The Best Thank You

Donors understandably get a special sense of satisfaction when their gift leads to mission success.   And with the latest news from HI-Houston, our 350 visionary hostel donors can feel jubilant.

Last week, I visited Houston and stayed at the hostel. I was in town for the local Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, and found the building even more inviting than when it opened almost a year ago – because it now has the comfortable feeling that comes from being used as a hostel for a while. The hostel seems to have found its own unique vibe as travelers play pool in the common room, lounge in the swimming pool, read on the gazebo, cook in the kitchen, and gather in the reception hall for local outings.

Manager Grace Dodier with Guest Services Assistant Kellie Oliver

HI-USA has been tracking the hostel’s favorable feedback on comment cards received from hostel guests in the 11 months since it opened.   The feedback confirms an old maxim:  while a superb building is appreciated, a terrific hostel experience is all about a welcoming staff.

In July, HI-Houston recognition hit a new level.

At the biennial international conference in Slovenia, IYHF’s CEO presented a slide showing the top 10 hostels in the world, based on guest satisfaction.   And there it was:


Out of more than 1000 IYHF hostels rated through, the HI-Houston hostel captured the #2 spot in the world.

For any hostel young in its existence and seeking to serve more and more people, this is a heartening reception!

All of us can share collective pride in HI-Houston and the staff who have made it an outstanding hostel. And importantly, my visit was an opportunity to formally appreciate the volunteers who helped develop the hostel.

Of course our donors also stand tall in this story. 

A generous bequest of $400,000 from Morty Rich got the project going. But the building needed to be purchased on comparatively short notice, and we still needed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In early 2011, in a matter of just four short months, more than 350 donors stepped forward to contribute over $300,000 to make the hostel possible. Their belief in what we do, and their confidence in our ability to make it happen, was all they needed to stand as generous supporters.

Walking through the hostel last week, seeing hostellers enjoying the space and one another’s company, I flashed back to our donor communications from the year before.   We committed to do more than simply open a building; we envisioned in Houston a new and exciting place for cross-cultural exchange appreciated by travelers from around the world. That goal has been accomplished.   And for a donor, that is perhaps the best thank you.


By | 2018-04-19T19:09:41+00:00 August 27th, 2012|Our Community|2 Comments

About the Author:

Since 2000, Russ has been the CEO of Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around. The HI USA hostel network is consistently recognized as one of the best in world by the International Youth Hostel Federation and by independent rating agencies. Russ has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences on topics ranging from experiential education to nonprofit management. Russ serves on the Boards of the UNWTO, US Travel Association, and WYSTC.

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