Breaking Travel News interview: Jean-Sebastian Kling, general manager, Conrad Bali

Breaking Travel News interview: Jean-Sebastian Kling, general manager, Conrad Bali

On the back of completing its guestroom renovation, The Conrad Bali is about to roll out a brand new app to help guests stay fully connected with the hotel.

Breaking Travel News sits down with Jean-Sebastian Kling, newly appointed general manager of the luxurious property, to discuss his plans and priorities over the next few months.

Breaking Travel News: How are you finding your new role as general manager at the Conrad Bali?

Jean-Sebastian Kling: Very exciting! The hotel is full of opportunities and as a matter of fact there are already many projects which have been initiated to further elevate the product and offering to even higher levels. These projects will help us to increase the competitiveness of the hotel, but also create a sense of uniqueness for what we have to offer to our guests.

As a passionate hotelier, meeting new customers and providers everyday is another thrilling part of my job. Meeting people from all over the world, with different cultures, personal history and occupations.

BTN: What have been your main priorities in the new role?

JSK: It is clearly about commercial drive, expending the scope of services and features of the hotel and developing a stronger service culture. It is also about redefining a clear strategy and vision for the hotel. A lot of emphasis has been placed on our wedding offering, Spa & Wellness product and experience, Conrad Suites’ unique offering & positioning and more recently the start of a full review of the food and beverage identity of all our outlets.

BTN: How is business at the Conrad Bali? How are occupancy levels?

JSK: The trading conditions in Bali have been buoyant and the Conrad Bali enjoyed so far a growth year on year, with stronger rates and better occupancy. The leisure market is holding well, likewise our wedding team has managed to increase the number of events taking place this year in our Infinity Chapel.

BTN: What differentiates Conrad Bali from other properties in Bali?

JSK: In my eyes, one of the key differentiation elements is our service and in general the way the team is empowered to look after the guests, engage them and proactively anticipate on their specific needs.

When it comes to the key attributes of the property, Conrad Bali has many unique features, which really set us apart from the competition. To name a few:

  • Our exclusive wedding offering with Inifinity, which was recently awarded best wedding chapel in Bali by Weddingku.
  • Conrad Suites, a luxuriously private experience within the hotel with its own unique signature, exclusivity of dedicated facilities… the luxury of “one on one”, personalised, on call service.
  • Jiwa Spa with its unique layout of 10 treatment rooms, 2 spa villas and 5 spa pavilions, which offers the perfect location for a true getaway for all our guests. Jiwa will soon offer distinctive multi-tiered menus (including Vitaman, purely dedicated to male guests) that has been developed specifically around Conrad Bali’s diverse style of guest.
  • Jiwa Menu: A diverse selection of full scale treatments delivering results from skin brightening, de-tox and anti age, but also full spa service including complete guest journey- foot ritual, Jacuzzi sauna & steam.
  • Luxury Menu: High end, maximum results driven treatments geared towards opulent delivery with focus on upgraded excellence. Private villas, personal collection service, top line products with evidence based solutions.

BTN: Can you tell us about any recent renovations or developments that have taken place at the property?

JSK: All our resort rooms have been renovated. This important project was completed last April 2012.

Our kids club will also go through an enhancement program to become a fully comprehensive facility for children of all age, with a layout which will enable different experiences and activities, whether indoor or outdoor. Our youngest client delight is critical to succeed in the family segment.

We are also planning to review next year the concept of all our restaurants and bars. This will involve some investments. The objective here is to give a new edge to our food and beverage operation.

BTN: As a popular leisure / honeymoon destination, why did you decide to launch the VIP meetings package? Are business travellers an important market for you?

JSK: We have indeed created a VIP meetings package for top-level MICE delegates. It is important that we have a diversified source of business to be able to maximise the seasonality fluctuations. The layout of the resort enables us to host different group of clientele without any conflicts.
Our newly launched VIP meeting package is perfect for high-calibre board-level meetings that require absolute privacy and extraordinary programs designed to make meetings memorable.

Meetings are hosted in the Conrad Suites – an exclusive wing adjacent to the main resort – which feature a private entrance, private spa pavilion, adults-only swimming pool and private dining lounge. This exclusive enclave has a capacity for 70 delegates, who will also be accommodated in the luxury wing.

Within the Conrad Suites, delegates enjoy unrivalled luxury and space, tropical gardens, contemporary style and elegant touches that are the very essence of Bali.

BTN: What are your key international markets at present and which markets will you target next?

JSK: Leisure wise, Japan, Australia and the domestic market are important for us, and generally spoken, we aim at the whole region, targeting other markets such as Korea and China. The European market, although under a lot of pressure at the moment is sturdily growing for our property. As far as meetings are concerned, we have a much broader scope of source markets, with a much longer lead time.

BTN: What types of technological innovations (eg ipod docking stations) do you offer at the property?

JSK: One of the key elements of our brand vision is to be the fastest growing, most innovative luxury hotel company in the world. One of the most exciting innovative services which is about to be launched is a new application for smart phones called “Conrad Concierge” which will enable our guests to stay fully connected with the hotel and request services before, during and after their stays.

The Conrad Concierge application doesn’t pretend to know what guests want; it actually lets the guests tell us directly in real time. Such an application will guide our team members to become more intuitive in creating a unique Conrad Bali Experience.

BTN: Can you describe any traveller trends that you have noticed among guests?

JSK: The current market dynamic is moving extremely fast. Arrivals to Bali will continue to increase, particularly from China. The Nusa Dua area where we are located will see 2000+ rooms being added to inventory at 4, 5 star level before the end of 2014, without mentioning numerous branded 2, 3 star hotels coming into operation. The villa market continues to grow, offering an alternative to savvy domestic and regional travelers.

Traveller trends are also changing at a fast pace, whereby we are receiving more and more direct bookings, primarily through online channels. It is becoming easier to travel to Bali and book a flight and accommodation separately, especially for visitors from neighboring countries, for which direct flights and numerous airlines (including budget airlines) made accessibility to Bali even easier. 

Travellers are becoming more and more independent. Whatever the profile of the travelers;  (couples vs. families, honeymoon vs. couple vacation, experiential vs. spa & wellness etc.),  having the right package and the right value proposition will become increasingly important for our success. 

BTN: The Conrad Bali has won numerous awards and this year has been nominated as Asia’s Leading Resort; Indonesia’s Leading Resort and Indonesia’s Leading Spa Resort by the World Travel Awards. Could you comment on the significance of getting these awards and nominations? To what do you attribute the success of the property?

JSK: Competing for and winning awards is one important element of the positioning of the hotel. It helps to drive awareness and traction in the market place, but beyond the PR opportunities such awards would generate, it is also a great tool to reward the team for its achievements and a formal recognition of the property unique value proposition.

I believe that our success is down to the quality of our team members and their ability to be encouraged to raise our service standards year after year. Luxury is changing and we have to evolve with it. It is increasingly about smart luxury… discretion and simplicity… a combination of different factors such as stylish facilities, flawless service, exceptional food, ability to recognize the individuality of our guests and many more elements, which our company slogan summarises well “The Luxury of being yourself”.