YHA News. Welcome. Message from the Chair and Chief Executive. Recent Board meetings. April th Board meeting, 25 February 2012

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1 YHA News April 2012 Welcome YHA News is a regular publication for participating members to keep them in touch with Board, members, hostel, and sustainability activities. Any queries, please contact Maureen McCloy, National Secretary on Message from the Chair and Chief Executive Please find attached to the end of this YHA News, a message for members from the National Chair and Chief Executive. Recent Board meetings 344 th Board meeting, 25 February 2012 Strategy Day The Board and management held a strategy day in late February where they considered: The current challenges facing YHA. The importance of the network review process, which also needs to strengthen key hostel locations. The effect of the current financial and business environment on YHA s planning cycle. Sustaining the growth in backpacking visitors from Asia, including developing a Chinese translation of YHA s website and further developing the good relationship with YHA China. Hostelling International (HI) conference The Board approved travel by the Chair and Chief Executive to attend the 49 th International Conference and General Meeting to be held in Slovenia during July. YHA Australia AGM Ray Salter will represent YHA New Zealand s National Board at the YHA Australia AGM to be held in Sydney in mid-april. YHA website The performance of the new website continues to improve with staff currently working on further growing the number of visitors to the site and converting the visits to bed sales. The mobile website has been launched, with high numbers of guests now booking a hostel bed via their mobile phones. Rugby World Cup The strategy for the RWC was reviewed. Occupancy was high in locations where the games were held and uneven in other hostels. A reasonable price premium was achieved at a level that ensured affordability for our guests. Although, it was very evident that the usual backpackers stayed at home and did not travel either to or around New Zealand at this time. Trademark infringement A competitor in a regional location installed a sign outside their backpacker facility which bore a striking resemblance to YHA s logo and signage. Informal direct requests to remove the sign were not heeded and as a result YHA s patent attorney initiated a more formal approach. The sign has now been amended. This most recent incident reinforces the need for vigilance to maintain the integrity of YHA s brand. 345 th Board meeting, 24 March 2012 YHA Queenstown Central Lease Approval A further long term lease for the building which YHA Queenstown Central occupies has been signed. The Board wished to retain its current presence in central Queenstown to complement the YHA Queenstown Lakefront hostel, noting that all rooms are en-suited, and that the hostel returns a positive net cash flow. Capital Approval YHA Te Anau When the YHA Wanaka Upton St site was sold in 2010, two buildings from the site were relocated and retained in storage. These are the four room accommodation block and the 1 P a g e

2 office/reception building. Both are now to be transported to YHA Te Anau to provide much needed extra capacity. There is increasing demand at the Te Anau hostel for small group accommodation, particularly groups tramping the Milford and Kepler tracks. The four room accommodation block will provide additional beds in a configuration that will provide tramping groups with a dedicated groups unit, which includes its own dining and bathroom facilities. The office/reception building will be converted into a new guest laundry building behind the main hostel building. Guests will then be able to use the laundry without walking through the busy reception area. The current guest laundry will be incorporated into the staff laundry area, providing much needed extra laundry capacity. Capital Approval YHA Intranet Development National Board approved investment in a new intranet to act as a major information and communication hub for YHA staff, National Board and Associates. An intranet is a computer network that works like an internal website within an organisation to provide information, help people communicate with each other, and work together to get things done (by contrast the internet is a computer network between organisations). Because its users are spread from one end of the country to another, the intranet is at the heart of YHA s culture and health. The new intranet also supports the Statement of Intent (SOI) signed with YHA Australia at the Wanaka AGM, as it uses the same computer platform as YHAA use. This will enable both Associations to work collaboratively to interface and enhance our respective intranets and thus continue to bed in the common systems and way of working as envisioned by the SOI. When making this decision, the Board carefully considered the investment required in light of the organisation s cash flow projections, balanced against the need to support staff, enhance communication flow, create business efficiencies, and investing in the future. Financial Planning Context Each year the Board establishes the financial planning context which outlines the framework within which the Chief Executive develops the annual budget. There are a number of factors influencing this year s planning and budget process: the general economic environment including the state of the European economy, the strength of the NZ dollar, opportunities in YHA s Asian markets, the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes restoration of Christchurch, changes to building strength codes around New Zealand, changes in visitor patterns the need for YHA to achieve financial sustainability, investment in hostel product and plant, and continued development of our people. Review of the Board Charter, Governing Policies and Handbook The Board has commenced its annual review of these documents. This includes a review of the Policy Guidelines for Members. These guidelines are located on YHA s website YHA Tekapo With the current lease expiring at the end of 2016, negotiations have been underway for some time now with the MacKenzie District Council (MDC) regarding YHA s on-going presence in the township. It is clear that MDC, while keen for YHA to remain in the township, will require YHA to vacate the current site at this time. Good progress is being made in conjunction with MDC, which has located a new site in an equally desirable position as the hostel s current location. Further details will be provided as they are finalised. 2 P a g e

