POP Hostel

Challenge— Part of what makes POP Montreal such an amazing music festival is the fact that concerts are held in over 80 venues sprinkled throughout the city. The festival encourages venue hopping throughout each night, which makes for a great experience if you’re a local but can be hard to unpack for visitors. As a newcomer to the city myself, I was determined to give everyone the same intimate chaos that Montrealers enjoy.

Insights— I read somewhere that festivals can be like temporary utopias because they bring like-minded people together and make us more open to interactions with strangers for a finite period of time (see Burning Man). It made me think that we might set up a sanctioned way for visitors to connect with locals who could help them navigate the city. (Full disclosure: I was also inspired by my experiences with CouchSurfing!)

Solution— POP Hostel helps visitors avoid costly hotels while also benefitting from locals’ knowledge of the city. The program matches guests with local hosts based on shared musical interests and desire for interaction (looking for a new best friend or just a place to crash). Musicians can apply as well, creating extra special experiences for some lucky hosts! By blurring boundaries between musicians and fans, POP Hostel helps to provoke new interactions between music lovers and ultimately, reinforces POP’s intimate, community-based vibe. POP Hostel has run every festival since 2009.

Credits— POP Hostel started as a crazy idea with Carmen Negrelli when we both found ourselves without an apartment to live in days before our first festival in 2008. We couldn’t have done it without the openness and support of Hilary Leftick or the lovely people of Montreal who have opened their doors to music-loving strangers.