I met Gabrielle De La Durantaye from the HI Montreal Hostel, a new Student Business partner who hosted 2 trainees last summer. An opportunity to discuss the range of possibilities offered by this industry that makes you dream!
Tell me about the HI-Montreal Youth Hostel!
“HI” is for Hostelling International, a network of 3,300 hostels in more than 60 countries. We have been open in Montreal since Expo 67. We were then the first urban hostel in Canada. Our mission is to build a community of conscious travelers who share a greater understanding of people, places and cultures.
All our activities are oriented around the concept of community, we want to belong to it and be the hostel of Montreal, Montrealers, our neighborhood. We organize regular events and build relationships with local partners to be better known, but above all to be used!
Tell me about the Student Business internship. What are the professions explored at the inn?
There are several departments at the inn: management, reception, catering, group, technical and housekeeping, programming and social media.
We focused a lot with the Student Business interns on the reception desk, but mainly on the importance of customer contact while highlighting certain responsibilities such as cash management. The idea was to make them understand that we work hard even if we seem to have a lot of fun.
It’s interesting to show teens that interpersonal skills and an ability to interact with people can be a great skill in the workplace.
Do you often welcome interns?
Yes, it is a mandate that I gave myself for several years. The openness to welcoming interns makes sense with the social mission of the hostel. I always say “yes” to an internship also because youth hostels are an unknown concept. Making our reality known is a good way for us to break down prejudices.
Do you have news of your interns since the end of the internship?
This fall, we learned that one of the two interns made an oral presentation in class on the Inn. I was really happy! To know that we have marked them and that they talk about the model of youth hostels around them, completely answers our mission!
What would you say to an organization that does not participate in the program?
It’s easy and fruitful – it costs little to participate. It is a certain time to accompany them, but for me it is in a way a basic social duty to train the youth and the next employees. It’s a great way to inspire young people, to shine. I say to myself, if we have opened their horizons, it is mission accomplished.
We will put our involvement in the annual report, it is also a good move for the hostel!
What message would you send to youth interested in tourism and hospitality?
To work in tourism you must have traveled. You have to know what it is. The best innkeepers and hotel receptionists know what it’s like to be a traveler. You have to understand what state of mind is the person you have to help. That’s what makes a big difference. It is not necessary to go to the other end of the world, it can be as simple as to organize a trip in Gaspésie!
This article is part of a series of portraits of mentors 2017 that will be published punctually by the summer.
The photos taken during the internship presented in this article were made by Sarah Geerits in 2017 as part of a mandate for Montréal Relève.