Monthly Drill- February


Name: Bob Muhamad Buhari Yusof

Position: Residence Manager

Company: Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri

Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri was opened in February 2014 and features 204 units of luxury range of serviced apartments with hotel like services. Located at the very heart of Iskandar Puteri, Johor, the property is part of a development which also comprise of an integrated waterfront and marina, attracting a pool of significant investments.

Hailing from Karak, Pahang is Muhamad Buhari Yusof, the Residence Manager of Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri. Fondly known to his colleagues as Bob Yusof, he has over 20 years of working experience in the hospitality industry from notable brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sunway Hotels & Resorts and The Ascott Limited under his belt. At Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri, one of The Ascott Limited’s many properties; Bob ensures that his guests are provided beyond just a home away from home, but also with uncompromising service quality as well as efficiency.

Tell us more about Somerset Puteri Harbour and the available products
Somerset Puteri Harbour is under The Ascott Limited group which is a Singapore company that has grown to be one of the leading international serviced residence owner-operators and the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in the world. Pioneered as Asia Pacific’s first branded luxury serviced residence in 1984 and established as world’s first pan-Asian serviced residence REIT in 2006, Ascott Residence Trust, the company’s brands include Ascott, Citadines, Somerset, Quest, The Crest Collection and lyf. Its portfolio spans more than 120 cities across over 30 countries.

Ascott’s achievements have been recognised internationally and we have won several coveted awards. Somerset Serviced Residence helps you balance life’s elements.

As part of the luxurious waterfront development of Puteri Harbour, Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri is near quayside lifestyle stores, fine dining restaurants, alfresco cafés and a family indoor theme park featuring popular children’s characters. Furthermore, it is just 10 minutes away from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort.

Our Serviced Residence offer spacious apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom units that come fully-furnished with modern amenities. With facilities such as a gymnasium, swimming pool, restaurant and residents’ lounge available at the property, Somerset Puteri Harbour Iskandar Puteri provides the ideal home away from home for travellers and their families to live, work and play.

Our serviced residences are suitable for executives and their families looking for work-life balance at the same time being a stylish home with recreational facilities, lifestyle activities and business support services. In terms of leisure, we offer a children’s play area, children’s wading pool, a fully-equipped gymnasium for the fit buffs, a Residents’ programme, lounge with outdoor garden and a swimming pool.

Our reception is open 24hours to take care of your comfort and convenience and we even have a doctor on call. If you’re from out of town, we have airport transfer services including limousine and shuttle buses. Daily continental breakfast is served in our restaurant too. For the business travellers, we have a business centre with Wireless Internet Connectivity (WiFi) and we also offer secretarial as well as courier services.

Is it challenging to sell your products? Is the market demand ready?
Like any other accommodation product there’s always a challenge. As a serviced residence, we concentrate mainly on selling rooms and not running our own restaurant and meeting rooms. But the location of the properties and the facilities around us keeps us in demand.
There is a market and it is ready. The effort must be made on marketing the brand introducing the serviced residence accommodation category and creating awareness to the public. We are a serviced apartment with hotel like facilities for long and even short stays.

You speak fluent Japanese; how did that happen?
In the late 90s when I was a junior hotel receptionist, the main tourists and business travellers were from Japan. They had high expectations but had difficulties to communicate due to the language barrier. I then decided to learn the Japanese language by enrolling into a language school in Kuala Lumpur and studied for two and half year’s part time after work. It helped me so much in my career and I fell in love with the culture.

How important is it to address comments on TripAdvisor?
It’s the power and influence of the internet that we cannot afford to ignore or take lightly. The Internet has changed practically everything, especially the way we travel. With the emergence of social media and various consumer review sites, TripAdvisor has emerged as the leader in hotel industries. As a result, it’s vital that you not only pay attention to TripAdvisor’s reviews but actively manage your reputation too. Most of the travellers now are the Millennials and these new mobile internet generations are the source of information in the internet and are the users of TripAdvisor. We must not ignore their reviews because there will come a day where they will ignore you because travellers these days always refer to reviews before making decisions and your ranking carries weight for travellers and also employment.
The more stars ratings you have with better reviews and comments influence their decision. The way you manage your responses matter a lot as it’s a reflection on how you run your business and the company culture.

Do you see the rising trend of AirBnb as a threat to the market?
We don’t see it much of a threat. With regards to service, safety and security for both parties, let’s face it that people still wants to be attended to whenever they travel and stay.
Lately, there have been a lot of negative and shocking reviews from travellers on room conditions and the honesty of the owners. Also, the fact that rooms were being trashed by guests was reported by the owners.

In your opinion, what is lacking in Puteri Harbour to attract more footfalls?
Organise more events here as Puteri Harbour is being perceived as a holiday and events destination. The occupancy only shoots up during school holidays and the weekends. Therefore, the Iskandar community needs to organise more events to take advantage of the peak period and create more awareness of what is available in Puteri Harbour and what we have to offer.

What are your hobbies?
Most of all I enjoy cooking! I find it very therapeutic and it keeps me in the zone and that is where the grey matter starts flowing and ideas start coming in!