3 Hostel News Christchurch Recovery In the last edition of YHA News we reported that we were expecting the keys to be handed over from the Christchurch City Council for YHA Rolleston House any day. Unfortunately this has not occurred. The Council s engineers determined that further repair work was required, and the Council has now commenced this work. We anticipate these additional repairs will take several months to complete. YHA Queenstown Lakefront The second stage of the bathroom refurbishments has commenced. This includes grey water heat recovery systems and improved ventilation. We look forward to providing a better guest experience and bathrooms that are much easier to maintain at YHA s cleanliness standards. YHA Wellington In a recent YHA News we reported on the lift, via helicopter, of the new plant platform onto the roof of YHA Wellington. The plant itself has now been installed on the platform with new hot water heat pumps currently being commissioned. These new hot water heating systems will reduce the amount of natural gas used for this purpose and result in lower carbon emissions. YHA Manchester St interior In relation to the Manchester St hostel, we remain in discussions with insurers regarding the best way forward for the building. Hostel Round-up All Hostel Managers are busy planning for the next financial year including writing up their hostel business plans and developing hostel operating budgets. Stuart MacWilliam, YHA s Property Manager, has been busy around the hostels: YHA Franz Josef A new ventilation system has been installed which will reduce condensation and make the hostel easier to keep warm. Also recently installed is a much larger generator that will provide back up for the hostel in the (not infrequent) power cuts experienced on the Coast. New hot water heat pumps on the recently installed platform. YHA Auckland City The design theme for the recently refurbished common areas has been agreed. This will combine images of iconic New Zealand adventure activities with a retro New Zealand design to celebrate both what tourism in New Zealand is now and YHA s long history. One example is the proposed blackboard with a large stencilled map of New Zealand where travellers can leave messages and recommendations for other travellers. Overall the aim is to provide a fun and engaging space which excites people about their travel in New Zealand. We look forward to its roll out. 3 P a g e

4 Cora Wilding Memorial Award This award provides a funding opportunity to assist people achieve their goals, in particular participation in a personal development training course. This could be leaning to sail, becoming a skydive instructor or even learning to fly a plane. Branch & Members Group News Dunedin Branch The Dunedin Branch held a Special General Meeting at the end of March and decided to dissolve the Branch and reform as a Members Group. Please see below for a message from Margaret Harding, Chair of the newly formed Dunedin YHA Members Group. The Dunedin Branch over the years has played a significant role in the Youth Hostels movement in New Zealand. The award was established to perpetuate the memory of Cora Wilding, the founder of the Association. It comprises a substantial subsidy of up to $2500 towards the cost of participation in a personal development training course, for a maximum of two individuals in any year. It also includes a one year subscription-free membership to YHA New Zealand. Please help YHA spread the word about this award. More information and an application form can be found online at: Applications close on 30 June Member Weekends Throughout the year we plan to hold the following Member Weekends: April YHA Whangarei May TBA July YHA Rotorua October YHA Nelson AGM Whangarei Member Weekend Around 20 members have registered for what is shaping up to be a great weekend in Whangarei. Kevin Brewer and Barry Cope will be representing the Board, and Mark Wells, YHA s Chief Executive will attend this weekend. Thanks in advance to the Whangarei Branch, in particular Jill Kerr the Branch Chair, for hosting the weekend. Members were responsible for the first hostels in the area. Wanaka and Waikouaiti hostels were built by members. The day to day running of the hostels was carried out by wardens administered by the Branch at Shag Point, Waikouaiti, Dunedin, Roxburgh Hydro, Queenstown and Wanaka. The work was funded by numerous fund raising activities and maintenance was carried out by work parties. The Branch was responsible for having the Queenstown Lakefront Hostel built as the first national hostel, with funding coming from Branch fundraising and a fund set by national office. The Branch ran the hostel until the 1980s when National Office took over its day to day running. On behalf of the Dunedin Branch Committee, I would like to thank all those who volunteered their time and skills throughout the years. Margaret Harding, Chair Dunedin YHA Members Group April P a g e

