WE’RE RECALLING WHAT WE DID in preparation for the lockdown. We call it the seven unusual steps because, for us, it’s not normal for a small business to take this route and try to predict the ravaging effects of such a disease and create solutions out of it. At least in our local context. This post is more for our purpose and nothing more. It is to prepare for the next ‘one’ in the hopes of helping other businesses learn from our experience. There’s a bonus tip that one should look out for in case you’re going to follow our ‘trail’. So without much further ado, the steps we took are:

NOT THE NEWS YOU WANT but it’s what we had to prepare for: Feb 7, 2020 news of CNN Philippines which reads, ‘PHILIPPINES REPORTS THIRD CONFIRMED CASE OF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS’
  1. We listened to the news, studied the problem – Ever since the news broke out in Week 1 of January 2020 in the Philippines, we intently followed the progress of the virus’ spread: We followed what it is, how it’s spread, where is it now, how dangerous it is.
    Called then NCoV-19 (Novel Coronavirus of 2019), China was grappling on how to contain the spread of the disease. It hasn’t acted decisively and for good reason: It doesn’t know what it is up against. So we followed the story and picked good websites, extracted helpful information that can help protect employees, then guests, then the business. During that time, the only clue much of the world knows was that it causes flu-like symptoms and it’s fatal if not treated fast.
  2. We took the pragmatic approach – We took into consideration realistic angles of how fast the virus spreads, how it is spread, and what initial actions to take to repel the effects towards guests, towards employees, and towards the business as a whole. This is different than just creating conjectures that may just create scenarios that place fear in us rather than preparing for practical action where minimal funds were set aside to start investing in protective masks, goggles, and alcohol to repulse the contagion. Timing is key and hedging ourselves for the worse is better than not preparing at all.
  3. We ‘Seized the day’ – After careful studying the news trickling in, how the disease is to spread, and how this will all play out, we know it will affect the hostel business either slowly or decisively. So while praying for the best to come, we also pushed further with plans as news spews with fear and confusion as it spirals almost out of control through social media and cable televisions. We started drawing up plans, created signs, oriented staff members, and even talked to guests on how they can protect themselves essentially shoring up to keep the hostel’s reputation even going unreservedly shunning guests from specific countries where the virus may have come from or have been. Checked-in guests have to be protected.
  4. We acted to protect guests – Guests’ confidence and security are paramount and there are two types of guests: local ones and foreigners. To both types, we have to prepare ‘exit strategies’ so each one can feel the hospitality and service we stand for. We readied vehicles to guarantee that guests are herded to the airports on the eve (and on the day) of the lockdown. We researched and readied information on how to help guests especially getting their embassy numbers and information where to drop off local guests in case public transportations are halted. The public fear is palpable and so filtering information is important so that important ones are handed and can be made useful for confused guests.
    As soon as we have information, we give it to our guests, and guests are also assisted with flight, airport, and shuttle information and leave the hostel the moment is needed so foreign guests can continue with their journey home or to their next destination.
  5. Moved to protect hostel employees – Employees are as golden as the owners are in crisis moments like this. Your staff provide the extra hands, feet, and mind you need to execute plans you’ve drawn up. Every personnel was given daily briefings, re-orienting their approach to work, and understand the dangers of how this virus spreads. They were given pointers and tips before they engage guests to protect them from the ‘unseen enemy’ because every employee matters.
  6. Executed our plans – Plan execution is prime. No success is ever achieved when no action is taken. Our objective was to protect our guests and nothing at this point can go wrong. Signs are up, posted in strategic places, employees are oriented so they can become your enforcer of new health policies, current guests are briefed so they won’t feel much anxiety of the unknown, future guests were emailed about the cancellation and their refunds, protective gears were bought are ready and distributed to each staff, and spray bottles of disinfectant sprays are posted in every room and corner of the hostel that gives guests more protection from the virus. We made sure that all those who booked their stay in Crossroads Hostel Manila are protected first – business, comes second.
  7. We evaluated and adjusted our actions – More news about the virus came and went. We re-iterated our plans. Our coordination now includes the national tourism department and we evaluated our plans, compared it with mandated ones, and adjusted what we know to make sure it stays current. For example, we bought white vinegar and Pinesol thinking it can kill the virus but later on found out that Lysol sprays, alcohol, soaps, and bleaches are the only ones that can kill the virus. In the absence of Lysol and alcohol, we used dish-washing liquid and water as an alternative spray to protect ourselves from this airborne disease.
  8. BONUS! We got accredited. I didn’t know then but now I do. Accreditation is very important. We applied for the tourism board’s accreditation to give Crossroads Hostel a leg to stand on. While we get raving reviews year in and year out from guests, the accreditation given by the said government department proved positive in times like this. As soon as the government locked down the region, the tourism department provided us the ‘shield’ to keep our business open and accommodate workers from different places and backgrounds. This paved the way for us to get business right away from a Business Processing Outsource company just a kilometer from us.

