No matter how much time we’ve spent in a specific field, we should always set a fire under ourselves. Service is from the heart, claimed the General Manager of Fraser Place Setiabudi, Charlie Feng.
Everybody learns something new every day. That leads to the strong belief that we should all be passionate in whatever we set our minds and hearts into, expressed by the General Manager of Fraser Residence Menteng, Daliyanto Soebandy. Indonesia Expat sat down with these two men who have individually been working in hospitality over two decades. They discuss the importance of balance in order to bring out the better versions of themselves.
Firstly, what is the concept and aim of Fraser Hospitality? Where can we find Fraser properties?
My name is Charlie Feng (CF), General Manager of Fraser Place Setiabudi; and my name is Daliyanto Soebandy (DS), General Manager of Fraser Residence Menteng.
CF: Fraser Hospitality has been running in Indonesia for nine years now, started from Fraser Residence Sudirman Jakarta. Its well-established hospitality business owns and/or operates serviced apartments and hotels in over 70 cities across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. All properties provide the options of short-term and long-term accommodation.
DS: Ideally, Fraser Hospitality’s main focus is on long-term guests, which is 60 percent of our occupancy. Most of the guests staying here are expats who stay for a minimum of one month, six months, and a year. Fraser Residence Menteng has a minimum of 14-15 days, that’s already considered as a long stay. Guests can get long-stay benefits such as free drop-offs, free laundry, and free breakfast.
Not everyone is aware that the Fraser properties in Jakarta are fully serviced residences. People think these properties are apartments. Facilities similar to hotels like breakfast, room service, restaurants, bars, gym, swimming pool, and kids’ club are available in all Fraser properties. But here, guests can also enjoy laundry service where laundry machines are included in each unit. Also, meeting rooms are provided, unlike most serviced residences. Fraser’s properties are considered five-star – though the rates aren’t quite as high as five-star hotels. You can say that it’s a combination of hotel and residence.
What makes Fraser Place Setiabudi, Fraser Residence Menteng, and Fraser Residence Sudirman different from each other?
CF: Fraser Hospitality can be categorised in three types: Fraser Residence, Fraser Suite, and Fraser Place. None of them are above each other; they all have different concepts. Fraser Place is ideally located in the city, where it is vibrant, colourful, and near nightlife and entertainment. Then, Fraser Residence has family-style, minimalistic, and modern spacious units. So far, there are only these two types in Indonesia. Perhaps there will be the Fraser Suite soon, which is a more luxurious brand that’s likely to be situated in the business district area, suitable for people in executive levels and embassy staff.
DS: You can find kids’ clubs, saunas, steam rooms, gyms, pools, gardens, massage chairs, and outdoor yoga areas depending on which Fraser property you go to. Also, Fraser Residence Menteng is pet-friendly and caters to guests with pets..
The Fraser brand exudes upscale serviced residences in Jakarta. How do you both deal with competition?
CF: Fraser Hospitality is one of the top serviced residence brands in the world. Many hotels nowadays have their own serviced residence. For example, Shangri-La has their hotel and serviced residence, accommodating people’s differing needs. It seems like the realisation of having a serviced residence as a good concept is quickly growing now.
DS: We’re also competing with hotels, not just serviced residences since Fraser properties have food and beverage facilities, meeting spaces, and kitchenettes. I think there is more value for money. Guests can conveniently get whatever they want and need in just one place.
Fraser Place Setiabudi won the World Travel Awards 2017. Fraser Residence Menteng also won an award at the Indonesian Travel and Tourism Awards 2018. How do you both maintain the quality? Are there any required improvements made along the way?
CF: The World Travel Award is a very prestigious award, given to recognised organisations around the world. Fraser Place Setiabudi entered the Best Serviced Residence Indonesia category for the first time in 2017, and we won. It’s an honour to have won this award. The brand, Fraser Hospitality, also won an award that year for Indonesia’s leading Service Residence Brand. Besides the judges’ evaluation, peers and travellers all around the world voted.
Unfortunately, we didn’t win in 2018. But I believe it’s very important that the service quality needs to be maintained. With good service, guests enjoy their stays with us and positive feedback will come from that. Service derives from a human touch, it’s from the heart.
On a side note, Fraser Place Setiabudi has won the Indonesia Leading Serviced Apartment award for the third consecutive year at the Indonesia Travel and Tourism Awards (ITTA) 2019/2020. I also happened to receive the award certificate as one of Indonesia Top Hospitality Leaders at this event.
DS: It’s been five years now Fraser Residence Menteng has won that award. To maintain standards, we have to stand with the true nature of the awards we get. Becoming the leading apartment and suites in Indonesia means the products and service quality is at its best or even better. It’s very important to give the best hospitality service from the heart.
Is there a difference being the General Manager (GM) of a serviced residence compared
to a hotel?
CF: No there are no differences as a serviced residence GM with a hotel. First of all, a GM wants to run the serviced residence to an extent where it becomes well-known in the industry. The GM has to deliver performance, look after the well-being of the guests as well as staff, and then stay alert to all of the feedback. Thus, trust in the brand is built. In return, the performance will be up to expectations.
DS: A GM is responsible for the overall marketing, sales, finance, and human resources of the serviced residence. In terms of customers, we conduct online surveys because the service given out has to be above the score of 90 on the sentiment of service and overall service standard. Then, a GM needs to take care of relations with the owner, headquarters, associates, and guests.
How long have you individually been in the hospitality industry?
CF: I’ve been working in serviced residences for the past 22 years; 11 years in one of the serviced residence groups and ten years in Fraser Hospitality.
DS: I started my career in 1996 so it’s been 24 years, with 90 percent of that time spent in hotels. This is actually my first time working and managing a serviced residence. It’s only been seven months, but prior to this, I was a GM
for six years under a different brand.
Based on over 20 years of experience, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
CF: I’m always learning. A new decade is before us and that means we need to prepare ourselves with the rapid technological enhancements that will be introduced and used in properties. We started with switching into digital marketing, while 20 years ago, it didn’t even exist, so there are things we learn along the journey. I’m sure that there is more to learn but the more you learn and practice, the more experience you can collect along the way. Also, many cultures surround us. We’re in Indonesia right now but someday, we’ll have to move to another city or country, so we need to be able to adapt and learn the culture.
DS: Being a GM is a very rich and expensive learning process that not everyone can get. It’s quite challenging when we’re looking for a professional in a certain field because it takes time and it’s not easy to find the right person, meanwhile time is ticking and above it all, competition is very tight. Occupancy has to run at 90 percent and GOP has to be over 40 percent. As a GM, we have to think big and always find a solution as there are always problems out there.
I’ve never worked in a serviced residence before Fraser. It was exciting, but at the same time challenging because a serviced residence was a new concept. From this, I learned that without passion, we can’t overcome a new situation, no matter how many years’ experience we have.
To get to know both of you a little bit better, I’d like to know what excites a spark in you. So what interests you? What are your hobbies?
CF: I always believe that if you work hard, you should play hard. I like to play football; it keeps you fit, healthy, and acts as a stress reliever. I’ve been in Indonesia for almost four years now, so I like to travel to other cities and experience the diverse cultures this country has. Indonesia is a beautiful country! My favourite destinations are Bali and Lombok.
DS: If I have a lot going on at work, I like to take the time to meet and talk to people, whether they are new or familiar faces – it relieves my stress. Meanwhile, I spend most of my free time with my kids playing sports or doing anything fun – they are my energy booster during the weekends since I live in-house so I’m away from them on the weekdays. I also like to travel, so twice a year, my family and I will usually take trips overseas. It’s a great life balance that makes me feel energised.