Take An Adventurous Walk With Tat Yam
What’s your story?
After being in the finance industry for about 7 years, I decided to leave a stable career to start a walking tour company at a time when walking tours were seemingly unheard of in Singapore. When we started, I had little knowledge as to how to run a business in the tourism industry. I took a bold step because I had a dream to share with people the true joy of travelling when coupled with authentic local experiences.
I have always strongly believed in having an open mind to try new things. And a willingness to embrace different places, people, and cultures, is what makes travel desirable for so many, and it is this same adventurous spirit that spurred me to create Monster Day Tours.
It was definitely an uphill battle. When I first started my tour company, scarcely anyone came for our tours even though I knew the tours we offered were quite interesting and unique.
Through lots of hard work and sheer determination, I am proud to say that Monster Day Tours has grown to become the biggest walking day tour operator in Singapore and we have more than 1000 positive reviews on Tripadvisor as a testament to our success. I always believe that my company’s success is a team effort and not strictly about my leadership.
What excites you most about your industry?
The limitless possibilities and potential of the tourism industry! It is constantly evolving and there is never a dull moment. For example, when the coronavirus unexpectedly forced businesses to close, tourism was thrown a curveball but the resilient tourism industry responded by swiftly coming up with new solutions such as Virtual Tours and 360˚ experiences.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am truly Asian and fortunate to have been exposed to multiple Asian cultures. My parents are from China, I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Singapore when I was 7 years old.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course! All the infrastructure is in place, government support is good, there is a nurturing start-up ecosystem, and there is excellent connectivity to the global network. Also, Singapore is a great testing ground. If the business idea works in Singapore, the possibilities of it succeeding in other parts of the world are greater.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life goes on, whether you like it or not. It is up to you to be happy or live in misery.” This is what my father has taught me from a young age and it is still the best piece of advice I have received. My father’s words have become a principal in my life that has greatly shaped my character.
Who inspires you?
My father is my role model.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The emotional resilience of my team during the difficult Covid-19 situation. Tourism was hit badly because the world was at a standstill. But, my tour guides did not despair nor lament the loss of income. Instead, they took on other essential jobs, such as food delivery and social distancing officers to cope with the situation, while waiting for the tourism industry to recover. To me, this is the passion at its finest.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t put so much effort into developing a product and trying to do everything to perfection. In the tourism industry, market trends change very quickly and the consumer is sometimes unpredictable. I would take a step back, launch the product first to test the market conditions and improve on the minor details from there.
How do you unwind?
To unwind, I enjoy going out with my wife to eat mala hotpot. These are the times when I can relax and take my mind off of work. My personal time is my sanctuary.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan, because they have great street food and eating is a way to relax. Another positive is that a vacation in Taiwan is not expensive, it’s safe and fun.
Everyone in business should read this book:
To be honest, I tend to not read books. To me, everyone around me is a “living book” and I find that I learn the most from people. Everyone is a different book from whom I gain knowledge.
Shameless plug for your business:
We are the biggest walking tour operator in Singapore! Within 3 years, we grew our team to more than 15 persons, we were nominated twice for the Singapore Tourism Award and we have more than 1000 positive reviews on Tripadvisor. If you want a memorable and authentic tour experience, come walk with our awesome guides at Monster Day Tours! I believe that my company’s success is a team effort and not about me.
Our twitter handle is @monsterdaytours
To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects’ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.