2014 was a milestone year for HI USA and lays the foundation for our mission success in 2015. Here’s why:
“Best in World” Awards. In February 2014, the International Youth Hostel Federation named HI-USA its #1 rated Hostel Network Worldwide. The recognition is bestowed annually by hostel guests themselves, who rate their stays in nearly 4000 IYHF hostels in more than 80 countries. And the world’s largest independent hostel reservations service, hostelworld.com, soon after named HI USA as its #3 rated Large Hostel Chain based on customer ratings. HI-USA’s hostel network is consistently rated as one of the best in the world by our guests, and it’s all about our welcoming staff, our engaging programs and our well-kept hostels.
Unification Complete. The unification of our 26 former separately incorporated HI USA councils and the national office was completed on March 29th. Our consolidated organization now has access to more than twice the talent and resources of the former national office alone. The complex unification spanning 18 different states was still completed in less than three years, with the extraordinary commitment of staff and volunteers across the country.
New Organization Launch. With the completion of unification, the transition board of directors’ work drew to a successful close and a new permanent board was installed on March 30th. Many thanks to the transition board for their leadership during the unification process. Our new board of directors adeptly took the reins of governance and the unified organization gallops forward.
World Travel and Tourism Summit. As an invited delegate to the WTTC Summit in China in mid-April, I joined 780 delegates representing 63 countries at a forum of business leaders and government representatives who presented, discussed and debated the most serious issues facing the development of travel and tourism. As one of the few who represented student and youth traveler voices (and the sole hostel representative), I was heartened by the growing travel industry interest in our 18-30 year old audience, which later was reaffirmed with my September participation in the WTTC Regional Latin American Summit in Peru.
International Youth Hostel Federation Conference. The biennial conference of more than 70 IYHF national associations from around the globe was held in Thailand in August. The conference unanimously adopted a values statement – of inclusivity, learning and understanding, and sustainability — that signals tremendous promise for a harmonized global hostelling movement. Plus a seasoned US business executive and long-time HI-USA volunteer, Eric Oetjen, was elected to the IYHF board!
First Ever HI-USA Engagement Summit. This October 2014 meeting of HI-USA engagement staff and hostel general managers from across the country focused our post-unification energy on programming and community outreach expansion. IOU Respect, Sleep for Peace and the Great Hostel Give Back are most notable today, and just the beginning. Altogether our engagement and education programs served more than 90,000 people last year, and a figure that can only grow with unified focus and resources.
White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. With some of the world’s most influential travel bloggers in attendance, the December Summit successfully met its goal of building nationwide awareness of the profound benefits of study abroad and travel. HI USA was honored to be a partner with the White House event, because of the integral role our hostels can play in encouraging study abroad and promoting youth and student travel.
A New Year’s Day toast to our collective 2014 accomplishments, with amazing anticipation for 2015!