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Courtesy of Grand Sahid JayaJeremy Cooper finds that his childhood experience in a family-owned business has served as an effective training ground and foundation for managing businesses, which has helped him achieve top positions in several international hotels.
Cooper, who previously worked at the Nusa Dua Beach in Bali and LJ Discovery Hotel – now called the Maritus Hotel – in Surabaya, is currently general manager at the Grand Sahid Jaya. Prior to his experience in Indonesian hotels, he spent several years in Bangkok, where he worked at two different hotels.
For the 44-year-old Briton, his childhood experience is worth remembering as it had a significant impact on his later career in the hospitality industry.
At five, the young Cooper began to work in his father’s butcher’s business, with his main task being to sweep the floor and maintain cleanliness. He got his first official job when he was 10 years old.
“Early in the morning, I delivered milk to houses in the village, went to school until the afternoon and then helped in my father’s shop after school. So, I spent around 16 hours per day working,” he said.
“I learned how to work hard at an early age. That was also a good learning curve. As we know, working in the hospitality industry sometimes demands long hours,” said Cooper, an ex-chef who once won first place in a food competition representing the UK.
One essential point that he learned from the childhood years was that in order to be a success at work, a person should love their job and have a passion for it.
With hospitality in his blood, thanks partly to his growing up in the family business, he understands how to deal with the three main components in the hotel industry: customers or guests, the hotel owners and the workforce.
According to Cooper, one of the major concerns when it comes to the hospitality industry is how to encourage guests to keep coming back; therefore, guest satisfaction is of great importance.
“When you buy a house, you buy it for life; you don’t think of buying another one, so it is only one transaction. However, the hospitality business is different. We have to think that the first business is basically an introduction between us and our customers. In my opinion, we need to earn trust from our guests and give them something that will make them want to come back. A lot of people in the hotel industry call it the ‘wow factor’,” he said.
“For me, a wow factor is to give guests something that they don’t expect but it makes them happy,” he said.
“If someone comes down to the bar and they’re alone, a member of our staff will approach him and greet him, ‘How are you Mr... How is everything?’ We serve him a cup of coffee and give him good service. It is enough for the guest to have some company or to have a conversation with someone. That’s why people come back - because they like to find a home away from home,” he said.
Despite the Internet being a necessity for today’s business travelers, “you’ll never be able to replace the important role of hospitality and the personal touch,” he said.
“What business people look for is friendly charm and that’s why my philosophy is to combine the fundamental principles of hospitality together with friendly, personalized charm.
“People come back because they already know my staff and my staff know them. ‘Welcome back Mr Cooper, it’s wonderful to have you back. We missed you,’ and already we feel warm and we feel welcome,” he said.
Cooper realized that the Grand Sahid Jaya, which was formerly called the Hotel Sahid Jaya, was an old or mature hotel. The hotel, which is currently being renovated, has a mixture of young and older staff.
“Some hoteliers said that they (the older members of staff) were not productive anymore. I think it depends on how you look at it. Sometimes, these people are friends to the hotel; they know the customers and sometimes the customers come back thanks to these people. For me, the essential thing is to find the right balance; of having some staff that are more mature and some who are more dynamic. That’s about building up a team, the right kind of team,” he said.
He said he was always around the hotel early in the morning.
“You’ll see me opening car doors because I enjoy meeting my guests. I like to sit with my staff and listen to them and get close to my guests. You’ll see me in a restaurant, in a bar, or standing behind reception. In the hospitality industry, that’s where we should be most of the time,” he said.
According to Cooper, his approach to management is fun so that people can share their ideas without hesitation. “For me, discipline is important because with discipline comes consistency and standards. That’s the basic fundamental in a hotel. That’s one of the difficult things to achieve, of course, but I like to enforce it in a fun way,” he said.
Despite his long working hours, Cooper provides special time for his family as he loves his two kids and wants to see them growing up. On occasion, he goes traveling with his wife and children. However, he makes a point of not naming his favorite destination.
“My favorite holiday destination is a place I have not visited yet. I want to see new places and experience a place with its own unique culture. I like culture because it makes me realize that I am part of the world,” he said.
Name: Jeremy M. Cooper
Date of birth: February 24, 1968
Status: Married with 2 children
• Cornel University – Hotel Revenue Management
• Cornel University – Strategic Pricing for Hotels: Revenue enhancement through pricing
• Cornel University – Restaurant administration
• Singapore Hotel Association, Dusit Thani College – Food and Beverage Promotions, Food and Beverage Management Workshop
• City and Guilds of London Institute 706-1 – Pass, Distinction
• City and Guilds of London Institute 706-2 – Pass, Credit, Distinction
Jan 2012 - present: General Manager of Grand Sahid Jaya
June 2010 - Dec 2011: General Manager of LJ Discovery Hotel Surabaya
Jan 2010 - May 2010: Part time lecturer in Hospitality Management at The University of Huddersfield
June 2007 - June 2009: Resident Manager of The Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa – Bali, Indonesia.
April 2004 – May 2007: Director of Food & Beverage, The Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa – Bali, Indonesia.
April 2001 – March 2004: Executive Chef of The Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa – Bali, Indonesia.
Dec 1998 - April 2001: Executive Chef Rayavadee Resort Hotel – Krabi, Thailand.
Oct 1997 – Nov 1998: Executive Chef of The Dusit Thani Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand
1995 – 1997: Executive Sous Chef of The Dusit Thani Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand
1993 – 1995: Sous Chef of The Dusit Thani Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand
Dec 1991 - Oct 1993: Chef Saucier of, Le Souffle Intercontinental Hotel – London, England.
Oct 1987 - December 1991: Chef De Partie of Claridges Hotel – London, England
July 1984 – Oct 1987: Chef De Partie of The Pennine Hilton – Huddersfield, England