General Manager, The Dharmawangsa Jakarta
With 25 years in hospitality, Novi Samodro talks to Asia Dreams about how the industry has changed, what makes a good leader and her dreams for The Dharmawangsa Jakarta.
Q: You’ve been in the hospitality industry now for 25 years, was it always your dream?
A: It had never crossed my mind to study hospitality, but I went with my best friend to take the entrance tests in Bandung and fell in love with the campus. I was shocked to be allocated to pastry and bakery studies and by the time I graduated, I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a pastry chef. I worked in a bank for a year but that didn’t suit me either, so I went to the US to study hotel administration so I could return to hospitality.
Q: Despite your original F&B training, much of your career has been involved in events, sales and marketing; how did that come about?
A: My first job was in guest relations at Bali Cliff Resort. I was single and living alone with lots of free time so I used to help in other departments. The F&B team was preparing for a big event and I helped with the admin, transferring soon afterwards to become a catering coordinator. Finally, my studies were helpful!
Q: What significant changes have you seen in the industry during your 25 years?
A: Technology. It’s making such a difference. When I was in sales, we had to use the yellow pages to find customers, now we can just search on the internet. However, I still believe you can’t beat face-to-face interaction; it’s essential to build relationships.
Q: Would you share a memorable happening from your career?
A: Actually, back in my early days I made a huge mistake by double booking a wedding. Even after I contacted them, both customers insisted on the same venue and date. I went to my manager to explain and we ended up talking to the general manager. The customers held firm, so he decided to transform a partially developed space into an event room for the wedding so both customers would be happy.
I learned so much from this; to accept that mistakes can be made but can also be resolved, how to find solutions, how really good leaders work with people. Both my manager and general manager helped and supported me so that I could learn and grow. It was such a valuable experience for me. I was so proud and speechless when the GM thanked me afterwards for giving him the idea of keeping that room as an event space, which it still is, even today.
Q: You are the first Indonesian female general manager of a five-star luxury hotel in Jakarta; do you have any special message for other women in the industry?
A: I had never dreamt of this happening. I hope it helps show the many great women out there that they just need the opportunity and to believe in themselves.
Q: You’ve been with Hotel Dharmawangsa Jakarta for six years, originally as director of sales and marketing; what would you like to achieve as general manager here?
A: My dream is to make this Indonesia’s iconic luxury hotel of choice for both Indonesian and international travellers. We have all the facilities and we offer a genuine, high-quality Indonesian experience to our guests.
Q: What plans for change do you have for the hotel?
A: We celebrated our 20th anniversary at the end of 2017, so while retaining our character, we are upgrading our rooms and technology to be more into line with current demands.
Q: You enjoy travelling; what experiences have you brought back that you have incorporated into Hotel Dharmawangsa?
A: Both good and bad experiences help you to really understand what in your own hotel is satisfactory and what needs improving, from service to ensuring everyone can communicate clearly.
Q: What are your thoughts about the future of the hospitality industry?
A: Indonesia’s future is very bright. The current government is very keen to promote tourism and there are so many great places here to be developed; infrastructure is being improved, new airports opened and international promotions are taking place, so we’re definitely on the right track.
The Dharmawangsa Jakarta
Jalan Brawijaya No. 26, Kebayoran Baru,
Jakarta 12160, Indonesia
T: (+62) 217258181