Catch up with Alicia Yeo

Celebrating 24 years of planning events for tesa tape Asia Pacific this year, this manager for office & travel management thinks her job is easily misunderstood

What do your friends think you do for a living?
They think my job is very relaxing, that I’m always travelling around the world to inspect and stay in luxury hotels and resorts, be pampered and talk to people.

How far is that from the truth?
If only that’s half the truth! As an event planner, there are thousands of things to watch out for, such as being prepared for unexpected happenings, ensuring meeting room temperature is at a comfortable level, accommodating female attendees in guestrooms not far from the lift lobby, watching the drinks tab while ensuring everyone has a good time, etc.

An event planner has to be precise and methodical and yet possess an imaginative mind, to create events that will mesmerise participants for years to come. Preparing and sticking to the budget is an art to be learnt. One must also enjoy socialising to stay in this industry.

What do you love most about your job?
I love going to new places and meeting people, learning about the history of the destination, and the local way of life and culture. My job gives me that privilege.

Having studied so many destinations for your events, which is your favourite and why?
China, for her rich history and most importantly, the fact that she’s the motherland of my ancestors.

China is mystical and every visit is a new adventure for me. I wish to explore all of China.

I have been to Xi’an twice and still want to go back. It is intriguing to walk the steps and paths of ancient emperors and empresses, and to imagine myself living in that era.

Right now, my eye is on Urumqi which I plan to visit late 2019, after the completion of my studies.

What’s your pet peeve during fam trips?
Most hosts tend to cramp too many hotel and site inspections into a day which isn’t beneficial. After seeing two hotels and two venues, nothing more will be absorbed and that defeats the purpose of fam trips.

As well, a daily debrief and feedback session over dinner when everyone is relaxed would be more useful to the host than asking for feedback after the entire trip.

Hosts like to ask for dollar commitment after the fam trip which I feel is inappropriate. The purpose of fam trips is to showcase the best of the destination and venues, not to secure a business commitment from participants.

Do you see yourself in a different job?
I would like to impart my knowledge to newcomers in the travel/MICE industry, such as by having interns shadow me or tutoring in polytechnics which is my retirement plan.

You are taking a degree course in International Hospitality & Tourism Management. Why?  
This 18-month course is for self-actualisation. I feel I need new ideas and to know what people are learning now. My studies are sponsored by my company, and I am very lucky to have a very supportive boss and employer.

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