Hostel’s Education Approach Relies on Smartphones, Quick Response Codes

8/27/2012 By Glenn Hasek

BOSTON—Guests staying at the recently opened 480-bed hostel in downtown Boston can take a tour of the property with their smartphones thanks to hundreds of strategically placed QR codes. A QR code (abbreviation of Quick Response codes), when scanned by a smartphone, launches a web page that describe the environmental initiatives in that part of the building. Kelly Smith, director of marketing & sales, Hostelling International Boston, says the codes are part of a Green G Tour.

“In every major space you will find stickers,” Smith says. “One of our spaces is our stairwell. [The web page] for that area talks about how reclaimed materials were used in that part of the building.”

Each sticker includes the QR code, a large “G” for the Green G Tour, and symbols associated with the green initiatives in the hotel—a saw, faucet, electrical outlet, and compact fluorescent light bulb. Since the codes were placed in the last couple of months, Smith says response has been strong.

“We have seen a lot of interest,” she says. “We are working on signage to help promote the green tour.”

Guided Tours Offered Twice Weekly

In addition to self-guided tours, guided tours are also offered twice weekly. These have been drawing at least a few participants each time.

The Boston hostel is expected to earn at least LEED Silver for its many green accomplishments. Smith says notification is expected in the winter months.

The hostel will welcome more than 46,000 guests annually, 60 percent of which will be international visitors, mostly between the ages of 18 to 30. The influx of hostellers will generate more than $16 million of direct spending by hostel guests at Boston restaurants, entertainment venues, and sightseeing spots across the city, greatly enhancing the local economy.

The $43 million project is funded through a combination of New Market and Federal and State Historic Tax credits, private financing, and proceeds from an ongoing capital campaign.

Focus on Re-use, Energy Conservation

The building caters to the growing international trend toward more environmentally-conscious travel. The adaptive re-use of the historic building integrates new and efficient green technologies and features, including recycled building materials, green elevators, and Energy Star appliances and equipment.

The hostel’s lobby, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a coffee bar and a community room is open to the public and supports Hostelling International’s mission to promote intercultural exchange between guests and the community by providing a place to congregate and connect. Community space will also serve as a platform for educational and service programs such as Alternative Spring Break (ASB) which gives volunteers from high schools and universities across the country the opportunity to visit the city of Boston and perform community service at local nonprofits.

Suffolk Construction oversaw the construction of the project, which involved the renovation of a 55,500 square foot six-story building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hostel was designed by Boston architectural firms Bergmeyer Associates and Stegman + Associates.

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