June Skål USA Monthly Report

June 1 Skål International USA Executive Committee Meeting

All Executive Committee members participated in the June 1 teleconference. Senior Auditor Anita Peck did not attend.  

A bullet point summary is as follows:

Upcoming North American Skål Congress: Skål International USA President, Holly Powers

  • Consent agenda was adopted unanimously.
  • On Saturday, June 17 the Annual General Meeting will be held in the morning and the National Committee Meeting in the afternoon.
  • There will be voting on bylaw changes as proposed by SI Orlando and SI Atlantic City.
  • Proposed rules for debate will be offered for approval by the body before the rules are employed.
  • The AGM from 8:30-10:45 am will include recognizing the club of the year.
  • The afternoon NCM will include a consent agenda, color coded voting after our auditors provide credentials, and an opportunity for open discussion.
  • Vice President Burcin Turkkan will present the new Skål International USA media kit.
  • Director Steve Richer will present our five advocacy issues.
  • Arkansas and Northern New Jersey are twinning their clubs domestically.
  • NCM will include proposed FY18 budget; FY17 budget is on the consent agenda.
  • Changes at NASC include a Canadian and a US hospitality room with usable drink tickets in either room on only Thursday and Friday nights, two drinks per delegate.

Report of Vice President of Finance Alton Hagen

  • Proposed FY18 budget is up $7000 with an anticipated $4000 surplus with anticipation of 5% less members.
  • Travel expenses are less than 50% of the proposed budget as required.


Vice President of Administration Burcin Turkkan

North American Skål Congress information:

  • 42 clubs are attending the North American Skål Congress with 47 total votes; 5 clubs have 2 votes each based on membership,
  • Please wear blue shirts to the opening ceremonies,
  • The EC will not be offering its opinion on proposed by-law changes.
  • 11 club presidents participated in the June 1 presidents call. Next call might be in September.
  • Media kit will be distributed to the clubs with a commission for any advertising generated.

Skål International Councillor Cyndi Golden

  • Reported on proposed change of the SI Executive Committee to four elected officers, plus the chair of the Skål International Council and likely candidates for this year.
  • Cyndi represented the USA at the Skål International Council meeting in George, South Africa, last month.

Vice President of Membership Toni Koster

  • Reported on club building efforts in Richmond, Savannah, Phoenix, and Fresno.
  • Alerted Executive Committee to give attention to SI Reno. She will be transferring to another club soon in Florida, as she is moving.
  • Membership development incentives are working with prizes from Reno, Nashville, Myrtle Beach, and the Alabama Gulf Shores.
  • One member has already recruited four new members.

Director of Membership Jim Dwyer

  • Reported that SI Long Island is adding members.
  • Reported solid progress on the Manual of Instruction, both in reduction of pages and utility.
  • Reported membership guide will be available in August.

Director of Membership Dave Ryan

  • Reported work on revitalizing SI Fresno.

Director of Public Relations and Communications Steve Richer

  • Recommended support for continuation of funding for Brand USA by Advocacy Committee; adopted unanimously.
  • Reported on status of website information from NGOs; four have submitted information.
  • Requested $200 to enhance club locator on our website; approved.
  • Reported plans for club development efforts at IPW coming to Washington the following week.
  • Executive Committee reviewed methods of how Skål International USA could assist new clubs.

Looking forward to seeing club representatives in Toronto!



Steve Richer

Director, Public Relations and Communications

May Skål USA Monthly Report

Skal USASkål International USA Executive Committee Prepares for NASC

The Skål International USA Executive Committee met in teleconference on May 8, 2017. All were present, except Skål International Councillor Cyndi Golden, who was not yet back from the Skål International Council meeting in South Africa.

The focus of the call was items to be decided and preparations for the upcoming North American Skål Congress in Toronto.

Actions were as follows:

  • Consent agenda, comprised of reports, was unanimously adopted.

President Holly Powers

  • Clubs missing our upcoming annual meeting in Toronto will be assessed $500. This was adopted on an amended vote rather than assessing the full price of registration and in consideration of the available $500 credit for all clubs to attend. 90% of clubs are expected to attend.

