July'21 Council Corner

Paolo Bartolozzi

International Councillor, Skål International Italy

Opening new clubs in Italy

Engage, train and open!

The International Skål Council has been working on new Skål International club opportunities – this month, we would like to focus on Italy and the progress in this area

Two new Skål International clubs opened in Italy since the beginning of the pandemic: Pompei and Calabria. A third club, Napoli, is in the final stages of preparation and will open in a couple of weeks. In each case, Skål International Roma acted as a catalyst and a facilitator providing guidance and logistics, and financial services following a method that is proving simple, efficient, and successful.  

There are three principal ingredients: a hub to makes things happen, a local team leader with a strong drive, new members with projects to promote.

It all starts with the hub, in this case, Skål International Roma. 

The Board encouraged its members to share their reactions to the pandemic, showcasing member projects, best practices, procedures and protocols, marketing initiatives, and much more. As a direct consequence, the number of Skål International events grew exponentially, and so did the audience. These were not ‘lessons’ or ‘conferences’. Real tourism operators, Skålleagues, spoke with passion about what they believe and hope in. Listeners perceived such passion and felt the role of Skål International in providing both stage and audience. 

We have been approached by many participants who wanted to understand how Skål International Roma increased its activity when most other associations stopped dead in their tracks. Some immediately understood the value of a Skål club, very different from the usual associations where only the big fish have voice and influence. This triggers the request: how can I open a club in my area?

The mission is straightforward: enroll 20 new members in Skål International Roma to immediately enjoy the benefits of the association whilst waiting for the setup of the new local club. Also, we appoint the ‘prospect president’ as Skål International Roma Director delegated to the opening of the new club, providing officiality and branding. 

Currently, Skål International Roma two such delegates: Anna Maria De Lucia for Napoli and Ludmila Posilectaia for Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Both are getting club Board experience, assistance in all the legal and administrative proceedings, the necessary networking to operating as officers, and the Skål International Roma bank account and IT infrastructure usage. 

Once all the local legal requirements are met, and the new association documentation is ready, we put together the files and send them to the Secretariat in Torremolinos. Member dues will have been settled already, we pay the setup fee, and the club gets quickly created in the Skål International environment. We transfer members from Rome to the new club, and the residual money from their fees goes to the new bank account. Finally, Skål International Roma provides technology (web, communications, social), contacts, and integration with existing working teams such as the Academy. Skål International Italia provides slots in the national calendar of activities, trade show stands, and participation in national and European Quality/Sustainability Awards. Skål International Europe offers free participation in the B2B platform.

The second element is the local team leader, the cornerstone on which the club is built. 

The leader must be motivated, respected in the professional environment, organized, and supported by a team. We tried with several lone wolves in the past with little success. So, we keep our eyes open for a strong team with a strong leader with projects that need promotion at the national and international levels. 

Pompei aggregated around the current President, Salvatore Visciano, former mayor of the city, manager of the sanctuary’s hostel, and professor in the local tourism school. Calabria grew around President Francesco Gentile, hotel manager and very active member of the hotel manager association and Calabria promotion institutions. Napoli is growing around Skål International Roma Director Anna Maria De Lucia, a well-known hotel manager and guru of online hotel and destination distribution. 

These leaders are mainly between 35 and 45 years old, skilled in technology and excellent multimedia communication.

Member projects are the third element as they are at the base of member engagement. 

Skål International Pompei is working to reduce the size of groups visiting the sanctuary and the archeological park by offering new itineraries and experiences. Most of these new products come from startups that President Visciano helped and promoted. His unique relationship with young people is an observatory on new initiatives that find a natural home in Skål International Pompei.

Skål International Calabria is focused on promoting the region, and its first activities are centered around lesser-known destinations, subject to exciting webinars with a colossal audience. President Gentile has an excellent relationship with the University of Cosenza, a true regional think tank. This connection enables Skål International Calabria to promote member projects in a broader framework centered on heritage and sustainability, using Ambassadors prominent Calabrian figures of ‘Italian Style’.

This is a process that works by example. Every successfully presented project opens to new potential members. Communication (web, social, press, other media) is the necessary tool to create increasingly larger audiences. It is capitalizing and sharing audiences between clubs that guarantees growth and the possibility to stimulate the birth of new clubs.

New clubs are fresh, enthusiastic, active, and untainted by whatever legacy or contrasting influence. They represent the future of Skål International, and with a little bit of work, every existing club can participate in their establishment.

Paolo Bartolozzi

International Councillor, Skål International Italy