5 YHA Friends of Hawke s Bay Our main event for 2011 was the pre- Christmas BBQ held on Saturday 17 th December 2011 at the YHA Napier hostel. As with any outdoor event planned weeks in advance, the weather plays a big part in whether it is a success or not. On the day of our big event it had been raining on and off during the day which made all the outdoor seating and tables too wet to be used, so we were forced to dine indoors. Christchurch Branch The Christchurch Branch recently organised a walk round Halswell Quarry Park. While they did not choose the best weather, nine hardy members enjoyed the walk despite the cold wind and grey skies. They reported that it was interesting to see the growth and development in this area since they visited last year. However it was fine enough for the gas-fired barbeque to be lit so we could cook our dinner. Arthur Bluck and Ted Nielsen (two YHA stalwarts) were on cooking duties for the day and not one sausage or meat patty was burnt (Congratulations! - Ed). Prior to the meal being served we enjoyed drinks and nibbles. The main meal consisted of a variety of sausages, beef patties, hash browns, pizza, salads, tomatoes, onions, sliced bread and of course tomato sauce. Followed by dessert of our old favourites of fruit salad, diced peaches, ice cream and as a special treat fresh strawberries which Rita Cox, a YHA member from Hastings, kindly provided. As far as I know everyone left the hostel feeling well fed as there was plenty of food for all. The Branch gets together each month and recent activities have included a talk from Leo Manders on his trip from Naples to Hong Kong, and a Beetle Night - a fun games evening that raised funds for the Stewart Island Project. I hope you have enjoyed this latest edition of YHA News; we enjoyed putting it together for you. It s Anzac Day next week, a chance to reflect on what those who came before us gave for us. Eleven local Friends of YHA attended the event, and unfortunately no hostellers were able to join us as those staying at the hostel had made other arrangements. This was a big disappointment to the Friends of YHA catering team as we put on the meal for the hostellers not just the local members. Everyone helped with the cleaning up and we were all finished and heading for home at 8.30pm. Barry Pulford Secretary/Treasurer Hawke s Bay Friends of YHA Regards 5 P a g e

6 From the Chair and Chief Executive Kia ora koutou For some time now, the YHA New Zealand National Board and management have been considering options to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of YHA. The negative economic forces affecting YHA, and New Zealand tourism generally, mean the current difficult market conditions are expected to continue into and through the next summer season, and potentially beyond. Anticipated changes to building codes after the Christchurch earthquake may also affect our hostels. While our debt position in relation to assets (gearing) is conservative and our balance sheet strong, to ensure YHA s future sustainability we need to take steps now to ensure we have the level of profitability we need to maintain the quality of our hostels, the breadth of our hostel network and the effectiveness of our supporting systems. Two current projects will support this goal reviewing how we structure our hostel network and reviewing the cost of our National Office overhead. The provision of hostel accommodation is central to YHA s Objects and the Board and management are firmly committed to this. Over time, and as a general principle, our intention is to continue to directly operate and often own, high quality hostels in locations of importance to YHA. In addition, we will continue to maintain and grow our network coverage through quality third-party (Associate) relationships. We are however refining our approach to create a more sustainable mix of hostels by adjusting the mix of capital invested in ownership, leasehold relationships and thirdparty hostels. This refinement will meet both our coverage requirements, including hostels that are off the beaten track, and our financial requirements, ensuring we can maintain and improve the current network, keeping it attractive for guests. Agreements to continue offering quality YHA accommodation in those locations. As Chief Executive, Mark Wells has been consulting with Branches and member groups in these locations. Alongside this on-going review of our hostel network structure we will continue to review and reduce the cost of our support structure (National Office) overhead. Over the last three years we have reduced overhead costs by 16% while maintaining our marketing investment, and will continue to advance a number of projects in support of further efficiencies and reduced costs. In taking these actions, we remain firmly committed to our charitable purpose and our strong YHA values. We are confident the changes will support both positive guest satisfaction and trading outcomes by growing a diverse and vibrant YHA network that will maintain YHA into the decades to come. After all, the greatest respect we can pay to our past is to ensure the future! For further information, you are invited to contact the Chief Executive directly or ). Kind regards Coral Laughton Chair Mark Wells Chief Executive In line with this approach, rather than reduce representation of YHA in New Zealand, we intend to sell a small number of properties and will use new lease arrangements or Associate 6 P a g e

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