Many hotels propose to bring the comfort of your home in their room. But quite a few are bold enough to provide a twist during the staying experience. An artistic twist, might we add. One name comes to mind when talking about such concept: Erastus Radjimin, the owner of Artotel.
As the CEO of Artotel, please tell us the story on how all it started? Do you always have a passion in the hospitality industry?
“My family background is in property developer, but when I studied Marketing and Finance in Boston, USA, I didn’t even major in the hospitality industry. Though I didn’t even have the slightest clue in hotels, I managed to get an internship at a hotel for 3 months in Hawaii. And that was when I fell in love with the industry. And after I graduated, I chose to stick in the hospitality industry. I worked in multi-national companies. After US, I worked in London and Singapore, and I was offered a job in local travel management company in Indonesia. So my working fields are always related with hospitality service, I know a lot of people in the business. So from all the past experiences, it made me feel confident enough to have my own hotel. Thus, Artotel was born.”
Share us the process on making the Artotel vision come to life. And why did you choose boutique hotel as the concept?
“When I moved back here to Jakarta, I saw the market opportunity; that there was no one tapping into the boutique hotel concept yet. And since my family have always been in love with the art world, and my brother and I had always wanted to have our own business, we decided to collaborate. When we traveled across Indonesia, places like Yogyakarta and Semarang, we saw many talented young artists. By now, we can all agree that the local art scene is powerful, the artists are all creative, smart, and great. But tracing back to 5-6 years ago, many of them weren’t even exposed to the public yet. It’s different now, especially with the pace of digital world that varies, even to ecommerce like Brand Outlet. Back then, we saw this opportunity to have a business that’s not all about producing money, but to also giving back, a CSR, to our country. That’s when the idea of collaboration between hotel and art was born.”
“Of course, there are a lot of art hotels, but what sets us apart is that we install these arts not as decorative pieces, but to educate the customers that the local contemporary art scene is very much well-developed.”
“We always work together with local artists, for example Artotel Bali collaborates with Balinese artists. We put the name of the artist in each art work and many guests even contacted the artists for new jobs or projects. We can say that we set the trend, we were the first one in Indonesia to have a concept like that. Apart from Artotel Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali, we also plan to install in Yogyakarta, Ubud, Semarang, Daan Mogot – Jakarta, Bandung, and Lombok. Also, Artotel Beach Club (ABC).”
With many upcoming Artotel branches around Indonesia, it’s safe to say that the response are good so far.
“Well to be honest, we felt pessimistic at first. We couldn’t predict the response we would get since we were the first to have such concept.”
“Art is very subjective. When we installed the first Artotel in Surabaya, we tried to not to go the 9 yards because we were trying to satisfy everybody. Once it’s installed, the comments were mostly expressing how we could do more, be more bolder—which is good because now we know that the market is mature enough for this concept. We went all out for our next branches, like in Jakarta and in Bali.”
What do you think about the hospitality market in Indonesia, considering you’ve been in the industry for quite a while?
“Indonesia is one of the most promising countries in the world when it comes to growth. Our domestic travelers are actually one of the biggest, we also have a high number of productive age, very active consumption power, and we’re politically stable. Based on these reasons, the investor climate is very good and well-developed. Although there are always cons here and there. The investments are still going strong, though not as strong as in 2013-2014.”
“But the market is now aware that if you want to install hotels, you must have your own signature, the aspect that makes your business different from others so you’ll have a bigger chance to survive.”
As a CEO, you must be very busy. What do you do during your spare time?
“Spend it with my family, of course. I think these days we gotta maintain and balance our life. Work, play, family and sort of. It’s important for you to have a balance, to keep you sane. If you work non-stop, you’re going to burn out eventually. No matter how strong and dedicated you are as a person, you will always need holiday. And I do sports as my hobby; like football, basketball. I mean, my hobby is very generic just like every other guy. But one thing, I like to eat and I like to cook. It’s a hobby but I can’t make a restaurant now. I can run a hotel, but I don’t want to run a restaurant, like I don’t wanna be a chef. I only cook for myself, family and close friends.”
Your words to live by?
“Honestly for a start-up company, when I started 6 years ago, we were very small. Nobody knows us or recognizes us, nobody knows what Artotel is, what it stands for and the power of the brand is not there yet. But what I like to believe is that if you’re loyal and commited to the small things, you will get bigger things.”
Tell us one thing that people hardly know about you?
“I’m not sure actually, I’m a quite an open book person. I don’t have an OCD, but I like things tidy.”
Your plan in the next 5 years?
“Growing Artotel is definitely number one. For the next 5 years, we’re gonna grow in the domestic market in capital cities in Indonesia. By this year, we already have 6 branches, and by next year we will have 11 branches.”
“We want to establish our brand as strong as possible in the domestic market, and then after that we’re looking for international exposure.”
“Malaysia is probably one of our first SEA country because it has a bigger population. And for some reason – I don’t know why, our brand in Malaysia is very strong. Apparently in Kuala Lumpur or Johor, there’s an idea that if you go to Jakarta and you don’t stay in Artotel, then you’re truly missing out. I’m not sure why, to be honest, but demographic wise, Malaysians are one of our top customers from abroad. We have a good brand presence in Malaysia.”
Editor: Galuh Tathya
Writer: Adhinda Latifa
Photos: Moody Wijaya and courtesy of @ilove_artotel