Pullman Jakarta Indonesia
The newly appointed Pullman Jakarta Indonesia General Manager Dan Benzaquen is a well-travelled multi-lingual hotelier with a passion for hospitality and people. Asia Dreams talked to him about his focus on continuing to strengthen the pillars of excellence on which the hotel was established five years ago.
Q: You are from a family of hoteliers, what inspired you personally to get into the hospitality industry?
A: I spent my childhood in resorts because my father worked in hotel management, so I was exposed to front and back office work and was always around hotel staff. My father never forced his children to follow his footsteps, only reminding us that the world of hospitality is not easy. You have to work hard and start from the bottom. For that reason, I took summer jobs as a water sports instructor in Bintan and several other islands. I really liked the industry, so I studied hospitality in Switzerland and worked my way up the ranks. I don’t see myself doing anything else.
Q: Would you share some memorable experiences from your career?
A: I had the opportunity to join the pre-opening team for Mövenpick Hotel Deira in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but the opening was delayed so I joined the pre-opening of another hotel in the same group. This meant that in six months, I was involved in the pre-opening and opening of two hotels. It was amazing. Now, every time I go to Dubai, I stop by and relive those memories. Training the team, selecting each team member, creating room and food and beverage standards, that will stick with me forever.
Q: What do you want to achieve in your new role as GM at Pullman Jakarta Indonesia?
A: This hotel is located in a prime location in Jakarta and is unique; you look at its footprint, the design, all the advantages that this property can provide and its ability to cater to all guests. I will continue the vision of my predecessors, which is to make people fall in love with what we do, and become a trendsetter through events, food and beverage offerings and essentially our services.
Q: What do you think makes a great hotelier?
A: Dedication and passion. If you are not passionate about hotels, you do not suit being a hotelier. Imagine, you have to eat, sleep and stay in a hotel, no matter what your expertise.
Q: What have you always enjoyed about the hospitality industry?
A: People. You can be frustrated with people, but as long as you learn to understand how human beings behave and can put yourself in the shoes of the hotel guests, employees or shareholders and stakeholders, you can definitely handle it. It’s all about emotions.
Q: Do you ever lose track of time at work? If so, doing what?
A: Talking. I’m happy to know how a guest’s day or stay is going. Secondly, I do like numbers. If there is a project, I will analyse the numbers and look for the possibilities.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into the industry?
A: I think before jumping into the world of hospitality, especially hotels, you have to understand what a hotel is. Then you also have to understand the working hours and you also have to like people. You will start from the bottom, whether it’s as a bartender or housekeeper. This is only the beginning, then you make your future. So, believe in yourself.
Asia Dreams November 2019 – January 2020