The Tourism Department was commendable for being proactive that by the fourth day after the lockdown was announced by the national government, they already have orders to provide accommodation to front line staff and health workers. The hostel’s occupancy was reduced to 50%, however, this was corrected by our hostel and is now running at 2 persons (maximum) per room no matter how big space the room provided as long as the occupants are not of the same family.
We purchased foot bath for guests’ footwear so it can be disinfected, we bought UV lamps to decontaminate rooms, we bought more alcohol and disinfectants, we made more signboards for new guests to follow and we implemented updated protocols for all staff to follow.

So far, we’re doing good. With such policies, we were able to attract a local Business Processing Outsource (BPO) company to trust us with their skeletal workforce. Through that, we were able to practice and refine our processes and now we’re accepting new guests through our own advertising and promotions.

As the country improves its pandemic status to General Community Quarantine or GCQ since Monday, 1st of June, we’re excited for the new prospects of providing the very best of our programs giving guests safer, cleaner, and more secure budget accommodation here in this hostel.

WE’VE RECEIVED so many inquiries and many ask for a lower price.
We understand the concern but let us help you with more background on what our hostel is.
People mistake Crossroads Hostel like any other ‘Transient Place” where people pay for an ordinary “bed space” on a daily basis, however, we’re not just a bed space — we’re a hostel. A hostel is a property created mainly for backpackers today but we’ve evolved into something else, we’re not just for backpackers but we’re also for business professionals and travelers looking for a budget place to stay.
Budget doesn’t mean cheap, it just means affordable. Affordable because the place offers value to all of its customer traveling this way in the Central Business District (CBD) area of Ortigas shared by the chartered cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Quezon businesses.


We try to make it the most comfortable space you can have at a fraction of a cost located here in the heart of Metro Manila

Our place offers more than 100 square meters of space where every visitor can lounge, cook, and relax in the comforts of a bungalow home.
If you can imagine it, we’re like the home of your favorite evening reality show, Pinoy Big Brother where every Filipino know the place as ‘Bahay Ni Kuya’ (Big Brother’s House). So you’re not confined inside your bedroom inside where you share with other travelers.
Each bedroom is air-conditioned and our rooms have as much as eight beds inside. Our beds have curtains so you can sleep without the prying eyes of another neighbor so a sense of privacy is still maintained. It is cleaned every single day by our housekeeper and your towels are changed every day, your linens every other four days.

It’s a simple but value-driven space you can always count on from us

Our kitchen is as complete as you can get. You may not be able to bake but with all the amenities inside this kitchen you will be able to cook delicious but budget meals to your heart’s content.
We’re located at the heart of Metro Manila. That’s no joke. You go to Google Maps and you type Crossroads Hostel Manila and you’ll see from the map that our location when viewed zoomed out from the map that we’re in the middle of every strategic place you can think of going to. EDSA is just a minute walk away and the entrance to the MRT train (SHAW Boulevard Station) is just right there for your taking.
The wet market where you can buy fresh produce, meat, and other staple foods you like is just five minutes walk away with a pharmacy just beside it.
So with a price of PhP699, taxes included, why settle for a motel that won’t give you that home atmosphere that you want to be in when the comforts and security of home is just right there at Crossroads Hostel Manila.
This is no spiel, no marketing talk — it’s as plain as you can experience it from people who’ve been here the first time, the second time, and those who call our place their home away from home.
For your next travel to Metro Manila and Ortigas area, come consider us and see what we mean because as travelers we make it our business to give you the hospitality every local or foreign traveler deserves.

Crossroads Hostel Manila’s name initially came from the name, “Cross Street”. Yes, we were called Cross Street Hostel before. Shocking isn’t it? Hahaha. Not quite but there’s a more meaningful story that came from a guest who stayed with us, an Adventist pastor, months ago.
He asked why we named our hostel to be and we casually told him because of three reasons:

  1. First, the area where we are is called ‘Crossing Area’ where business and trade ‘crosses’ each other via main thoroughfares, EDSA and Shaw Boulevard.
  2. Every traveler who’s on a recreation or vacation would somehow need to clear their heads and therefore travel because they are on a proverbial, “Crossroad” in their lives;
  3. Lastly, the owners are Christians and the place was honored in part to Jesus Christ who gave himself on the ‘Cross’ for the salvation of many who are lost.

