Moving into a new community is exciting. But it can also be intimidating. Hosting a new resident orientation is a thoughtful gesture to make new neighbors feel welcome. It will also acclimate them to your association's bylaws and prevent unintentional infractions. Here are 8 tips for hosting new resident orientations that guests enjoy and that serve your association's purposes.
1. Establish Your Budget
Before planning the event, consider how much you want to spend on the orientation. The first step is deciding how often you plan to host them. A good starting point might be twice a year. Then, decide what you want to offer your new residents. Nice options include refreshments, printouts, community-themed merchandise, and welcome kits, which you'll read more about below.
2. Invite Residents in Multiple Ways
Personalize your invitations as much as possible, depending on the size of your community and the number of new residents. A handwritten welcome note with the date and time of the orientation and the board's contact info is a lovely touch. But a typed letter works well too. Send an email invitation that references the mail correspondence as well.
3. Consider Inviting Long-Time Residents
Board members can host the orientation on their own. But depending on the type of community you oversee, inviting a few knowledgeable, long-time residents can be a nice touch. It's always helpful to meet a few neighbors and collect a few phone numbers, especially when relocating from a different city.
4. Offer Welcome Packets
Welcome packets let residents know you're glad they chose your community, and they're also a helpful resource. Include information about your amenities, including pools, gyms, playgrounds, and parking. Also include dates for trash collection, bulk waste pickup, and any other services your residents use.
A gift that's customized with your association's info is an excellent idea. The best choices are non-disposable items like pens, magnets, visors, water bottles, coffee mugs, lanyards, and decals. If your new residents include young children, customized rubber bracelets, fidget spinners, bubbles, crayons, or beach balls are fun ideas.
5. Provide Contact Information
If your community keeps a neighborhood directory, have those handy at the orientation, or share the website link to the directory. Provide printouts or a link to your association's key contact points. These include the board members and the person to contact when reporting theft or damage. Also, include details about whom to contact for any structural updates or lawn enhancements.
6. Discuss Your Bylaws and Where to Find Them
Your orientation should include a review of your rules and bylaws. But you don't want new residents to feel more lectured than welcomed. Keep these points brief and helpful and focus more on orienting them to their new neighborhood. Include printouts of your bylaws in your welcome packets or tell residents where to find them on your website, so they can read them in detail later.
7. Share Local Recommendations
If the residents are new to your city, they'll appreciate a list of great restaurants, dry cleaning establishments, grocery stores, schools, post offices, and more. While it's easy to find businesses online, a neighbor's recommendation is valuable and thoughtful. If your residents use an app or social media platform to share recommendations for services like healthcare, hair stylists, lawn care, and childcare, offer this to new residents too.
8. Schedule a Follow-Up Virtual Meeting
Set a virtual meeting for two to four weeks after the orientation. Announce this during orientation, not on your invitations, so you have a good turnout at your event. More questions arise after someone has lived in a community for a while. This will also help those who couldn't attend the orientation. Follow-up sessions can include all the board members, but even one member will suffice.