This reception manual is designed to assist in the navigation of tasks which should be undertaken within the reception role at 2tank Dive Hostel.
It can be used as a ‘go to’ manual and act as a ‘how to’ for tasks which are required to be completed.
It is a manual which can be used by reception and management staff.

[su_spoiler title=”About 2Tank Dive Hostel” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”about”]

2tank Dive Hostel opened in December 2015 and runs in affiliation with the Dive Master Academy. The two businesses run within each other in a seamless transaction. From a guests point of view, the 2 business are one under the guise of the 2tank Dive Hostel.
Through open plan communal areas, friendly reception staff and dive instructors the hostel encourages an environment where people can meet, talk, sleep, study, and dive.
The location of the hostel is on the main thoroughfare of San Miguel allows for maximum exposure of the hostel.
The hostel caters to several different clientele, however, the main types, in broad terms, that use the hostel are:
A) SCUBA divers of various skill levels
B) international travelers
There are 3 main age groups which use the hostel: 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44

It has been found that the demographic of the guests who use the hostel depends greatly on peak holiday time in their home country.
We see an increase of:
Americans during February to April for Spring Break
Europeans during July-August for Europe Holidays
Israelis during September for Jewish New Year
Mexicans during September for Independence Weekend, and during Spring for Semana Santa

In the past year 2015-2016 the busiest months have coincided with these events.

Although we are able to find this information there are several other events which occur throughout the year which has the potential to increase patronage at the hostel and these should be marketed accordingly.

On average our guests stay 2.85 nights. NOTE: we know that this data is not be a true reflection due to the way the reservations are added to our system. Some guests who extend their stay are added as a new reservation, rather than an extension and so the figure could be better refined with some changes in the way reservations are managed.

61% of our revenue comes from OTA bookings, (Online Travel Agency such as booking.com or HostelWorld) and 39% from walk-in guests and own website. The average daily rate is 198 pesos.

Our occupancy was 38.54% for the year Dec 2015-2016
In 2017, our average occupancy was 56%, with February to July being our busiest months, and September & October our slowest months.
Occupancy figures of a hostel can indicate how well the hostel is running.
Average hotel occupancy in Cozumel is 88%, compared with the state average of 61%.
For the hostel to be in profit 2 dorm rooms should be full. Private rooms generate the same income per head as dorms, meaning they generate less profit per unit.
Projected occupancy for the next year is 60%

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Contacts

In case of any discrepancies or emergencies below are the contact numbers for people working at the hostel:
[table “” not found /]

Other contacts such as dive boats and instructors can be found in the 2tankdivehostel@gmail.com Google account – contacts.

[su_spoiler title=”Working Expectations” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”working_expectations”]

There are tasks which are necessary to be carried out and there are several personal attributes we expect to be displayed throughout your shift(s).

In terms of attitude, it is important to work as part of the whole team including with volunteers and other staff, being considerate, thoughtful, and working autonomously and proactively with some pride taken in the output of your work.
You should be customer orientated, aware of (“1st world”) guests and their needs throughout the duration of their stay, spur the sales of the SCUBA dives, and knowing that our guests and customers are the priority of the hostel.
Having a ‘hands on approach’ and attention to detail will be of benefit to the hostel and to yourself for future tasks.
Overall there is a certain expectation that during your shift you will always lead by example to helpers and other staff.
Maintaining or improvement of the environment, occupancy of the hostel, cleanliness and overall running of the business will be in your charge whilst you are on shift.
Good personal presentation is essential to maintaining the hostel’s image. It is necessary to always be well presented. This includes making sure that your hair is clean, your appearance is tidy, your work shirt and clothing is clean and appropriate to wear in front of guests (eg. no hot pants, no swimming costumes)

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Reception Processes

[su_spoiler title=”Shift Opening” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”morning_shift”]

Morning shift – reception opening

  1. Good Morning!
    2. CHECK TOILETS (Refill paper rolls, empty all bins, check cleanliness, Flush & Brush)
    3. CHECK SHOWERS (Stop any leakings, move left items to basket)
    4. Check Kitchen (Wash Dishes if Needed, Empty Dishwasher, Wipe All Tables, Move Items From Drying Rack to Shelves)
    5. Check Prepared Dive Equipment And Bring it to Reception
    6. Open Cortinas
    7. Fill Up Water Kettle, Refill Coffee, Sugar and Creamer
    8. Turn On Computer, Log In to Cloudbeds and Open Cash Drawer & open Peek
    *Count your cash box and enter exact amount into Cloudbeds
    9. Remove The Lock From Fridge
    10. Make Sure Music is ON at 8:30 am. Ask the manager to fix it when it is quiet or check if music is playing on Spotify on the tv behind reception
    11. Turn On TV and Play Morning Video
    12. Count CashBox and Report Opening Balance when Open your Shift
    13. Turn On and charge the Card Reading Terminal
    14. Check the actual daily exchange rate on Google and write on chalkboard
    SMILE!!!
    15. Headcount Divers at 8am, Make sure everyone is Showed Up at Reception. If someone is missing, look in their room  and wake up if necessary
    16. Make divers sign the waiver on the tablets – everyone, every day has to sign a new waiver (=proof of their presence and check-in to the trip)
    17. Help Divers To Check Equipment (Change Sizes if Needed, Make Sure They Are Ready To Go By 8:15)
    18. Give everyone leaving for a boat dive some bottled water and cookies (2 per person)
    19. Make Sure Divers Depart in Time (by 8:10 am) and There is Someone to Escort Them
    19. Check Dive Course Students at 9am, and bring their equipment to reception if prepared, or check/help the instructor
[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Systems We Use” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”systems_we_use”]

Front desk computer log in: you use your personal gmail/Google account

You will get the log in info for all these platforms from your manager

Cloudbeds.com – Property management system & cash handling
Peek.com – Dive booking and management system
Scqba.com/pos – Mares shop POS (Point of Sale) system
WhatsApp – urgent team conversations

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Money Handling” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”money_handling”]

Exchange Rates

We get the exchange rate from google daily, US Dollars to Mexican Pesos.
The rate is written on the chalk board behind the reception desk. This is a daily task for the morning reception shift to check and modify the exchange rate on the chalk board.
This is used to calculate the cost of the services for any guests who prefer to pay in Pesos.

We are unable to exchange money. Payments should be made is pesos. In case of USD payments, the change should be given in USD as well. The maximum change given in pesos can be no more than 10 USD or 180 pesos.

Cash Boxes:

There are personal petty cash tin boxes available to each receptionist who is handling cash. Petty cash/tin should be counted at the start AND end of every shift and the balances have to be recorded in Cloudbeds. (Right top corner, Open / Close Cash Drawer) Cash handling should be taken seriously and each receptionist is responsible for the amount in his/her cash box. Make sure to enter all cash movements into CloudBeds, as these are tracked by management continuously. The exact amount of cash in your cash box should match the amount in the system.

The opening balance of cash should always equal to the closing balance of the shift before.

Any necessary expenses (taxi to divers/instructors, tank rental, etc.) should be taken from the manager on site (9a-5p). If there is no manager on site (e.g. after 5pm), then these expenses can be taken from the cash box. It is necessary to always get a receipt for any expenses which come from the cash box and report all cash withdrawals AND report properly and in details what was the purpose of the spending. Drop any receipts into the dropbox safe.

