In a working world filled with people employed in industries such as finance, medicine and more, sometimes those working in hospitality and travel can be left feeling a bit on the outskirts.
However, if you become a member of Skal International, the largest professional travel and tourism organization in the world with approximately 450 clubs in 85 countries, you certainly won’t feel that way for long.
That’s because the Northern New Jersey chapter of Skal International (NNJSI), which has monthly meetings usually on the second Tuesday of the month at centrally located venues (such as at the Spanish Tavern in Mountainside, the location of its Sept. 12 meeting), costs about $45 a person from 7 to 9 p.m. and is filled with about 50 local leaders in the tourism world looking to promote goodwill and friendship among those in the travel industry.
“The biggest benefit of joining Skal International is being able to do business among friends,” said Cathy Trementozzi, director of public relations of NNJSI who has been a member of the group for about five years. “Members have at their access an entire database of Skal members who they can reach out to when they’re planning a trip.”
Another benefit is the tremendous amount of networking opportunities provided by Skal, including events at other Skal chapters, which members of NNJSI are welcome to attend. Some of those include classes, fundraisers, golf outings and other events such as river cruises of New York City and Philadelphia with offset costs.
Perhaps the biggest networking event and trip that NNJSI hosts is their annual Friendship Trip, in which the group travels to a European destination for about one week and meets with our Skal groups.
This year, they went to Venice and Croatia, and next year, they plan to go to Portugal. Trips have offset costs, sometimes by 50 percent or more.
To become a member of Skal International, one needs to be a top-level executive, such as an owner, director or manager, in some area of tourism and hospitality industries, and pay a $195 annual membership fee. Another branch of Skal, Skal Youth, was also launched in 2014 which includes students of tourism as well as young professionals who have not yet reached management level.
If you are interested in joining, you can contact Jim Dwyer, director of membership at Skal USA and member for the past 25 years, at email@example.com or at 908-420-5921.
Skal meetings are usually sponsored by a tourism organization, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is sponsoring the group’s Sept. 12 meeting. From 6 to 7 p.m., Skal members can also grab drinks at the cash bar before dinner and a glass of wine are served. The meeting costs $45, or $47 for those paying with PayPal. Members must attend three meetings per year and nonmembers must be invited by a member or can gain an invitation by contacting Dwyer.
Also at the meetings, regional activities hosted by Skal that members can attend are announced and the annual Friendship Trip is discussed following a presentation by the sponsor.
The first club was founded in 1932 in Paris by travel managers following an educational tour of Scandinavia. The idea of international goodwill and friendship grew and, in 1934, the Association Internationale des Skål Clubs was formed with Florimond Volckaert as its first president. Volckaert is considered the Father of Skål.
NNJSI recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and its 14th anniversary of hosting Friendship Trips.
“For the past 14 years, our members have visited various clubs in Europe (Ireland, Holland, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Malta) in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie,” said Dwyer. “These trips are meant to create new friendships as well as build business relationships.”
Skal club meeting
If you want to go: Receive an invitation by contacting Jim Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 908-420-5921. Meeting is by invitation only.
Where: Spanish Tavern at 1239 Route 22, Mountainside
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $45 or $47 with PayPal