Denny Firdaus, General Manager of Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage shared with What’s New Indonesia – Bandung about his inspiring journey in the hospitality industry. How he started from the ground, always challenge himself to achieve higher, until finally land his position as GM in a renowned hotel in Bandung.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your new position as General Manager (GM) of Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage. And, welcome to Bandung!
Thank you very much! I’m happy to finally able to work in this city with Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage.
Ok, how about we start talking about your career? What first attracted you to the hospitality industry?
At first, I actually had no idea about hospitality at all. I was even more interested in joining the military. Incidentally, I used to live with my uncle who was around the army dormitory. Then I watched a lot of action films and started to think it would be cool to be a member of the air force. But when I graduated from high school, my other uncle invited me to go to Bali. I thought, “why not?” Finally, in Bali, I went to a tourism school and fell in love with the hospitality world.
Tell me about the beginning of your career in hospitality?
During college, I was called to be LO at the 1989 Asian Sky Diving Championship for the Singapore contingent. There I got paid for the first time from hospitality. After graduating, I worked as a tour guide. But as time went by I felt that I didn’t fit into the position. Finally, I applied to work at the hotel and was accepted as a bellboy.
During your 31 years career, what has changed about you?
Getting more disciplined. Actually, at the beginning I never thought what position I could end up in, I just worked. When I was a bellboy, I saw that the job as a bar captain seemed fit for me. From there I try to improve my skills so that I can be in that position. Then so on. Every time I see one position above me, and I try to be in that position. So you could say that my career has developed step by step from the ground up.
When did you first think about becoming a General Manager?
It happened when I worked in a luxury hotel property in Bali. At that time I was in the position of Room Division Manager in charge of various divisions. There I started to imitate what I had seen from my previous GMs. What is their character, how they manage the team and operations, how do they handle the owner. At that time, I often attended meetings with the owner. I began to think that it was only 2 steps away from getting to the GM position. Finally, I got the opportunity to go up one more level but to a 4-star City Hotel. Without thinking, I took the opportunity. From there, I just needed to go one more level up so I could become a GM, and I started thinking about how to get there.
I see that before you joined Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage you were often the Acting General Manager.
Yes, that’s right, when I was at the City Hotel I often had the opportunity to become Acting GM in several properties in various cities. There I began to act, think, and act as a person whose decisions are my responsibility. During my tenure in that position, I had the chance to handle quite a few problems, all of which I was able to solve well. From there I said to myself, “I’m ready!”
Then finally you get this position. Why would you want to accept a position as GM at Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage?
Of course because of the position. But apart from that, I have aspirations to work in Bandung. It has been a long time since I talked to my family about this wish and they all agreed. Finally, when this opportunity came, my family was very happy.
What did you see from Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage when you received this job?
I have been interviewed dozens of times by various properties. But, when I was first interviewed for this hotel I immediately felt a click. Both with the property and the owner, I immediately got the chemistry. That’s why I feel at home here, even though it’s not been a month. God willing, with previous experience, I can manage this hotel well.
Covid-19 hits all lines of business. Hospitality has been arguably the hardest hit. What is your personal opinion regarding this pandemic?
For me personally, this is not an obstacle, but a challenge. Hence, we also cannot lower the standard of this hotel due to the pandemic.
So what are your strategy in dealing with this pandemic?
Just now was discussed at a briefing, I don’t intend to lower the rate. The condition now is not guests who don’t want to come to this hotel, but guests don’t come to this city. Even if we lower the rate, surely no one will come. Even if someone comes, by the time we want to raise the rate again, it will be difficult, because they are used to low prices. Currently, we are focused on taking the domestic market in the Bandung area. Then, considering that our competitors around here are 5-star hotels, I always tell the team to always provide 5-star service even though this hotel is a 4-star. I also want the sales team not to focus on looking for new visitors, but look after existing visitors as best as possible so they can come back again. When existing customers are safe, the sales team can find new customers more easily.
The government has the idea to make several hotels a quarantine place. What do you think about that idea?
The idea is good. But personally, I don’t want to make this hotel a quarantine place. Because even though the protocol can be done well, perceptions in society cannot be changed. People will think “the hotel has a lot of covid people”, which is what I don’t want. I support the idea, but to make this hotel a quarantine place I will think over and over again.
Okay, looks like enough with serious questions. I want to know what you do in your spare time?
I’m actually a very down-to-earth person. If nothing was too important, I wouldn’t leave the house. I usually watch movies, read books, or watch YouTube. Then usually every Sunday I will clean the house, it’s my hobby. Sometimes if I have to go to the mall, I have to have a record of what I want to buy. After shopping, I will go around for a while to wash my eyes and then I go home. But overall I prefer to spend time at home.
What do you read and watch?
For books, I like to read fiction, especially about detectives. For movies, I like action, which is a lot of shooting, lots of blood, and sometimes also horror.
Last question. In your opinion, live for work or work to live?
This is a tough question. I choose to work to live. Because I work for my life, for the life of my colleagues, and for the life of the owner too. So if I’m not doing well, it’s not just my life that’s falling apart.
Great! Thanks for the interview. Stay healthy!
Thank you again and thank you for visiting Swiss-Belresort Dago Heritage.