Money accepted:

We accept ONLY PESOS for accommodation. We accept either US Dollars or Mexican Pesos for diving. Use the daily exchange rate from Google to calculate amount owed. (ie. Google for “79 USD in MXN” than hit enter key, will show you the current value of 79 USD in mexican pesos)

CloudBeds (accommodation) payments and Peek (diving) payments will be collected separately because the two systems operate independently.  Money collected for accommodation will be entered into CloudBeds and kept in your cashbox (this gets added to the receptionist’s cash report in CloudBeds). Money collected for diving (either pesos or dollars) will be put into an envelope with a note detailing: diver’s name, activity, activity date, amount charged, and amount actually in envelope. This envelope will be dropped into the dropbox safe located directly under the large glass in the reception desk.

General rule: we NEVER give change in pesos from US dollar bills. That is called money exchange and we don’t have a permit to do that (and we lose money if we do so). If someone pays in USD bills, (only for diving) we have to give back the change in USD bills.

Example: the guest’s balance is 56 USD and they don’t have the exact cash amount, and they want to pay 60 USD with 3 pieces of 20 USD bills. If you don’t have 4 USD in bills in your tin, you don’t accept the payment. Ask them to pay in pesos instead. (Always check the actual exchange rate in Google – in this case, search for: 56 USD in MXN
In the same example, if they have to pay 56 USD but they have only a 100 USD bill, we don’t accept it, and we don’t give change in pesos. (the only exception, if you can give the exact 44 USD change in USD bills)

You may give change in pesos if a guest paid in pesos. Example: a guest owes $1,600 pesos for a boat dive, and they give you 3 pieces of 500 pesos and 1 piece of 200 pesos (=$1,700). You can NOT give 100 pesos change from your cashbox and enter this as “money removed” from your cashbox. Instead, you must exchange the 200 pesos from your cashbox to 2 x 100, then, drop the exact amount, and give the other 100 as change to the client.

To reconcile cash box:
Opening Balance is the amount of cash in the tin at the start of the shift
Minus any expenses taken from the tin, which should balance/equal to the total of the receipts for the day
Plus any cash received, either for accommodation which should balance to the computer system and receipts issued for the day or if the tin had more money added to refill it
(Opening Balance – expenses + cash in = Closing Balance)

The Closing Balance should equal the same amount as the counted physical cash.
If it does not you need to find out why. Some reasons could be:
Not receiving a receipt for an expense
Not issuing a receipt for receiving cash
Not counting the cash correctly
Not receiving the correct change from the shop from an expense during the day
Not giving the correct change to a guest after paying for accommodation
*Selecting that the guest paid by Card rather than by cash or vice versa on the system

In addition to the petty cash tin being reconciled, the card machine also needs to be closed at the end of each shift.
To do this: Press green (main menu), option 2 “Reportes”, option 1 (will print off a report). Green, 2 “Reportes”, option 2 (will print off a report). Green, 2 “Reportes”, option 3. It will ask for a code: 24680 (will print off a report), then 1 “Si” and 1 again. DO NOT cut the paper between reports, keep it as one long paper. Clip the slips together from the daily transactions with the final balance report and drop it to the drop safe at the end of your shift. The total amount taken/refunded should equal the figure on the final shift print out, to the total amount of the receipts, and then Cloudbeds cash drawer.

Closing Cash Drawer:

When closing Cloudbeds Cash Drawer at the end of your shift, first count all the money actually in your box. Verify that this matches with the system balance. Drop all the cash over 1000-1200 pesos (mostly 500 and 200 peso bills) and record the dropped amount in the system. Important! Always leave 1000-1200 pesos in your box, even if you have 500 bills, because there is a good chance, that the next day you will have to give change from your box.

NEVER LEAVE CASH, CASH BOX, OR CARD MACHINE UNATTENDED AT ANY TIME.

 

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Shift Closing” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Shift Closing”]

Shift Closing

Enforce the Quiet Times. After 10:30 pm remind people in the lobby AND on the street to keep quiet, ask them to go out if they want to keep talking or drinking. Make sure they don’t stay in front of the hostel, it is illegal to drink on the street and the police will check (even arrest) them.
Check If Dive Equipment is prepared for next morning in Bags
Remove any Dive Equipment from Drying rack
Report any No-Shows
Turn Off TV
CHECK TOILETS  (REFILL PAPER ROLLS, EMPTY ALL BINS, CHECK CLEANLINESS, FLUH IF NEEDED, remove ladder from the toilet)
CHECK SHOWERS (Stop any leakings, move left items to basket)
Check Kitchen (Wash Dishes if Needed, Empty Dishwasher, Wipe All Tables, Move Items From Drying Rack to Shelves)
Lock Beverage Fridge
Count Cash box and Report Closing Balance, Close Cash Drawer
Close Card Reading Terminal (Collect All Daily Tickets And Clip Them together with the closing slip , Drop them in dropbox safe)
Lock Terminal and Cashbox in Safe
Turn Computer Off
Close Cortinas
SMILE!!!
Ask Visitors and people who checked out to Leave
Remind Guests to Keep Quiet or Go Out For a Drink
Wait for Night Shift Personnel, Share Status Information
Have a Good Night!

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Cleaning” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”cleaning”]

Room Checks

Rooms should be checked frequently to ensure that they are well presented, clean and ready for guests.
Beds should be made according to the ‘”Workaway” Manual, and to the hostel standards. Linen should be clean, no stains, pillows straight on the bed, flat/top sheet folded at the end of the bed. Floor should be clean, clear of debris, or any dead insects. Room should smell fresh, and clean. Lockers should have doors closed and be clear of any previous guests belongings. Mirrors should be clean and free of handprints or marks. Bins should be empty. Under the beds should be clear of rubbish.
Checking that there is no damage to any furniture, any loose fittings or general maintenance required i.e. light globes will keep the hostel well maintained.
Any issues that you find during the room check should be rectified as quickly as possible, preferably before the guests check in at 2pm.
For any large unresolvable matters, reallocating beds/rooms might be necessary until the matter is resolved.

Room Deep Cleans

Every 3 months every room should go through a ‘deep clean’. A regular deep clean will ensure that the hostel is always presented at its best.
The number of days that the room should be off-line is dependant on how much work needs to be carried out at the hostel.
A deep clean involves:
Taking all mattresses off beds and removing any stains
Bed frames should be moved away from the walls and should be fully dusted, and checked for any evidence of bed bugs
Use this time to make any repairs to the bed frame and walls
Plaster any holes in the wall and roof, then paint it
While the beds are away from the walls, the walls should be repainted, or marks removed if necessary
Any repairs to the personal reading lights and electric plugs should be made – so please test everything thoroughly
Dust all surfaces of the room, including cornices, and skirting boards, door frames and lockers
Look everywhere (on walls, curtains, beds, behind and under the beds and lockers) for stickers, price tags, chewing gums (everything that can be hidden)
Move all beds, mop and clear any rubbish which has accumulated under the beds
Apply bed bug repellent on each beds and lockers (make them soaking wet under and top) than wait to dry
When the floor are dry again, sweep and mop all floor surfaces
Check over lockers for any repairs which might be needed
Check and tighten curtain ropes
Wipe back, top and fronts of doors, apply WD40 on the hinges than wipe off the excess liquid
Dust any lights, globes and light fixtures
Wash/replace any pillows
Washing all linen and curtains in the room, regardless if it has been used prior to the room going into deep clean
Dress the beds
[/su_spoiler]

