Helsinki’s Coolest Congress Event this year…
Business Events with Bang….
Not all business meetings are exciting or particularly fun. That is why so many congress organizers now rely on a consultant of sorts to arrange some entertainment or team building during conference hours. In our case, we were approached by a fantastic consultant who knew exactly what kind of feeling she wanted to give her International delegates. Our concept for the event allowed a multi-layered approach to experiencing Finland and learning outside of the boardroom setting.
The brief – 100+ Senior Management guests from a large multinational corporation, from around the world, meeting in Finland for a 5 day conference. They needed bit of entertainment for 3 hours on their penultimate day. It had to be challenging, fun and intelligent. It was meant to include an element of “sightseeing”.
Now we are an experience-led business – sightseeing from behind glass has its place in short breaks, but we believe that to get to know a country it is best to get stuck into experiences. Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t have the money, time or access to do that every time we visit a new place.
We were determined to bring the best of Finnish lifestyle, culture, history, nature and society to our delegates right in the Heart of Helsinki, at Finlandia Talo. Designed by Alvar Aalto, this great conference hall offers seamless services for guests. It is a quiet and chic setting where everything happens without you noticing – a sign it is well practiced.
We set up 6 Experiences for our guests, gave them a map and some questions and sent them on their way to explore a short route around Finlandia Talo. They were sent to meet 6 Helsinki Tour guides, who helped us immensely by offering a great atmosphere, a good narrative of the theme we gave them and also led the group to the Experience at each of the 6 stops. As we had 10 groups, each one had a different route to follow.
These were our stops:
MYTHOLOGY – Our Helsinki Tour guide, Sinikka, met the group by the famous Bear outside of the National Museum. She led the group inside, teaching them all about the writings of the Kalevala first published in 183, an Epic text that is said to have inspired National Identity. Under the Frescos in the main entrance hall, depicting the characters of the Kalevala, they heard all about Elias Lönnrot and inspirations. Confronted by Choreographer and Actor, Nina Mamia (Mamia Company), our guests are treated to a specially written Monologue from ‘Joukahäinen’, a character in the Kalevala who pledges his sister’s hand in marriage as a bet – and fails.
COFFEE BREAK & FINNISH LANGUAGE:
We like to offer something different, even with the coffee break! Our Tour Guide &
Finnish Language Teacher, Maarit Liljendahl made sure that each delegate could say a short Finnish phrase (we checked later with a group performance!) – the only question was, did they want to learn how to ask for a cup of coffee or a glass of Finnish Vodka! Our guests did surprisingly well as accents.
Our Creative Team, Directed and Scripted by Kasperi Nordman did a fantastic job at recreating some of Finland’s famous characters. His own depiction of General Mannerheim, staged in a room full of Weapons from the past 500 years, was visibly moving to our guests, who stood still throughout his performance. Their guide Anna Lindholm had prepped the group with plenty of knowledge about Mannerheim’s political and military background, plus his time As Finland’s Prime Minister. She was also suitably impressed with meeting ‘Mannerheim’ himself!
We were fortunate enough that Biologist and Nature Guide Anu Ruohomäki was able to join our party! Her knowledge of the Finnish nature is extensive and her specialism in Lynx was of great interest to our guests. With the help of Sari, from Edupoli, our helper for the day, everyone was able to enjoy some Lingonberry juice and learn about what the forests have to offer.
Inviting the groups to taste some wild food and learn about foraging for mushrooms, berries and spruce tips in Finland’s forests. They also learned about “Everyman’s Right” in Finland, allowing all Finns to roam and forage freely in the forests.
Our group was a Management group, and learning about different Leadership & learning styles was an important theme of the conference as a whole. So Director Kasperi Nordman wrote a great script for Actor Kari Jagt to play.
The location was inside the National Museum by the Portrait of Alexander I, Emperor of Russia who took power of Finland after Gustav IV, King of Sweden was exiled and lost rule over Finland. The Monologue from Gustav IV took our guests right back to a time of Royal Rivalries and the birth of an Autonomous Finnish Society.
ART & DESIGN:
Our guide Tanja Heikkinen welcomed the guests to our small screening room, where they could take a seat and enjoy her enthusiastic speech about Art & Design. Her passion for the arts was apparent to the guests and with the assistance of our student helper, Satu, from Edupoli, our video slideshow ran really smoothly.
You can watch the video here – it aims to bring all of the themes together with art and design in mind. Our guests seemed to really like it!
Our delegates all met back together for a great post-experience event, where they were tested on their new knowledge by answering questions. Our Creative Team, Kasperi, Nina and Kari got them practicing some Finnish “shouting” techniques to loosen them up and relieve stress! They also learned an especially choreographed dance that they could do right from their desks.They were laughing and participating with great vigor and excitement.
We are sure that they have learned plenty about Finnish people, culture, lifestyle and history during their event. We deeply thank our guides, staff and students for their enthusiasm and professionalism during this event – we couldn’t have done it without you. We wouldn’t be so well equipped with lovely images if it wasn’t for Juhana from Edupoli, who joined us as a helper for the day. His skill as a photographer came in really handy and we’re really grateful.
We hope that this event showcased what is possible with a bit of Creativity, a lot of hard work and planning and a good attitude towards people. We don’t underestimate people, and business groups are no exception – each and every single customer is just as important as the next and with big groups, this too is a must to remember.