«We are the founders of a 100 years old concept which is more relevant than ever before!»
On the occasion of the Sleep for Peace week (an Hostelling International annual event in honor of the International Day of Peace and World Tourism Day), we could meet Cécile, who traveled from London to celebrate this special week with us.
“I’m Cécile Yerle, my job is Senior Engagement Executive and what I do is network development and communications. I’m part of the Engagement team, there are four of us and we are based in the International Office in the UK with the rest of the 20 staff.
I’m French, I lived abroad with my parents in my younger years and I started in the HI network in 2006 by working as marketing assistant for HI France in Paris. I had a great few years there, learning so much and combining my passions: travel, marketing and mission-based work.
Then in 2012, HI was looking for someone to join the international office to support the communications effort around the new website and that turned out to be me! Since then my role has changed but I’m still making use of my communications skills and knowledge of the network on a daily basis.
The thing I like the most about this job is the international network and the fantastic people in it. I get to work with people from all around the world every day and I travel a lot, that gives me great joy and has taught me so much over the years! The fact that we are running not-for-profit organisations is also very important to me and in line with my personal and professional ethics. Our network, at the forefront of sustainable tourism, makes me very proud.“
About what means for the guests that HI is a value-based organization, she was very clear: “We are the founders of a 100 years old concept which is more relevant than ever before! Today travellers want genuine experiences, they want to leave home for a good reason and have a memorable time whatever they chose to do. With our approach to sustainable tourism and the diversity of the HI network we can offer that special experience to our guests and help broaden the minds of young people.“
Travellers today are more aware and educated, they know what they want and they can compare easily so as long as we keep in line with our values – Sustainability – Authenticity – Inclusivity and Learning & Understanding – we will always deliver the best experience possible.
When we asked her what is the most important thing for keeping guests happy, she said “it’s about being honest and authentic. Offering a good service and experience for a fair price. There is no magic recipe to please guests, all our hostels are different and our guests as well so it’s about listening to the feedback and working hard to continuously improve our offer and stay relevant.”
We also asked her about places to see in her city: “I live in Welwyn Garden City, UK, where the International Office is based. It’s a small town about 25 minutes from London but it’s actually famous for its post-WWII architecture and layout which allows for plenty of green spaces, it’s very pleasant and family-friendly. But the truth is I would not recommend coming to the UK just for that… the main attraction is London of course which is a must see. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be! It’s such a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a great heritage yet very modern scene. I love it!”
We very much appreciate you for taking time out to answer our questions. Thank you Cécile for making Hostelling International better, and for all the energy and the inspiration you have given to us!
Interview by Patricia Benesiu
Photo credit: Cécile Yerle and Sandra Meglić