Bed Bug Control

We apply a repellent and fumigating solution on all beds once in every month to prevent bed bug infection, with great success! In the last 2 years we didn’t have any sightings of bed bugs in the hostel. People find bites and complain about bed bug bites every once in a while, we always investigate and we never find any evidence of bed bugs.
Please take a break now, and read all this information about bed bugs, to be prepared when someone is approaching you with an arm full of rash.
https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/introduction-bed-bugs

[su_spoiler title=”Supplies” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Supplies”]

Stock Control / Inventory

Once a month it is necessary to check over supplies and make purchases where necessary.
Areas which should be checked:
Kitchen – ensure that there are enough utensils, plates, bowls, cups, mugs for use of guests in the hostel. Also enough rice, spaghetti, instant coffee, coffee creamer, sugar packets, and tea bags.
Laundry – ensure that there ‘Par 0.5’ stock of linen including towels and tea towels (Par is a term used to indicate the excess level of stock i.e. Enough linen for all beds to be made, plus another half of what is necessary).
Cleaning – ensure that there is enough stock to carry out the cleaning of the hostel for the month. Windex, stain remover, floor cleaner, bleach, dish washing liquid, clothes washing liquid, brooms, mops, sponges, cleaning cloths, white vinegar, and any other item necessary.
Stationary – sticky labels, paper, pens, card machine rolls
Reception – wrist bands, mints, chalk, maps, business cards, dive flyers
Drink Fridge – sodas, water, sport drinks, etc.

Ordering:
Stock which needs to be ordered from suppliers in advance is for the Coke Fridge, the wrist bands for our guests, business cards/flyers, and the paper rolls for the card machine.

List of Suppliers:

  • Supplies for cleaning, linen and stationary are just purchased as required from Sam’s Club or Mega.
  • Drinks fridge: Coca “Bepensa” driver will come to the hostel periodically and take an order. When ordering, ONLY order what we are low on. You must get permission from management to order new/different drinks.
  • Garrafóns (large 20L water bottles). Order by phone, call Victor at Agua Cristal: +52 1 987 878 9516. Usually order 8 at a time, not more.
  • Business cards and flyers: Enquesta @ Merida- for business cards, and flyers. Alert management when these are getting low.
  • Wristbands: Carmina @ Cancun- for wrist bands. Alert management when opening the last box of wrist bands. Contact carminao@recreativo.com.mx (usually order 500 at a time, the color of the band is not important and can be changed)
[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion] [su_accordion]

Check-In’s & Check-Out’s

[su_spoiler title=”Check-in Process” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”check-in_process”]

Check-in is at or after 2pm. Don’t be surprised, 30-40% of guests will arrive between 10am-2pm, you will find more details about this later.
Checking in guests is one of the most important tasks of reception. From the moment a guest comes into the hostel their impression will be based on the person receiving them as well as the overall impression of the hostel. It is important to look welcoming, happy, and be ready to check the guest in.
Mobile phones, emails or other tasks should be stopped immediately so to greet the guest as they arrive and say out loud “Welcome to 2tank”.
Most of our guests do not pre-book during the quiet periods and consequently, you are the 1st person they deal with, and how helpful you are will be a contributing factor that will make them decide to stay.
First impressions will be paramount in the guest deciding whether or not to say here or to shop around.
It is important to promote the hostel and its features.
You should have a grasp of the occupancy for the day and coming days, any dives which are taking place, any special events in the area and any promotions which are currently running. Eg. Stay 2 nights and dive for ‘X’ amount.
Being aware of these factors means that you are able to provide information quickly and confidently.
Assessing each situation and developing your own techniques so that conversation flows easily will make this a much more comfortable transaction.
If you think that showing a guest one of our rooms would help in them making a decision about staying at the hostel you should know which rooms are occupied and which are ready to receive guests.
If the room is ready before 2pm and the guest arrives then they can check in early. If the room is not ready, let them know that we can hold their luggage, and make some suggestions for what options they have in the mean time. Things like restaurant recommendations, short walks, directions to the supermarket, or use the opportunity to promote diving with the hostel.

Once you have confirmed the guest reservation, either through online booking channels or after walking in, have the guest check in on the “Kiosk Pro Plus” app on one of the iPads. This will collect the guest’s information (passport number, address, etc.). Once this form has been completed, an automatic email will be sent to the 2tankdivehostel gmail account in the “Updates” tab. Then copy/paste the guest’s information into their reservation in CloudBeds. We need to know the full name, nationality and passport number of EVERY single person staying in the hostel in case of emergency. (correct data entry is valuable to the running of the hostel, for future marketing, promotions and information gathering – please ensure that all details are entered correctly)

Payment needs to be taken upon check-in. No exceptions! No one can enter their room without full upfront payment! When receiving walk-ins, make sure to get a credit card number, this can be saved in CloudBeds under the guest’s reservation details in the “Credit Cards” tab.
All prices displayed in MXN or in USD incur a 19% tax which is not included in the price and should be added on.
No payments accepted in cash USD for accommodations.

The exchange rate can be easily calculated on Google. (and for legal reasons it has to be updated always on the chalkboard)

Once all formalities are completed the guest needs to be given a wrist band. This is used to identify our guests from any other people who are in the hostel and particularly important during night shift.
You should verify which room and bed the guest is in. Give the guest the key for the correct room.
Also write the guest’s name on the appropriate bed number tag. Also give the guest a “Dive With Us!” card, which has important information about the hostel. Walk the guest to their room, and while you are walking them to their room, let them know important information such as:
the communal kitchen, free shelf and to clean up after themselves,
the fridge and to label all their food or risk it being thrown out, and
complimentary coffee station
that we have blankets available if they feel the cold which are issued on request
communal bathrooms
reception closing hours and how to get in after hours

The Cloudbeds system will have to be updated regardless of how the guest booked. It could be a matter of changing the status of the reservation (to “In-House”) , or entering in a new walk in reservation. This should be done at your earliest convenience (right after the guest left the reception desk) to prevent over-bookings.

Check-in rules

Every guests have to fill out and sign (!) check-in forms (on iPads)
Reception has to record each and every guest one by one in the system, including their name, country, and e-mail
All reservations have to be paid full upfront. Guests can not take their rooms, beds without a full payment. We don’t make reservations without payment. Ie. if they want to book for 5 nights, but want (can) pay for 1 night only, we reserve a bed for one night and no more. We have to let them know, that their beds are online for sale for all the days they did not pay, so the 11am check-out applies to them, no matter if they told us or not, that they want to stay more nights.
For walk-in guests, we also put their e-mail address in the system! Start to record the reservations in the system with the e-mail address first, because the system will recognise if it is a returning guest and you save time! The receptionist have to send out a confirmation e-mail with the full amount of their reservation to every guests!!! (the system sends it out, just click on the “SEND AND CONTINUE” button, see below)

Arrival Form

As part of the Check in process each and every guests staying in the hostel should be filling in the arrival form on the iPads.
It is necessary to have these forms filled out as a manual record of who is in each room in the event of an emergency, or in the event of the internet going down.
The form contains the guests signature which could act as evidence of providing what the guest agreed to.
The records are not kept.
Going forward these forms will also act as a means to collect data for future marketing. The guests should fill out as many details as possible.

