An Exclusive Interview with Marco Groten, Area Vice President of Hyatt Indonesia and General Manager Grand Hyatt Bali.
Now! Publisher Alistair Speirs had the pleasure to meet and discuss the evolution of Hyatt in Indonesia with Marco Groten, the relatively newly appointed Area Vice President of Hyatt Indonesia, which includes a whole bunch of new brands, which he was able to tell us much more about. His background and experience are much less formal than the Hyatt brand, having learned the lifestyle luxury trade at Soneva, Six Senses and Alila.So he brings a whole new perspective to an already established and respected group in the Hyatt hotels here in Indonesia.
AGS: Welcome Marco. Please tell us much more about the Hyatt brands in Indonesia, how they fit together, who you are targeting for each sector and how the whole thing works.
MG: Thank you for having me. Indeed, it's a bit daunting when you look at all these different brands that large hotel companies have nowadays, and Hyatt has a total of 18 brands that we are exploring. In order to make it a little bit easier, we've actually segregated these brands into three different portfolios. So the first one is the “Timeless Portfolio” which is very much the well-known high-end brands like Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, and these are more traditional brands. And we will go into detail a little bit more per brand later.
We have also separated another group of hotels and brands under the name of “Boundless Portfolio” which are more lifestyle hotels. Some of them we have in Indonesia. And then we have the “Independent Collection” a portfolio for independent properties that are unique in their way. We support them from the back but we, as Hyatt, are not known in the name or we are not known for the way we bring these brands to the market.
So going back to what we have available here in Indonesia currently we have the Grand Hyatt, of course we have one in Jakarta and one in Bali where I'm currently located. And the Grand Hyatt brand is very much a large hotel company with a lot of facilities that basically caters to families, but also to meeting spaces. And it's really very much for celebrating. We have a main focus in cities but we have some in resort areas like in Bali. But what you'll see is that they are the largest hotels that we actually have.
Then we have the Hyatt Regency brand, which is also part of the ‘Timeless’ portfolio, and represents our upper upscale hotels consisting of four to five star hotels where guests are looking for an affordable stay. In Indonesia we have two Hyatt Regency’s, one in Jogjakarta and the other in Bali, with both hotels catering for the family market and the meetings market.
In the ‘Boundless Portfolio”, our lifestyle collection, we have a range of different brands. First of all we have Alila, originally an Indonesian group of hotels, which Hyatt acquired in 2018. Our first Alila property was in Pecenongan, Jakarta and we currently have six hotels and a wooden Phinisi (Traditional Buginese sailing boat) in Indonesia. The Alila hotels are there to craft rare and intimate “life experiences” as we call them. So these sort of matters really have to do with being local, trying to look at the design aspect of the brand and integrate in the areas where we really operate these hotels.
Another brand we just recently launched in Bali is our Andaz hotels and the Andaz hotels are there to stimulate the senses through distinctively local experiences. They come very close, Alila and Andaz, and I often get asked what is the difference between the two brands? I would say that the Alila brand is more focused on the environmental part, it's about creating journeys and experiences for our guests in order to see the local environment through the eyes of a local while you're being on holiday. As well, Andaz is more playful and its “non-scripted”, as we call it, in order to make sure that we cater to any guests that would want to come in, but if there are less standards compared to our other brands.
Last but not least, there will be one more brand that we're introducing shortly to Indonesia and that will be the Park Hyatt in Jakarta which is really our high-end brand. It's a boutique hotel, small and represents the best of the best and will be opening sometime next year.
AGS: Fantastic. There’s quite a lot to manage right now. And, of course, I'm sure they’re all suffering during this COVID pandemic, which has really hit the tourism industry in Bali and across the country rather badly. We hope that we’ll begin to see an end to this soon. There's still this discussion about reopening Bali, which appears to be a little difficult at the moment, but let's hope that we'll find a way to revitalize the business as soon as they can open, but as we start to come out of COVID, I’m sure, you're planning this with all of your general managers and all of your teams. What are the priorities for Hyatt hotels? How are you planning to do this marvelous thing building back, even better?
