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How IAATO Works

Annual Meetings, Elections and Voting

Annual Meetings, Elections and Voting

Annual Meetings

In this section:

Relevant Bylaws pertaining to the Annual Meeting: Article VII, Section A, Section B, Section C, Section D, Section E, and Section F

Scheduling of Annual Meetings

IAATO Annual Meetings are generally held during April or May of each year, once the statistics for the previous season are finalized. This timeframe also reduces any conflict with annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs), as considerable work and planning is required for both conferences. Dates for the Annual Meeting are established as early as possible.

Annual Meeting Venues

The venue for the Annual Meeting has traditionally been chosen and voted on at the prior meeting. However, at the 2015 gathering, Members agreed to alternate meetings between Rhode Island, USA (location of the IAATO Secretariat) and another geographic location other than Rhode Island. To assist Members with their budgeting and travel plans to attend the meetings, efforts are made to select and vote on a venue two years prior.

The Secretariat endeavors to get preliminary information to the membership regarding the Annual Meeting in January or February, so that Members can book suitable accommodations and make travel plans early on.

Who Can Attend?

All members in good standing – Operators and Associates – are invited and encouraged to attend the Annual Meetings. In fact, IAATO welcomes attendance by more than one representative from each member-company, in order to encourage multiple views from different perspectives (field operations, marine, membership, etc.) and member participation on various committees. However, only one representative per Operator member may vote.

Operator and Associate members and new applicants are welcome to attend all sessions with the exception of some discussions relative to Operator member voting. Observers, including government representatives, may be invited to attend closed sessions where appropriate. If there are particular sessions that observers working extensively in specific areas would like to attend, they must submit a written request to the IAATO Secretariat prior to the meeting.

Meeting Fees

IAATO Members No charge
Non-IAATO Members / Tour
US $2,000 per person
Non-Profit Associate Members US $1500 per person
Observers US $500 per person
University Students US $250 per person
Antarctic Treaty Party
No charge
New Member Applicants No charge if application is approved at Annual Meeting; otherwise the Tour Operators fee
applies. New applicants must make payment by wire transfer in advance, or with a check
in US$ from a US bank.
New Associate
member Applicants
Applicants will need to bring a check in US$ from a US bank for membership dues to the meeting,
if they have not already paid.
Other fees Pending a yet-to-be-scheduled social event, there may be a fee associated with any off-site events for meeting attendees.

Seating for Operator Member Participants

There will be one seat at the main table for one person / representative for each Operator and Provisional Operator member. These members should assign one spokesperson per company on any given issue. There will be seats around the perimeter for any additional member representatives, Associate members, Treaty Party representatives, university students and/or observers. Space available, there will be room at the main table for a second person for each Operator member if their primary representative serves on a committee.

Annual Meeting Documents and Papers

All documents useful to all participants will be posted on the IAATO website prior to the Annual Meeting. Hard copies of documents and papers are generally NOT available at the meeting itself, with members expected to download any relevant papers as desired. All reports and presentations should be given to the IAATO Secretariat on USB stick for future reference and for the meeting Minutes.

Papers, as well as logistical information and details on hotel reservations, can be found on the Annual Meeting page.

While WiFi is usually made available in the meeting room itself, it is recommended that members download all relevant papers to their laptops prior to the meeting.

Agenda & Timeline

A draft agenda for the Annual Meeting is prepared by the Secretariat and initially approved by the Executive Committee in January or February of each year, with a preliminary agenda then distributed to members in February. Members are welcome to suggest agenda items, and these should be forwarded to the Secretariat for consideration 60 days prior to the start of the meeting, as noted in Article VII, Section F of the Bylaws. Further drafts of the agenda are forwarded to members by email, and are posted on the IAATO website.

Voting: General

Voting: General

Most issues requiring Operators to vote are discussed and decided at the Annual Meeting. Absentee voting on some issues can also occur, as can voting by email on other issues. These are explained in this section.

Voting is a responsibility of Membership as well as a privilege. Operators are encouraged and expected to submit ballots on all issues put forward for a vote, regardless of whether their vote is FOR, AGAINST or ABSTAIN.