 

Room/Bed Allocation

Any reservations made via online booking channels are automatically entered into CloudBeds.
The allocation of room depends on the room type which has been booked by the guest, and is controlled by CloudBeds. However it is possible to override the system if the situation requires it.
In reality it will only be necessary in the event that the guest modifies their booking, or if there is a maintenance issue with the room.
The allocation of beds in dorm rooms is on a first come, first serve basis, and the beds are allocated once the guest has arrived. Usually the guest will be allowed to choose which bed they prefer in a dorm room, but this is obviously dependant on how fully booked we are and which beds are available in the dorm room.
In CloudBeds, the number of the bed which is allocated to the guest is entered manually at the beginning of the guests name. Ensure that the CloudBeds bed number and the bed the guest is actually in matches!
If a guests makes a reservation via walk in then you are required to enter the details into Cloudbeds, which in turn updates the booking channels accordingly.
We charge one guest per bed, couples are still given one bed each regardless if the double is available and they choose to sleep together.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Booking Modification” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Booking_modification”]

If a guest modifies or cancels their booking it is necessary to make these changes in Cloudbeds as the system does not automatically update.
Once we receive notification of a change or cancellation the system should be updated promptly. This will keep CloudBeds accurate, therefore reflecting correct data for our days arrivals.
If guests cancel within 24 hours our cancellation policy is to offer no refund.
We have no change fees if the guest changes their booking online.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Card Payments” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”card_payments”]

Guests are able to pay for their reservation via cash or card payments.
We accept Visa/Mastercard only. We DO NOT accept American Express.
The guest is not able to choose which currency they would like to pay in, all amounts should be entered in Mexican Pesos
For credit card payments we require signature and passport as proof of identity, and they are to sign the receipt. If the guest enters a pin, or when we use the chip, then it is not necessary to check.
When taking card payments be careful to enter the correct amount exactly as it is displayed in CloudBeds, and that the payment has been approved.
The machine will make a ‘beep’ noise if the payment has been accepted/declined.
New paper rolls can be ordered by calling the bank. They need to be ordered in advance.
“Reporte Terminal”
Phone:01 800 801 2777
Atiliacion: 4078 111
Machine Number: 9483 0176
[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”OTA Collected payments” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”OTAcollect”]

Expedia and Booking.com has an optional service, when they collect the full price of the reservation from the guests. In this case, they hold on to their money, and we can collect from the OTA (Online Travel Agency, such as Booking.com or Expedia) through temporary virtual cards. This is what Booking.com tells about online payments.

Online payment:
It’s about to get a whole lot easier for guests to book with you
Guests have been telling us for a while they want to be able to pay differently – some just want to pay at the same time they book, and others want (or need) an alternative option like PayPal.

This means you’ll occasionally receive bookings with virtual credit card details attached. Payment is guaranteed, and you can charge this virtual card according to the date in the confirmation email. For non-refundable reservations this is the same day, and for other reservations it’s usually the date of check-in.

You won’t notice much of a change to the payment process, but your future guests will definitely see a difference!

How will it work?
1 Guest books and pays for their reservation on Booking.com
2 Booking.com loads the money onto a virtual credit card and sends this to you
3 You receive the virtual credit card details with the reservation

What’s a virtual credit card?

A virtual credit card is actually just a digital version of a MasterCard. You’ll receive the details with the reservation—just like you normally would—and can charge the card the same way you’d remotely charge any other card.

The virtual credit card can be charged as of the date included in the booking confirmation, and we’ll take care of modifications or refunds so there’s no hassle on your side. For more details on the specifics, take a look at our FAQs.

What if the guest cancels or changes their reservation?

If your guest cancels their reservation, you’ll be able to charge the cancellation fee right away. The same goes for no-shows. And the payment is always guaranteed.

What do I do if I want to make an exception and refund the guest?

You’re in total control of who you refund. If you want to refund a guest and haven’t charged the virtual credit card yet, you don’t need to do anything. If you’ve already taken payment, just refund the virtual credit card and we’ll do the rest.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Keys” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”keys”]

Guests are entitled to one key per group or one key per bed.
Guests are to return the keys upon check out, if the guest has lost the keys they were given then they will be charged a key replacement fee.
If the guest accidentally locks their key in the room, you should use the master key to open the room for them rather than issuing them another key.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Check-Out” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”checkout”]

Check-out

Check Out is at 11am. Verify all check out’s are completed by 11 am. Verify all bed tags in rooms (name of guest or “unoccupied”) match CloudBeds room assignments.
When the guest checks out, they should return any keys, towels and linen which they used. Used linens will be placed in basket next to reception.
When a guest checks out you should still maintain a happy and pleasant persona.
It is important to remember that this is the lasting impression that the guests will have. It is also a time when you can get honest feedback from the guest. At this time they have fresh, uncorrupted memories.
As with Check In, CloudBeds will also need to be updated to reflect that the guest has “Check Out”.
At 12pm, charge late check-out guest’s credit cards for the following night fee. Empty the bed if necessary. (put all their personal belongings on the bed and fold the sheet creating a big bag with the bed sheet).

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General Hostel Details

[su_spoiler title=”Background Music” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”background_music”]

It is one of the most important things in any hostels. The music we play is highly contributing to the overall experience of the guests. It is the responsibility of the receptionist to make sure we always have some background music played from our Spotify playlists. These playlists are selected and collected carefully and can not be modified or altered! Without exceptions you always have to play their playlists! This is not for the entertainment of the staff, this is an essential part of the guest experience. Never log out from the Spotify account and never play anything else than the hostel playlist.
The music comes on automatically with a timer. Make sure the music is ON between 8:30 am and 9:30 pm. Ask the manager to fix it when it is quiet.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Videos” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”videos”]

The big TV screen is for promotional purposes only. Play only dive videos (and nothing else) on it from the hard disk attached. Don’t use any streaming services such as Youtube, Netflix, etc because the reduce the bandwith of our internet connection and guests will not have enough. The TV sets consumes a LOT of electricity. Turn it off during the day (or don’t turn it on at all) when the daylight is too strong and/or there are no people/guests at the reception area, and don’t forget to turn it back on around 5pm. The TV set has to face half way to the street and half way to the seating area in the lobby, so both people from the street and people inside can see the videos. The only exception is movie nights. The movie nights has to be finished before 10:15 pm to ensure the rest of our guests.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Towels” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”towels”]

The hostel does not supply complimentary towels. The cost to hire a towel is 50 Pesos, with a 50 peso deposit. Guests will pay 100 pesos upon receiving the towel.
Once the guest checks out, if the towel is returned then they will receive 50 Pesos back as the remainder of the deposit. If the towel is not returned or is returned damaged then they will forfeit the deposit.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Internet” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Internet”]

Wi-Fi and Internet

The Wi-fi occasionally has issues or gets disconnected. Wait 5-10 minutes to see if the problem will resolve itself. If the Wi-Fi is still not working, you can re-set the router with the white switch on the far right below the air conditioning fuses. You will need to use the “Hermex” key on the master set of keys to open the black door. Turn it off for approximately 20 seconds, then turn it back on. This generally fixes the problem.

Telmex are the internet provider. They should be called in the event of failure or for any troubleshooting. The phone number can be found in the router.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Complaints” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”complaints”]

Complaint Management

It is impossible to write a thorough instructional on how to handle each complaint which we might receive for various reasons, however as a guideline all complaints should be taken seriously. It is most important to listen to what the guest has to say, to acknowledge the complaint and then try to find a resolution which keeps all parties happy.
In real life the later point is not always possible.
Some complaints we regularly receive are about taxes which we charge to guests, lockers not having their own locks, paying the deposit, noise by other guests, and some dive associated complaints.
Being confident in the reasoning will go along way in aiding dealing with a complaint.

