Ensuring a Sustainable Meetings and Events Industry Emerges out of the Pandemic

Helsinki Marketing has focused on their internal advisory work, with a key theme for this year being 'self-leadership'.

For Leena and her team, this has been timely due to the pandemic's effects on the industry, with abrupt cancellations and the sheer amount of new remote workers, this became a necessity.

Helsinki Marketing has focused on their internal advisory work, with a key theme for this year being 'self-leadership'. For Leena and her team, this has been timely due to the pandemic's effects on the industry, with abrupt cancellations and the sheer amount of new remote workers, this became a necessity.

Helsinki Marketing made plans for both the near future and long term solutions, this included supporting local businesses with means of communication and resources to sustain during these times, and seeing the prospective opportunities to improve international recognition and appeal through digitalisation.

The Global Sales team focused on long-term sustainable growth, their concern was specifically around short term postponements and cancellations. Facing challenges and asking questions like: How do we keep Helsinki a client's mind? How do we meet with clients? How are conferences/meetings going to be organised in the future? What happened to tour operators during this time?

At the same time, they were developing this prospect of self-leadership with the moral of 'if you take good care of personnel, they will take good care of your clients and partners. This time was used to develop the organisation so that personnel makes more independent solutions in line with company strategy, employees learn context and wherein they operate. This became innovation to become everyone's priority.

This all comes from strategy. A mutual understanding of what self-leadership truly means and that it would become a part of everyday work life and culture. In a project in collaboration with Milton Sparks, they were given a map with objectives, maps, values, et cetera. They noticed self-leadership demands a lot from supervisors: clear motivation and communication and a clear means of giving feedback. The conclusion was that leadership was a service in itself.

Which brings us back to some slightly different questions: How did they keep Helsinki in a client's mind? How do they meet with clients? How are conferences/meetings going to be organised in the future? How do they create sustainable growth?

The Helsinki Method concept was developed to combat the challenges that the traditional meeting was facing during the pandemic. It was made specifically with virtual meetings and events in mind through an amalgamation of mindsets: taking action, equality, fragility and feeling at home.

Helsinki itself holds a diverse culture, thriving and evolving while adapting. Respect is one of the most important parts of the destination's identity. In July an online platform was being used to train people, with over 200 users within the month.

Smart cities and digitalisation are Helsinki's focuses in regards to international operation. The art studio, Zone, created a virtual Helsinki accessible through the browser and mobile support as well as VR headset technology. Virtual Helsinki will implement a conference centre to emulate the real-life experience and future-proof for any prospective hybrid events in the future.

Rina, from Milton Sparks, expresses her pride in the Helsinki Marketing team and their collaboration through these times. Working with the right people allowed for a streamlined digitalisation process. Rina asks the following: how do you make sure you have an accountable and reliable organisation?

Leena discusses with her team current projects and asks how this process has helped them during this time, here are some examples:

  • Looking beyond the pandemic to sustain through multiple campaigns, including international sales calls to still advertise Helsinki as a meeting destination for businesses
  • Adapting to the global situation and learning skills with new combinations of people with mutual challenges to regain momentum
  • Moving existing plans for venue visits online to not obstruct workflow despite difficulties. Of course, this is less thorough than real-life interaction, but it's personal and memorable
  • Developing the Helsinki Method to create the content and make it engaging, letting people become part of the program through the online platform – framing it as a new avenue rather than a temporary solution
  • Utilising B2C practices in a B2B context to improve networking and connections
  • Working with Milton Sparks allowed Helsinki Marketing to learn, be creative, and understand the kinds of people everybody on the team is and what they truly bring to the table at this time. Through this experience, they learned that they are aligned and have a unified target despite their different directions

Key Takeaways

1. Self-leadership is self-management within the context of your team, align accordingly and communicate well to achieve stronger outcomes

2. If you take care of your personnel, they will take care of clients and business partners. 

3. Digitalisation allows for a more varied approach for the future of meeting culture rather than a temporary means to an end

4. External collaboration brings a new perspective to your teams and can allow for more chances to show appreciation for your team's current mindset

Published on:
December 2020
About the contributor

Leena Lassila

Leena is leading the Global Sales team. Their job is to create sustainable growth for the future in Helsinki. The team is working with the travel trade, congresses and corporate events.

Rina Siren

Rina is a trained leadership coach and experienced facilitator. She holds a Master’s degree in Technology and has worked both as a management consultant and a work wellbeing senior specialist prior to joining Miltton.