#1's Podcast: Plan Big Events with Maria Niemelä

Welcome to the #1's Meetings & Events Podcast. In this episode, we are with Ms. Maria Niemelä -Sales Group Manager at Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre.

On this first episode we will cover: 

  • The preparation process to plan big events and the role of the venue partner
  • Significant events happening in Messukeskus and Helsinki, such as #Slush2017
  • The advantages of an exotic event destination such as Helsinki to attract big events and conferences. 

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The venue partner plays a significant role in planning big events

During the interview, Maria shared her insights as a venue partner in helping event planners to lay down the groundwork. Based on her experience, it is important that both sides discuss the details early and reach the agreement on what should be preparedA big venue like Messukeskus often provides full-house facilities and services that can be mobilised quickly upon requests. To be more specific, the preparation process can go like this:

  • During the selling process, the venue and planner discuss the specific requirements for the event. Does the planner require catering service? Does he/she use the in-house audiovisual system or bring in her/his own team? What is the requirement for furniture, etc.? All of these questions should be resolved to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Based on the discussion, the venue will present the first layout of the event area and the available equipment. Then, the event planner can decide whether to use the venue's facilities or bring in her/his team to run the events. 
  • Once the deal is closed, the venue will assign a project manager to help the event planner to prepare, organise, and check up all the details and keep up with the timetable. In addition, a project team will be available throughout the event. 
  • For a big venue like Messuskeskus, the event planner can rest assured that his/her event is in safe hands. The venue provides additional services such as cleaning, construction, and decoration of the event. Besides, Messuskeskus possesses one of Finland's leading in-house AV team and a high-quality catering team to provide healthy, well-balanced food for all attendees.  

Planning early is crucial

Maria also shared some advice for new event planners when planning a big events or conferences for 1000 attendees or more. One piece of advice is laying out the plan and contacting the venue early enough. According to Maria, the preparation for events of this scale is a rigorous process, which can take up months before the starting date. So, if you are going to organise an annual meeting or big gala for next Christmas, make sure you have the plan ready in as early as May. "There is never too much preparation time", she noted.

In addition, Maria also emphasised the importance of the location of the venue. A venue with a central location which can provide easy transportation is ideal for attendees, especially for international travellers.


The fame of Slush 2016 was a pleasant surprise

Messukeskus has been the favourite host for some of the most renowned events in the Nordics such as the Nordic Business Forum and Slush. In 2016, Slush has gained quite a reputation with its unique slogan which was all over social media and international forums around the world.


The infamous slogan of Slush 2016 was an idea of a volunteer. Courtesy: Slush Media

When reminiscing about this, Maria said that it was a pleasant surprise to see the event creating such a buzz internationally, and she also noted the effect of social media could not have been possible without the help of social media. The slogan was originally created by Slush volunteers and quickly shared on different types of social media and forums. One reason the slogan has been such a succesful phenomenon is its clever satire. It turned one of the most depressing nature characteristics in Finland into an extraordinary motivation. In other words, Slush has lightened up November in Finland.



Helsinki as an exotic event destination 

When talking about the future of big scale events in Helsinki, Maria believed that the city has the potential to be the next favourite destination for international conferences and events. Not considered as a traditional event destination, Helsinki attracts more and more visitors with its stark contrasts. It is a vibrant cosmopolitan and compact capital full of businesses and tourists. In addition, Helsinki is also the gateway to Europe and Asia, providing direct flights to more than 150 countries around the world. The future of events in Helsinki looks bright and we can't wait to see more great events in Messuskeskus in 2018.


Messuskeskus is the largest convention centre in Finland. Founded in 1919, the event has been hosting a hundred different trade shows and public fairs and over 2,200 meeting and congresses every year. The venue has seven exhibition halls, 40 meeting rooms and the 4,400 seat Amfi Hall Auditorium, Finland's leading Audiovisual system, and a top quality catering team. In Slush 2017, the venue will host more than 20,000 attendees during the two-day event.

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