The receptionist doesn’t have the right to make decisions about refunds, and for safety reasons, they don’t carry any extensive cash to refund. If there is a complaint from someone who wants a refund, please direct them to www.divehostel.com/refund and ask them fo file a complain there. The management will check the case and make a decision within a couple of days, maximum 10 days. Of course, some instances refunds cannot be avoided e.g. guests being bitten by, and bed bugs being found in the room.
Another helpful tactic in dealing with the complaint is being honest about what cannot be done and deal with that first, but then closing the conversation with what can be done to help in fixing their problem. It then becomes the guests’ decision of what to do and leaves the conversation on a more positive note.

1. LISTEN (and keep quiet)
2. Say, I understand.
3. Tell them WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO NOW.

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/tb2rv77YO-w”] [/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Booking Channels” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”booking_channels”]

Online Travel Agencies / Booking Channels

Booking Channels:
The hostel uses the following channels for online bookings:
Booking.com,
Hostel World Group (controls hostelbookers.com, hostel.com, hostelworld)
Expedia Inc. (controls expedia.com, hotels.com, Orbitz Worldwide, trivago, homeaway, travelocity, hotwire, wotif and more)
Dorms.com
Airbnb,
2tank Dive Website,
Facebook,

We use “MyAllocator” program as Channel Manager to synchronise the occupancy and control the pricing of all these channels.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Social Media & Reviews” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”social_media_reviews”]

Social Media

Social media is a very strong medium for marketing in today’s world.
Websites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used as free markets and product awareness.
For effective management it is necessary to put a variety of information on our pages, not just information about 2tank Dive Hostel, but about Cozumel, SCUBA diving over the world, and Mexican attractions.
People will find our page more appealing, and therefore get more ‘likes’ and or ‘shares’, if they are able to use it as an information source. It is not all about self promotion.
Particularly with Facebook we should be uploading information at a minimum of once a week.
Any questions raised through Facebook should be answered promptly and accurately, however any complaints or serious conversations our email address should be provided so to continue the ‘conversation’ out of view of the public.

Reviews

TripAdvisor is an independent online review system which is used by many people when making a decision on a place to stay.
Additionally after a guest has stayed, if they have booked through a booking channel, they will be able to leave a review of the property on the respective website.
Having guests review on these systems has both its pros and cons, however when managed effectively, can be used as a great way to get feedback about the hostel – what could be improved, what guests think is good, and what guests think is bad.
All feedback should be taken on-board constructively.
Receiving positive feedback on these websites is great for business and provides free advertising.
Conversely, any negative feedback cannot be removed.
Managing the reviews effectively relies on being confident and providing good customer service whenever at the hostel, working with the guest to get a happy resolve as situations arise, and/or encouraging guests to leave a review if they enjoyed there stay.
If you know that a guest leaving may not have had the greatest stay then do not encourage them to leave a review.
Another component of managing these websites is replying to any reviews which have been left by guests.
You can usually ascertain who has left the review, although it is not always possible, and being personable in your response generates a good impression.
Being prompt in your response is vital.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/TripAdvisorInsights/n2428/how-add-management-responses-tripadvisor-traveler-reviews
This link will provide good tips on how to handle different reviews and the information should be actively paid attention to. (although the link is TripAdvisor specific, the rules apply across all review websites)

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Lockers” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Lockers”]

Lockers and padlocks
Providing our guests with lockers is an easy way to avoid issues of theft. Our lockers requires a lock, do not rent them! Do not label leftover locks as ‘FREE’ and hand it out to guests. For security reasons, you should only sell locks. Otherwise someone could potentially accuse you of making a copy of the key or knowing the combination, and wrongly accuse you of stealing if something goes missing (whether it actually does, or they are just lying to get money). Locks are for sale for 50 pesos.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Maintenance” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Maintenance”]

Maintenance and Contacts

Currently we have no contracts or regular contacts for maintenance repairs. Contact management if there are any maintenance concerns.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Fuses” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Fuses”]

The fuse box is located at the back of the hostel next to the entrance to the back store room (Bodega).
There are several fuses for different parts of the hostel.
At times these fuses can switch off. It is necessary to locate the correct fuse (the switch shows red color) turn it off and then turn it back on if it ‘trips’ for any reason.

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Helpers/Volunteers” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”helpers”]

“Workaway” is the website which we use to find helpers for the hostel.
We advertise our property on the website, what we require of the helpers, and what they would get in return.
At this point in time we require a 2 week minimum stay for our “Workaway” helpers. They work 5 hours a day 4 days a week. In return they get accommodation in a dorm bed room, use of the kitchen and laundry.
All people who apply for a ‘position’ here should be responded to, either that we could use there services or that we do not need them at this time.
They should be responded to within 24 hours of their application.
When considering applications, being selective is in the benefit of the hostel.
Applications from those who have had exposure or experience to hotel/hostel/guest house operations should be given priority. Other applications should be considered, and should meet the attributes as what the hostel requires. Like applying for a job the application should outline what the “Workaway-er” can bring to the business and it should be written professionally.
The hostel has the capacity to host 1-7 helpers, although 3-4 is optimal for the amount of tasks which need to be carried out every day. With more than 4 people, small projects should be completed i.e. painting, carpentry, moving furniture etc. so having a list of maintenance or repairs for the helpers to complete would be advantageous.
Importantly it is ideal to make use of the helpers work. If there are tasks to be carried out, then there should be an
expectation that they complete or take on the task assigned to them.
When responding to the “Workaway” application you should outline some information about Cozumel, what they can expect when they get to the island, a little about the hostel and the activities which will be required to be undertaken. Ideally they should be made aware that Cozumel is not a ‘party’ island and that we are not a ‘party’ hostel.
Being upfront from the beginning combats any misunderstandings and from our point of view, decreases the chance of the ‘Workaway-er’ leaving early therefore you will be able to plan for maximum efficiency.
Approximately one week before a ‘Workaway-er’ is due to arrive, we should contact them to ensure that they are still arriving and confirm what time they plan to arrive approximately and gather any further details necessary.
During quiet times, E.g. no check-outs, everything ready before end of shift, waiting for laundry to finish the below list of extracurricular activities are to be carried out: (these things are outlined in the Workaway manual)
clean and sanitise toilet doors and frames (particularly of fingerprints) with bleach
wipe and clean empty lockers in all rooms (inside and outside)
clean mirrors in rooms and common areas with Windex and paper towel
clean eaves and cornices of spider webs with a broom
dust skirting boards and power plugs in common areas and rooms
clean legs of chairs and tables in common area
remove all items on kitchen shelves and clean
wipe light shades and globes
clean marks off walls
clean under beds in dorms
dust tops of door fames, lockers, light switches, mirrors and personal reading lights in all areas including bathroom
wipe door surfaces in hallway with Windex to clean and remove hand and finger prints
soaking the main hammock with a little bleach and water in the big basin in the laundry room (dry on the roof)
cleaning the sheets and covers of the day beds and lounge in the common area
update any promotional signage and pamphlets
update and tidy any chalk art work at the entrance of the hostel

Any discussions about discounted diving by the ‘Workaway-er’ should follow our set rules of a 2% discount per shift, up to 20%.

During the high season, we do take volunteers, and the dive discounts still apply. However we do not run dive internships over this season.

