Every year holds its own special opportunities to move forward and to make a difference. Here’s what you can expect from HI USA in 2019:
1. Blazing A Distinctive Path to Sustainability
Hotels urge their guests to adopt practices they ordinarily would have used at home, like re-using towels. But our hostels soon will take sustainability one step further: to encourage behavior change that guests can take back with them from vacation.
The “Million Gallon Challenge” empowers guests to better manage their own water use, thanks to $238,000 grant from Booking.com Cares. That’s why 700 Hydrao smart shower heads are being installed by HI USA across its hostel network. They change color depending on the length of time the shower is being used. And a snappy in-hostel education campaign engages guests to consider their water use.
The goal is to shave 30 seconds off the average shower time and save over one million gallons of water at our hostels annually. As guests voluntarily adjust shower length for water savings, they also are encouraged to take their new-found conservation awareness home with them. And their feedback and experience data will be collected and shared with hostels and hotels worldwide to help promote sustainability.
2. Welcoming Hostel-Like Lodging Alternatives for Youth Travelers
Millennial- and Generation Z-aged travelers in the USA will have more lodging choices than ever before, influenced by hostels but not always named as them.
Since 2016, Accor, Hilton and Marriott all have developed hotel brands that selectively incorporate aspects of hostels. In 2018, a leading European operator long-known as “Generator Hostels” announced its decision to enter the USA as “Generator”. Across lodging, new product concepts are being evolved that don’t fit neatly into traditional categories – hostel or hotel.
As a cultural exchange organization promoting accessible and experiential travel, HI USA welcomes more quality lodging choices of all types for twenty-something travelers. That said, our mission cements us enthusiastically to the “hostel” category and our focus is to continue delivering a #1 hostel stay!
3. Promoting A New Era of People-to-People Diplomacy
Using travel to connect people and ideas across borders in a structured way already happens regularly between students, businesses, music groups and sports teams, to name a few. It’s called citizen diplomacy and these days is an under-tapped resource to mend global rifts.
It’s also not a new idea. After World War II, youth travel was encouraged to promote contact and friendship after years of country conflict. The growth of hostels soon followed to increase traveler mobility. Today the legacy continues to shape HI USA’s focus.
A case for re-thinking travel as a way to promote citizen diplomacy was laid out in a January 2018 blog post. Subsequently the USC Center for Public Diplomacy (PD) included my post in it’s weekly highlights next to inspiring examples of corporate, digital, music and sports diplomacy. All represent ways to connect people across borders. A range of creative ideas are being discussed outside the public spotlight, and HI USA is poised to do our part.