JAKARTA: The success of Swiss-Belhotel, the luxury resort business, is down to branding, according to its chairman and president.

Gavin M. Faull told the Jakarta Post that coming up with the name was the best business decision he had ever made. At the time, the company was expanding into less developed areas and not all of its properties carried a name, which Faull knew could hamper the business.

"Once we have a name and a story, it's easier for people to recognize our brand," he explained.

As well as the name, Swiss-Belhotel has differentiated itself from the leading hotel brands by focusing on secondary and tertiary cities across Asia and the Middle East.

Investing in curious places, said Faull, "eliminates competition – this is how we think differently". And he cited the example of the recent opening of a hotel in Erbil in Iraq.

He noted that people asked him about the wisdom of opening a hotel there but he had been asked the same question when launching a hotel in Jakarta in 1991. "Apart from the big boys [five-star hotels], there was nothing [affordable foreign hotel chains] in Indonesia," he said. "But look at Indonesia today!"

With hotels in Ambon, Merauke, Kendari and Kupang, Swiss-Belhotel has led the way for other investors in the hospitality industry.

"The excitement of local people when companies believe in their economic potential is priceless," stated Faull. "We are very involved and very personal when it comes to our relationship with local folks," he added.

With some 220m international tourists visiting Indonesia last year, the country is in the top three hotel markets in Asia Pacific, after Hong Kong and Thailand. A study from real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, reported in the Jakarta Globe, predicted growing demand in Jakarta and Bali in particular, with the latter emerging as a wedding destination.

Data sourced from Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe; additional content by Warc staff