By Aulia R. Sungkar.
Photograph: Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Originally published in Indonesia Design
The Dutch native Marco Groten has nearly 24 years of experience in the hospitality industry under his belt, including working overseas in Maldives, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. His education background includes holding a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Christelijke Hogeschool Nederland and other certificate programs from IMD Business School and Cornell University. Currently based in Bali, Marco has been instrumental in his leadership savvy to strengthen the operations of Hyatt brands in the archipelago since last year. Over a decade ago, he embarked on a stint at Alila at the beginning of 2009 as general manager at (then Alila Villas) Soori, and has since scaled up his career within Alila and now Hyatt. As the area vice president Indonesia at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Marco has the confidence, as he told Indonesia Design, that there is plenty of room for hoteliers to seize opportunities in the industry despite the pandemic.
Can you briefly tell us your current roles at Hyatt?
My work daily routine includes overseeing operations of the multiple Hyatt brands represented in Indonesia, such as Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz and Alila. Different brands offer facilities and experiences that cater to different types of travellers. Part of my job is to support general managers of the properties and their teams, where I also advise and direct them to decide on the execution of plans and strategies that fit each brand.
I am also here to support and listen to our hotel owners and be their first point of contact when they wish to discuss something with Hyatt’s corporate office. Being based in Indonesia, I am the eyes and ears on the ground for Hyatt’s development team in the Asia Pacific, when it comes to new hotel projects.
With our team members and human resources leaders and general managers in Indonesia, I continuously work on maintaining and enhancing their competencies and ensuring they have opportunities to grow their careers with us
Apart from my responsibilities as the area vice president, I’m also in charge as general manager at the Grand Hyatt Bali, the property where I am based now.
With 12 hotels in Indonesia, synergy plays a crucial role for all the hotels towards making more efficient operations whilst maximising the scale of economies. Even in times of unfavourable economic conditions, we still can set a precedent for materialising any opportunities that we can seize in the hotel business.
What are the advantages for developers of owning any Hyatt brands?
Hyatt has established its presence for over 60 years. With 19 brands and over a thousand hotels in the portfolio worldwide, Hyatt provides significant distribution and drives direct contribution. Our careful approach to growth means we can help and seize the right opportunities for owners. Our award-winning loyalty program, World of Hyatt, is grounded in consumer insights and built to reward direct bookings. Our global loyalty program targets high-end travellers, who stay more, spend more and book directly.
How do you determine which brand is suitable for hotel owners? Please elaborate.
First of all, we listen to the aspirations of the project developer, the story behind their project and what makes it unique for them. Then, we start to look at the surroundings, location, piece of land, budget, and unique selling point of the project. We may have to determine the target market and their needs, whether it is an upper-upscale, all-inclusive upscale, luxury, or even luxury-wellness property. As I previously said, different Hyatt brands feature different characters. For example, if a developer wants to focus on a vibrant luxury lifestyle hotel rooted in local culture, they should consider choosing Andaz with a typical range of 125 to 250 rooms. Alternatively, if they want to focus on luxury hotels that exceed every expectation where guests can enjoy highly personalised and engaged service, they can choose Park Hyatt. It is the newest addition to Hyatt brands in Indonesia.
Can you tell us more about Park Hyatt?
We are in the stage of putting the finishing touches in place to make sure we get every little detail right. Located in Kebon Sirih, Jakarta, the hotel will feature 220 stunning oversized rooms and suites. There will be an eclectic choice of F&B outlets, including the signature modern Japanese restaurant Kita.
How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Hyatt in Indonesia and what are your strategies and expectation?
The safety and wellbeing of our guests, customers and colleagues is our top priority. We have implemented preventive measures since the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Correspondingly, we apply the health protocols as our standard operating procedures. It’s not just a temporary matter. We have a hygiene manager for every single property to ensure compliance with the new standards, from social distancing to the way we clean our hotels.
In our effort to bring back meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) business, we recently launched “hybrid meetings,” where we set up a dedicated studio in one of our meeting rooms at Grand Hyatt Bali. With Hybrid meetings, we combine virtual events with the convenience of face-to-face meetings. For example, you could have a meeting at Grand Hyatt Bali with 50 participants whilst there could be 50 other participants in other cities, such as Hong Kong or Melbourne, and all the participants are connected online.
Based on your experience living in Indonesia for many years, what are the strengths of the country and its people to overcome this pandemic?
Perseverance, creativity and agility are what best describe Indonesia and its people. The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, but it also brings out a level of strength and creativity that no one might have expected before. The situation has pushed people to get out of their comfort zone, find solutions to unforeseen obstacles, adjust and make the most out of any possibilities that can turn into opportunities.