Crystal Tan, Strategy & Innovation Lead, speaking at BlockPlay Expo 2022, an Intellectual Property (IP) project by her company First Wave (Image: Crystal Tan)
Have you ever thought about the effort and preparation that goes into planning events, like a trade fair or a convention?
Just what does it take to bring together hundreds – if not thousands – of merchants, speakers, attendees, staff, and volunteers?
For Crystal Tan, Strategy and Innovation Lead at event company First Wave, it all comes down to grit.
With experience managing events alongside brand names and organisations such as Hasbro, National Environment Agency, and Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, Crystal brings with her a wealth of expertise in bringing people together, and her enthusiasm for forging ahead amid the unknown.
“Every day, it’s different. I don’t go in knowing what is going to happen,” she laughs. It’s a job that literally takes her places, as Crystal’s meetings bring her all over Singapore - she’s even attended meetings with clients at parks.
“Just the other day, I started my day off at East Coast Park meeting a partner to run through our goals and intentions for the year,” she recalls. “We managed to clock in a workout and iron out exciting partnership plans together for 2023!”
With over six years in the events industry, Crystal’s no stranger to event management. She’s donned many hats in event planning, from handling field work as an Account Executive, to managing strategy and partnership roles.
One of her most memorable projects was the CPF Game On! Programme, which aimed to impart financial literacy concepts to post-secondary students. She relished the challenge of making financial literacy concepts more accessible to youth, which can be perceived as mundane.
“The challenge was to break stereotypes [on financial literacy] from a younger age,” she shares. This eventually culminated in an interactive vending machine that students could play games on, which also rewarded participants with tokens.
Her work in event planning has also granted Crystal the opportunity to collaborate with partners to push for social change. One such project was Together Against Stigma, for which First Wave collaborated with the Institute of Mental Health to conduct an international conference on mental healthcare.
Crystal with her team in June 2019, .following a live broadcast with Channel News Asia (Image: Crystal Tan)
Making event planning easier with GoBusiness
As event planning requires many logistical plans, staying on top of logistical details such as permits required for implementing events is key.
Adapting to the ever-changing requirements for event execution during the pandemic was a challenge, as the permits and manpower limits for events were constantly evolving. Crystal and her team found themselves having to adjust their logistical plans to align with the updated requirements.
The GoBusiness platform proved to be especially useful in helping to overcome regulatory challenges, as it provided timely updates on the logistical requirements for events in Singapore, which aided Crystal and her team in managing various aspects of event management, from event planning to the execution of marketing collaterals like posters and mailers.
“It became a central point of information. A few years ago, if you needed information from Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) [and] Singapore Police Force (SPF), you had to go to the SCDF website, [and then] SPF’s [website]. It was all separate,” she says.
“Now, everything is linked to either your Corppass or your Singpass, so once you log in, you get to see everything at a single point, rather than having to go [to individual sites] to check in and update each other manually. It really streamlines the process.”
She also appreciates the live chat function on GoBusiness, which enables her to seek answers to any questions she has in real time.
As different events in Singapore require different licences, one of the regulatory challenges Crystal faces is knowing which licences to apply for, as this depends on the nature of the event that is being conducted. These include different permits and licences for features such as a live band, which vary based on the type of event one is planning, from festivals to conferences.
The e-Adviser for Events on GoBusiness helps event organisers identify the relevant licences and permits to apply for
She finds the e-Adviser for Events very helpful in helping her to overcome this challenge for planning events: “It prompts questions and gives automated recommendations as to what licences we might need for the event. This is extremely helpful to ensure we have covered all grounds during event execution when it comes to licence applications.”
Aside from identifying the relevant permits and licences needed to execute an event, attaining them can also be a challenge.
Crystal shares that First Wave often turns to GoBusiness for guidance in this process, and that the platform has been especially useful in breaking down the steps needed for staff who are new to licence and permit applications.
Innovating for events of the future
“I am inspired that the events industry never stops innovating when it comes to finding ways to engage and make seemingly mundane business objectives exciting, [and in] how it allows us to place the focus on the people before the work,” she says.
She is heartened by the rising popularity of digital events, and excited to see what the future brings.
“Events have evolved into virtual-hybrid events…There are a lot of new opportunities,” she shares. “While previous event formats prioritised physical activations, more and more companies are embracing the incorporation of digital elements in event execution. This opens up the event to more possibilities, such as the ability to connect with both local and international audiences.”
According to Crystal, the trend toward digital events also creates an opportune moment for those looking to enter the events space, especially if they are digitally savvy.
Pushing boundaries with the First Wave team at SME Day 2019, a conference project (Image: Crystal Tan)
Tips for new and aspiring event organisers
Valuing work-life integration over work-life balance is key for prospective entrants to the event planning industry, Crystal notes.
“Most events run when everyone is having a break. We rest when we get to and work when we need to! It is usually quite tough if an individual wants a corporate, 9 to 5 experience.”
The First Wave team at a Christmas get-together (Image: Crystal Tan)
Being a good team player is also an important trait that event planners should possess, she says: “Being a team player helps you build your relationships with colleagues, [and] build rapport with your vendors or partners for your event, making the overall work experience pleasant.”
You can now easily navigate the process of organising events in Singapore with the GoBusiness Guide for Organising Events!
Seeking for government endorsement and partnership for your event? Submit your event proposal in the Events Proposal Box for MICE events and sport and fitness events available in the Guide.
Need help with identifying the right event licences? Simply fill up your event details in the e-Adviser for Events to receive personalised recommendations on the types of licences and permits to apply for.
This article is accurate as at 21 Apr 2023