President Burcin Turkkan at the opening of North America Skål Congress (NASC) in Orlando

President Burcin Turkkan addressed the opening of NASC in Orlando, Florida, which took place from 13 to 15 May 2022.

Burcin Turkkan addressed the NASC opening ceremony attended by Skål International Vice President Juan Steta, Skål International USA President Richard Scinta, Skål International USA Councillor Holly Powers, Skål International Canada President Marc Rheume, Skål International Canada Councillor Francois Cote, Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando CVB President Cassandra Matte.

Below you can find the full speech:
President Burcin Turkkan at the opening of North America Skål Congress (NASC) in Orlando.

Good morning everyone

Skål International USA President Richard Scinta, Skål International USA President Marc Rheaume, Skål International VP Juan Steta, Skål International USA ISC Holly Powers, Skål International Canada ISC Jean Francois Cote… I also would like to recognize Skål International Past President Mok Singh, Skål International USA Past President Tom White – Carlos Banks, Skål International USA and Canada Presidents Delegates and Skålleagues.

It is an incredible pleasure and honor to be addressing you all at the start of a successful congress.

The focus of my talk today is one that affects you and our global membership.

Leadership - Change and the adaptability of Skål International to effect change

Inspirational leaders are incredibly passionate people that move beyond the reality of limited thinking. They acknowledge the importance of creating a culture where their members are inspired to create good ideas and embrace game changing skills. A culture that has learnt to stand on top of their challenges and not falter. They continue with the momentum of innovation, resilience, adaptability, and people management.

They show such passion for their work and instill a positive environment where the feeling is so contagious that they make members believe that they can achieve anything and everything.

These leaders adopt the balcony mentality where you have the platform to see the light, look above and beyond and over the clutter and not the basement mentality where all you see is clutter and negativity.

According to Champlain College the definition of effective leader is a person who:

  • Creates an inspiring vision of the future.

  • Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.

  • Manages the delivery of this vision.

  • Coaches and builds a team to be effective at actioning this vision.

They also know that change is mandatory for success and especially if our organization wants to remain relevant and exciting. We have to learn to adapt and pivot constantly and regularly to the innumerable changes our industry faces daily.

I know that I am sharing this room with many inspirational leaders. You are an integral part of our organization and a guiding light for our future as we adapt to a new world. I thank you for your leadership and I am very excited to be part of the future with you.

How is Skål International addressing this issue?

One of the 8 Committees initiated this year to assist our transformation is the 'Training and Educational Committee' established in February. This year they will be introducing training sessions to guide our club presidents and leaders with skills, guidance, mentoring and education with specific session. These courses will be available to our leaders, potential leaders as well as members who will be interested in fulfilling these roles in the future. We are very excited about this project and members will be receiving more information in the next few weeks.

Change is not a force to be feared but rather an opportunity to be seized.

Change is an event, but transition through this change is an intentional process.

One is normally most creative through a transition period. So this post pandemic time is the ideal time to reassess every aspect of our personal and business life.

The success of the travel and tourism industry is based on social, economic, political and technological changes and events. Natural disasters, terror attacks, act of war, the safety of transportation and of course the pandemic. 

But there are two more very important challenges that the world and our organization have to face as they will be changing the way we look at membership gain and retain.

The new Generation Z and Industry 4.0

Aging membership is a reality in our organization and many of the roles in the travel and tourism industry have been changed to suit Industry 4.0 and the new generations.

Expectations and careers will change completely and Skål International must be ready to welcome these changes.

Who are the new generation and what are their expectations? and How can we embrace their leadership qualities for future leadership of Skål International ?

Generation Z

They are Natives of the digital age:

  • 80% of this group aspire to work with cutting edge technology.

  • 52% of this group have technological skills employers require.

  • They have Social and Environmental awareness.

  • They are Pragmatic and realistic, the perfect mix between millennium attitudes and generation X rationality.

  • Adaptable and resilient.

  • Creative and self taught.

  • Work on what they are passionate about.

What is Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial revolution?

It is an emerging power of computers to think, with no human intervention and where the workplace is fully automated.

What drives Industry 4.0? Lowers costs and allows a global and expansive reach for their products.

Unemployment is the biggest challenge with the introduction of this era but humans will always create and live a meaningful life irrespective of technological advances. 

This era will introduce new workplaces in the primary economy that will be mostly directly related to IT.

Good news for hospitality is that this sector will fall into the functional enablers portion as technology cannot replace certain careers/jobs in the world of hospitality and travel industry as we all still need a personal human touch.

The other good news is that there will be an exponential rise in entrepreneurship/self employment which will directly impact the travel and tourism sector.

This industry has been ‘in the wings’ for many years and has been slowed down because it would create even more unemployment but the burst is waiting and we have to be ready.

How is Skål International addressing this?

After the turmoil of this pandemic, people have realized that life is all about relationships. Skål International's core is relationships, but these relationships must be encouraged, revived and amended on a regular basis.

Club presidents and their team has to encourage young professionals into their clubs so as to assist with membership demographics, social media and events that appeal to the younger generation.

Within the training and education committee and with the collaboration of the membership portfolio, mentoring of these young professionals by experienced Skål International members will be introduced.

The 'Advocacy & Global Partnerships Committee' that has been established again in February will also be a big help in attracting the next generations as they work on projects on social and environmental awareness such as sustainability, sexual exploitation of children in tourism, and preservation of historical sites.

Membership categories will have to be reviewed not only to relate to the new generations expectations and roles but also according to Industry 4.0 expectations and requirements. 

This should follow with reviewing and enhancing our membership benefits to meet the new generations expectations.

We have to find that perfect balance within the ‘change’ cycle of not forgetting our past and core values but to rather enhance them to fit into our new world. 

Understanding this and steering members into a positive direction is vital.

Acceptance precedes change and our first step in this cycle of change is acceptance that moving from the past is necessary!

The first step to align with my Presidential vision was to incorporate the incredible talents and minds of our members into different work committees. This would not only add value to our offerings but also create excitement and encourage team work among our members while allowing them to be part of our organization's decision making process.

When people's talents are recognized, it immediately ignites the creative mind and spreads positivity to all, which naturally encourages many new projects.

Our partnership with PRNewswire and eTurbo News has meant that Skål International is in the global news daily, all social media platforms have been showcasing our achievements, our collaboration with other organizations and our travel expert views on relevant subjects. Of course, the consistent visibility of Skål International on these channels not only allows universal exposure but also sparks a sense of fascination among travel colleagues as to why they are not members of Skål International yet.


Let us all have a solution mindset!

Many of us get stuck in the past because of our need for certainty. Certainty is one of the six basic human needs and is fundamentally about survival. Moving on from the past also means stepping into the unknown future. It means having the courage to let go of what is familiar – even if it’s negative – and being vulnerable enough to embrace and learn from what’s ahead. 

The tagline that I referred to in my World Skål Day message of ‘Reminisce – Renew – Reunite’ is so apt for us now as we acknowledge what was, have the opportunity to renew our mindset and work together for a better future.

Be grateful for every goodbye that has moved us to every hello (change) to move us into the future.

Please remember: ‘Together we are stronger as one’.

I am excited for the future of Skål International and I hope you are to.

Burcin Turkkan

Skål International President, 2022.