Once the ‘Workaway-er’ has completed there time at the hostel it is a courtesy to complete an honest and constructive review of them, as they would for us.
Keeping in mind that the review we leave could be used by them for further Workaway applications, and or for jobs in there home country, our review should be done within a week of them leaving.
It is important to write what the person did well, their overall attitude throughout their stay, any additional tasks they carried out. The better the helper was the more information should be included. At all times you should try to find positive aspects about the helper.
If the person does not arrive, the review should reflect the situation, i.e. if they let us know they were not arriving and with how much notice, if they didn’t contact us at all, when the last correspondence from them was.
If we have contacted them before they arrive to ensure that there plans have not changed we can give this feedback honestly.

[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion] [su_spoiler title=”Upselling” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Upselling”]

Suggestive Selling / Upselling

As the subject suggests we should always be trying to increase the profits of the hostel through selling and upselling of the hostels products.
2tank Dive Hostel is more than just a hostel for travellers. As the name of the hostel indicates we also provide SCUBA dive trips and these should be promoted during the guests stay.
Diving is one of the most popular activities to do while on Cozumel because of the number of world class reefs which surround the island.
The hostel offers several different options for its guests when it comes to diving. Someone who has never dived before or who is not certified can still go out for a ‘Discover SCUBA Dive’. If the guest has the time, we find that they usually go on to the first level of SCUBA certification after completing one of these half day trips.
If we can promote and sell guests onto such day trips, potentially we can reap further benefits by the guest continuing their SCUBA certification with us and booking more nights accommodation.
While we don’t encourage the ‘hard sell’, you should always be available to provide information as the guest requires.
We should also be trying to encourage people book more than one night with us.
Having less ‘turns’ (a phrase used to indicate a turnover of room or bed) the hostel makes more profit.
Time and effort required in checking in and orientating a guest, washing of linen and other general running of the hostel all take from the profits of the hostel in one small way or another.
Having guests stay more than one night uses less resources overall.
Although it might not seem like much in the short term, over the long term it can add up quite significantly.
We find that our guests do end up staying 2-3 nights on average, but that they only extend there stay one night at a time.
If we can get guests to commit to stay 2-3 nights in the first place we are able to plan, organise and schedule future bookings more thoroughly, we save time, get a better and more accurate reading of what our guests want and are able to concentrate on selling vacant beds and rooms rather than not being sure just what to expect in the future.
Through open-ended questioning techniques and by learning how to ease into a conversation you will increase the chances of people taking up an offer.
The more information you can give a guest about activities on the island, the more chance the guest will commit to staying to more than one night.
It isn’t always necessary or appropriate to offer discounts to make guests commit to whichever you are trying to sell.
It is about meeting the guest’s needs. For example, some dive operations are cheaper than us, but the difference can be broken down in many ways.
Firstly, the equipment that other operators use could leak and be old, the guest will not be guided around the dive site but just left to their own devices, no lunch or water provided, the boats will be basic with no cover, they will not issue the paperwork promptly once the dive is completed or possibly after completing a dive course. Whereas we use good quality masks, b.c.d, and tanks, the dives are guided by experienced dive staff, the lunch provided on the boat is hearty with tuna salad, fruit, water, the boat is shaded for the interval period, the paperwork is issued promptly.
It is your job to promote these features and convince people that diving with us is a better deal. Essentially it is a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.
Some people are purely money focus, so no matter how much quality we have over other operators, you will never convince people, but it is always worth a try.
Encouraging the guests means more than just making suggestions, it means trying to meet the guest’s needs.

[/su_spoiler]

Scuba Diving

[su_spoiler title=”Scuba Diving” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”scuba_diving”]

General Scuba Diving Information

Anyone diving with 2Tank Dive should have the appropriate certification for that activity.

When booking a dive, you must always ask to see the diver’s certification card, date of last dive, and the number of dives they have completed.

If it has been over 1 year since their last dive, they must complete a 3 hour refresher course with an instructor or divemaster at the beach before they can participate in a 2 tank boat dive.

For each dive booking, a non-refundable deposit (pre-payment) is required to save their reservation.

Divers are encouraged to have the appropriate travel or dive insurance before going on a dive, as they are not insured under the hostel’s or divemaster’s insurance.

The dives are not pre-scheduled and the sites are decided upon on the morning of the dive, dependent on currents, weather, wind and the boat captain. The most common sites are the Palancar group of reefs and the Santa Rosa wall.

Many of the dive sites around Cozumel can have very strong and quickly changing currents, so it is essential that the dive site selected meets the skill level of the diver. There have been instances of divers going missing while diving at Cozumel.

As well as day trips, the hostel also runs dive courses. Open Water course is 3 days, Advanced Open Water is 2 days, Rescue Diver is 2 days and then Dive Master is usually carried out as an internship. This internship can run for 3 weeks up to 6 months. Read below for details on each dive course.

We offer a $10 USD discount per night for guests for any diving activity they do with us. For example, a guest gets a $10 USD discount for a 2 tank boat dive trip, $20 USD discount for Advanced Open Water Course (when they sleep with us 2 nights), and $30 USD discount for Open Water Course (for staying with us 3 nights).

Prices of dive courses and activities are listed in reception and in the lobby (guest price list). There are two different prices listed: cash price and card price. Cash prices are approximately 9% cheaper than the card prices to encourage customers paying by cash. Please familiarize yourself with the pricing on the walls and in Peek.

Snorkel and Dive Equipment Rental

For the hire of snorkel or dive equipment we require to hold the Identification of the client as a security deposit. This is because the equipment is so expensive to replace or repair.

The cost of hiring the equipment is set out below:
First item such as mask+snorkel 5 USD / 100 MXN, and 150 MXN for mask+snorkel+fins.

For dive equipment we hire out each item at a pro-rated cost, which are: $9 USD for regulator, $4 USD for shorty wetsuit, $8 USD for BCD, and Fins/Mask are complimentary. Total cost to rent equipment is $21USD.

Affiliates Contacts

When organizing the dive trips, we do not have a minimum or maximum number of divers needed to make a dive trip (2tank boat specials trips for certified divers). We contract with the local dive shop, Grand Plongee, and pay per customer who goes on the boat. When making bookings for diving, the deadline for all dive bookings is 8pm the night before (e.g. 8:00pm Friday night for any activities occurring on Saturday). When customers sign up for dives, they must: pay in full (no exceptions), sign the waiver on the iPad, and try on equipment (make sure the right size equipment is listed in their Peek booking). Ensure that the fins and wet suit fit the customer appropriately before they walk away. This is because the meeting point for all diving activities is at the time specified in Peek and at the location: Marina Fonatur or Tikila Beach. So proper fitting equipment is essential, because once at the site, there is no chance to change sizes for the customers.

Our second most often used provider is Blue Magic Scuba, if they are full we use Cozumel Scuba Planet, Scuba Mau or many other dive operations.
The guests must be accompanied to the dive shop by a person representing the hostel, either a worker, DM student or helper.
If we have only one person interested in diving courses or try dives it is even possible to contract a Dive Instructor for the morning or afternoon.

Dive Courses 

When a student signs up for a dive course, it is the receptionist’s responsibility to have the student fill out the correct forms. There are clipboards for each course located near the reception drop box safe. Receptionists will collect the forms from the student once they are filled out, and verify that all highlighted areas on the papers have been filled in. Also verify on the Medical Statement, that there is a full “yes” or a full “no” in each line. If a student has a “yes” on any line of the medical statement, they will be required to see the doctor before going diving. 2Tank Dive Hostel has an agreement with the International Hospital on Calle 5 Sur between Melgar & Av. 5. The receptionist can direct the student diver to this hospital, and there is usually a $40 USD consultation fee for seeing the doctor.

