Indonesia Expat sat down with Patrick Vaysse, Chief Operating Officer of Tauzia Hotels, who has a vast store of experience in the hospitality industry.
What did you feel when you first landed in Indonesia?
Firstly, I felt like I was rediscovering Indonesia – rediscovering Jakarta. I had visited the city around 25 years ago, Indonesia was a very different place back then! This is my second time working in Indonesia, I’ve worked on Sulawesi before, for a brief spell of around ten months. The second time I was based in Bintan, just off the coast of Singapore. I’ve been in the country this time for around six months.
Everything is totally different. After coming from Brazil to see Jakarta again, I just thought, “wow, this has changed a lot!” I can only recall the Grand Hyatt. It really stuck with me because I’d come over from Sulawesi to go shopping and always stay in the Grand Hyatt and Grand Indonesia – the best places. And the traffic! Everyone notices the traffic.
I’ve clocked up a total of two years in the country now.
As an expat living in another country, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Every expat meets their own challenges when they relocate away from home and family. Things like learning all about a new city – your neighbourhood, the transport – building a professional network as well as making new friends. There are big risks involved that we need to take time to figure out (but still go for it anyway!), and of course, find a restaurant to work in!
I find the biggest challenge is connecting with people. As much as there are lots of expats in Jakarta, it’s nice to get to know the locals. It’s not so easy when you don’t speak Bahasa and can’t understand the things going on around you so much.
What do you think about the hospitality industry in Indonesia?
Of course, every country works in a different way. Even though I’ve travelled to a lot of different places, everything is always new and exciting when I get to a new place.
I see a lot of potential for growth in Indonesia; there’s so many opportunities. The country is so big; it’s huge! The market is very big, just because of the sheer number of people in the country. I like to say that it’s very much a land of opportunity.
How does your role at Tauzia fit in with your career goals?
The role I’ve taken on is very important to me. I have a lot of knowledge in hospitality management and having worked in the hospitality industry for so many years, I understand that there is going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of drama.
I’ve had a lot of experience in Asia and I’ve worked in Indonesia before. I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for over twenty years all around Asia and South America. It felt like a good time to come back here.
Where do you see the future of Tauzia?
We’ve just celebrated our 18-year anniversary and this year sees Tauzia and Ascott come together. There’s a lot of potential for growth and to grow Tauzia beyond Indonesia. I am learning to grow and develop with the Ascott team and we are getting stronger together.
With regards the management, Tauzia itself will stay the same, nothing will change about how the place is run – we just have a new partner. In our collaboration, Tauzia and Ascott are big brands across Indonesia, as well as Malaysia and Vietnam with our offerings of hotels and residences. Together we have opened FOX Lite Hotel Dpulze Cyberjaya Malaysia in August 2019 and Vertu Hotel Cam Ranh Bay in Ho Chi Minh has been signed up.
Further expansions include YELLO Ho Chi Minh along with moves into the hospitality markets in Hanoi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila. The aim is that by the end of 2019, Tauzia Hotels – The Ascott Limited will have over 12,000 rooms across 73 properties that are represented by a total of 14 brands.
What is your management philosophy?
Express yourself and don’t be shy. It’s important to say what you feel and I instill into my team. I believe this builds teamwork. Everyone in the team needs to communicate and actively participate. Learning from others is important, listen to the questions that they ask too. If you don’t ask questions you’re never going to learn – asking questions is the best way to understand anything
It’s also important to understand what your weaknesses are as well as working with your strengths. Travelling to new places and meeting new people is important to understand these things better. Travelling will also allow you to take stock of your competitors and see how they do things; thus, helping you understand your difficulties too. Once you’ve gone out into the marketplace, come back with ideas and we can work on solutions.
Do you find any difficulties when working with locals?
The big challenge I face is the language barrier. But it’s not impossible to overcome, we can use hand and body language, or even reach for the pen and paper. It’s not a massive barrier, but it is there. I work hard to improve my communication with locals, it means that I can share my knowledge with them and to learn from them too.
I have expertise in hospitality trends, innovation and creativity in hotel and restaurant operations, rebranding and repositioning products, project management, and renovation management. Once I and my team can understand each other, I can share this knowledge with them and help them improve.
Do you have any advice for other expats?
Try hard to blend in and assimilate with your local community and respect local traditions and customs. You need to make sure that you understand the situation that you’re in. Our philosophies are going to be different from the local people, but as long as you can understand and respect that, you will be ok. It’s really important to spend time with local people, just mingling with them and learning about their lives.
What do you miss from working in South America?
The food, definitely. The way food is cooked is completely different to back home. As an example, in South America, everyone comes together in a house to cook a meal together, which isn’t done so much over here. I miss my friends too, but we are always just at the other end of the phone or the internet, so it’s ok. Keeping in touch is easier now that it used to be so I don’t miss out on as much.