Hostel Road Trip Hosts James Black and Bobby Dyer are back. This time they are interviewing Jason Ordiway from Sin City Hostel in Las Vegas. The governor of Nevada declared dormitories to be an essential business. Jason shares what he's done to keep his hostel open and his guests safe.
Here's the CNN news article where a number of US hostels are interviewed on how they are staying open.
Welcome back to the pandemic series. James black here with the hostel Roadtrip Podcast. Bobby Dyer international travelers house. Sin City Hostel was recently featured the CNN article where the backpacker is gone and we'll be telling us a bit about being a hostel. That's Jason. Oh guys, how are you doing? Well, thank you so much for taking the time view of this year and yeah, we're anxious to hear from you and your story here at being open during [inaudible] and also just to kind of an update on Vegas itself. That's one of the cities that we call it. They see on the news pictures up because when has it ever been so can I just start off with that? What does it look like around there? It's a, it's shocking. It's a ghost town. Like you said, it's never been seen like this. Mmm. The closest thing that people can compare to Stu is back on nine 11 attacks. Huh. Traveling was shut down for a few days. Yeah. But we've been going on, I think it's all, most the third week he, governor Sisolak’s order to shut down of non essential businesses around the middle of March, around the 17 more or less. And my both competitors shut down their hostels. Okay. And so I read what, but the transcript of the order of stuff about your amps, that's a lie. And on his non essential businesses list, it's sad that on his essential businesses list it's, they did that dormitories are essential.
Jason Ordiway (01:52):
LA, I got dormitories. That's all I have in my property. I don't have any private rooms. Oh. It gave me the confidence to keep it open. We have taken a lot of measures since then. Like everybody else, we had an amount, a huge amount of cancellations dealing with refunds, all that stuff. So after that week and a half of dealing with cancellations and cancellations and cancellations, we were keeping the hostel, I thought 30% occupancy. Mmm. Up until last week when we started dropping into 20%. So right now we're keeping around 10 to 15 guests at the hostel. Okay. So you still have, because you're one of the few options now, do you think that the hostels in town around you, do you think they plan to reopen or are they, we've had a few shut down for good. Oh no, I think, I think they'll open back for business.
Jimmy Black (02:57):
I mean, one of them, it's owned by a big corporation, so money is not a problem for them. And the other one I know he says he's shut down, but I know that, you know, the person lives in there, the owner lifts there and, and we're neighbors and we know that he's still taking people in, you know, here and there he goes. I think he just builds smart, confident [inaudible] under the table right now. Yeah. Yeah. What about the casinos? That's such an interesting thing where people love their guests, but definitely not a safe place to be. Yeah, it's insane, man. People say it's around 240,000 people that work for load workers on the strip at Mandalay Bay. My wife works for a sharp brief, you know, with the, with the sharks. The shark tanks they have there. One of the very few people that it's still going to work.
Jimmy Black (03:52):
Yeah. Her and a team of like nine people. And she says that the sites are, you know, it's the oppressive. What about the actual gambling? Can you actually go play slots or blackjack? No, casinos are shut down entirely. Even, you know, where it's very normal here to go to a seven 11 or a Walgreens or CVS and seeing slot machines, supermarket and stuff, they're all shut down. Wow. All gambling shut down because people are in contact, you know, touching machines the August or through April. Is there a schedule to open the casinos back up? Well, everybody, everybody's framed that it'll come back up who made at the latest half of may. But again, this all depends on what the class force SAS and a governor is. This a lack is following the orders from above, you know? But I have already gotten emails from [inaudible] Southern Nevada health district in preparations for going back into business.
Jimmy Black (05:04):
So they didn't say when, but they're like, Hey, in preparations for coming back into business, please take these flyers, spread them out, spread them through your property prevention measures and all that kind of stuff. So I got that yesterday. Oh good. So it feels like maybe in may they open again. Yeah, that would be good. Of course the uncertainty is so much of the problem. If it was may, it was Memorial day, it sounds like. Okay. You know, I could structure this to use this time to you work on some projects or get things done. What are you doing if you are Hostel with your staff right now? Well, we had to let go to have her receptionist, you know, they're in the off season. We have a team of four or five working in reception. Ah, me and my manager of rural is working a few days on the desk.
