“My dream is to have an own hotel in Bali”: a fascinating talk of how to be a successful hostel manager and professional mentor with Jorge Lopez

“My dream is to have an own hotel in Bali”: a fascinating talk of how to be a successful hostel manager and professional mentor with Jorge Lopez

Jorge is a manger of Rodamón Hostel in Lisbon and Budapest. He started at the company 5 years ago in his hometown Barcelona. 3 years ago Jorges started as an opening manager in Marakkesh. Last year he relocated to Lisbon to control all constraction works, hiring and training a team to open the doors of a new hostel in Portugal’s capital. 

By: Alexandra Ponomareva
Photos: @rodamonhostels, Instagram

Aleksandra: What does it mean to be an opening manager? 

Jorge: Opening manager postitions require you to stay in a country for opening a new venue and manage all processes. For instance, I was here five months before opening. Only the building was here. It’s quite tricky for a person to relocate every six months or a year. I have only a work life, no personal life.  

Aleksandra: I have a set of particular questions about the interview process and team. What are your criteria for team and managers? 

Jorge: Here I have a one person who is the boss of the reception, but I don’t have any assistant manager for the reception, restaurant, cleaning, and kitchen. None for maintenance either.  

Aleksandra:  How do you maintain interviews for the reception?  

Jorge: For the reception, the most essential thing is that the person can be friendly. I can see it from the first minutes of the discussion. I don’t need that big CV to hire. I need to be with a person in front of me because you can have a really good CV and later I don’t like how do you speak with me or behave with a guest. I always have 2-3 days here  with people who are coming before hire to take a look at how it works. It’s so easy because at the beginning you might be impressed by him or her but after two weeks be like ‘no way’. No chances with a company. 

Aleksandra: What are your top-3 assessing criteria for these two weeks and your personal questions for the interview?  

Jorge: First is languages. I like someone who worked in tourism speaks at least three languages. After that, it has to be experience. It doesn’t have to be just in reception, they can have experience in the bar and service experience. Any experience with a client. It might be in a restaurant, bar, shop. Finally, intelligence and life-experience. 

Aleksandra: What are your favourite questions for interviews? 

Jorge: Why do you want to work with us? It’s the most typical question, and the answer is usually dull and predictable. I like both ways of the solution. If a person doesn’t know anything about the company. I prefer it when a person says everything about the company. If people here are asking a person about a company, it can say, ‘yes, we have another one here.’ I ask some questions about the company, for example: 

  • How many types of rooms we have? 
  • If a person has a stressful situation and how they solve it? For example, once I had a fire in a hostel 

Another tricky question is ‘Why do you want to quit your current position, and who will tell me that in two months you won’t leave post here?’ 

Aleksandra: How can I convince you that I ‘ll stay here for more than two months? 

Jorge: No one may convince me. No one has convinced me before. I expect a typical answer, for example: ‘the company is growing up.’ ‘I like to work here.’ ‘I want to be a part of a team, and I need another hostel because I worked for one for so many years.’ You need to know why he or she wants to quit, but the answer is always the same. I want to change, got new opportunitites, team. We opened in December but I already fired 30% of an initial staff. 

Source: @rodamonhostels

Aleksandra: What do you do if a person doesn’t want to work with anymore? 

Jorge: Firstly, I use a trial period. I fired 4 people in first 10 days. Ususally in 2-3 days I can see it’s not the right work for a person. They are slow and not interested in it. The training period is for free and it’s a part of a contract.  

Aleksandra: You’re in charge to make personal trainings. What is your approach for staff? Do you have any special technics to deliver knowledge better?  

Jorge: A good thing is that I treat someone different from another. When I meet someone, I know how I can speak with them. I’m not a good teacher but people will learn more from me if I treat people like that. Some people are more shy, others are more social. I try to stay with the same empathy with a person. Nevertheless, a person should not be overly sociable. Also serious, but not too much. It should be the right mix of qualities since it’s a hostel-hotel. I have trained people for many years and for me it’s not complicated. For example, a booking system is simple. On the other hand, we learn a lot together.  

Aleksandra: Top difficulties in managing a hostel? 

Jorge: You need to be sure that the first life in your life is your professional life. Your social life is out. Another thing is you’re always with clients. Usually, people are good. Nevertheless, I had one situation when a client could not pay because her leg was broken and we had to contact the ambulance and police. She wrote a claim against us because we put out her luggage without consideration. 

Aleksandra: How do you manage safety here?  

Jorge: We have an external company and a button to call them. We’re in the city center and so have all the facilities around.  

Aleksandra: What is your personal dream? 

Jorge: Go to Bali, work there for my hotel, and have a fulfilled life.  

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