Name: Jarod Chia Lik Ming
Position: Chairman of MyBHA National Foreign Trade Affairs Bureau & Johor Chapter
Organisation: Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA)
Born in Johor Bahru, Jarod Chia climbed up the ladder through hard work and determination. Jarod graduated from University of London with 2nd class honours degree in Bachelor of Science, Economics and Management Studies. He has a great passion in web and graphic design, and worked as a web designer in a legal firm while he was at the University. He also acquired a certificate in AutoCAD design.
With a background of management and economic studies, Jarod has implemented his knowledge in the hotel industry for the past 11 years focusing on budget hotels.
As the Chairman of the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (Johor Chapter), Jarod is actively involved in formulating strategies and initiatives to keep the industry competitive while promoting best practices and maintaining quality standards.
Tell us more about Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA)
MyBHA was established in 2001, under the initiative of former Minister of Tourism and Culture Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to address the issue of many budget hotels of not having licenses and not registered under the Ministry, deterring them from keeping track of the budget hotels operating nationwide. The main objectives of MyBHA at that time was to find out why the said hotels were unable to obtain their operating licenses and come up with ways for the ministry to help these hotels obtain the required licenses. MyBHA is the umbrella body for all budget hotels (3 stars and below) in Malaysia. Currently, MyBHA’s 2185 hotel members are made up of hotel entities which are represented by proprietors of hotels or appointed representatives throughout the nation. In Johor, MyBHA Johor Chapter has a total of 256 hotel members from different districts, which includes Johor Bahru (170), Kulai (20), Kota Tinggi (15), Pontian (4), Kluang (10), Mersing (7), Batu Pahat (7), Segamat (8), Muar (14), Tangkak (1).
What are some of the initiatives done by MyBHA for its members as well as the industry?
MyBHA’s mission is to be the collective voice of all small and medium hotels in Malaysia which includes Business, Boutique and Budget (3Bs) hotels and promote the interest of members with the common objective of advancing sustainable growth. We aim to foster goodwill and co-operation among the budget hotels in Malaysia and promote good business ethics and service standards among members.
MyBHA has continuously fought for the best interest of its members, which includes the issue of Tourism Tax (TTx) collections, Music Right Malaysia (MRM) subscription charges, illegal homestay & Airbnb, incentives for hotel operators in Budget 2020 for Visit Malaysia 2020, online accommodation platform regulations, fire detection system (SPKA), incremental in SST Threshold Value, and incentives from the government to hotel operators during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In the accommodation provider industry, how do budget hotels remain competitive?
Budget hoteliers must continuously work hard to change how budget hotels are perceived since most of the hotels doesn’t even look like a typical “cheap” hotel. To remain competitive in the market, more budget hotels were built or renovated with better interior design, good quality personalised services, quick check-in and out, super affordable room rates and comprehensive amenities such as free Wi-Fi, smart TV, coffee and mineral water.
How did MyBHA deal with the economic blow to the tourism industry during COVID-19?
During the MCO period, MyBHA Johor had successfully organised 2 online conferences on ‘How to Survive in 90-days?’ by professionals such as tax specialists, bank consultant, lawyers and entrepreneurs. MyBHA Johor had also participated in the Tourism Recovery Action Committee (TRAC) organised by the Johor state government and had a personal dialogue session with Datuk Onn Hafiz, the chairman of Johor Tourism, Youth and Sports Committee, in reflecting the current challenges faced by the hoteliers such as the low occupancy and zero income issue. MyBHA Johor was actively involved in planning the promotion campaign to promote Johor as a whole which includes the ‘Jom Jalan Johor RM63 Super Deal’ and RM48 Day Tour Packages.
How can the budget hotel industry in particular assist in rejuvenating the current state of the local economy?
Budget hotels must actively play a supportive role to support any campaigns initiated by local travel agencies and government tourism promotion board which is to provide the best services and rate to attract more tourists to stay. During this pandemic, MyBHA had assisted members in preparing Standard Working Guidelines and urged all hoteliers to take full caution in ensuring high hygienic environment to be provided for all guests and staffs.
In your own words, what lesson can we take back from the COVID-19 experience?
We should reassess our digital strategy and marketing tools. Revamp as needed. Leverage light marketing initiatives focused on driving brand awareness and advanced bookings. Adjust audience and keywords to hone in on audiences that are still likely to be planning to travel and reduce Online Travel Agency (OTA) dependency. We should develop our own website with clear communication to address existing reservations and cancellation policy. If possible, we have to ensure that our website has 24-hour online chat and messaging functions. Consider advanced purchase offers with special offers, flexible check-in/out policy, full refund cancelation policy, COVID-19 precaution action plan, value-added packages and etc. Price wars strategy is not encouraged and we need to strengthen brand relationship. While people are not traveling and many hotels are closed, hotels should stay connected with past and future guests through social media, email, and editorial content that entertains and adds value. Update local listings such as Google & TripAdvisor to ensure that they reflect current latest business hours/closings, product photos, address and website links.
On a personal note, how and why did you choose to venture into the hospitality industry?
I am an active and outgoing person. I like to meet new friends from different nationalities, race and culture. Every day is a new start for me, so I keep a high passionate level to work under the tourism industry. Malaysian tourism is the 3rd largest foreign income earner, contributing up to 94.5 billion, after manufacturing and palm oil industry. Tourism accounts for over 7% of the country’s economy. Although the current situation may not be feasible for us, however, I believe the industry will fully recover after COVID-19.
What does Jarod Chia do in his free time?
I like spending time with my wife Anna, and 2 precious kids, Lucas and Enzo age 5 and 2. I take them out on drives to the playground or to my parents’ home for family time. With little extra time at night, I like reading articles related to the hotel and hospitality services including viewing interior design images shared online, to ensure that we’re not outdated.