Vice President Finance Alton Hagen

  • All clubs have paid all dues.
  • Preparation is being made for the webinar for the National Committee Meeting on August 25 from ABA headquarters.
  • Executive Committee will attend in person.
  • Voting members will register as such and vote by roll call.

Vice President Administration Burcin Turkkan

  • Skål Club of the Year will be SI Arkansas or SI Nashville
  • Executive Committee recommends Vice President Membership be a two year term.
  • Club president webinar on June 1 will address International Congress proposals, upcoming NCM webinar, Skål International strategic plan, and membership growth.
  • April financials due shortly with comparisons for January to March actuals to historic first quarter performance.
  • NASC/AGM agendas are coming.
  • Manual of Instruction revisions are not yet ready for review.
  • NASC survey has 104 responses so far.

Vice President Membership Toni Koster

  • Working on reestablishing club in Phoenix.
  • Andres Hayes of SI Washington working on clubs in Richmond and Savannah.
  • Dave Ryan working on a club in Modesto/Fresno.
  • Jim Dwyer will attend club meeting to help maintain SI Charlotte.
  • Strategic plan has ten recommendations.
  • Member of Distinction Award, which is nominated by Executive Committee and voted by membership during AGM, suggested by Executive Committee to be renamed The Bill Sweet Member of Distinction Award. This will be presented at the AGM and subject to 50% plus 1 vote of membership. Only Skålleagues can be nominated by the EC.
  • Clubs appreciate membership incentive award, new travel packages in Alabama and North Carolina have been added to the original Reno offer.

Director Membership Jim Dwyer and Auditor Art Allis

  • Manual of Instruction project with index should be ready for review by the Executive Committee shortly.

Director Public Relations and Communications Steve Richer

  • Non-government organizations are being contacted for website placement with four pieces of information requested.

Other Business

  • Skål International Strategic Plan to be held for distribution until it is officially released.
  • Twinning with Indian Skål Clubs is proceeding.
  • No advertising funds have yet been collected. $25,000 goal.

The next Executive Committee meeting will be held on Thursday, June 1.

Skål USA Industry Trends/Article of the Month

Dear Skålleagues,

As you know, Skål International USA has started to follow a PR strategy as of 2016 with the introduction of the new website and a series of press releases. The ultimate goal is to increase the visibility and relevancy of Skål International in the United States.

The goal with the new website was to make it a resource not only for Skål USA members but for the entire travel & tourism industry. The Industry Trends/Article of the Month section on the website has been added to serve this purpose. This section of the website will feature articles about industry trends and topics prepared and submitted by Skål USA members.

This month’s article is prepared by Skål International Atlanta Member Phelps Hope. The article is about Hospitality’s New Frontier: Cuba. Here is the direct link:

If you would like your article to be featured on the Skål USA website please feel free to contact your Skål USA Executive Committee.

We hope you will enjoy this month’s article!

Have a great week!

Burcin Turkkan
Vice President of Administration
Skål International USA

April Skål Monthy Report

April 25, 2017

Skål International USA Executive Committee Adopts Four Issues, Focuses on Membership Growth, and Streamlines Agenda for First Time

All members, both auditors, and staff attended a teleconference meeting of the Skål International USA Executive Committee on April 3.

President Holly Powers presided and allowed the first ever use of a “consent agenda” list of items to approve minutes, financial reports, and individual officer reports at the start of the meeting.  All consent agenda items were approved unanimously.  In the future, any items requiring discussion can be removed from the consent agenda.

President Holly Powers

President Holly reported on her meetings in Washington, DC, with travel industry non-government organizations, including Brand USA, and said that Skål would be working hard to become more relevant with these organizations, as it will increase the overall appeal and effectiveness of Skål for our members.

President Holly also reported that she had attended meetings with the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, and a few key individuals to get a new club started there into which remaining members of the soon to be suspended SI Hampton Roads could join.  She acknowledged SI Washington Vice President Andres Hayes for doing the work on setting up the meeting.