Open Water Diver Course

This is the most popular entry-level PADI scuba diving course. It consists of 2-4 days and includes self-study knowledge development, confined (shallow) water exercises, and 4 open water dives.
The course costs $375 USD for the basic course from the beach. Students complete all confined water and open water dives from “Tikila” beach.
The boat upgrade costs $50 (total of $425) and is highly recommended. This consists of the first two days from the beach for skill development, and then the last day on the boat for the last two open water dives.
When a diver signs up or arrives to start the Open Water course (no matter which version), the receptionist is to have the student fill out the “OWD” packet of papers from the clipboard. Receptionist will verify that the student has filled out all areas, including the medical statement. If the student has written a “yes” on the medical statement, they are required to see a doctor before being allowed to do any water activities. You can direct students to go to the International Hospital for this medical clearance. Once completed, the student earns a PADI open water certification and can dive to 18 meters. This certification is accepted all over the world.

PADI OWD Course Chart

 

Advanced Open Water Course

PADI Advanced Course Chart

Discover Scuba Dives (Try Dives)

This is for people just interested in trying diving. It is not a PADI certification, and if divers want to dive again, they must dive with a PADI professional (divemaster or instructor).

[/su_spoiler]

 

[su_spoiler title=”Emergencies” style=”fancy” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Emergencies”]

Evacuation/Emergencies Management

Hurricanes

The hurricane season lasts from July until the end of October, with September being the most dangerous month. It is advised during these months to be aware and watch weather reports.
It is important to listen to local authorities and obey any orders they make. Once the storm has arrived they will not make any rescue attempts.
Each Hurricane season a booklet is printed and can be collected from either the Mayors Office in the Palacio. It will have a list of the registered shelters.
You should make a note to which one is the closest, and take a walk by so to know which is the quickest way if it is necessary to evacuate.
In preparation for Hurricane season you should proceed with the following (May/June):
Review working condition of emergency equipment such as flashlights, radios, generators, etc. and check battery supplies for all.
Purchase and cut to size in advance any materials such as plywood, ropes, plastic needed to protect and secure the home. Remember to store or purchase all items such as screws, nails, wire, etc. necessary to securely board up windows and other exposed areas.
Check rooftop sealant for leaks and clear any debris from rooftop and drains.
Prune any tree limbs that could be a hazard especially dead ones so as to minimize tree breakage and potential damage to home and power lines.
Review insurance coverage.

What to do before an arriving storm in Cozumel:

Please be aware that for public safety reasons, stores typically close early and some items will become unavailable as stores run out and freight ferries are unable to dock due to high seas.
Guests should contact their travel insurance provider to ensure that they have coverage for evacuation, and if so should make plans to evacuate the island.
We cancel and refund all reservations and close down the hostel.
If guests decide to stay on the island, remind them they should have extra emergency cash, canned foods, bottled water and a 5 – 7 day supply of any medications needed.
As management we should ensure that we have extra water available, canned foods and that the first aid kit is fully supplied.
Electricity on the island or affected coastal area is typically shut off by the power company about 12 hours prior to an arriving storm as a safety measure.
We should stock up on candles, batteries and flashlights as well recharge all cell phone and marine band radio batteries.
A portable battery powered radio is also useful to have on hand as well.
Close water supply at intake to prevent possible contamination from flooding. Have bleach on hand to decontaminate flooded surfaces or cisterns.
Cover all windows and door openings with plywood, shutters or other shielding materials.
Secure outside areas around the hostel to prevent flying objects and damage. Anything that could become a flying projectile should be brought inside or tied down.
Advise guests to prepare a travel kit for use in case of evacuation to a shelter. Include all important Identification documents, 1-2 days clothes, medications, bedding, food, water, flashlights, etc. Put everything that could be damaged into waterproof bags or bins.
Notify friends and relatives outside the warning area of the circumstances and ask for call-back attempts at specified times during the storm period.
Many times phone lines will be partially operational throughout storms. Often calls can be received from outside the storm area and this is easier than trying to dial out.
Evacuate quickly if/when ordered by public safety officials.

Shopping Checklist:
Food
Tools
First Aid Kit
Purified Water
Flashlight
Bandages
Canned Food
Batteries
Peroxide
Beans
Hammer
Liquid Soap
Tuna
Nails
Thermometer
Sardines
Saw
Aspirin
Cookies-Crackers
Matches
Hygiene Products
Milk
Radio Batteries
Syringe
Eggs
Tape
Gloves
Bread

News and Weather Monitoring
TV ~ local cable channels are 10, 11, 19 & 22
Radio ~ Sol Stereo ~ tune to 89.9 FM or 810 AM

What to do during a hurricane:
Stay indoors & away from windows. The smallest room is the safest.
Don’t be tempted to go out until radio/TV advisories indicate an “all clear” status. If there is a lull, it may just be the middle (eye) of the storm.
Above all ~ Stay calm ~ Stay safe ~ and follow instructions issued by local officials.

What to do after a hurricane in Cozumel:
Do not return to the area until advised to do so by authorities.
Roads may be closed or unsafe & bridges may be weakened.
Water may be contaminated.
Live electrical wires may be exposed.
Do not step in water, there may be live electrical wires or other hazards.
Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep an adult off their feet.
Notify your loved ones that you are O.K. as soon as possible but then try to minimize phone usage so as to leave the lines open for emergency use and for others trying to reach their families.
As soon as is safely possible inspect for damage and make minor repairs since there may be additional rain bands that follow a storm.

OTHER SOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Preparedness Guide – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hurricane/resources/TropicalCyclones11.pdf
Weather Tracking – https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane
State Alerts – http://www.proteccioncivil.qroo.gob.mx/portal/

Tsunami: A tsunami is an unlikely event, however there is always a risk because of the fault line located between Mexico and the Lesser Antilles.
If an earthquake occurs, then you should be tuned into the local radio and television stations to hear of any alerts which may be raised by authorities.
If an evacuation is issued for the island then it should be adhered to, and guests should be evacuated following the evacuation plan, making your way to high ground or to the centre of the island.

Earthquake: There has been no record of a earthquake occurring on Cozumel in recent history, however there are certainly records of earthquakes on the mainland within the last 20 years.
However, if an earthquake does take place there are several procedures to follow to ensure the safety of yourself and of guests.
WHEN IN SIDE advise guests to:
DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow.
Do not use a doorway.
Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
Once the earthquake has finished you should take care when moving around as aftershocks may occur at any time.
Aftershocks can cause further damage even though they are not usually as strong as the first quake.
You should proceed with caution, looking for anyone who may be injured or trapped by debris on the premises.
If you can safely help, do so, unless the injuries are serious.
Make a note of anyone who is trapped and offer them comfort, advise them to stay calm and get authorities to help.
Evacuate the premises, with those who are able, taking them to the main square for further instructions from local authorities.

Fire:
Fires can cause significant damage to property and to human life.
Fight the fire ONLY if:
The Fire Department has been notified.
The fire is small and is not spreading to other areas.
Escaping the area is possible by backing up to the nearest exit.
The fire extinguisher is in working condition and personnel are trained to use it.
Call the Fire Brigade immediately
It is important to follow the evacuation plan for the safe evacuation of guests and contact the relevant emergency services.
It is important to avoid additional smoke inhalation, by directing guests to stay low and move away from the fire.
They should not endeavour to retrieve any personal belongings.

