Stronger Together

February 2014

Unification News | Our Hostels, Our Regions | Our People

Unification News

Voting for HI-USA’s At-Large Directors

The nominations are in, and now it’s your chance to help shape the future of Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) by voting for At-Large Directors! Members will elect four At-Large Directors to serve a 1, 2, or 3-year term on the HI-USA

Board of Directors.

HI-USA members who meet the following criteria will be eligible to vote for At-Large Directors:

  • Is a resident of the United States
  • Is a paid or honorary life member or a paid 12-month member of HI-USA in good standing
  • Has been on the HI-USA membership roll as of November 30, 2013

Please note that employees of HI-USA and its affiliate hostels are eligible to vote if they meet these criteria.

Voting will be open from February 3 - 24. Results will be announced on on March 7.

Watch your mail and email for voting information from Vote-Now is an independent firm that specializes in administering organization elections and will be managing the election of HI-USA At-Large Directors.

Note: If you meet the eligibility criteria above but do not receive your voting information by February 10, please contact Vote-Now at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (888) 993-9801.

For more information and to meet the nominees, go to

Brand Refresh Update

As part of our journey to Vision 2020, we recently kicked off the Brand Refresh project to create an updated, unified brand platform for HI-USA that will inform ongoing messaging, programming, and experience development across the organization. Driven by the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the 18-30 year-old Free and Independent Traveler, the Brand Refresh will integrate HI-USA’sHI-USA

mission into our brand, hostel, and program messaging, while preserving the unique personality and vibe of each hostel experience.

Our agency partners, Y&R (Young & Rubicam) Brands, have recently completed an intensive consumer insights effort that will form the foundation of our new brand platform. Y&R team members stayed at our diverse hostels in New York, Austin, San Francisco and Portland, where they met with our employees, talked with our guests, and were immersed in the hostelling experience. They also met with members of our target demographic who were not staying our hostels.

In addition to deriving unique insights from syndicated research by Iconoculture and proprietary Y&R brand research, our agency team also conducted social listening in channels used by our target demographic. Influential bloggers who write for our target demographic, including Twenty Something Travel and Just Chuckin’ It, were also interviewed.

To reinforce our core value of Collaboration, Y&R created a private tumblr blog to share the agency team’s observations and learnings via video, photos, and text. Through this blog,


staff have the opportunity to discuss what they see on the blog with other staff and the Y&R team.

On January 22, core team members Russ Hedge, Danielle Brumfitt, Richard Devine, and project leader Laurie Wooden met with the Y&R team to synthesize the consumer findings. The results of this synthesis will be used to inspire the creative development of potential brand platforms for



“What interests me most about the refresh is the early and clear focus on our 18-30 year old FITs. It is very exciting to see the beginnings of our new brand messaging that are driven by and focused by this population. Combining this with their understanding of what we are trying to achieve with Vision 2020 will be critical for our success.” said Danielle Brumfitt, Northwest Regional Vice President.

The Brand Refresh will deliver a differentiated brand positioning and messaging platform, a concise statement of our cause, a distinctive brand personality and voice, and visual identity concepts that update the brand look and feel. Our goal is to ensure that 18-30 year-old FITs have a lasting perception of


as a charitable organization that is mission-driven, cool, and fun. This work is on track to be completed in spring 2014.

Northwest Region Onboarding Events Unify Region

On January 28th and 29th, HI-USA staff from across the Northwest region gathered at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco for On-Boarding Events, celebrating the official unification of the Northwest region. The onboarding events included informative presentations and interactive dialogue, providing attendees with context for the unification process, answering their questions, and allowing employees to help shape the values of our new organization.

As staff entered the meeting room, they were greeted with a warm welcome from Donna Stewart, VP of Human Resources for HI-USA. “There’s a dictionary definition of ‘unification,’ but our decision to unify was more emotional than that,” said Donna. “It was all about taking our mission and asking, how can we help it to reach more people?”

HI-USA CEO Russ Hedge shared his excitement at bringing each of the Northwest region’s hostels into the unified organization, highlighting the exemplary satisfaction ratings each of the 18 hostels received in the last year.

Northwest Regional VP Danielle Brumfitt introduced herself and made inspiring remarks about the region’s opportunity for hostel growth and HI-USA leadership. “This is the start of something new and exciting,” said Danielle. As the day progressed, employees learned more about HI-USA’s commitment to protect each hostel’s unique identity, while providing opportunities for personal growth, improved benefits, and incorporation of staff feedback into new policies and procedures.

Donna facilitated an interactive session that invited attendees to weigh in on organizational values and express what’s most important to them. The ideas generated by Northwest staff will be combined with those of other regions to develop a values statement for the unified organization.

