We interviewed Lucas from 021 Hostel located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We got the inside scoop on what it’s like to work and stay at this year -old hostel. Lucas and Sheila fulfilled their dreams of opening a small hostel after working in the hotel business for many years. 021 hostel is perfect for guests who are looking to have a good time and meet fellow travelers.
Alex: So, let’s get started by you telling me a bit about yourself and 021 Hostel.
Lucas: I am in a partnership with another girl named Sheila. We always worked in 5 star hotels, I worked at Marriott for 4 years and she worked at some other Brazilian chain hotels. Since we always worked in hotels, we wanted to open up a hostel to be closer to the client and better connect to them.
We really wanted to open up our own businesses. I have known Sheila for 6-7 years and 5 years ago we really planned to open a hostel. I travel a lot to hostels in Europe so i had the opportunity to do physical research and experience hostels.
Over the years, we were planning exactly what we wanted to do for decorations and how many beds. We decided to open a year ago. This month is our one-year anniversary of opening 021 hostel. We are connected to many different websites and think we are doing a good job.
We think we are different because we offer better service than most hostels because of our experience. Because there are only 35 beds we get to interact with the guests and really connect with them.
Alex: How many people work at 021 Hostel?
Lucas: It’s me and my partner Shelia, two other receptionist, two maids, and also the bartender.
Alex: What types of guests does your property attract?
Most of them are from Europe and many Brazilians. During the national holidays, New Years, but basically Europeans. We don’t receive too many Americans or even South American. I can say that 60% is Europeans and 40% Brazilian. And a small percentage for everyone else.
Alex: How would you categorize your property?
Lucas: I don’t consider us a party hostel. But, we do have a very nice bar that opens Wednesday to Sunday from six to midnight. We have music and it is full when 30 to all of the guests come down. Guests can have fun here, but it is laid back.
Guests can sleep very well without noise because we are on a very small street, which is hard to find. It’s great for solo travelers or people looking for friends. It doesn’t get crazy, but we have a lot of areas where guests can talk to other guests.
Alex: What is the most rewarding/favorite part about running a hotel, hostel, property, etc.
Lucas: It’s really the change of experience that we have with the guests. It’s great to talk to guests and get the many different stories and know what they expect. And then to talk to them at the end of their stay and know they left happy and that we met their expectations.
Alex: What’s your biggest challenge as a hotelier?
On TripAdvisor you have more than 500 hostels in the city, so the competition is difficult. But, at the same time, it’s different than other companies because we have many friends from other hostels. We have groups on Facebook that we can talk where we can ask questions and get answers. We have lots of competition, but at the same time it’s good to have the relationships with many of them. But, with Cloudbeds it’s getting better and making it easier.
How do you differentiate yourself with 500 different hostels?
Well, we are different because as I already said, normally, most hostels have more than 50 beds and we have much fewer beds. The service is different than other hostels. We are very concerned about the cleanliness and people don’t see that in most hostels. And the decorations. So, that’s it: decoration, service, cleanliness, and number of beds.
Alex: Sounds like the winning combination!
Alex: Which pieces of Cloudbeds software do you use, and how often do you use it?
Lucas: We use myallocator, myfrontdesk, I think we use the entire platform.
Alex: Has Cloudbeds changed the day-to-day workings of your property?
Lucas: Yes, because we didn’t have any channel manager before and it was very difficult all the time. It was difficult to take the reservations from the other channels and put in our channel and we had problems with over bookings.
The best thing is to receive all the reservations directly in our system and it’s very fast. It only takes us a maximum 35 minutes to receive the booking for check-ins. Also, we like all the reports that we can access. Like financial reports and occupancy reports.
And also, it’s something very easy to use. All the squares and the names and we can see exactly how many reservations, daily check-ins and check-outs. We can see the number of bookings we received that day and see information on money.
You just updated the system and it’s even better. The panorama for two weeks is even better. Every time we receive an update it just get better and faster, so it’s great.
Alex: What’s your typical day like?
Lucas: Well it depends. I tend to work for 8-12 hours per day in the hostel and I have one day off. I’m here at least 10 hours per day. I only have to go into the system two times per week to get the reservations. We use the system daily for check-ins and check-outs, but we don’t spend that much time managing it.
Alex: What is another hotel/hostel in the industry that you admire? Why do you admire them?
Lucas: I don’t remember the names of the hostels I’ve been to. But, I definitely want to travel to the hostels in Lisbon. I hear the best hostels in the world are there and are similar to 021. There is another hostel in the United States that turned an old prison into a large hostel and sounds very interesting.
Alex: When you vacation, where do you like to go?
Lucas: Europe. I am going to Sweden and Croatia on my next trip. And after that I am definitely going to go somewhere in South America, somewhere I haven’t been like Peru and Chile.
Alex: Who has inspired you most in your career?
Lucas: I went to college for property management. I always liked to speak English and Spanish and wanted a job where I could practice more. I like to deal with foreign people. I wanted to start my own business because my dad has his own business and growing up I saw him working and wanted to that.
Alex: If you had one message to aspiring hoteliers, what would it be?
Lucas: Make something different. If it’s in Rio, make something different. If it’s not in Rio or a big city, I would recommend just to do it.
Alex: What are the top things we need to do when we visit your property?
Lucas: Definitely the sunset in Ipanema , also the Park close to the botanical garden called Parque Lage, it’s very cool. The park is amazing and you can see monkeys, it’s in the middle of the forest.
Also, Sugarloaf Mountain, I think it’s more beautiful than the Christ. And also the trendy neighborhood called Urca.
You can find the best parties in Lapa.
Alex: Thanks so much for being apart of our featured customer series!
Watch the interview and see the pictures of 021 Hostel below.