Compusiciannews.com -Advertorial- Alasdair Davidson was born in Scotland, in 1975. Although, born in Scotland, he grew up in Australia. He graduated from Junior High School in Australia. When he was 16 years old, he started his career in hospitality industry by taking job as a kitchen hand at Pizza Hut. At 17 years old, he moved to The Intercontinental Hotels Group and worked as a busboy, polishing the cutlery, cutting butters, setting up the waiter stations. He was never allowed to speak to customers
Whilst working, he enrolled at Regency Institute to undertake a Diploma in Business Management (Hospitality). After completing several years of study and working full time, Alasdair returned once again to Regency Institute to undertake a 4 year apprenticeship in commercial cookery. Because of his passion and fascination in culinary arts, Alasdair pursued his career as a chef both in Australia and abroad for 10 years. With his strong background in the Food & Beverage industry, Alasdair has tirelessly worked his way up the career development ladder and has held senior executive positions in several Alila properties: Alila Maldives, Alila Diwa Goa and Alila Ubud as General Manager. After undertaking a General Manager role in Japan in 2016, he now finds himself back with Alila and at the helm of the beautiful property that is Alila Solo. To date, his career in hospitality industry spans 5 continents and 26 years.
When asked “why the hospitality industry”, it because he loves it. For Alasdair, working in hospitality industry is a dynamic work place. This career is so different from the typical office job. In the hospitality industry he has countless opportunities to meet many different people on a daily basis, each one with their own story and needs. Through frequently interacting with people, he has learnt a lot to further develop the business and to create memorable experiences for the guests. “Every day is a unique experience, yesterday was different from today, and today will be different from tomorrow” said Alasdair.
As a general manager, Davidson has a large responsibility to ensure the development of the hotel, mentoring both the management and team, making sure that everyone gets the support needed to develop themselves, their teams and importantly, the future business As he also oversees the Marketing strategies of the hotel, Davidson encourages and strategizes with the team to be creative and innovative in every detail, ensuring Alila Solo remains Solo’s and Central Java’s benchmark property in the industry.
Collaborative mentoring is the management style that Davidson attains to. He prefers to listen to the staff’s opinions, instead of purely directing and alongside with his team he will find a concepts, strategies and procedures which benefits the hotel and its guests. He also frequently shares relevant current articles and ideas that he finds in the media to his staff to inspire them to be innovative and always attuned to the needs of a constantly changing market.
He loves all aspects of hotel management but his passion lies in Food and Beverage as he began his career as a chef. He enjoys visiting the restaurants, kitchens and bars in Alila Solo, asking the team questions, tasting dishes, drinks and devising new experiences for the guests to enjoy. For him, work is not just about profitability, it is also about the immersive experience and the connection that Food & Beverage creates with others.
To ensure the hotel remains current in regards to digital trends, they use a number of online tools and guest analysis software. Guest review software is based around algorythms that that collects all of available reviews about Alila Solo from a number of sources such as Online Travel Agents, TripAdvisor, They also use another software that informs the team how much the average guest spends within hotels around the region. “At the end of the day, the best decision is an informed decision” says Davidson, Alila as a Hotel Management Company is very tech savvy and using these software correctly makes sure we are on top of the guest experience as well as the financial performance of the property.
Alila Hotels & Resorts is a brand which is “Surprisingly Different” from others. They aim to provide unique experience for its guests, to make an emotional connection between the property, its team and the location of the hotel or resort. As an example, the culinary team promotes the wellbeing of the guests by using organic produce rather than processed items, in some instances, the ingredients are harvested directly from their own “Sky Gardens” within the hotel. Following the connection between location and property, and also the design of the hotel. Since batik is the symbol of Solo, Batik elements are interpreted in the hotel’s contemporary design.
When we asked which event is the most profitable in this hotel, Alasdair commented that profitability can be measured in different ways; financial, guest capture, social or alternate media exposure, return ratio to investment. It very much depends on what we are aiming to achieve with an event. Is the aim to make as much revenue as possible in one time, or are we looking at generating long term profitability through increased media exposure, guest capture and repeat clientele. In the long run, the more we can increase the latter 3 will go a long way to making sure the continued financial profitability remains strong.
In regards to customer service, Alila Solo prides itself on offering the highest standards. Even as the city’s leading hotel, Alila Solo still receives unsatisfied guests every now and then. “Imagine yourself in the guests situation, then you can understand how they are feeling, be understanding, always smiling, remain professional and attentive.” added Davidson when we talked about handling guest complaints.
Wondering about what it really takes to be a successful General Manager? Here’s some of the areas that Alasdair highlighted as essential skills in order to be a competent hotel manager.
First is to have appreciation for the human spirit, to be able to celebrate everybody, whether it is a team member or a guest as an individual.
Second, to be non-biased and this can be challenging because many people have judgement ingrained into them from the constant bombardment of social media nowadays. It’s important to approach everybody as though they have something to teach you.
Third it is very important to understand the figures. The numbers never lie and form such an integral part of the day to day, from reading sales reports, analysing sales statistic, preparing a P&L for an event. All the numbers have to add up correctly.
Fourth have a good global understanding on food and beverage operations because it is one of the key touchpoints of a hotel. Guests will dine every day for breakfast and more often that not, enjoy a drink after work. If you can’t get the basics right, they wont return. An unhappy guest and hungry stomach does not make a good start for the morning!
Fifth, a good general manager should pay attention to effectively marketing their hotel, keeping abreast with the latest trends, knowing current / future market demand and how to leverage the hotel to maximise occupancy as well as outside guest capture.
Last but not least is to have good knowledge of human resources and how to manage people. Everyone is motivated differently, you need to be able to identify what influences people and work with a strategy in mind from the outset.
A general manager has a lot orchestrate and Alasdair finds this constantly exciting. “I never stop learning as everyday is never the same.” He added that to be a general manager, it is important to encourage the team to harness their skills and work together in order for the hotel to succeed.
With so many duties on his shoulders, he is still happy. His motto is to learn everyday and laugh often. “As a General Manager, there is a lot of seriousness and stress in managing a property of this size and calibre, it is always good to take step back and to smile about where you are and what you have achieved, taught and learnt so far. The day you stop learning, that’s the day you stop being creative and lose inspiration, so don’t forget to live, laugh and learn,” said Davidson.
Talking about music, how does music play its role in Alila Solo?
Alasdair shared that music is an important element for the hotel. There is always background music in the Lobby, Épice Restaurant, AGRA rooftop bar, Spa Alila, Gym Alila and even from the outdoor speakers surrounding the pool on the 6th floor. The playlists are not one particular genre but vary based on the time of day and if there are certain themes in one or more of the outlets. We have the ability to control the genres and to have this flexibility means we can create an almost subliminal touch point with our guests.
So how about his relationship with music?
He really loves music. For him, there is rarely a day that he does not have music playing somewhere, sometime. In early morning, in the office, in the gym after work, he loves to listen to music. He has almost two hundred GB of music collected over the years. He used to play piano when he was a child and dabbled with drums with a short but unsuccessful stint with a trombone during high school. He also volunteered for a community radio station when he was young, I fell in love with music at a very young age, there was always music played in our house.
“At the end of day, a Hotel General Manager is a normal person. I love music just as much as anyone else! To have an emotional connection to music helps motivate you for the day ahead and then relax you at the end of another stressful day” said Davidson as he wrapped up the interview.
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Tika Nur Aisyidah
Yesaya Whisnu Wardhana