Hostel Field Trip: GoMio World Hostel Conference 2011
It was a whirlwind trip for the HI-Northwest Portland Hostel crew. 325 miles and many bathroom breaks/co-op pit stops later, we arrived in Vancouver, B.C. for the 10th Annual GoMio World Hostel Conference.
There were six of us total—the owners, Jim and Britta, their 2 ½ year old daughter Maja, staff members Mary Liz and Tessah, and the French intern Charline. We all piled into the big green van and headed north for our first staff road trip. After a night in Seattle at the City Hostel Seattle, headed to Vancouver B.C. The first stop was the Naam restaurant, an institution for the city’s vegetarians.
After checking into the HI-Downtown Vancouver hostel, we made our way to the opening reception for the conference, which was located in a bar on Granville Street, next to HI-Vancouver Central. The long event space, with its exposed brick walls and dark, candle-lit tables, quickly filled with conference attendees from around the world. 160 people from over 16 countries were present, representing Hostelling International, other hostel networks, independently-owned hostels, travel booking sites, social media organizations, and much more. The evening was spent mingling and getting to know the inspirational and fascinating group of people who have chosen to make the mission of hostelling their life’s work.
With a variety of presentations spanning from hostel operations to social media marketing, and everything in between, it was an interesting and informative 2 days. It was great to learn about the creative innovations happening within the hostel movement.
Anthony, from the Planet Traveler hostel in Toronto, spoke about having the greenest hostel in Canada, complete with solar thermal hot water, photovoltaic energy, wastewater heat reclamation, and many other green building features.
Max and Dan, two climbers in their mid-twenties, recently opened the Crash Pad Hostel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They also focus strongly on being green and are tracking for LEED Gold Certification. Their craftsman, custom-build hostel features hand-made furniture from recycled materials and an amazing outdoor pavilion.
Other notable hostels: The Matchbox Hostel in Singapore, which stood out for its brightly colored design and sleeping pods for ultimate privacy. The Getaway Hostel in Chicago, with its library, music room, media room, and 20s mobster theme is sure to make your stay in Chicago unforgettable. Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, Notso Hostel in Charleston, S.C., Equity Point Hostels based in Barcelona, and the Firehouse hostel, soon to open in Austin, TX, plus many more.
Aside from interesting presentations from innovative leaders in the hostelling and travel industry, the conference provided space and time to share ideas, tour Vancouver, and make friends from around the world. The hostelling business has many perks, but one of the greatest is that no matter where in the world you travel, there are always friends to visit and free places to stay!
We had a great time at the World Hostel Conference and wish to thank the GoMio team for their amazing efforts in putting together such a memorable event. Can’t wait till next year!
Check out some of the photos from our trip. The rest are on our Facebook page.