Hengky Tambayong General Manager of Harris Vertu Hotel & Yello Harmoni Hotel The Fashionable Assignment

Story By
Jim Gorjy

Hengky Tambayong was awarded the position of General Manager of Tauzia Hotel Management, paving the way for other local professionals to attain the same level. Being, quite rightly, very proud of the achievement, Tauzia have now given him wider responsibility as GM Cluster for the Jakarta and West Java region.

Having 21 years experience in the hotel industry, including 13 years in seven hotel assignments with Tauzia, he believes in the need for change. Hengky Tambayong joined Tauzia as Assistant General Manager in 2005 when there were only four Harris hotels operating. Now, there are 59 hotels under Tauzia management and they now have less than 10 expat general managers. “This is the change I made. As a local general manager, I am truly capable, thus the management opened up opportunities for locals to take on GM positions. This is good. We speak the same language when we communicate with our staff and to customers,” he explained.

In the early Tauzia days, Hengky was a member of the pre-opening team for Harris Tebet Jakarta. The challenge was to accurately review the hotel’s condition and to plan and to implement a better strategy. A similar situation arose for his second assignment at the Harris Tuban Bali and in 2010, Hengky was appointed to the Harris Solo Paragon.

 Now managing the dual hotel concept that combines Harris Vertu and Yello Harmoni in the same building, his seventh assignment with the company is the most challenging one Hengky has had as he has to simultaneously manage two different and distinctive brand identities with a total of 350 staff. The 240-room Harris Vertu’s concept is based on fashion, movies and jazz music; while Yello Harmoni’s concept is based on urban street art. “We have scheduled six brand activities each year, three for Vertu and three for Yello, and some bazaars”. The Jazzy Soire fashion-music event from Oscar Lawalata with jazz music and models from Jakarta’s high-society; live jazz from French jazz artists such as Ozma and Remi Panossian; Earth Wind & Fire and Boyzlife meet and greet sessions; and a Greatest Showman movie tie-in with merchandise, are just some of Vertu’s program while the 372-room Yello has become the venue for famous french hip-hop from French Wings, street dance workshops and doodling workshops.

 But that’s not all. In Yello, many murals and street art from Indonesian and French artists are spread around the space and there is always a pre-opening mural competition before a Yello Hotel begins operation. “Every hospitality operation counts on its service and facilities. But, if we are able to present consistency in the concept, it adds more value to the customers. Our management ensure every branch stays in line with the guidelines,” he admitted. Hengky also elaborated further on management controls “To suppport the concepts, we hold a brand audit once a year. We have also initiated a regular food management system with TUV Rheinland, and organized an  IT audit,” he added. Looking around the other Harris brands, Pop Hotel settled for a “green” concept where paperless programs are part of the operation while Harris Preference, the luxury boutique hotels, decided on a library concept where each Preference has plenty of books to read.

Vertu has taken its modern contemporary and fashionable concept to the max. A collaboration with Didit Maulana for interior design and front office uniforms, including some room ammenities and guest supplies in the suite rooms, has created a warm atmosphere with sparks of ethnic taste. They have also worked with Ikat Indonesia for staff batik uniforms, using Sarupa Batik. Moreover, starting January 2019, the management has declared Fridays to be Batik Day, where the staff wear Danar Hadi custom batik. For the building design, the management works in partnership with senior architect Budiman Hendropurnomo, a master of hotel design. The entire building actually houses three entities. As well as the two hotels that occupy the fifth floor and up, there is also the Harmoni Exchange Mall on the first to fourth floors. Quite a unique design, you must agree. There is even a gap in the construction that in chinese fengshui is called a Dragon’s Gate, the prosperity hole.

Personally, Hengky is quite a fashionable person with an appetite for neatness. As a general manager, he is most comfortable in the elegant business style of a suit. Yet, he privately prefers comfortable and fashionable pieces. He has a collection of 30 pairs of shoes and 18 wristwatches, enjoys riding his 650cc Kawasaki motorbike, and is a solid fan of the English Premier League’s Manchaster United. He remembers back than he was a goalkeeper for a hotel soccer team where he was once awarded the honour of best goalkeeper. “I like top 40 music and smooth jazz and I also collect football jerseys,” he said.

Even with such varied hobbies and interests, his life is about working. Hengky is quite the workoholic and a perfectionist – insisting on order and focused on detail. He believes that everything starts with micro before jumping into the big picture. He likes to be the kind of boss who has a certain bonding with staff. “I never shout at them, I befriend them. But I’m a nightmare for the supervisors. My belief is that if something goes wrong with the staff, it has to be the supervisor’s fault. They have to be able to manage their staff and I always lead by example,” he affirmed.