While enjoying the view of Bandung from De Javu Party Pit, we talked with Astrid M.E. Tuwahatu, General Manager (GM) of Belviu Hotel Bandung. We discussed a number of things including how she felt when she first became a GM. The following is the snippet of our interview.
Hi, Ms. Astrid. How are you today? Thank you for having us here.
Hi! I’m fine, thank you. Thank you for coming to our hotel.
Okay, let’s go straight to our interview. What we’d like to know first is how you finally have a career in the hospitality industry. Looking at your resume, your educational background is Business and Management. Even your first job was as a waitress.
The majority of my family members work in the hospitality industry. Maybe that’s the reason I’m interested too because it is familiar to me. Finally, when I graduated, I talked to my family that I wanted to work in hospitality. Then, I was offered a job as a waitress in a restaurant. I took the opportunity which later became the beginning of my career in hospitality. FYI, I was dreaming of becoming a flight attendant instead of working in this industry.
At what moment did you find the comfort of working in hospitality?
I could say that happened when I moved to Bandung in 2011. That year I started to become the sales team in a hotel. And at that time I felt that my passion is in the hospitality industry. Furthermore, sales are mostly working outside the office, traveling and meeting lots of people. So, I think my job is far from boring at all. Besides, I am also an active person and do not like to work behind a desk. As well as love to sell things. Even now I still sell various items online.
So, it must be thrilling when you finally offered a job as a hotel GM. What was your reaction at that time?
Actually, I declined the offer. At that time I felt that I had not been able to take responsibility as a GM. But the person who promoted me said, “I’m sure you can. If you don’t try, you will never know.” After that person convinced me a lot, I finally had confidence and took the opportunity.
And why Belviu Hotel Bandung, it’s because I love the challenge offered by this place. First, in this hotel, our owner is directly involved in overseeing the performance of the hotel management. So that I am able to learn how to handle and make our owner satisfied. Second, because this hotel had experienced a vacuum when changing its brand from Regata to Belviu. I and my team then had to look for strategies and spend more efforts to introduce the Belviu Hotel brand to an extended audience. I consider that as a very interesting challenge.
Regarding the rebranding, what challenges did you face?
This hotel has been using the name Regata for quite a long time so that when the name was changed to Belviu Hotel, there was a vacancy in the position of GM and Marketing Communication. The effect was we were like doing branding for a new hotel. There were still many who do not know as well, even in one of the OTA applications, our hotel name was still using the old one. To change it to Belviu Hotel also takes quite a long time. Even now, in rebranding, we still have a lot of homework to do.
How you manage your team?
I am the type of person who prefers listening to the whole team. I often ask my team what is an obstacle for them. I can go to the lowest level to hear what their obstacles are. But still not overstepping the head department here. Every obstacle they feel, I will convey to the relevant department head. From there we can discuss to find the best solution. I am known to be close to employees because that way they are more comfortable to discuss.
After being a GM for the time being, what do you think still needs to be improved at this hotel?
I think its revenue. It’s not small, but there is a challenge for me to restore the level of revenue as in 2017. Because the name change from Regata to Belviu makes some people confused, the revenue had dropped. I want to prove to the owner that the current team can restore conditions like when it was still called Regata, which is high in revenue.
How do you see the hospitality industry in Bandung today?
Surely more and more rivals. The price competition is extraordinary. So we must always maintain the quality of our service to guests. If in general, Bandung might need to have a clear calendar of events. So that visitors from out of town can plan their trip well. So far there are usually special events happen so suddenly. But this year I am optimistic that it will improve.
What is your principle at work?
Honest. I think it’s the most important thing at work for a great career in the future.
Do you have a personal plan in the near future?
I want to be a hotel consultant. But I still have a lot to learn and expand my networking.
Can you tell us your interest, outside in the hotel industry?
Traveling. But, my kind of traveling is to go to nearby places where I just have to spend my weekend there.
That’s all from us. Thank you for an inspiring interview. Hope to see you again.
You’re very welcome. It’s also great to chat with you. See you!