With the completion of this onboarding event, the Northwest region has now officially unified. Staff of all association hostels across the country will be taking part in further On-Boarding Events for orientation to the unified organization. For questions, please contact Donna Stewart at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Our Hostels, Our Regions

Unification News | Our Hostels, Our Regions | Our People

Cycling Tradition Alive in San Diego

December 26, 2013, marked the start of the 57th Christmas Bike Trip. The annual event brought riders from around the United States and as far away as the United Kingdom, together to ride for six days and over 400 miles around San Diego County. Some riders have been participating for more than 20 years.

Hostelling in San Diego is rooted in youth riding their bicycles to destinations around San Diego County. The Christmas Bike Trip honors that tradition of cycling with a journey through stunning mountains, desert and coastline. Volunteers organize and operate the trip, and 100 people participate on an annual basis, with the age range of riders being 8 to 80. All the riders are experienced and willing to take on the strenuous event with a smile. By the end of Day 6, a community of travelers has been formed, with strong friendships forged. Several new participants got off their bikes at the finish and said they were ready to sign up for the next year!

If you are interested in participating in the 58th Annual Christmas Bike Trip in 2014, start training now and contact Teresa O’Bannon for more information at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

2014 Great Hostel Give Back Begins

For the fourth year in a row, HI-USA is honoring its commitment to civic engagement and volunteer service with the Great Hostel Give Back. Throughout January and February, HI-USA offers groups free overnight accommodation in exchange for volunteer work. Groups commit to serving at least two hours per day on pre-arranged service projects, and to hosting an activity such as a group meal or presentation back at the hostel to benefit other guests.

The scope and impact of the projects that have already been completed in January is truly inspiring.

In San Francisco, a group of 10 Appalachian State University students on an Alternative Winter Break spent one week at HI-SF City Center. “The focus of our trip is to work with those affected by HIV and AIDS and also people who have trouble finding a steady source of food and shelter,” the group said. The students worked with Project Open Hand, Glide Memorial Church, and Syringe Access Services. “We try to make this a true learning experience for our participants, and the mission of the hostel aligns perfectly with ours,” the student group said.

A second group, this time from Montana State University, also chose to stay at HI-SF City Center while volunteering in the City by the Bay in January. The University’s Community Collaborations program brought 13 participants to stay for four nights while helping with local early child development efforts. The group worked with local Head Start programs as well as the Boys and Girls Club. On their off hours, participants hosted a dinner for other guests back at the hostel.

In the Central region, HI-Chicago opened its doors to a group of 12 Alternative Winter Breakers from New York University. Over the course of five days, participants investigated the question, “What is the abuser’s mentality?” Volunteers worked about six hours per day with organizations including the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace, which offers intervention and training programs for abusers, as well as organizations that help survivors of domestic abuse. After hours, the student group planned a special community awareness presentation on preventing teen dating violence.

“We feel like staying at a hostel that promotes service in its very mission will only further ground the group to always stay true to the values that brought us on this service trip in the first place,” group leaders said. “To be living in an area where we know we will be surrounded by other service-minded people and will be given the opportunity to have discussions about relevant social issues will benefit our group’s experience significantly.”

In the Southwest region, HI-Los Angeles/Santa Monica hosted a group of a dozen volunteers from nearby California State University, San Bernadino. The group spent time volunteering with the Union Rescue Mission, preparing and serving food to the hungry and homeless living on LA’s skid row. The group also joined a special MLK Day service project on January 20 through volunteer organization LA Works. The students from CSU San Bernadino spent the day painting, working on murals, repairing buildings, and planting a school garden at Hillcrest Drive Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

In the Southeast region, HI-Washington, D.C. hosted students from Marymount Manhattan College’s first-ever Alternative Winter Break program. Student volunteers chose to work with the Youth Services Opportunity Program (YSOP) of Washington, D.C. YSOP provided opportunities for students to volunteer at four unique non-profits throughout the city, as well as the chance to cook, serve, and eat a meal with individuals living in a local shelter. The Alternative Winter Break program’s goal was to “help students have a better understanding of the issues related to hunger and homelessness and the ways they can help create change,” group leaders said.

More Great Hostel Give Back projects are already slated across the country for February, and we look forward to sharing news of these projects with our members and supporters. Please join us in thanking our amazing volunteer groups for all the great work they’ve done, and all they continue to do, in our communities! If you’re part of a group that would like to take part in Great Hostel Give Back, please contact Amanda Dwyer, National Sales Manager, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

HI-USA Hostels and Volunteers Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which was observed this year on January 20, provides an annual opportunity for people across the country to volunteer their time in the service of others. And for HI-USA, this MLK Day was an occasion to renew our organization’s commitment to service and community. Over a dozen hostels across our network celebrated Dr. King’s legacy this year by hosting events on-site, participating in large-scale projects outside the hostels, and hosting film screenings and discussions for their guests and members of the community.

In the Northwest region, guests and staff from HI-NW Portland and HI-Portland Hawthorne joined forces to participate in clean-up efforts at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden.