Finally, President Holly shared a proposal from SI Orlando to change the Vice President-Finance to a director with the opportunity to serve multiple terms.  After discussion, the Executive Committee modified the proposal to retain the position as a vice president with a two year term and the ability to run again for a total of four years’ service.

Vice President-Finance Alton Hagen

Vice President Alton reported that he had put our general liability insurance out to bid and it is due back in September, as a sound practice even though we have had satisfactory service from the same company for years.

Vice President Alton reported a nomination for a Member of Distinction award under the MOI for Tom White of SI Orlando for his work on the updated bylaws.  The Executive Committee voted unanimously to put this on the AGM agenda, where a majority vote will be required. Tom White will be on the ballot in Toronto, along with Carlos Banks, whom the Executive Committee approved for this award in February.

Vice President Alton recommended the use of advance reimbursements by using credit card billings for expenses incurred prior to an event.

Vice President Alton offered a proposal from AFEX allowing all Skål clubs to lock in Euro or other currency rates of exchange with a commission to Skål International USA.  The Executive Committee suggested that we seek a sponsorship from them and create a special status of “preferred vendor” for companies we use as an organization.

Vice President-Administration Burcin Turkkan will report back on this matter.

Vice President-Administration Burcin Turkkan

Vice President Burcin reported that SI Arkansas and SI Nashville had qualified to be considered as “Club of the Year” with final information due April 24.

Vice President Burcin also reported that club data forms will be established on line, another president’s webinar will be the first week of June (probably Thursday, June 1), the NASC-AGM agendas are being finalized with reports on the consent agenda, and the next EC call will be on May 8.

President Holly suggested that the focus of our AGM should be on membership, communications, and bylaws changes.

Skål International Councillor Cyndi Golden

Councilor Cyndi reported that she had made all of her arrangements, including shots, to attend the Skål International Council meeting in South Africa at the end of April.  She is leaving on April 27 and returning on May 7.  She was encouraged to look for international issues which Skål could support and make it easier to be a member.

President Holly led a discussion on waiving the application fee for returning former members and finding a way to avoid the choice of paying back dues or reapplying from scratch.  She will write up a bylaws proposal on this.

Vice President Burcin asked to Cyndi to share that better communications are needed from Skål International and inquired if there will be any strategic planning on the agenda.

A letter from the Executive Committee, being drafted by Burcin, will be presented by Cyndi at the meeting.

Vice President-Membership Toni Koster

Vice President Toni reported that the latest membership numbers showed a net gain of 32 members since the last report with seventeen clubs showing gains but three with losses.

Vice President Toni described a new incentive program for membership recruitment which will provide a two night stay in Reno for any Skålleague who sponsors a new member who then attends two meetings within the first six months of membership and pays dues.  A further incentive would be for one Skålleague who recruits a minimum of five members who would then receive a non-transferrable registration and airfare of up to $500 to the next NASC, which will be in Mexico.  All of the minimum five members must pay 2018 dues and have joined ninety days prior to the recruitment cut off day.  The recruiting Skålleague can sponsor members to any United States club in either the active or associate category.  If there is a tie for most members, the winner will be decided by a drawing.

There was also a short discussion on whether associate membership should become active membership moving ahead.

Directors-Membership Jim Dwyer and Dave Ryan

Directors Jim and Dave gave updates on several clubs and activities of interest.

Auditor Art Allis

Auditor Art reported on his work on the MOI, a long, non-digital document.  He proposed starting it from scratch and getting it down to less than twenty pages, after which he will put it on the Skål International USA website with an index pending Executive Committee approval.

Director-Communications and Public Relations Steve Richer

Director Steve asked for approval of the four issues recommended by the Advocacy Committee, namely Project Time Off, public private funding for national parks, the trillion dollar infrastructure program, and freedom to travel with security.  The Executive Committee approved this unanimously.

Director Steve reported on an initiative to “twin” US clubs with the nine Skål clubs in India for India-US Tourism Year.  SI Washington has already volunteered to twin with India’s capital club, SI Delhi.

