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Well run hostels don’t just happen. Even with a strong staff and an enthusiastic manager, a hostel can easily run downhill if there are no dedicated steps in place to ensure its success. Any situation- a business, a classroom, even a family- thrives because of established systems and procedures.

We see many of these as simply routine: A mom makes lunches every morning for the kids before school so they are well fed. A teacher has a lesson planned each day for the class. A manager prepares an agenda for the work meeting. What we often see as general, even obvious tasks are in reality steps to a well-oiled operations system. Without them the particular situation can quickly turn less effective, or even chaotic.

Hostels are the same way, with numerous moving parts. No matter how passionate you are about your hostel, it’s naive to think it will run well by just trying to do everything as it comes. So how do you take a hostel from simply getting by to a truly smooth operation? The first step is to read below 🙂

Create A Successful Environment
The best hostels have well-established systems in place for everything from cleaning and reception duties to social media marketing and customer engagement.

If you think they could improve, set aside some time to brainstorm all the areas of focus the hostel needs, as well as what needs to happen in these areas. Start with this outline, and begin to fill in all of your steps. These will often be tasks you are already doing, but may not be formalized into a full system. Doing this can take significant time, but investing that time in creating solid systems will give you a huge payoff.

Define How Systems Operate
Once you have identified your various systems and the tasks involved, you need procedures to ensure they happen. These can be as detailed as you’d like, but keep in mind that people are inundated with information daily. Even if you manage to keep your staff off their phones or Instagram, people have a much shorter attention span than ever before.

If your staff have to read a 3-page single-spaced procedure on opening reception, they are likely to either a) skip reading it altogether or b) try, but inevitably miss the most important details lost in the mix. You are aiming for step by step instructions of the most critical tasks. You can always add more instructions verbally if there are certain areas that need more attention that day.

Additionally, some tasks need detailed explanations for the first few times but are not necessary once staff have the hang of it. If you put these details in the ‘everyday procedure’, they are likely to add too much info and you risk the problem above. Consider having the detailed version of a procedure in your training manual, and keep the everyday procedure as concise as possible.

Remember that some systems operate daily, while others may only be every six months. It’s easy to focus on what is right in front of us, but creating systems ahead of time ensures that our hostel’s less frequent needs are also met. Be sure to include plans for things like changing smoke detector batteries, cleaning out air ducts, and updating your website text. They may not need to happen daily or even weekly, but if you don’t plan for them they will never happen at all.

Finally, think about how you will introduce new procedures to your staff. Remember that when doing a revamp of your operations, training will not only be reserved for new staff. It’s often harder to change current habits than starting fresh, so keep this in mind as you develop these new systems.
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