Moving Forward with Optimism According to Ivan Widarmana


Based in Jakarta, Ivan Widarmana was director of acquisitions and development for Starwood Hotels before it merged with Marriott International in 2016. He is now vice president of hotel development for Marriott International in Indonesia. Having been with the group for over 18 years, Ivan shared his insights with Indonesia Design on Marriott’s key strengths.

Ivan Widarmana

Can you tell us about the role in your current position?
I am responsible for the overall growth and development of Marriott’s brands in key markets across Indonesia. An integral part of my job is building and maintaining solid relationships with owners and hotel developers. Working hand-in-hand with owners and partners is foundational in Marriott International’s growth. I also work closely with Marriott’s global design and area operation teams to support owners during the pre-opening and opening stages to ensure that hotels open on time and align with Marriott’s brand standards.

What distinguishes Marriott from other hotel management companies?First is our differentiated portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 brands spanning 133 countries and territories. Marriott also operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. A Marriott owner will benefit from cost savings achieved through the company’s size, scale, and worldwide distribution platform, as well as innovative sales and marketing channels. Our Jakarta office is home to area and global sales teams that provide dedicated sales and operational support to our properties and owners across Indonesia and the development team that stays up to date with the local market and owner requirements. And we also have Bonvoy™, our loyal membership that also differentiates Marriott in the industry.

Please share about Marriott Bonvoy™ and its benefits?
Bonvoy™ is not only a loyalty program, but also a powerful travel program built on the belief that travel enriches its members and the world around them. It offers an extraordinary portfolio of all Marriott’s global brands, thus providing endless inspiration for members to keep traveling and pursuing their passions.

Bonvoy™ members are loyal guests and influencers for the company. When we recognise and reward our valued members, we foster lasting relationships that build loyalty to our hotels and resorts as well as our brands. This represents an immense opportunity for owners. Furthermore, Bonvoy™ also gives owners closer access to Marriott’s worldwide portfolio of hotels and resorts.

How do you decide, with the developer, which brand is the most suitable?
Our process begins with listening. This is important as we work closely with owners to understand and support their business objectives and investment strategies, whether they are building new or converting. Based on the owner’s requirements, we will then propose brands that are most suitable for that location and meet the owner’s objectives.

We have an unmatched variety of brands, ranging from our classic brands like Sheraton, Marriott, Courtyard and Fairfield, offering time-honoured hospitality for the modern travellers at every price point. For those who lean towards memorable experiences with a unique perspective, we offer our family of distinctive brands ranging from Westin, Aloft and Moxy, to name a few.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your marketing strategy?2020 was the toughest year the hospitality industry has ever seen, including in Indonesia. Despite the times of unprecedented challenges, we are pleased with the new project signings we achieved across the region during the year. We are very grateful to our owners and franchisees for their belief in the resilience of travel and the strength of Marriott’s portfolio of brands.

With our marketing strategy, and true to our core values, we had to embrace change and are committed to business innovation to evolve and adapt. This has kept us well-positioned to meet the travel demands of our guests across Indonesia. We have moved quickly to adapt to the challenges to stay resilient amidst the pandemic. We have launched innovative offerings such as “Work Anywhere” packages and hyper-localised offerings focused on driving domestic tourism, such as our recent “Joy of Travel” stay campaign.

At Marriott Indonesia, we work hand-in-hand with the government to encourage domestic tourism through various government-led initiatives. We are also exploring innovative ideas as part of our continued effort to engage with our guests through different partnerships and campaigns. Examples of this are our partnerships with Garuda Indonesia, Tokopedia, Grab, and others.

What would you advise hotel investors and developers in corresponding with operating business in times of a pandemic?
There is still uncertainty and we do not have a specific expectation for precisely when the business will return to the level before the pandemic hit the world. Given the depth and severity of the COVID-19 situation and questions around how quickly GDP growth will ramp back up, lodging demand and RevPAR (revenue per available room) levels could take some time to recover.

We continue to remain optimistic and committed to doing all we can to support our owners and ensure the future of hospitality remains bright. We are an industry that has stood the test of time, adapted and evolved with technology, and remains confident in travel resilience. In 2021, we will continue to expand our portfolio.

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Aulia R. Sungkar
Writing has always been his passion and endeavour since his college years in the 1990s at the University of Arizona. Flash forward, the Jakarta-based writer and entrepreneur has contributed hundreds of various writing pieces to esteemed publications and does copywriting projects for corporate clients from many industries.