Each spring, shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway descend on Omaha, Nebraska, for the company's annual meeting. Berkshire Hathaway typically hosts the meeting the last weekend in April or first weekend in May. Since 2004, the annual meeting has taken place at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha. The event includes a question and answer session with Chief Operating Officer Warren Buffett, shopping with retailers like Brooks, Coca-Cola and Oriental Trading, and cocktail receptions. Visitors also get discounted shopping at some local Berkshire Hathaway-affiliated stores and steak dinners at two of Buffett's favorite restaurants.
You must be a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder to attend the annual meeting. The annual report, which is mailed in mid-March to all on-record shareholders, has a proxy sheet with a detachable postcard. Members must mail that card in to order meeting credentials. Each shareholder gets four credentials, no matter how many shares he holds.
Credentials are required for entrance to the annual meeting, all shareholder events that weekend and to receive discounts on exhibitor merchandise.
Question and Answer Session
One of the highlights of the weekend, the Q&A session has two parts:
- Several pre-selected financial journalists ask questions that shareholders email to them ahead of time. The journalists and their email addresses are listed in the annual guide each year.
- A drawing is held that morning for audience members to ask questions from the stage.
According to the 2015 Annual Guide, Q&A participants should:
- Ask only one question; do not bundle several questions together
- Do not ask any questions regarding what Berkshire Hathaway is buying or selling
College students can view the annual meeting for free via a live broadcast from the Omaha Hilton hotel, but cannot participate in the question and answer session.
Because the meeting starts early Saturday morning, usually around 8:30, and lasts all day, most attendees will want to get a hotel room Friday and Saturday night to be able to enjoy all the festivities.
Book as early as possible because nearly 40,000 people attend the event and hotel rooms sell out quickly.
If you are not familiar with the Omaha area, Berkshire Hathaway recommends contacting Travelink American Express or the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau for accommodation recommendations. Most hotels accept reservations up to a year in advance. If you want to visit one of the steakhouses, both require reservations, but one, Gorat's, doesn't start taking them until after April 1 each year.
Other Housing Options
If you can't find an available hotel room, Berkshire Hathaway suggests looking for a room through Airbnb. This online service allows meeting attendees to search for rooms available in the homes of Omaha residents who rent them out for the weekend. According to an Omaha.com article, in 2015, several attendees got even more creative, with military members renting rooms at Offutt Air Force Base in nearby Bellevue and others renting rooms from a local retirement community.
Breakfast and lunch are available for purchase from concession stands at the Century Link Center.
Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." You'll also find her work on websites like Airbnb, Chron.com, and USAToday.com. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.