The pandemic paralyzed the organising of trade fairs and congresses, both based on encounters. Meetings continued to be organised on a small scale, in accordance with the current official guidelines.
Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre responded to the pandemic challenge by building its hybrid business, reshaping its organisation and continuing its strong work for the health safety of events. The halls were introduced as testing and vaccination sites in the fight against Covid-19.
At Messukeskus, the year 2020 got off to a strong start, when all the major fairs at the beginning of the year significantly increased their number of visitors. When the Corona restrictions came into effect on 12 March 2020, Messukeskus suspended the ongoing events for the first time in its 101-year history and rescheduled major events planned for the spring. The year 2020 proved to be unprecedentedly difficult for the industry, and this year the same situation will continue.
The pandemic paralyzed the organising of trade fairs and congresses, both based on encounters. Meetings continued to be organised on a small scale, in accordance with the current official guidelines. The turnover in 2020 decreased by two-thirds, and the total number of visitors was one-third of the number in previous years. Operations were adjusted by looking for savings, freezing investments, laying off personnel and applying for subsidies, eg. from the State Treasury and Business Finland, as well as land rent exemption from the City of Helsinki.
Messukeskus has built a bridge over the crisis by strengthening its virtual and hybrid business and consolidating its organisation.
“Our digital strategy, which we have been implementing for several years, our strong trade fair brands and our subsidiary SVV, which specializes in audio-visual solutions, gave us an excellent basis to move into the hybrid business quickly. As vaccine coverage improves, we are already looking at a time when restrictions can be lifted. Our autumn 2021 programme is strong, and we are ready for the event season as soon as it is possible in the light of restrictions. We will also continue to work for the health safety of events. According to our extensive client feedback, there is a great need for events”, says Anni Vepsalainen, Managing Director of Messukeskus.
“Unfortunately, in Finland the support of society has been completely inadequate for large companies in the travel and event industry that employ large amounts of people, such as Messukeskus. This weakens Finland’s position as an area for investments and has a negative effect on the competitiveness of companies operating in Finland, when international business and private travel will gain momentum again after the Covid-19 pandemic”, Vepsalainen says.
During the pandemic, Messukeskus has been looking for alternative uses for its premises. The central location, strict safety practices, efficient logistics and spacious halls are used for HUS Helsinki University Hospital’s and medical company Mehilainen’s Covid-19 testings as well as the City of Helsinki’s corona vaccinations. Additionally, Laurea University of Applied Sciences entrance exams as well as court sessions have been organised safely in the facilities. The halls have also been harnessed for recreational use as a padel arena.
Messukeskus is a people-oriented media and an event house awarded for its safety, which creates growth through genuine encounters. Finland’s largest event organiser produces high-quality events and rents its facilities and services as an arena for live, hybrid and virtual events. In 2019, 1.1 million guests visited the events of Messukeskus.
Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.