Jimmy Black (05:55):
You know, we like being so after we got rid of them or we have to let them go. Him and I have been working every day nonstop know, doing it, 12 hour shifts at the hostel. So some of the things that we have had to do to egg to be able to continue operating has then changing the reception hours. So we're only keeping four hours. The hostel open reception and common areas open from 8:00 AM until noon to give people a chance to have coffee in the morning, make yourself some breakfast. And then we closed the reception and the common areas from noon until three and at three we opened again on [inaudible] till eight o'clock at night to give them a second chance to go and prepare meals or whatever. And then we close. Right. So yeah. It's that way we can cut back on the hours. You know, we still make arrangements when we get a new check in, you know, they're arriving after eight. We, they can check in when we're not here. There's methods to do that. And we have then we have limited the capacity, the amount of people that can be inside of dormitory cause a bed, dorms. So we only allow four people inside each dorm. And as you can see behind me, we have taken all the top bunk mattresses.
Speaker 2 (07:22):
Jimmy Black (07:24):
So people won't get creative or sneak others in or whatever, you know,
Speaker 2 (07:29):
That's, and it's also a good from the spacing, you know, we've got one location that had some colabs month to month. Then just having a place that's open now that you've got so much more space, you can spread people out more. Yeah. Top of each other. Cause a bunk bed scenario is not social distancing. Unfortunately
Jimmy Black (07:51):
Each, each bunk bed is like spread out, you know, inside the dorm. Yeah. And that way they get a few feet between each other of this fence. You know, we have also, we don't let this happen during a normal times, but we have allowed them to put like a, a flat sheet across the bunk bed, you know, to cover themselves up will occur, you know, working together with the guests and stuff. We have put spray bottles all over the common areas in the kitchen inside the bathroom dormitory bathrooms and signs all over the place. So we're asking people to clean, sanitize the area before and especially after they sit down on the counter or something, you know, or they prepare a meal when you're done, wipe it off. I've never had cleaner there. Yes.
Speaker 2 (08:43):
Yeah, yeah. You troll those high touch common areas. It's really a good point. Yeah. There's are certain kind of demographic you're seeing traveling through right now since, you know, the casinos are closed and
Jimmy Black (08:53):
I mean there's a lot of American travelers that were stranded, you know. Mmm. Some of them don't want to go back to their home States like California and New York, Washington. I just had a lady, I was talking to her yesterday, she's from Seattle and she was asked to me for a two week extension and and she was telling me, yeah, it's, I just don't want to go back home. I'd rather stay here in Vegas. Vegas is a, has very good numbers convert to most big cities. You know, I know we're not a big city compared to to LA and stuff, but people have taken all the warnings very seriously and it's only reported like 50 deaths in Nevada. Only less than 1500 people infected. So we're all doing very good over here. Yeah. The American travelers feel that it's better to stay here then going back home.
Jimmy Black (09:49):
We also had German kits French, yes. My girlfriend, Peru, a guy from Turkey, all of these people were stranded in our hostel for like three weeks because all of their flights keep kept getting canceled and cancel, then canceled and they, they're trying to reach their embassies and stuff. So we gave him aF chance. UI lowered the rates like two times to help them with the situation. Mmm. Instead of, you know, we have weekend rates and weekday rates, you know, I just made it all at the same rate throughout the week. Ubecause right now in Vegas there is not a difference. There's no difference between a Friday and a Wednesday. It's the same. Well, I just made the same rate for every day for pretty guests. Keep it simple. Yeah. And they appreciate it, you know, and, and,uthey're really cleaning after themselves, being helpful, keeping everything in order inside the dorm.
Jimmy Black (10:47):
So, so it's, it's a nice sense of community right now. I see. Are you guys doing any kind of special activities or things that are happening, you know, that are obviously, yeah, no. As soon as, as soon as the order came out from, from the governor one of the directives were to stop all social activities and engagements and all this stuff. And we have always had three pasta nights, barbecues on the weekends. We always do everything free for our guests and we have [inaudible] stop it. We also stopped serving breakfast in the morning because we don't want people reaching out to the bread and touching jellies and, you know, all that stuff. So there in the morning, we are only serving coffee, tea and orange juice and yeah, we're, we're cute. We're taking the social, this, this, this then seem serious as much as we can inside a Hostel environment.
