Timeshare owners have one key goal: use their week or points to relax and have fun. That’s the way it absolutely should be. But as someone who has worked in the industry for more than two decades, and dealt with many timeshare HOAs and their owners along the way, I know that there’s another owner goal – keep that annual maintenance fee from rising too much.
One way to hold down that fee is to adopt an online voting system for annual HOA elections and related communications. When you do the math, holding the annual election and delivering other HOA governance communications can get very expensive when using paper ballots, letters and postage. A recent analysis of a large Nordis Technologies vacation ownership customer showed an annual reduction in print and postage cost of nearly $3.00 for every owner who converted to online HOA voting and election-related communications. Plus, there is the additional cost savings of not having to manually count and tabulate mailed in ballots.
Keep in mind that managing an HOA election for vacation ownership is much more complicated than for a typical condo HOA because with vacation ownership, you have many times more owners. In fact, the average timeshare resort has 130 units, according to the ARDA International Foundation’s 2016 State of the Industry Report (conducted by EY). Each unit can have as many as 70 owners (because of partial week or biennial ownership). So, for one resort, management could be handling as many as 9,100 ballots!
Plus, annual HOA board elections for vacation ownership resorts often are held at the same time of year, usually in the fall. As a result, resort management must staff up for this seasonal event to accept and count paper ballots. This demand creates substantial staffing issues and costs.
Switching to digital ballots allows owners to vote over the Internet, offering both convenience and cost savings. Another bonus: HOA electronic voting has automatic ballot tabulation, giving owners reassurance that election results are accurate, rather than relying on manual handling as with paper ballots. No one wants a “2017 Oscar” moment when a human mistake can lead to making an error in announcing the winners.
Another benefit of online voting is that it often increases the overall participation rate and makes “ballot weighting” easier to calculate through program automation. In some cases, individuals may own more than one week or points equivalent so their ownership and vote has a higher “weight.”
Through ExpressoVote, the Nordis Technologies software platform that allows vacation ownership and property management companies to manage the entire annual election communications and HOA voting process using a web-based dashboard, we have found that offering owners electronic ballots can result in substantial increases in voting participation, with as many as 60% of the total votes cast online. That makes perfect sense because electronic ballots offer owners a convenient way to vote from their homes or offices using computers, tablets or mobile phones.
Participation is important because management must ensure that a quorum is met for an HOA election to be completed. HOA bylaws require that a certain percentage of owners participate in an election for results to be valid. An added bonus is the ability to send out email voting reminders when initial turnout is lower than expected.
Completing the process, electronic balloting makes it fast and easy to communicate the results. This increases the timeliness of the event and offers management another opportunity to encourage owners to opt in for electronic communication on other matters, such as fee notices.
If you would like discuss online voting or any other digital advances in vacation ownership communications, let’s talk at the American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) conference March 26 to March 30th at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. Drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you there!
About the Author
Bryan joined Nordis Technologies in 2016 to manage and grow the company’s already-large vacation ownership client base. He also is responsible for business development and market expansion in the healthcare and financial services markets. Before joining Nordis, Bryan spent more than 21 years with Interval International, a leading global provider of vacation ownership services. Bryan graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor of science in political science.