Updated: May 21, 2020
Gregory Yap is the founder and CEO of TAB, a booking platform for personalised event experiences and group activities. Before venturing out into entrepreneurship, Gregory served for more than seven years at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). His last role at STB was Assistant Director, Exhibitions and Conferences.
1. What is the inspiration behind TAB?
Our aim is to be a one-stop solution that solves multiple friction points when it comes to planning and managing corporate and private group events. When planning events, we’ve all experienced the challenges and frustrations of sourcing, confirming and coordinating vendors and venue bookings. More and more consumers are also looking for ready-to-book quality experiences that can be personalised and executed seamlessly. TAB was created to address these so we designed an online booking platform for group experiences that can be customised with gifts, transport and other add-on services. The platform also provides users with event management tools to send invites, collect RSVPs and dietary preferences. All purchases including those ordered on event day are consolidated into one bill for easy payment.
The future of event planning is online and we hope to empower corporate and private groups, business travellers and even event planners to organise simple, small scale events effortlessly.
2. Do you personally craft the itineraries behind each program?
We do this collaboratively with our partners. We usually begin with conversations about our users and how we feel a venue or experience partner can better meet their needs.
Corporate diners, in particular, have very different expectations from regular guests or leisure travellers and our partners need to be made aware of this when designing their experiences for our platform. We are also conscious that it’s not a one-size-fits all approach when it comes to experiences, so we like to work together with our partners to advise menus at different price ranges and add-on enhancements that will entice a good cross section of customers to book .
Curation is very important to us. Our users place a high level of trust on our recommendations and listings so we need to personally ensure any partner we take on board can meet those standards.
3. What experiences would you recommend to a first-time user?
The best event always begins with the objective in mind. If it’s an important business deal you’re trying to clinch, a great dining experience always impresses and there are several to choose from. I would recommend a stunning location such as a lunch or dinner at Tamarind Hill which sits amidst a nature reserve or Monti, which overlooks the picturesque Marina Bay. If you want to take things up a notch and impress your guest further with a Michelin Star experience, Restaurant JAG and Alma guarantee an unforgettable gastronomic journey with their exquisite tasting menus.
If you are a business traveller and looking to discover the city, the Singapore Sidecars Heritage Rides allow you to explore different neighbourhoods and heritage areas via vintage vespa sidecars. I also love the ‘Disappearing Trades of Singapore’ tour where you are taken on a historical private tour to discover local coffee roasting and old-fashioned bakeries. It’s a truly unique way to get a closer appreciation for the history and culture of our city.
Sharing an experience together builds a better team. For team building, I love to suggest something a little more unique that is both fun and educational. This could take the form of a Makgeolli and Soju cocktail masterclass or even a hands-on workshop where you get to harvest and blend your own tea remedies. Showing your team that a little more thought and effort has gone into planning something truly special goes a long way.
4. In your opinion, what is the most exciting/ most popular program that TAB offers?
There’s so many to choose from! One that I’m particularly excited about because I enjoy my cocktails is The Singapore Gin Jaunt. Singapore is fast gaining recognition as a cocktail hotspot and we have so many great cocktail experiences, bars with talented bartenders and even our own local gins. This experience takes you in a private bus to enjoy three different gins and cocktails at different bars around the city while a spirits ambassador shares about the history and origins of the gin. It’s a great experience for a fun evening with friends.
5. Do you think that TAB appeals to locals?
Yes. We’ve designed the experiences and platform to be accessible by locals and overseas groups alike. Whether you’re sourcing for ideas for a client event, a team offsite or even a special occasion for friends, we’ve curated experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone. Some locals may even be surprised to discover interesting experiences that they didn’t know even existed (think hand brewed local soy sauce tasting sessions and even a tour of Geylang to discover and unpack the social dynamics of Singapore’s underbelly). Beyond restaurant dining and cocktail masterclasses, the experiences we offer are so varied and can range from scent blending and Ikebana workshops to 5D movie dining and yacht excursions.
6. After almost 10 years in hospitality, what is the biggest piece of advice for those looking to enter the industry?
Passion and care. Technology will transform industries and make life simpler but it still only remains the enabler. What’s most important in our line is the care we take for our guest, from the experience they book to the impression they leave with. At the end, we are in the business of people.
A favorite quote of mine by hospitality business leader Danny Meyer sums it up best: “In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”
7. What is Singapore's biggest 'value' to tourists?
Our concentration and accessibility. Not many places can boast such a variety of differentiated experiences in such concentration. Our compact and accessible city allows travellers to do so much in a day. You can go from a jog in a nature reserve to dashing to a business meeting in the CBD before finishing off at a world-class bar and sampling some street food all in the span of a few hours. And the best part is, despite Singapore being small, you never feel like you’re in an urban concrete jungle with our lush green spaces.
8. If you came to Singapore as a tourist, what are the things that would entice you to come back as a tourist? (not as an expat/ migrant etc)
I would have to say it is the people and friendships. Beyond the attractions and the food, the experiences that you have interacting with the warm locals, the memorable connections and friendships forged would make anyone return to visit our island.