Jimmy Black (11:40):
Mmm. We have separate, like our common areas has like [inaudible] like countertops and like schools all across the common area. And we have taken most of them out and only left like six or seven and they're like four feet apart, five feet apart from each other. You know, people are having enough a distance between each, each, each guest, you know. Yeah. We're also not allowing more than eight people to be inside the common areas at the same time. So if you're sitting there and somebody needs to cook, we're asking them, Hey man, do you mind stepping outside so that this person can come in and, you know, use the kitchen because we don't want to be overcrowded inside as well. Sure. So they're all smoking a lot.
Speaker 3 (12:34):
Speaker 2 (12:36):
That's good to make sure their role or their individual marijuana cigarettes,
Jimmy Black (12:42):
You know, just smoke it yourself and that's what they're all doing.
Speaker 2 (12:46):
Yeah. But I think it is a difficult thing you bring up there. As far as our operations as hostels are always so much Rob around social version, the meals, they activities, the games know each other. Breaking down barriers, the gala, the instructions that are put up barriers and to keep everyone separate distance. It's, it's a weird,
Jimmy Black (13:09):
It's a weird feeling because you know, at this specific time of the year, you know, with the change of seasons after being so many years in the hostel, you know that Oh, once the sprung vibe starts coming in, you can already feel like, Oh this is when we start getting into European kids and this the pad and like it's not happening man. So it's rough also because we have always had limits of like six, nine maximum stay at the hostel and now we're letting people stay three, four weeks. So letting them study longer. Some of them have started to acquire like, I dunno, ownership and inside the dorm or inside the hostel in general. And we've had to deal with a few crazy guests, you know, ask them to leave, Hey man, this is not working out. It's better for you too. Move on. Yes cause you know, they're not respecting the rules that we set and [inaudible] they have understood and they have left.
Jimmy Black (14:07):
We had one guest two weeks ago and he was an older gentleman. I was happy to host them. He didn't have anywhere else to go. But after a week of seeing him being in the common areas and always complaining about pains and, and this and that, and I could hear him coughing all the way into reception and he's kind of the common area and I'm asking him, Hey man, are you covering yourself? Are you cleaning after yourself? Blah, blah, blah. He says, yes, the other guests that was behind him, it's like, no, it's not. You know, so the other guests are helping us.
Speaker 2 (14:41):
Yeah. Self-policing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jimmy Black (14:46):
So we have, Hey buddy, no more extensions, you know, and some others then this time of desperation or whatever, you know, I don't know what are medications are, but you know, one of them started combining his drinking with his medications and started going crazy at night and the next day we're like, okay, about a year out, you know, we're going to be babysitting here. Drunks or having alcoholics, you know, so, so we need you to leave. So there's been a few cases like that, but most of the people here are like you saying, self-policing, taking care of the place. They know that me and my manager are not here after eight o'clock at night and they're keeping an eye on us, you know, on the hostel as well as the other. We have two people that live and work here. Yeah. Along with them, everybody's like, you know, keeping an eye on the place.
Jimmy Black (15:36):
Yeah, I would definitely say there's a, there's an element of teamwork mostly for the guest is a staff trying to get things through together. But it is always a challenge as a hostel owner advantage because we do attract a certain demographics that is on a budget accommodation and they're looking to take advantage of the situation as much as possible. But it's our job to protect. I heard from that one that filter that out and they all come and you know, they come and they say, Hey Jason, man, thank you so much for what you're doing and we really appreciate that you're staying open. You're giving us a place to stay. We've seen your efforts. You know, we, it hasn't been easy for us, but it hasn't specially been easy for you guys or trying to run a business on a loss, you know, and still given us a place to stay.
Jimmy Black (16:25):
Yeah. Cause cause yeah, man, it's, it's it's been very challenging and I have never been tested on my patients so much ever in my life and the same people every day, you know, doing something stupid here or there. But you know, you get over these things, they understand when you tell them and it just keeps working out. One thing that I was wanting to say is that I'm already starting to see reservations for September and October. Yeah. At least coming through in August as well. So that's been encouraging to get to that point that people are anxious to get back out there. That younger demographic that we are targeting to mostly, I think that we'll see a surge should the hostels that are after this and are ready to hit the ground running. Yes. You've got to imagine all these people at home being home all day will internet, you know, board and they're like, Oh well let me see what I can find, what deals must be out there. And you know, we don't have our high rates per dose. Hm. That time of the year yet cause we don't know what's going on. So some people are already starting to book for late summer and, and you know, we're happy to see that. So that's great. You don't get another apocalypse of cancellations in September. Hopefully this is a once in a lifetime thing.