Evacuation Plan:
During any emergency the primary concern is the safety of yourself and the guests.
Ensure that you have the registration/check in folder.
It is important to remain calm, keep guests calm and give clear directions when evacuating the property.
Before carrying out any evacuation you should look for any additional dangers such as felled power lines, spot fires or water on floor surfaces and if appropriate avoid evacuating through these areas.
Make note of a clear path where to lead guests.
Give directions to guests of how to leave the property through the main doors.
They should leave quickly and calmly not returning to the rooms to gather any possessions. (unless the evacuation is a planned evacuation such as in the event of a hurricane)
Guests should be advised to stay together once outside of the building, in front of the yellow property across the walkway and await for further instructions.
In the event that guests are injured while inside the building you should take evasive first aid measures to ensure that they are evacuated without aggravating the injury further.
Once the building has been evacuated, proceed with taking count of the guests according to the registration forms.
If any guests are missing, you should let the emergency services know the details of the guest as they may be trapped inside the building.

Decompression Sickness (aka DCS or Bends)

Since we are a dive hostel is pays to be aware of symptoms of decompression sickness but it is important to know that unless the guest is unconscious we cannot make decisions on behalf of the guest, including calling an ambulance.
Some signs that a guest might be suffering from decompression sickness, are extreme fatigue, localized pain particularly in joints, impaired vision or a headache.
Some signs and symptoms may not occur until up to 8 hours after the dive has been completed.
If a guest starts to present signs or symptoms of decompression sickness there are several hospitals on the island which is equipped to handle this illness.
All the hospitals are noted on the free map we provide to our guests.
If an ambulance has been called, we should provide oxygen to the guest while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
We keep the oxygen tank at the front desk. When a guest or diver is voluntarily using the O2 tank but not hospitalized afterward, we have to charge 500 pesos for the oxygen use and immediately refill the tank in Meridiano or in one of the hospitals (free service with our contract – ask the management).
Providing oxygen to the guest should alleviate any symptoms, but will not cure the illness.

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No accommodation provider, or any business for that matter, wants to have dodgy or dangerous guests. However communal living, a foundational aspect of hostels, presents a unique challenge in this respect. Beyond the obvious issues with someone who is dangerous or a potential thief, having the wrong type of person in a hostel can drastically change the atmosphere. Even one bad apple can severely affect the experience your other guests have.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I promise I am telling you this not just from me, but on behalf of anyone who has worked in a hostel, ever. If you are new to the hostel industry, I highly suggest reading the info below!

Why is Guest Screening Necessary?
Hostels are unique spaces where travelers come together for a certain type of shared experience. If you take guests who do not fit your hostel description, you risk any or all of the following: a bad atmosphere, poor guest experience, bad reviews, early checkouts & refund requests, poor reputation, and theft. I’m sure I’m leaving out something, but you get the idea.

Note that I’m not just saying “don’t take con artists or homeless people.” When I say “guests who do not fit your hostel description”, I mean that. Not every traveler who stays with you is going to be your ideal guest. However, if you are a small, cozy family run hostel and you have a guy who is hammered at 9 am taking shots with breakfast and shouting to people, there’s probably enough misalignment to affect your atmosphere. That guy may just be one of many at a party hostel, but if your guests have booked you as a chilled out spot to relax in the country, they aren’t going to be very happy with their experience.

Who should I be looking out for?
This can vary widely depending on your hostel, but a few generally agreed upon:

Locals
Anyone without valid ID
Those without luggage
Anyone who gives you a weird feeling
Why these people?

Locals
Not accepting locals is truly a worldwide rule for most hostels. Simply put: Not all locals will cause problems, but almost all problems are caused by locals. This is because a hostel is designed for travelers. If you are local, you are not traveling. That can mean a few different scenarios, none of which are beneficial to a hostel.

For one, if you are local then, in theory, you should have somewhere to stay- your own house, a friend’s house, family. If a local instead come to a hostel looking to crash for a night or two…sometimes that means they literally have nowhere else to go and/or no one else wants them to stay. Not a good sign. And while homeless people can tug at your heartstrings, you have to have boundaries. You are not cheap housing or a shelter. Have a list of resources ready to go that you can instead refer someone to.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with having somewhere to stay and everything to do with opportunity. It’s a worldwide tale as old as time that dodgy locals have stayed in hostels specifically to prey on tourists and steal from them. Not only are backpackers traveling with enticing loot (phones, laptops, cash, passports), but they often leave their guard down in friendly communal places. It’s not unheard of for a guest to get friendly with other guests only to steal and jet, never to be seen again.

Sometimes a local showing up to a hostel just means they are in between apartments, or recently moved to the city and are looking. These locals are not bad in any dodgy sense, but they still are not good for your hostel. Remember that you are creating an atmosphere of travelers- people who are backpacking their way around the world and choosing to stay in hostels not just because they are cheap (we all know Airbnb can compete these days) but because they are seeking out a community of others to interact and engage with. A local who is going to their 9-5 all day and then sitting on Craigslist apartment hunting all night likely has no interest in doing the ‘tourist’ things and is not going to add value to what you are recreating.

Again, I’ll reiterate: Not all locals are problems, but most problems are caused by locals. This is why many hostels have a blanket policy of simply not accepting them (or on a case by case basis).

Anyone Without Valid ID
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. If someone is trying to hide something, or pose as someone else, they may try to check in either without an ID or with a non-valid ID. That can mean an expired ID or something that is not government issued, like a student card or a health card. I’ve even heard of hostels having people try to check in with prison release papers.

You may hear all kinds of reasons or excuses (“I left it in the car” or “It’s at my friend’s house”). Don’t fall for it. This is especially true if they are not from your country and don’t clearly live in your country now. You need a passport to enter any country that’s not your own. If they can’t or won’t produce one, something’s amiss.

If for whatever reason your guest cannot produce a valid, a government issued, *photo* ID, you’re best off not checking them in.

Some hostels also require a valid credit card. This not only gives you some collateral if they trash your place, but it weeds out people who don’t have their sh$t together enough to own one. Not all people who lack a credit card will be an issue, but the ‘good’ ones won’t have a problem passing your other screening tests. Remember to look at this collectively, not just based on one thing.

Anyone Without Luggage
No one who is truly traveling does so without luggage. Even the most minimalist backpacker will have at least a carry on bag and somewhat look the part. Anytime I had someone show up at our door without luggage, my spidey sense went off immediately. 90% of the time something was amiss enough to not check them in (more on this below). The rest of the time there was a legitimate reason like it was still in luggage storage at another hostel in the city and they were switching because it was high season and couldn’t extend at the original place.

If someone shows up at your door without luggage, ask questions. If someone shows up with garbage bags, plastic bags, a cart, etc….ask questions. Real travelers travel with real luggage. They just do.

Anyone Who Gives You A Weird Feeling
Sometimes you don’t need a specific reason to not let someone stay. You know how we teach little kids to listen to their inner voice/intuition/feeling in the pit of their stomach to stay safe? Yeah, we shouldn’t forget that when we are adults. Especially when running a business that involves young strangers living together.

The golden rule is this:

If you wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping in a dorm with the person, or have them hanging out in your house, neither will your guests.

Do not stray from this rule! Not because you feel bad. Not because it’s low season and you won’t fill the bed. Not because it’s high season and this person won’t have another place to stay. You are not a charity, we are a business and one that needs to keep both atmosphere and safety.