Last week I flew to Boston to participate in the 2013 North American Managers Meeting. The event brings together hostel and community engagement staff from four countries. And while hostels were the focus, it was people and geography that defined the gathering.
For this conference, North America included Canada, Mexico and the USA, plus special guests from the German national hostel association who wowed the crowd with their presentations. (What would it take for every North American country to be represented? Check out the answer below.)
For the first time, NAMM included staff from HI hostels large and small, as HI-Canada and HI-USA combined previously separate events into a single gathering. Nearly 150 hostel professionals attended. The agenda was developed by a multi-national planning committee, and focused on the key topics of engagement, marketing and environmental sustainability.
Engagement also was the focus of my presentation at the meeting. For HI-USA, engagement is all about offering purposeful ways for people to get involved – before, during and after the hostel stay – to increase mission impact. Last year, NAMM participants helped to brainstorm ways to get travelers more deeply engaged; I shared the results of their collective thinking with this year’s audience. Another HI-USA priority is organizational unification, so a special human resource management training session was organized for US hostel managers.
As the meeting adjourned on the third day, more than 9 out of 10 participants said they were glad they attended. But it was more about the people, rather than the content. Put simply, the multi-national audience was most enthused about the opportunity to meet and socialize with each other. Not surprisingly, that’s also what our mission is all about, which our hostel staff delivers every day.
Answer: Look at Wikipedia, and you’ll find various definitions for “North America”, ranging from six to 23 countries. For the six-country North America, in addition to Canada, Mexico and the USA, we’d also need HI hostels in Bermuda, Greenland and St. Pierre and Miquelon.