thereby be able to devote most of these calls to pressing matters, such as relevance, membership growth, and visibility for Skål in the United States.
Club and member visibility
There will be three features of club member profiles in Skål media, as follows:
- Members at a Glance: High profile members to be featured with photo, career background, and Skal comments on the Skal USA website.
- Spotlight: Members with significant accomplishments over a career to be featured with photo and a description.
- Skålleagues in the News: Current activities by any Skål member which are impacting the industry or the community.
Clubs are invited to submit information about members for all three of these categories to RicherAdvisors@gmail.com. Individual Skålleagues can also submit information. It is permissible to submit information about yourself.
The EC welcomes membership referrals by any Skålleague for any club, not just your own club, and reminds everyone that there is a category for Active Individual Member (AIM), which could result in developing a nucleus of members for a new or re-established club. President Holly suggested that a future Executive Committee meeting will look into giving Skålleagues the opportunity to join any club of their choice and whether to focus Young Skal membership more on young professionals, more than students.
Twinning with India
Director Steve reported on his visit to India in February for a trade show there and that Brand USA, led by Skålleague Chris Thompson, had just kicked off India-US Tourism Year. In that regard, Skål India is open to doing twinning with each of its nine clubs and an interested club in the United States. Director Steve will be chairing this project. The formal twinning ceremony will occur at the Skål World Congress in Hyderabad next fall. Please contact Steve (RicherAdvisors@gmail.com or 228-596-7004 for more information).
The next EC meeting will be held on Monday, April 3.
Director, Public Relations and Communications