Director Steve reported that he would write a new release of the issues just adopted.  (Completed in early April with significant pickup.) A third release of the year will report on our new relationships with the various NGOs.


Other Business

The club of the year will be awarded a cash prize of $1000.

The next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for May 8.




Steve Richer

Director, Public Relations and Communications

New Skål USA Member Incentives

April 10, 2017

Dear Skålleagues,


Skål USA is pleased to announce two initiatives as part of the 2017 Membership Drive Incentive Program: a New Member Incentive and a Referral Member Incentive. Please see the following links for more information and contact me at the email address or phone number listed below if you have any questions.

Skål USA Referral Member Incentive

Skål USA New Member Incentive



Toni Koster
VP of Membership

March Skål Monthly Report

Skal USASkål 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 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:  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:

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:

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  Individual Skålleagues can also submit information.  It is permissible to submit information about yourself.


Membership recruitment

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 ( or 228-596-7004 for more information).

The next EC meeting will be held on Monday, April 3.



Steve Richer

Director, Public Relations and Communications

2017 Skål USA Election Results

Skal USADear Skål USA Members,

On December 1st, 2016, Skål USA Auditor Anita Peck and Skål USA President John Mavros met with our Administrators to review and certify the results of the 2017 Skål USA Elections. We are pleased to affirm that the election process netted clean results despite several closely contested races and we would like to thank all of the clubs for their efforts and diligence as we got very close to 100% participation in the voting.

Congratulations to all of the candidates who ran great campaigns and evidenced the great interest and the depth of talent available in the tourism industry and in Skål.

We would like to introduce your newly elected and re-elected Skål USA Board members for 2017:

Holly Powers
SI Boston

Vice President Administration
Burcin Turkkan
SI Atlanta

Vice President Finance
Alton Hagen
SI Kansas City

Vice President Membership
Toni Koster
SI Reno/Tahoe

Director of Membership (2-year term)
Jim Dwyer
SI Northern New Jersey

Director of Membership (1-year term)
Dave Ryan
SI Sacramento

Director PR and Communication
Steve Richer
SI Washington

Internal Auditor
Arthur Allis
SI Tucson

We look forward to welcoming these members to the Skål USA Board, and to the leadership that they will provide for our organization in the coming year.




John N. Mavros

 Anita Peck
Jr. Auditor

A Message from Skål USA President John Mavros

Skal USA


Dear Fellow Skål USA Members,

The tremendous success of our NASC Congress in Boise was followed by a very successful NCM in North Little Rock. Our entire board thanks SI Arkansas for their warm hospitality and hard work to make this NCM such a success. In particular we want to thank Karen Trevino, Bob Major, and Chuck Magill.

Our new website was presented to delegates at the NCM by Burcin Turkkan, and will be rolled out soon. Our third and fourth press releases went out recently, and our exposure exceeded expectations. The press releases covered the NCM and visits to USTA, AHLA, ASTA, and other NGOs by Tim Hemphill, Steve Richer, James Enright and I. Thank you to Burcin, Kathy Hernandez and their entire committee for all of their hard work on our new website and the releases.

October 15 is the deadline for clubs to submit their nominations for Skål USA officers. Candidates must submit both a Skål and a professional resume to our Skål USA Administrators. In addition to President, VP Administration, and VP Finance, the new Skål USA positions are VP of Membership, two Directors of Membership, and a Website/Communications/Public Relations Director. All positions will be elected nationally. Next year I hope each executive committee member will form a standing committee of 8-10 members with at least one member from every club being on a committee. We need your expertise and in doing so could develop candidates for Skål USA Executive Committee leadership succession. Click here to learn how you can help take our organization into the future.

If you have not yet registered for the Skål International World Congress in beautiful Monaco, early registration has been extended until October 15. Click here for more information and to register. We hope each club will send a voting delegate to vote for the SI President, SI Executive Committee, and other important proposals. You can download the Skål Club app on your handheld device for links to World Congress information and other Skål International and USA sites.


Warmest regards and Skål!

John Mavros

John N. Mavros