Annual meetings can be a real headache for a resort manager. It’s when the previous year is summed up and the upcoming years are mapped out. There are a variety of things that can be included at an annual meeting, from keeping it basic to having a social afterwards there can be a lot of differences. Below is Defender Resorts Top Ten Tips for Hosting a Successful Annual Meeting.
Tip #1: Don’t Be Disappointed by a Small Turnout
While intuition would make one assume that for any event the bigger the turnout the better, but for an annual meeting that isn’t true. A large turnout usually occurs when many owners have issues that they want to express their concern about, or feel in the dark. The usual attendees are primarily in-house for their week at the time the annual meeting is held. A small turnout typically means that the owners are happy and well informed, a great sign that things are running smoothly. If you desire a larger turnout though it can be helpful to offer things related to the annual meeting that are enjoyable such as giveaways, drawings, live entertainment or a social.
Tip #2: Valuable Support Staff
All the key elements of a successful annual meeting would be practically impossible to organize and maintain without a strong support staff. This group of people is instrumental in so many stages of an annual meeting from planning the meeting, communicating all messages to everyone and carrying out the day of meeting tasks.
Tip #3: Communicate Meeting Details
Clearly communicating the when and where details of the meeting is very important. Many times the bylaws dictate certain ways that they must be communicated. Going above and beyond the minimum ways to communicate is a great way to keep people happy and make the information easy to locate such as posting it on the resort web site, including the details in newsletters, weekly meetings at the resorts held by staff members, emails and the official notice of meeting that is mailed out.
Tip #4: Presence of Key Leaders
The key leaders of the organization must be involved in the annual meeting. This meeting dictates the entire following year at the property so in order to make sure everyone is on the same page. At a Defender Resorts annual meeting there are always the following people present: Board of Directors, General Manager, Regional Director of Operations and at least one of the Defender Resorts Executive Management Staff. This also shows the owners that they are important and any issues will truly be addressed.
Tip #5: Preparation
Being prepared is the tip that ties all the other tips together. Everyone that is involved in planning the meeting must be honest and open with the things that they think others will want to know and instead of avoiding anything negative, everyone must be prepared to be transparent and knowledgeable. You also have to be prepared to share victories that others may not know about.
“I determine at LEAST the five most important hot topics that I anticipate could come up and will need to be addressed at a meeting. I make sure to validate their concerns and I have the talking points, statistics and any other relevant information that will keep owners in the loop”, said Rick Bachman, Regional Director of Operations at Defender Resorts. “Being prepared permits you to clearly showcase the information and help everyone understand and justify why the decisions that are being made are made.” In most cases it is about the funds or lack thereof.
Tip #6: The Clear, Concise Explanation of the Financials
Financials tend to be the most difficult part of an annual meeting in-so-much as they spark tough questions. Since there is a variety of backgrounds in the room, from some that know the ins and outs of financials extremely well to those who see gibberish when looking at financial statements. Since they are the main insight to the health of the resort financial situation they need to be explained in a certain way that’s informing everyone while not talking over anyone’s head at the same time. A good way to do this is furnish the owners with a financial summary page.
Tip #7: Transparency
While the decision makers are in the know it always needs to be remembered that the Board of Directors and Management Company have a common goal – to serve ALL the owners. Hiding, leaving out or misconstruing information does not serve anyone well. Everyone must be transparent in their communicating and patient with their explanations.
Tip #8: Welcome Packets
Inclusive welcome packets are important to the flow of the meeting. By making sure every single attendee has the same information in their hands for the meeting. That information alone can answer a lot of their questions and streamline the information. A good information packet contains the agenda, previous years’ audit, summary sheet of financials, last meetings minutes along with any relevant updates.
Tip #9: Stick to the Agenda and Include a Well Regulated Questions and Answers Segment at the Very end
Sometimes the agenda is dictated by the bylaws, making it extremely important to follow closely. Even if your agenda is not dictated by the controlling documents it is still important to follow the agenda. When an agenda is written properly the information will flow from one topic to another smoothly and hopefully answer most of the possible questions before the floor is even open to them. Following the agenda also exudes an informed, controlled hold on the situation.
Tip # 10: Address Immediate Needs, Short Term Goals and Long Term Goals
At an annual meeting it is important to discuss more than the immediate issues. The health of a resort depends on planning and communicating the immediate needs that are present at the resort, the short term goals and plans to accomplish them and the long term goals along with the plan to meet future needs.