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Philip Barnes of The Ascott Limited Indonesia Discusses New Leadership Role and Bringing Brands to the ‘Next Level’

Philip Barnes of The Ascott Limited Indonesia Discusses New Leadership Role and Bringing Brands to the ‘Next Level’
Philip Barnes of The Ascott Limited Indonesia Discusses New Leadership Role and Bringing Brands to the ‘Next Level’

Get to know Phillip Barnes, the new Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia!

In March 2024, The Ascott Limited Indonesia welcomed its new country general manager: the Australian native and seasoned globe-trotting hotelier, Philip Barnes. With illustrious brand presence to lead and navigate here in Indonesia — Ascott The Residence, Vertu Hotels, Oakwood, Somerset, HARRIS Hotels, and so much more — Philip Barnes might as well be what The Ascott Limited Indonesia needs to elevate those brands to the next level and more. On the 26th of April, Indonesia Expat had a chance to get to know Philip Barnes as the latter shared his background, his leadership style, and how he envisioned the future directions for The Ascott Limited Indonesia.

Hi, Philip. Now that you’ve settled in, what has been your impression so far of Jakarta?

It has been great. I arrived in Jakarta on the 3rd of April, when it was approaching the Eid Al-Fitr holidays, so I didn’t experience any traffic on my first day in this city. Everything that everybody had told me was going to happen turned out to be the complete opposite. Things that are often associated with Jakarta such as traffic and stuff don’t seem to create too much of a concern for me. Ultimately, it’s really about understanding your destination, timing, and how to go from point to point.

I gathered that you have been in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years now. What led you to this industry in the first place?

Inspired by my father, I was initially studying criminology. To financially support myself so that I could pursue my university degree, I had a side job at Lan Kwai Fong, behind bars. I found myself absolutely enjoying it because of the interacting with people aspect of the job. I felt more natural when I was being sociable, chatting with people, and getting to know people as opposed to putting myself behind the scenes and doing more analytical work. Afterwards, I decided that hospitality is truly what I wanted to go across.

Before you were appointed as the Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia, you were the Deputy Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Philippines from 2018 until 2022 and then, the Country General Manager from 2022 until early 2024. What was it like being in a leadership position at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic?

I think, during that time, what was first and foremost was to recognise what was the most important. Is it going to be revenue? Is it going to be branding? Is it going to be people? Those were the key questions that had to be answered, and for us, we chose people. We didn’t retrench anybody; we kept everybody and maintained communications in terms of everybody’s mental well-being and coordination. We also went up to the owners and highlighted what our plans were. No one was going to be sacrificed.

Philip Barnes, the Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia
Philip Barnes, the Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia
You took on the role as the Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia in March 2024. What encouraged you to start a new journey here in Jakarta, Indonesia?

When you look at Indonesia and the transition that has happened here at The Ascott Limited Indonesia in the last two or three years, my coming in now was relatively straightforward because the team here had already done such an amazing job in terms of navigating the transition of these key aspects. We have a philosophy called “We are one in the company now” which means putting all of our brands under one umbrella. The idea now is to continue driving that component, building on — shall we say — national strength, and looking at the Ascott brands across the board.

With the new post comes a new team and an entirely different culture. Has it been difficult adjusting yourself to this new environment? What has been the most challenging part so far?

One of the few things that I live by is the motto: “You never walk alone”. I’m a big fan of football, by the way, and I have always believed that, as a leader, you are never a sole leader. Being a leader is who you are in collaboration. Also, as a leader, I am not about having others adapt to me. Instead, I am about understanding the existing dynamics within the team because what they have done now is working well and the next question as I move forward is, “How can I add value to the team?”

How would you describe your leadership style and philosophy as the Country General Manager of The Ascott Limited Indonesia?

I don’t pigeonhole myself into particular categories. At the end of the day, you need to highlight different leadership skills to different personalities and different aspects. Remember: it’s not about having others adapt to you; you have to be able to adapt to them as well. You’ve got to earn the trust of your team.

Speaking of elevations — what is your assessment of the growth of The Ascott Limited Indonesia as of today? And what can you tease about your plans for The Ascott Limited Indonesia going forward?

I see The Ascott Limited Indonesia now as one of the biggest portfolios that The Ascott Global has, and what my team and I would like to bring across is from the structure, service, and brand standpoints. We are, directly or indirectly, the market leader in terms of how to operate mixed portfolios. For me, the inspiration is well-grounded in how we operate, how we put things together, and how we roll out our strategies.

Is there any particular brand under The Ascott Limited Indonesia to which you are specifically paying attention in terms of growth? If so, why?

I don’t think there’s going to be one particular brand to which we will be saying, “This is *the one* and the rest is just second fiddle”. I think what the team here has done very well is how to identify and subsequently, refresh every single brand. And the idea now is to bring those brands out to the market. And also, we need to remember that in Indonesia, we have 11 out of 14 brands under The Ascott Limited. It’s really about trying to make sure that we have the entire portfolio here in Indonesia as well so that when you visit Indonesia, you get to enjoy a one-stop experience of all of our brands.

Is there anything that you can tease about future perks or updates related to Ascott Star Rewards (ASR)?

We have the newly updated features of our ASR app coming through, which is really exciting. The update is set to launch on the 4th of May. At the end of the day, that is something that we need to continue driving on in terms of our user-friendliness.

Is there any huge event or brand launch that we can expect from The Ascott Limited Indonesia in the not-so-distant future?

The biggest event you have to mark on your calendar is the ASR Festival which will take place this June. Last year’s edition made such a noise and rumblings globally, so it would be interesting to see how this year’s edition will pan out. It’s going to be a really fun one.

Last but not least, how can our readers reach The Ascott Limited Indonesia?

You’re welcome to reach out to The Ascott Limited Indonesia through various channels. Our presence on social media includes Instagram (@discoverasrindonesia) and LinkedIn (Ascott Indonesia). For more information about Ascott Star Rewards, you can also visit our website at https://www.discoverasr.com/en.

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