The Genial Manager
An award-winning hospitality professional, Nicolas Mercier truly believes in creating human connections. A French native who travelled the world to gain more experience, this self-proclaimed bon vivant is now taking charge as Hotel Manager at InterContinental Jakarta Pondok Indah.
Q: Can you tell us how you got into hospitality?
A: My earliest memory with this industry started when I was really young. Back home in France, my parents used to host family reunions at home, and I always liked to serve the food to my family, and even when my mum was cooking the terrine and pâté with my grandfather, I always wanted to be involved. I love it because I get to create emotion by serving while the family is enjoying the food. When I got older, I studied law for a year and travelled to the United Kingdom to improve my English. After being there for a year, I decided to enrol at Vatel International Business School in Nîmes, France, where I learned a lot about the industry. I started doing internships in various places, including the Radisson Hotel on the French Riviera. Then, I moved to Australia, Vietnam, Japan, and Turkey, and spent about 10 years working in Singapore before Indonesia.
Q: What was your first job after you graduated?
A: I was a busboy at a restaurant. I strongly believe that having experience is the most important thing. So, if I want to reach the top of the ladder, I have to start from the bottom.
Q: Your job has taken you all over the world, but is there a place that taught you the most about what you’re doing right now?
A: This is kind of hard to answer because every place teaches you new things. Everything has its own pluses and minuses, for example in Singapore I was a management trainee for the banquet department, and I had the shock of my life. Back in Switzerland, the largest events we held were for 150 people, while in Singapore, I was told that weddings were for a thousand people. So, that became a new challenge for me, and gave me the chance to learn how to handle things perfectly. Being in the service industry is all about giving back to people, interacting with new people and learning how we can satisfy their requests.
Q: You’re now the hotel manager for InterContinental Jakarta Pondok Indah. Can you describe your job in less than 10 words?
A: To enhance the employees’ lives, and to have an impact on the guests’ experience.
Q: What do you find the most satisfying about this job?
A: It’s very simple, to see the guests smile. To be able to create new memories for them that will last a long time.
Q: For those who haven’t been to your hotel, what kind of experience do you expect them to have when they visit?
A: Well, we’re hoping that they can feel the emotional connections that we provide from the moment they step inside. As hotel manager, I would like everyone to have a lasting memory, whether they are returning or new guests. I want our team to create these emotional connections in a luxury setting.
Q: You have been in this industry for quite some time now, what are the changes you have seen since you started?
A: We are in a very fast-paced environment if I compare it to when I first started. Right now, everything is more digital, including self-check-in and ordering anything you want just by a touch of the screen, which is lessening human interaction. Being digital is not a bad thing but there should be a balance between working in a fast-paced environment and giving guests an authentic luxury experience whenever they come into a property like this.
Q: This is your first time working in Indonesia, what surprises you the most about Jakarta?
A: The level of service that you have. I have been blessed enough to have worked in some of the best places in the world, including Switzerland and Singapore, but nothing beats the genuineness of the Indonesian people. I won’t lie, before moving to Jakarta I was not expecting to see this kind of service and hospitality.
Q: Do you have any memorable working experiences that you can share with our readers?
A: Being able to work together with Michelin-starred chefs such as Julien Royer in Singapore, and having to deal with much bigger events than when I was working in Europe.
Q: Lastly, what advice do you have for people who want to work in this industry?
A: Be passionate. And don’t be afraid of this industry because we know there are a lot of people who will tell you that it is very tough. Yes, it is tough, but it is also the only industry where you can get a thousand thank yous in one day. And remember to always dream big!
InterContinental Jakarta Pondok Indah