I have stayed in many hostels traveling across Europe and South America. Ventana Sur in Santiago is by far, the best hostel I have stayed in. It was recommended to me by a friend. “You will love it,” he said, “I can’t explain it, it is an experience!”
Why is Hostel Ventana Sur booked on average at 90% all year round? Why does Ivan, the owner receive calls from other hostels in Santiago asking him to send them people when he is booked?
Ventana Sur is certainly not the fanciest hostel in Santiago nor the biggest one either. However, Ivan and his staff ensure that it is extremely well kept and will make necessary adjustments to accommodate to people’s needs. He does not have one magical secret to the success of his hostel. It is all the many little things put together that make staying there a very memorable experience.
Ivan has been approached on a number of occasions to partner up to open a brand new hotel. With his experience, he has been told many times that he could be making a lot more money.
Here’s what Ivan has to say as to why he has refused these offers many times.
I am not RICH running this hostel, it is not about the money, it is about enjoying what I am doing.
I don’t do this to have a big house and a big car. I am living very comfortably and am very happy with my scooter. Having a crowd of twenty people is just enough to create a warm atmosphere where everyone gets to know each other, have fun together and continue long term friendships. Running a hotel with over hundred guests, would not be the same.
I have always trusted my instincts and believed in myself. I started my first business at the age of seventeen selling accessories for musical instruments. My friends and teacher at the time, lectured me on continuing going to school and getting a bachelor degree in engineering. While all of that sounded good and I knew they had my best interest at heart, it was just not what I wanted . From a young age, I was good at managing a business and I had a passion for music and musical instruments.
Everyone, especially my teacher, kept telling me I was making a mistake and that I would end up being a nobody.
One day, as I was in the back room of my shop, I heard a voice out front, a voice that I could never forget. I went out to meet him. It had been years since my teacher had given me his last lecture. He was happy to see me and after the small talk, he finally asked the question he had been dying to ask me, “So, Ivan, what are you doing now?” I walked over to him, put my arm around his shoulder and replied, “look around, this is all mine!”
I have tried many different things in life and had many failures. It is through my failures that in the end, I have been successful. With every experience, I learned a new lesson from my mistakes. One thing was for sure, I was not willing to live my life the way others told me I should live it. Playing it safe is NO FUN! When you try different things, you will make mistakes. That’s where the FUN is. Mistakes mean that you have dared to test your limits and without them, life is boring.
I still have my business with exporting and importing accessories for musical instruments. Now, it pretty much runs on its own with the staff I have trained. I wanted to do something where I could be around people because you learn so much from other people’s experiences. The different cultures and the English language! What better way than to run a hostel and be around people from all over the world everyday? This hostel is like my home, I want everyone who stays here to feel like it is their home in Santiago.”
When people ask me what is your secret, I tell them, “I get involved with people. Through them I get ideas to try new things.” Trying new things is what makes you different.
If you just copy others and do what everyone else is doing, you are not unique.
People are different, they like different things. I adapt to their needs to make them live an enjoyable experience all together. Backpackers are not interested in having their days all planned out for them with all inclusive excursion packages and that’s what most hostels out there offer. It is all about attitude and asking yourself why are you doing what you are doing? To make money is not the right answer. Yes, it is important, I mean, money is not a bad thing, but, it should not be the reason why you are doing what you are doing. You could make money doing anything.
You will only be happy when you are making money doing what makes you happy.
Ivan holds an asado (barbecue) once a week with everyone staying at the hostel. He will go out and get the best quality meat, chorizo (sausages), salads, rice and of course wine. He will actually get people involved in preparing the meal and teaches them typical Chilean dishes. He has no rules or regulations. The tables are pushed aside for dancing after the big meal. He has structured his hostel to have quiet areas for people who just want to relax, read or watch a movie. He is already talking about some new ideas to give the pool area a more relaxing atmosphere… I will definitely come back for that!
Thanks Ivan for making Ventana Sur my Santiago home!
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha
Is your inner voice nagging you to break loose and start walking the road to your own success? One that doesn’t quite measure up with other people’s expectations.
What’s the first step you are willing to take right now?