Monthly Drill- August

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Name: Dean Rossilli

Position: General Manager

Company: Amari Johor Bahru

A senior executive with over 24 years of industry experience across 8 countries with 12 of those years are in managing hotels as a Regional and General Manager which has included refurbishments, pre-opening, re-branding, multi-unit operations and owner relations. Proficient in sourcing an experienced management team, developing key business strategies and product development, with a strong focus on Customer Satisfaction, Associate Development, Sales and Marketing and Business Relationships, Dean is focused on achieving results though a comprehensive understanding of the market, working closely with the senior team to identify effective strategies to drive the business, positive engagement with owners, investing in the development and career progression of his managers and associates through training programmes, workshops and appreciation events.

How does it feel to manage Johor Bahru’s hottest hotel in the city centre?
It was definitely a great opportunity. When I was offered the opportunity to join ONYX Hospitality as an Area General Manager with direct responsibility for the 5 Star Amari Johor Bahru in March this year, I did not hesitate to accept the position as I knew this role would be exciting yet challenging. The growth of our brands within Malaysia over the coming 3 years is significant which was a key factor for accepting this role.
Since the opening in May 2017, Amari Johor Bahru has been standing tall amongst the rest of the hotels in Johor due to the brand name which is well known for world class standards and warm Asian hospitality that is complimented by the company’s Thai heritage. But we must not rest on our laurels, as it is vital that we remain focused and maintain the level of service that is effectively the best not only in Johor but within Malaysia. So far, it has been a journey of exciting challenges in the last 5 months.

How has Amari been performing to date?
We have been performing extremely well. Initially, people did not know about our brand except for those who have travelled to other Amari properties in Thailand. It took a well designed and executed marketing campaign to launch the Amari name out into the market locally. With the support of our owners, UMLand Sdn Bhd and being managed by ONYX Hospitality Group, we worked together to face the current healthy competition and position Amari Johor Bahru as a prevailing hospitality player in Johor. To date, our occupancy is experiencing positive growth and we have been receiving positive feedbacks from our guests, patrons, partners and our stakeholders. With the unique positioning of the hotel especially its location between the rich heritage district, the CIQ and the bustling shopping malls in the city, we are confident of a strong performance in the coming years and for the rest of 2018.

Moreover, recently, we appointed an experienced Cluster Executive Chef from an international hotel brand in Singapore and our award-winning Thai Chef joined us last year in December. Our Thai food has been the talk of the town as our guests and customers keep coming back for our Thai specialities. This is also a significant plus point for us as we are not just focused on offering beautiful accommondation but excellence in food, beverage and services.

How would you describe the travel and tourism market in Johor Bahru?
One cannot deny that the travel and tourism industry in Johor Bahru is rapidly expanding. It is clearly evident that a steady stream of major local and foreign investments have been a focal point in this southern part of Malaysia. With Iskandar Malaysia’s emerging develpoments and with the events organised by the Tourism bodies in relation to strengthening the travel and tourism market in Johor Bahru, the city is developing into an international tourist destination with all the advantages and facilities it has to offer. The modern infrastructure and transportation has been a key part in developing the tourist market. In addition, with more international hotels joining the landscape over the next five years, this will further broaden the exposure of Johor within the region and lead to a healthy competition.

Last year and now in 2018, we have seen an influx of tourists from Singapore and other Asian countires due to the increased accessibility of direct flights from Senai International Airport. With the development of international theme and water parks, major entertainment attractions which are culturally based, it will definitely enhance Johor as one of the top tourist spots in Malaysia. With this in mind, we must all work together with various tourist sectors, government bodies, travel agents and the Malaysian Hotels Association Johor chapter in providing a first class service culture and take innovative opportunities that are untapped to position Johor Bahru as a top player in the hospitality industry.

Is getting talent and retaining them a challenge?
This is truly the key challenge in the long term development of our industry here in Johor. As we all know, the attraction of Singapore and the currency exchange has always been a key source for the limited people resources within our market. It is also alarming to see the frequent movement of staff jumping from one hotel to another because of slightly higher pay. Identifying talented and passionate people who have career aspirations is key to the growth of our businesses.

I believe that with effective training programmes combined with good staff benefits and guiding them to a rewarding career development, then we may be able to retain our staff over the long term. Sometimes, it may not be the dollars and cents, but if they are happy working for the company, they will stay on despite being offered somewhere else. We must take care of our staff in order for them to take care of our guests, hence, it is an absolute neccesity to train our staff and pave the way for them to become future leaders i.e. managers and heads of department. With the upcoming openings of the OZO Medini and Shama Medini, we shall be able to provide our staff cross training & exposure and career development within these 2 properties. Furthermore, we have properties opening in Penang and Kuala Lumpur in 2020. They other key area for staff development is providing our “high flyers” cross exposure to other Amari properties in Thailand for international experience.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
We succeed through the great efforts of our team. Compliments and praises are for the entire Amari family and we have received numerous compliments especially on TripAdvisor and through our feedback forms on our website with regards to how many of our staff have gone the extra mile to take care of our guests through the service they have rendered. Since I have been here, I have met many of our repeated guests and customers and they always like to talk about our food, ideal location and most of all, warm and friendly staff.

Which platform gets you more customers?
Online travel agents like booking.com, agoda.com, traveloka, hotelbeds, Ctrip, etc is an important platform to increase our customers. If the price offer is right and competitive to other 5-star hotels within our area, we are able to retain a sustainable amount of bookings through OTA’s. Our hotel website is another important source for online room bookings. It is extremely important to have a user-friendly website with clear and revelant details incorporating great offers and packages for customers to make their bookings.

With more hotels mushrooming in JB, how do you stay ahead of the game?
By not compromising in our service standards and facilities. It is crucial that we constantly focus on the development of our people and upgrading of our facilities to keep ahead in this fast moving industry. It’s essential to stay relevant through understanding what the market requires and its demands, changing trends of the guests and continuously ensuring that the latest technology is always available. Amari Johor Bahru is our first property in Malaysia and it is paving the way for other Amari hotels that will open in Malaysia by 2020.