Finland is the promised land of engineers where heavy industries and ICT sector are traditionally highly appreciated. Only the past recession years have given a little attention to the service sector due to its employment effect. However there is lack of understanding for the meeting industry. In Finland we are not at the stage, in which our sector is evaluated by hotel nights and other logistics data. Our existence is barely known; in other words the timing is perfect to start building the image. With the initiative of MPI Finland Chapter an event headed by the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and MPI International Board Chair Fiona Pelham was organized last Friday, September 2, 2016.
“Economic growth for Finland through international business events and congresses” was the title for the 2-hours “invitation-only” conference. Our target was to invite people at CEO level from various business sectors, top politicians and university rectors. We wanted to get to an action plan from day one as the meeting industry supports the knowledge economy! There was big interest for the session; 40 persons had registered in it within two hours of sending the invitations out. The meeting room was easily filled up, but the participants were mainly from the event sector. However the first steps were taken.
The program started with a brisk presentation of Minister for Foreign Trade Kai Mykkanen, who arrived to the venue directly from budget negotiations. The negotiations might have taken 40 hours, but the new minister had really studied the topic, had called the heads of Finnish Trade promotion offices abroad and spoke without written notes, which impressed us. Real working tools were offered and some possible co-operation forms were examined. For example currently the meetings for official foreign trade delegations to Finland lack an excitement that the participants of this event could easily supply.
The following two speakers also brought some ingredients for future action; the economic sectors which official Finland is actively promoting abroad should be connected to international events. Either by bringing existing professional congresses to Finland or by organizing events from scratch in order to make them more special. Having no economic data the value of our sector is not appreciated; this is why the participants agreed to start collecting figures more organized.
Our very own MPI-Star Fiona Pelham, Chair of the IBOD was the main speaker besides minister Mykkanen. She presented with her positive charisma impressive M&I figures of the MPI Economic Impact studies from Canada, U.K and U.S. For example her slide with “30% of the total visitors to the U.K are meetings and conference delegates” was distributed in social media with cheering comments. The challenges to promote the M&I sector was expressed. Fiona told us that she sees the same issue around the globe, but together we can work for a change!
All in all the event was two hours well used. It was organized in co-operation with Finland Convention Bureau, Visit Helsinki, Visit Espoo, Travel Experience (local DMC), Finlandia Hall and Conference Network Finland. Now it is the time for private actors and the MPI Finland board to take the leadership for follow-up and get some of the great wordings for action.
Written by Paula Blomster, MPI Finland President