Speaker 2 (17:50):
I feel like we're not charging
Jimmy Black (17:53):
Deposits or anything yet. We're just deciding to wait, see what happens.
Speaker 2 (17:58):
Yeah. Yeah. I think that's the best that we can do is a bit of a holding pattern, but staying busy, staying productive and staying creative with the marketing and what not, you know, there's opportunities out there to be had if you
Jimmy Black (18:12):
Manage of this and also migrate to a new system. And after all the cancellations we've dealt, I mean we went from having the next few weeks, more than 60% booked too. Like having five reservations, someone migrated systems moving to the reservation. Silver was just like, Oh, we just have to move by.
Speaker 2 (18:34):
It was so easy to transition before we let you go. I'm curious what, what system did you migrate to? Were you on cloud beds? Right.
Jimmy Black (18:44):
Yeah, I've been on cloud beds for a, I would say five, almost six years. I was one of the first people in the U S yeah. To be with them and I migrated over to Mmm. Muse systems and sideline for channel management.
Speaker 2 (19:04):
Oh, so tell us a bit about that. I haven't heard anyone that's ever been the jump from club beds to muse.
Jimmy Black (19:11):
Yeah. Well, I at first heard about muse and Amsterdam like two years ago. And one of the account, one of the representatives that was a wise was a girl, a lady that used to work to use to be an account manager for Hostelworld. So I knew her, it seems like 2014, Oh. When I saw her there to introduce me to the system and started showing me all these new things, all these features that they had. And it really caught my attention. And you know, both of them are very good systems, but I feel like muse, it's more advanced than this and the accounting and the reporting, the integrations that they have. And they also have their own merchant accounts with very low. So I've been feeds and they will charge backs for us. So that's something I want to have to be dealing with anymore. And it's an eCommerce platforms though. The moment we charge the card automatically sends out and receipt to the email of the guests, you know [inaudible] we're really liking it. It has more features then what we were used to with the previous system. So mapping the rates and all that stuff works very good with SiteMinder and the OTs as well. So the system recognizes the rate plan and charges accordingly to the rate plan automatically. Mmm. So it's, it's very exciting to have a and use this, the men integrations with Microsoft power BI. So,
Speaker 2 (20:46):
Well that's, yeah, I
Jimmy Black (20:48):
Would think, you know, maybe we could get to another episode together where we have you and Byron Buddha go head to head and talking about the the different softwares that could be [inaudible] views, you know, I'm just the customer.
Speaker 2 (21:03):
Oh yeah. Well I know, but yeah, but you know, I, I'd love to see the banter between you two.
Jimmy Black (21:09):
Well, a lot of learning to do, but so far I'm really liking it and and, and, and being slow right now, it's given us a chance to trial and error.
Speaker 2 (21:18):
That's a good point though. You made a good point if you're were switching, what a great title, very few reservations, and a lot of times you ease yourself into it.
Jimmy Black (21:26):
Exactly. Yes. That's a good point.
Speaker 2 (21:30):
Well, thank you so much. Jason, do you have anything in closing to share with the listeners if support or inspiration?
Jimmy Black (21:38):
Well, I'm, I'm hoping that I feel very sad for the people who have to have to shut up. Yeah, I'm telling those who can still keep their hostel up and to just keep working, you know, eventually this thing will go through and just just keep the hostel clean, keep it safe. If you have to be there as an owner and work there, you know, if you love what you do, you're going to be there in the battlefield, you know? And that's how Ivan and I feel right now. So we're, we're taking the sacrifice in order to provide a place for people to stay. And you know, it'll come to the time where it's partyin where it's barbecues, where it's drinking beer pong, all that stuff. And until then, you know, I just hope that everybody keeps safe.
Speaker 2 (22:24):
Oh God. All right.
Jimmy Black (22:27):
I hope that you know, come to Vegas, baby.
Speaker 2 (22:30):
That's right, Jay. That's this city house of Bob dire. I did if June Platt from the Haas wrote your podcast. Thank you for tuning in. Again, candor meeting series.