Relevant Bylaws: Article V, Section A, Section B, Section C, Section D, Section E, Section F, Section G, and Section H


Voting is reserved for (full) Operators in good standing; Provisional Operators and Associate members are not permitted to vote.

Any issue voted upon – whether it is a membership application, a financial or compliance issue, or even where the next Annual Meeting will be held – requires an affirmative vote from two-thirds of the Operators in good standing in order to pass, as per Article V, Section E.

  • For votes that are conducted by email, the act of not voting is the equivalent of an abstention. Operators are given a prescribed time period within which to vote by email; votes not cast during that time period are considered an abstention.
  • For issues that are voted on at the Annual Meeting, all Operators present are expected to cast a ballot. For Annual Meeting agenda items that require a vote, Operators who are not able to attend the meeting may vote by absentee ballot. Generally, these items involve votes on membership applications. However, the Bylaws do not limit absentee ballots to membership applications.
  • Operators not in attendance at the Annual Meeting are not able to vote on impromptu issues that may come up during the course of the meeting; i.e., those items not on the agenda. For these votes, a quorum consists of all Operators in attendance, and a two-thirds majority of that quorum is required to carry the vote.

Voting: Election of Committee Members

Voting: Election of Committee Members

Relevant sections of Articles V and VI of the Bylaws pertaining to the nomination and election of committee members:
Article V, Section A, Section C, Section G, Section I
Article VI, Section A and Section B

The nomination and election of IAATO Operator-candidates to become committee members is an important part of the Annual Meeting. While Section C of Article V of the Bylaws (noted above) allows for the nomination and voting of candidates for standing committees by Operators NOT present at the Annual Meeting, this is, however, not typical.

The nomination and voting process for committee members typically occurs as follows:

  1. During the initial sessions of the Annual Meeting, candidates’ names for various committees are added – by the candidates themselves or by another Operator – to a chart in the meeting room. The chart lists all committees and working groups, the current members of that committee or working group, and the proposed Chair.
  2. Standing committees and their Chairs are voted on at the Annual Meeting; working groups are not voted on.
  3. Operators are free to nominate candidates to committees and working groups that are employed by Member companies, but who may not necessarily be the primary IAATO contact person or representative from that Operator-company. IAATO encourages participation at the committee and working group level by more than one representative from a Operator-company. This helps spread the work around, and taps into the talents and interests of a broader range of Operator employees.
  4. Operators are free to delete their name from a listing if they feel they are no longer able to commit to the work involved as a member of that committee or working group.
  5. Voting for committees takes place later in the meeting, by open or closed ballot, as prescribed by Article V, Sections G and Section I of the Bylaws.

Voting: Membership Issues

Voting: Membership Issues

Relevant Bylaws pertaining to voting on membership issues are described in Articles V and III.
Article V, Section A, Section B, Section E and Section H
Article III, Section H and Section K

Voting on membership applications generally falls into one of three types:

  1. Applications for Associate Membership –  can be submitted at any time of the year. These applications are typically voted by email ballot distributed to (full) Operator only. Operator are kindly asked to return their ballot to the Secretariat within two weeks of the initial distribution.
  2. New Provisional Operator Member applications are reviewed by the Membership Committee and the application must then be presented in person by the applicant and voted on at the next Annual Meeting rather than by email ballot. Provisional Operator applications will only be voted on at the Annual Meeting. Please see Bylaws Article III Section C.
  3. Applications from Provisional Operator members to become Operators will only be considered at the Annual Meeting. The application must be received by the Secretariat at least 45 days prior to the Annual Meeting, and a representative of the Provisional Operator member applicant must be in attendance to provide details on planned activities and to respond to questions by the Membership.

Membership issues are usually voted on during an early, closed session of the Annual Meeting so that any applicants to (full) Operator status whose application is approved may participate in subsequent voting on various issues. This also allows them to participate in Operator-only discussions and to join Standing Committees and/or Working Groups, if so desired.