They’re profound reasons, I thought, until this pastor told me a story of the good Samaritan of the Christian Bible (Luke 10:25-37) where a man was cared for by a Samaritan who brought him to, where? An Inn (v. 34).  It is said that those who did not do any thing for the badly beaten man could’ve stayed in the same property and the Inn Keeper became part of that famous parable Jesus said.

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I forgot his name but this pastor changed the meaning of what Crossroads Hostel Manila is from this day forward.

Another story, he said, was when the baby Jesus was born in a manger because — as the story goes — “…there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7).
The pastor then told me that I, as the hostel owner, have a profound role to play in the lives of many who come before Crossroads Hostel Manila because not only are the two stories significant but Jesus was part of those two stories: One, he used it as a Parable to teach; Two, Jesus was part of the story.
It should be noted that in both instances, the Inn Keeper accommodated many who are in need and indeed having this hostel and managing it is very profound for many and its meaning will forever be etched in the purpose and story of this hostel moving forward in history.
A Christmas Story indeed.
Merry Christmas to one and all.
Want to know the Christmas Story? Click here.
Want to read more about The Good Samaritan? Get it here.

WE’RE SCRATCHING OUR HEADS what to do with the recently approved tax reform in my country. While it gives more small companies like Crossroads Hostel leeway in shielding itself from Value Added Tax (VAT), it will have to contend with the advent of having to pay more in operations cost making it more challenging for us to offset the cost of utilities especially in the coming summer months of March.
Summer, like anywhere else in the world, is increasingly getting warmer and that means higher use of air-conditioners to cool yourself off and more frequent times to open the refrigerators to get your cold drinks or to freeze your drinks.
That’s a lot of money.
Electricity rates in The Philippines are on of the highest in Asia (16th in the World!) and it’s extra challenging for us to get more people to go to The Philippines, let alone have them stay in our hostel because of appointments they have in the nearby Ortigas area.
We’ll take the challenge and hopefully, we’ll come out a winner because whatever investment our guests give us, we put it back to develop our hostel further.
Here’s to creativity in how to get things right.

The hostel reported losses in revenue from the low turn out of guests between March and October and the consistent rise in utilities and government’s recent report of inflation.
A good number of guests turn out in November and December could not make up for the loss it incurred in the past months of 2017, however, this is not stopping the hostel from being aggressive in applying marketing strategies using Google and Facebook to keep the brand of the hostel growing and keeping its old and new market aware of its presence in the Ortigas Central Business District (CBD).


Any thing that produces warmth and frigid air costs a lot because more energy is required for these appliances which are important to the comfort of guests coming in.

“We’re okay but we’re not making money the way businesses are suppose to be making profit to pour it back into the business and improve the property’s features and services.” says its owner Kristoffer Atienza. “What’s making it more challenging for us are the rising costs of utilities and the impending nature of inflation that seems to be in a free fall right now. Inflation in The Philippines is up from 1.4 points in 2014 to a high of 3.5 now as reported by the country’s Central Bank. Inflation is bad news for a micro business like Crossroads Hostel Manila because it dictates the price of goods and services that the hostel relies on to deliver its promise to its customer.
“The number one ‘enemy’ of property businesses in the country are our utilities. I constantly pay the electric company, Meralco, between 20% to 40% off of my gross sales and that does not include yet the manpower, maintenance, and other taxes I have to pay the city and the state.” added Atienza.
To keep its hopes alive, the hostel is banking on the high ratings it keeps receiving from guests and this is the saving grace for Atienza. The hostel is rating a high of >9 of 10 stars and a low of 4.4/5 stars depending on what online travel agency you book from or make your reservations from.
“So far, the interest is there and I have barely scratched the surface of my local market, which I am banking on the heaviest. Without them, my business is done for.” lamented Atienza.
2018 seems to be a good year as it is now receiving inquiries from local evangelical churches all over the country for January and if the bookings are up then more guests can be sure that the owner will fend off any rising costs of utilities that is plaguing the property right now. “No one wants to raise prices to help you offset costs but in an economy where you saw a dip in the number of guests coming in into the country, you have to do something to make sure you have consistent number of guests coming in and adding more price cuts is not going to be beneficial for us because the labor you put in is not something you put a discount on. Discounts are an incentive and not a way to attract more business. So we’ll see how it goes and I only hope we can have a brighter 2018 with more guests coming in and enjoying the services we offer in this area of Metro Manila.”
We hope all the best for Crossroads Hostel Manila. For reservations, please call (0937) 378 0400 or add yourself on their FB page here to send them an inquiry.