MG:That's a very good question, and to be honest, we are still exploring this. There is new data that we receive or new things that we discover every day, and we constantly need to be very agile in order to follow what the market dictates or what customers and guests expect from us in the hotels. We started fairly soon after the outbreak, the various measurements in the hotels. Obviously, the first part was heavily focused on cleanliness and hygiene. And one of the things we did, is we appointed a Hygiene Manager in every single hotel to ensure that we follow all of these new standards that we have set up. It's not just the social distancing, but it's also the way we clean our hotels. It's how we have, for example, a hotel room available for a period of time after a guest has checked out in order to be completely safe. It is also the way by which we educated our team members. It also has to do with the daily routines that we have in our operations. All of these things have changed, and these changes are there to stay. They will not go back to what we knew before. We've learned and adapted, but we've also realized that things can be done differently. And that is how we will continue to go forward. In terms of recovery, we see that the leisure market recovers first, before the business traveler. And that's clearly what we're seeing in various destinations right now. Weekends are quite busy in some of our hotels, such as Solo and Jogja, where weekdays are perhaps not as busy as they were before.
So, we need to cater to that. Also, in cities like Jakarta, where there are a lot of staycations, we need to make sure that the packages and hotel guests are entertained and have the right kind of facilities to enjoy their stay. So, before we return to the business travel segment, we stay focused on the guests. Look for point-to-point flights - they will not want to have flights that transit or stop somewhere in between. So that's something we should keep in mind. As a result, it will take a little longer for business travel to recover. Also, we have obviously learned from this pandemic that many of the things that we were doing in person can now be done through the use of Zoom calls or any other similar platforms.
That will also affect our business, and we need to work around that, so at the Grand Hyatt Bali we recently launched our hybrid meetings, and we have set up a studio in one of our meeting rooms where we are working with a professional third party that is basically catering to a platform that will help to facilitate hybrid meetings. For those who are unaware of what hybrid meetings are, what we're seeing is that more and more things are happening online, and we're also talking about large meetings. So, there may be up to 5,000 people who come online together at the same time, and people who come together in different locations. For example, you could have Grand Hyatt Bali with 50 participants, but at the same time, there could be 50% participants in another city, such as Hong Kong or Melbourne.
So, what we’ve done at Grand Hyatt Bali is that we've set up a professional film studio with all the facilities and equipment to not only host this but also pre-record certain sessions for these hybrid meetings. And in addition to the usual platforms, we have a platform called On-Air, which provides many more professional opportunities. In a meeting like this, for example, you can host up to 5,000 people at the same time. You can have things translated simultaneously in various languages. We can basically conduct polls. On this platform, you can have up to 50 concurrent breakout sessions. In a forum like this, people can ask speakers live questions.
So, they’ll be doing many different things. And the most important thing with these hybrid meetings is that you have not only the technical facilities, but also the technical expertise, because there are always things that will not go perfectly, so you need professionals to assist you out with these types of needs. Going forward, we see this as an important part of reviving our, what we call, MICE business of meetings, incentives, congresses and events, in order to make sure that those guests return, to a certain extent, to our hotels as well. Because life will never be the same again, and we must adapt, be agile and change things wherever we meet.
AGS: It sounds like you've put a great deal of thought into this, you and your team. I'm very impressed with the studio that that's something which I think is quite innovative and certainly leads the market in in facilitating something which has evolved out of these challenges. I mean, a lot of evolution is necessary! Everyone talks about pivoting, but, you know, pivot to where? You've come up with something very special there and I'm sure that's going to be adaptable to other hotels in your group as well. So that's a very good thing to see. Changes are here to stay, which we just have to live with. Normally you and I would be meeting face-to-face now we are meeting a thousand kilometers apart, but it's still a good way of doing things.
We are hopeful that business will come back and we know that you'll be ready.
So, Marco on behalf of NOW! Jakarta and NOW! Bali, I would very much like to thank you and your Hyatt team all over Indonesia. I've experienced your hospitality in almost every property that you have, and I've never had a bad moment.
Thank you very much. Good luck to you!
To see the complete interview, visit this Video.