Hostelling International Canada is considering changes to its membership structure. Don’t worry—you’re still going to get the same great rates at our hostels, but here are some answers to some questions you may have about the proposed changes.
Why is HI Canada considering a change to the current membership model?
A decline in membership was the main driver in the decision to review the current membership model. Between 2007 and 2017, the HI Canada membership base shrank by 40%. Membership models are changing in other HI associations that have faced similar challenges.
The internet, and especially the advent of mobile devices, has drastically changed how people travel and how we need to respond to serve them. Travellers today have new expectations reflected in their behavior—before, during and after their travels. These changes have made it challenging to operate the current membership model successfully.
With a refined mission statement and new branding, we identified an opportunity to refocus membership to help deliver and communicate our core mission.
What changes are being recommended?
- Everyone staying at an HI hostel in Canada would be a member.
- Going forward, there would only be one category of membership, which would be categorized as an adult membership.
- It would have an expiry of two years from the date it was issued.
- All other memberships would be phased out when they expire. The exception to this would be life memberships.
There would be two ways to get a membership:
- At our hostels: A membership would be issued to guests when they check in for their first night at an HI Canada hostel. This would not be an extra cost but communicated as an inclusion and a welcome to HI Canada.
- Purchased online: Memberships would continue to be available for purchase online for approximately $25. These memberships would be marketed to those travelling outside of Canada. It would be made clear at time of purchase that membership can also be obtained by staying one night in a HI hostel in Canada.
How does membership renewal work in this new model?
Membership would be renewed automatically if the member has stayed an additional night in a HI Canada hostel. If this condition isn’t met, then the membership would expire with renewal only through purchase of another overnight.
Will this membership be digital?
Yes. All new memberships issued would be digital in format, with current plastic cardholders encouraged to transition over within a reasonable time frame. For members not wishing to change, a physical option would still be available.
What rate would members get in the new model in Canada?
In the new model, members would get the member rate, but only by booking directly through hihostels.ca, hihostels.com, by phone or in person. In this model there would no longer be a non-member rate, but rather a direct rate that only members get.
The member rates before the membership change would become the new member rates after the change, available by booking direct.
What rate would members get in the new model outside of Canada?
Members would continue to get a discounted member rate at HI hostels globally. As in Canada, many countries now only offer this rate when booking direct so the communication to our members would reinforce this message.
Can I get the member rate when booking on other sites such as booking.com or Hostelworld?
No. If a member books on another site, they would pay a higher rate and no discount is given at the hostel. They would be encouraged to book directly next time.
Is the membership issued at hostels free?
Membership would be included with an overnight purchase. This would not impact the cost of your stay.
What benefits would existing life members receive in the new model?
Existing life members would continue to get the member rate at all hostels—both in Canada and worldwide.
They would also receive additional benefits that are still being considered. This is part of the current member consultation, so we welcome your thoughts. HI Canada is currently looking at issuing complimentary dorm nights to be issued annually and exclusive discounts on food and beverage.
What are the primary benefits of the new membership model to HI Canada?
The broad goal is to increase the number of engaged and loyal members. If implemented successfully, it should lead to stronger operational performance and higher governance participation. HI Canada is looking to make membership a central strategy for building a community of travellers engaged with the HI Canada brand.
The new model would be implemented alongside a Customer Relationship Management tool. This will allow us to better understand the travel patterns and preferences of our members, which will enable the deployment of a more effective communication strategy to help increase engagement and hostel stays. These are crucial elements that will contribute to the long-term success of HI Canada in what is now an evolving accommodation environment.
Would there still be member discounts in the new model?
Yes. In addition to getting the member rate at hostels, members would be offered an expanding number of member discounts on attractions, restaurants, activities and travel services. With a significantly larger membership base, HI Canada would be able to negotiate better deals with a wider range of partners.
When would the new model come into effect?
HI Canada is looking to implement the new model in the early part of 2021.
All members in our region will have the opportunity to vote on the required changes to our bylaws that would be needed to implement the proposed changes.
What will be measure of success for the new model?
There will be several criteria that the new model will be evaluated on. Some examples are:
- Number of overnights by members
- Number of applications to become board members
- Number of votes cast at board elections
- Number of members taking part in HI Canada branded activities
- % open rate of e-newsletter
Will my voting rights be impacted by changes?
No, all members would continue to be able to vote in future board elections and contribute to shaping the future of hostelling in the region.
We welcome your thoughts on the proposed changes.
Please send us an email at [email protected].