In San Francisco, HI-SF City Center hosted a “Let’s Celebrate the King” breakfast for guests of all three SF hostels (including HI-SF Downtown and HI-SF Fisherman’s Wharf). Guests were treated to a pancake and egg breakfast, plus a special gospel choir performance. The hostels accepted donations for the breakfast, with all proceeds going to benefit Glide Memorial Church’s Meals Program.

Meanwhile, guests and staff at HI-Santa Cruz took the day to beautify the city park that the hostel’s historic cottages call home.

In the Southwest region, HI-Santa Monica staff took guests on a culturally enriching trip to a local MLK Day parade. Further south, HI-Phoenix hosted a film screening as part of its film salon series, “Black Power MixTape.” The film was followed up with a discussion of social justice issues, past and present, facilitated by a professor from Arizona State University.

In the Central region, HI-Chicago asked creative local students to help the hostel celebrate Dr. King’s legacy through art. Over the course of several months leading up to MLK Day, the hostel accepted portfolio submissions from students of the Art Institute of Chicago and other local community organizations, colleges, and high schools. In November, 18 artists were chosen to participate in a special MLK Day event at the hostel. Students covered the second-floor windows of HI-Chicago with individual paintings depicting King’s life and work, as well as the continuing struggle for social justice today. All of the participating artists were recognized at a special reception on January 21, during which the artists answered questions about their works. The paintings will be on display at HI-Chicago through the end of February.

Down in Texas, HI-Austin invited guests to volunteer their time helping out with ongoing hostel renovation projects.

In Asheville, NC, HI-USA’s Southeast region hostels hosted a Sunday supper with special guest Robert Zachary. A local poet and storyteller, Zachary grew up in Jim Crow-era Alabama, and his stories tell of his childhood in the segregated South. His stories and songs are filled with hope, humor, and grace.

In our nation’s capital, HI-Washington DC hosted two events on MLK Day. In the morning, volunteers made over 100 sandwiches for the local homeless. In the evening, volunteers prepared a “soul food dinner,” which hostel guests enjoyed while discussing Dr. King’s legacy.

In the Northeast region, HI-New York led a group of volunteers out to Long Island, where they worked on a Hurricane Sandy relief project with a disaster relief group called All Hands. Meanwhile, HI-Boston continued its ongoing work with Boston Cares, an umbrella organization that mobilizes volunteers for local schools and non-profit agencies.

We’re incredibly proud of the good work our guests and staff contributed to communities across the nation this MLK Day, and we look forward to making 2014 another incredible year of giving back!

Click here to see photos.

Our People

Unification News | Our Hostels, Our Regions | Our People

Danny Case Named Northwest Director Of Operations

Danny Case named Northwest Director of OperationsHI-USA is pleased to announce Danny Case as the new Northwest Director of Operations. Danny brings over 15 years of food & beverage and hospitality experience and has worked his way up through numerous positions with HI-USA, including Café Franco Manager, San Francisco Food and Beverage Manager, Assistant General Manager and most recently GM at HI-SF Downtown. In addition to working at HI-USA full-time, in 2009, Danny completed his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Danny was born and raised in Detroit and prides himself on his “mid-western work ethic.” Danny’s mother was a teacher and activist who always sought ways to get students involved in outdoor activities and a more multicultural curriculum. “For this reason, my working at a non-profit with a similar mission is very important to her, and she is very proud of me and our organizations work. It’s always good to make your mother proud, right?”

“I believe in increasing value in tandem with increasing revenue and always seek improved efficiencies.” He is a creative problem-solver and critical observer who enjoys the momentum of change. “I believe in HI-USA’s mission and am proud to be part of our success. I love hostelling because it offers one-of-a-kind experiences from both outdoor destination hostels and urban locales, my two favorite things to explore.” said Danny. When Danny isn’t on-the-clock, he loves dancing, shooting pictures and getting outside to hike, run and camp.

Danny can be reached .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

February Job Announcements

Director, Education & Experiential Learning – The Education Director will have primary responsibility for developing and implementing a multi-year education agenda and curriculum based on content which includes a variety of programs from introductory travel to cutting edge virtual and live adult experiential learning courses aimed to promote HI-USA’s agenda of developing active world citizens aligned with the initiatives, goals, and priorities of Hi-USA’s Strategic and Implementation Plans.

Director, Engagement & Community Building – The Engagement Director will work to support the development of a vibrant community of travelers within the hostel as well as an increased awareness and accessibility to the travelling culture throughout the USA. Engaging the community of travelers inside and outside of HI-USA hostels is key to realizing our goal of encouraging young adults to connect with the hostelling experience, affiliate with HI-USA, develop increased intercultural understanding, a deep commitment to the cause of youth travel, and a greater capacity for active global citizenship.

Group Sales Manager (San Francisco) – The Group Sales Manager is primarily responsible for all facets of group sales in accordance with the goals of HI by managing the sales process through current and potential market analysis and coordinating sales activities to maintain and increase revenue.

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