The Magical Journey of an Interior Designer in the Hospitality World

img Nadia bukitvista | November 18, 2021

Although she was an interior designer for over 5 years, Afifah Dwi Sucianti, one of Bukit Vista’s partners in Yogyakarta never worked a day in hospitality. Now, she’s standing in front of her new property and her first guests from Jakarta are about to arrive.  Afifah was feeling a moment of intense stage-fright as she wondered how her guests would see all the work that she’d been doing for the past month.

Dealing with Guests: A Not So Easy First-Hand Experience

For the first time she opened Dalem Pinarak for lodging in 2018, she didn’t have the understanding and ability, even an overview of hospitality and property management. She understands how to design the interior of her property to meet the aesthetic value of the physical property, as she did in several projects at the ADS Interior studio (an interior design studio led and managed by Afifah). However, Afifah of course realizes that when her property is opened for accommodation, interior design is not enough and is not the main thing to make the property a safe, comfortable, and satisfying accommodation for her guests.

She shared that there were various problems and shortcomings that she faced when serving her first guest at Dalem Pinarak. Mostly because standard facilities in Pinarak are inadequate, such as sometimes the electricity goes out and WiFi hasn’t been installed.

She is also quite overwhelmed and confused about handling guest bookings and listing her property on several online travel agents (OTA).

It’s very complicated, especially if I use more than two OTAs. Before partnering with Bukit Vista, I used 3 OTAs, and I got dizzy every time there was a double booking. But, after partnering with Bukit Vista, it got better, I don’t have to bother with online bookings and listings anymore, it makes it easier for me, so I just need to focus on preparing the property and serving guests at the property well.

Afifah, owner of Dalem Pinarak, Yogyakarta

Bukit Vista’s Innovative Way to Lessen the Partners’ Burden

Afifah started her partnership with Bukit Vista in 2018. For her, Bukit Vista really helps her to handle the property and serve her guests, such as handling her guests’ requests. She also received several recommendations and training from Bukit Vista, such as implementing a self-check-in system through a lockbox placed outside the property. Self-check-in is one of Bukit Vista’s innovations and missions to encourage guests to check in independently, and indirectly help and reduce the burden on partners whose homes are far from their property.

I think the lockbox as a form of an independent check-in and check-out system for guests is very helpful for me. So I don’t have to wait for guests at the property for 24 hours to check-in and check-out. Even so, my family and I still welcome guests at check-in, because Pinarak has a welcoming concept.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

“I’ve Barely Gotten the Experience, But This is What I Did: I Dared Myself to Learn from Zero”

Even though Afifah had never had any experience in hospitality and inn property management before, she didn’t allow herself to stand by or even believe that she would understand once she served a few guests, but instead she encouraged herself to prepare herself and her property by learning things related to hospitality and property management on a self-taught but open to guidance from Bukit Vista.

I learned everything on my own, starting from the smallest things such as how to choose the right bed linen for guest beds, providing standard facilities for guest needs(such as shampoo and soap), to property maintenance systems such as cleanliness standards for accommodation, and how to service my guests, the right way to communicate with guests.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

Afifah is one who believes in “details matter”, which is a core value held here in the Bukit Vista community. In hospitality, we see that guests often will remember the small things as meaningful experiences during their journey at your property. Things done with love & care are often the most inspirational & delightful moments in the guest’s stay. 

Afifah is also very invested in her own transformation. She’s ready to learn about all kinds of new subjects because she wants to delight her guests. Afifah has learned about subjects such as housekeeping, how to arrange rooms that are reserved for lodging, foods and beverages, how to welcome and serve guests while on property.

Sinom Coffee: Transforming Partners Through Business Promotion

After Dalem Pinarak operated for two years, she built a cafe from Dalem Pinarak’s income, and she is still hungry to learn new things, such as learning how to manage her cafe called “Sinom Coffee & Space“. This cafe has been running for a year and is not only open for guests, but also for the public. Most of the customers who come are young people, both those who are still in college and those who are already working.

Sinom is a term in Javanese, it means young people. Because the forerunner to the idea of establishing this cafe came from young people (Afifah and her brother) and for young people who need co-working space to be productive.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

In addition to increasing income, Afifah said that Sinom Coffee has become a promotional tool for Dalem Pinarak, where Sinom Coffee’s customers have recommended Dalem Pinarak several times to their friends and family.

So there was once a student (a customer of Sinom Coffee) who was about to graduate in Yogyakarta, then he invited his family to stay at Dalem Pinarak. It happened a few times here.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

In Dalem Pinarak, Guests Are Family

Afifah and her guests at Dalem Pinarak

The typical family-friendly hospitality applied by Afifah, both to Dalem Pinarak guests and Sinom Coffee customers, has succeeded in making them come again and stay again.

Of the several guests who have stayed at Dalem Pinarak, some have become close friends and made us have a friendly relationship. They often return to stay at Dalem Pinarak every time they go to Jogja. This is our property’s concept, we want every guest who comes to Pinarak to feel has a family and is at home during their stay here.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

A family approach to guests like Afifah’s is highly recommended to property partners who want to be good hosts.

Fail Fast, Learn Fast: The Ups and Downs of Afifah’s Learning Process in the Hospitality Sector

However, when she was asked why she was so eager to learn and hone her understanding and skills in the field of hospitality, she simply stated that she enjoys learning new things and adding new skills.

Learning hospitality and property management ‘completes’ me, so I not only have skills in interior design, but also have knowledge and ability in hospitality and property management.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

Afifah also added that learning and training skills in hospitality and property management are important things for property partners because it will affect the guest experience during their stay and shape guest perceptions of the property through reviews left by guests on the internet, both on Airbnb and Google My Business.

I’m also want to have experience in serving my guests, so that the reviews for my property can be good. And for me, property quality is not only about how good the architecture and interior design is, but also about how clean and well-maintained our property is so that they can live comfortably and also about how they are welcomed and served as family.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

Afifah’s learning process in the field of hospitality was certainly not easy for her, she often had ups and downs in responding to and handling problems and complaints given by several guests who had stayed at Dalem Pinarak.

Of course, the ups and downs experience is felt by every property partner while taking care of the property and its guests. Especially Afifah, when guest bookings and income are stable, Afifah improves the quality of the property, such as upgrading the facilities on the property and even being able to set up a coffee cafe. This cafe is also one of the innovations that helped Dalem Pinarak survive during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the crowds of guests also sometimes make Afifah and her family tired and overwhelmed to clean and prepare the property. The thing he did to lighten his load at that time was to hire part-timers on his property. In addition, the downs experience he most often faces is guest complaints, a crucial problem experienced by all property partners. For Afifah, every time a guest complains is a good opportunity for her to learn.

We must try to quickly respond to and deal with guest complaints. Because a fast response is a positive value from us for them. They are comfortable if their complaints are responded to quickly and immediately resolved.

AFIFAH, OWNER OF DALEM PINARAK, YOGYAKARTA

In the end, Afifah’s experiences shaped her understanding and expertise in hospitality, and in the process, transformed this interior designer into a new hospitality entrepreneur working alongside our company.

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