SOFT-SPOKEN Ratu Neilla is a nice person to talk to. Although only 36 years old, she has a successful career and is now general manager of PT Prima Adhitama International Development (The Plaza Residences). Indeed, success does not come easily and she said it required hard work and perseverance.
“I’ve been fond of working since I was young. When I was a student at the University of Indonesia, I earned money working part time. In every job, I always tried to do my best. I like this job so I can really exert myself. I have learned a lot from various people, such as from my superiors, colleagues, friends, parents and family members,” Neilla said.
She said that her S-1 associate degree in economics was helpful to her in building her career. Neilla joined DTS Leung as a marketing executive and in 1995 was named marketing manager. A year later, she was appointed project manager. “I handled a lot of property projects overseas that were to be marketed in Indonesia,” Neilla said. Her fondness for the property business led her to join The Plaza Residences as marketing manager in 1997.
Five years later, Neilla was appointed associate marketing manager. Then in 2005, she was promoted to general manager of The Plaza Residences. Her perseverance over 13 years to build her career in the property business was eventually rewarded.
“I joined this company when it started constructing an apartment building. I was involved in virtually every aspect of the project either in marketing or in operation. That’s why I know the apartment business inside-out,” Neilla said.
Neilla must have inherited entrepreneurship from her father, a businessman and now a special staffer of the Vice President. “In my opinion, we must be serious in our jobs. We must work fast and learn everything,” she said.
Neilla said that marketing ran in her blood. “I happen to be quite outgoing and have a lot of friends. I like meeting people, getting acquainted with them and making new friends. All this means marketing is suitable for me. However, I was not totally convinced that marketing was really for me until I joined this company. I have been successful in finding a lot of tenants for the apartment and the shopping gallery in our complex so that the occupancy rate is now 100 percent,” she said.
The competition in the rented apartment and serviced apartment market this year and next year will become increasingly fiercer as 1,000 new apartment units (rented and serviced) from eight projects will come on line. Some of these 1,000 apartments will be offered under a strata-serviced scheme and rent guarantee while the others will be offered as serviced apartments. Today, rented apartments in Jakarta are concentrated in the southern part of Jakarta (48 percent) and in the Central Business Districts (36 percent).
According to Neilla, managing an apartment building has its own peculiar difficulties. Luckily, The Plaza Residences is strategically located. In addition, this apartment building also has facilities that one can enjoy in a five-star hotel, such as restaurants and a shopping gallery that has a mini market, a medical center, a duty-free shop, a dental clinic, a skin center and so forth.
Neilla is optimistic about the serviced apartment business. “We give services just like what a hotel gives in general and we also give facilities to the occupants. This is the attraction of living in our apartment. You live in an apartment but enjoy services such as you get in a hotel so you don’t have to clean or take care of your apartment yourself,” Neilla said.
Meanwhile, the rates are also flexible, especially if someone plans to stay for a long time and pays the corporate rate. In this way, the rate is lower than the daily room rate at a hotel. “In addition, the rate is economical if you compare it renting a house. When you rent a house, you must buy furniture and hire a maid,” she said.
So, what is the difference between a serviced apartment and a regular apartment in general? According to Neilla, a serviced apartment provides housekeeping and cleaning services just like a hotel. Towels are provided and bed linen is changed. Electricity and water usage is also unlimited. A serviced apartment is completely furnished and is equipped with all the necessary electronic appliances and kitchen utensils. These items may not be found in an ordinary apartment.
Running a business requires consistency, Neilla said. To be true to this principle Neilla has determined the market segment for the apartment building under her management. The Plaza Residences is indeed targeting mostly Japanese expatriates as its clients. “Nearly 75 percent of our tenants are Japanese. That’s why the facilities are suited to their needs. The clinic, for example, has a Japanese doctor. The restaurants and other facilities also tend to cater to the needs of the Japanese,” Neilla said.
“We continue to study developing trends in the market. And we shall continue to develop and upgrade so that we can always develop in tune with market demands,” she added. (Iwan Suci Jatmiko)
The Jakarta Post, October 29, 2008