A women full of energy and will, Ms. Li came to the hostel at past 5AM. The time when the hostel was still closed.

Ms. Lu came banging on the hostel’s doors at 5:00 AM. The owner saw her on his CCTV monitor after hearing his dog’s persistent barking on that fateful early morning of the 24th of October.

Visibly upset, Ms. Lu waited for more than ten minutes before the door was opened for her. The owner was explaining the situation but language became a barrier and so did emotions.

Groggy, Kris, the owner, recognized the guest the first time he saw her on the monitor. She came days before to check the property but that doesn’t matter anymore so he quickly walked down with pajamas and slippers and boom! The usual quiet ‘pre-dusk’ morning turned into ‘war zone’. In her Chinese tongue she screamed and said things the owner can only comprehend but will to understand her situation. The owner was caught flat-footed because she was not to check in until 2 PM and so he tried to plead and almost got caught up with the bad situation.
The active, 70-year old lady calmed after several prodding, convinced that Crossroads Hostel Manila did its part to get in touch with her the day before. The hostel sent her an SMS message via long-distance  — reminding her to get in touch because the property does not operate 24/7.
No luck.
She apparently changed her SIM from China to a local one. (Editor’s Note: For guests who do not know, CHM is not a 24-7 property. Meaning, it’s not a regular hotel where you can just come in during the “dead-hours” of the night to get a place to stay. The company wishes it were but it cannot. It only gets a few number of red-eye flight guests and it won’t be wise to keep on paid daily salary.) But the good thing was, she relented. She noticed how much ‘beating’ the owner got and how he absorbed each verbal blows she made, he didn’t retaliate. In the end, she surprised the owner by saying in broken English, “You go up and you go to sleep. I stay here and rest (pointing at the couch).” She knows her time is not until 2 PM but the owner changed tacked and asked if she will leave any time at sunrise because she might go again without any keys to the hostel. The owner registered her promptly knowing that she will leave sometime 8 AM to tour Metro Manila.
All of this happened and finished before 6 AM — but no more sleeping. The owner has to prepare for the day.
Ms. Lu stayed for the next two nights but the owner made sure to help her with her inquiries because of the language barrier. He helped her by asking what her purpose was to be in Manila and what her plans were. He helped her by suggesting places where to go and how much she should spend on transportation knowing there are ‘vultures’ who may prey on unsuspecting guests like her who doesn’t know what the “system” is for such public transportation drivers who’d offer her a ride. The owner also helped her by introducing Google Translate app where one can choose the language to translate by just speaking to it. Technology did a lot of wonders and help the two varied languages but the owner and guest suddenly that culturally, there is less to be afraid of and more to take part of. Ms. Lu quickly realized that the owner went for it and what happened to fer first night of stay was an isolated incident. Quickly, both understood the short-comings of each other and both accepted each other’s mistakes and quickly turned it into a friendship.
Ms. Lu was supposed to return a night later to the hostel but she cancelled all her plans and extended one more night to bridge the two other nights that she already pre-booked using booking.com. All in all, she stayed five nights.

The once, seemingly bad situation became a happy ending making the owner feel sad because Ms. Lu appreciated the services the owner gave and this matter to her stay in the hostel.

She left the hostel with the owner feeling sad knowing what he experienced from the ageing woman may be an emotional roller coaster ride but a wonderful opportunity to let the woman understand that she has a home away from home in Crossroads Hostel Manila.
The woman left the owner a gift and even told him that she reminded him of her host back in Spain where she stayed in April this year where the owner was as meticulous and details in making sure the guest was treated well.
The owner is by no means a ‘legendary superhero’ superman and this is not to say that he’s perfect. The owner swears he’s far from that.
He said this story is about respect. This story, he said, is about care and no matter what the situation is — every thing got well and it was resolved because each one knows there’s power in humility and it is in this advantage that every other businesses can thrive knowing there’s always room for improvement. There’s a story to be learned and Crossroads Hostel is brimming with treasures of discoveries that happened and will be waiting to happen.
Ms. Lu used booking.com to reserve her space with Crossroads Hostel Manila. Discover booking.com, discover Crossroads Hostel Manila.