According to Olli Muurainen, Chairman of the Board, the decision on the virtual events was made because something had to be done.
Corona time has been difficult for event companies. However, Management Events, a corporate events company, believes that the path to growth has been found in the virtual world.
In the spring, the company decided to start producing events online. It has now been decided to make the change permanent, as the virtual turnaround has paid off.
After a difficult spring, demand has grown. At the end of June, Management Events had a turnover of about 50 percent of the pre-pandemic level.
“In August, it gradually started to improve, but the last two weeks of September were the ones when it hit hard,” says the company’s founder and chairman of the board. Olli Muurainen.
“It felt like customers across Europe were embracing the change.”
Management Events is a company founded 25 years ago that organizes events for members of the management teams of large companies, among others. Management people meet with, for example, sponsors and financiers. The company operates in 13 countries and its largest markets are Sweden and the Netherlands.
Management Events expected to receive a turnover of approximately EUR 30 million from Europe this year. The coronavirus made a pit of about 10 million euros, which is now being filled.
Transition networking was not an obvious solution when the business ended in the spring rather than on the wall. The company’s biggest event, Executive IT, was about to start in Sweden.
The night before the event, there was a news that appointments should be avoided. During the night flooded cancellations. The event, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., was canceled at 7 p.m.
“By that morning in March, the organization of our events practically ended. There was no visibility as to how long this was. ”
Management Events had three options: wait for the restrictions to be lifted, organize so-called hybrid events, or go online.
The company had time to hold both online and physical hybrid events for about ten days, until it became impossible.
According to Muurainen, the decision about virtual events was made because something had to be done.
“As a change, it’s clearly bigger and more dramatic. And, of course, we had no idea if our customers would accept this, ”he says.
“But we thought that if we put all our resources into change, it’s a safer way to save the company than to wait. In retrospect, it has been a successful solution. ”
Company received development funding of EUR 100,000 from Business Finland for the change. The much-disregarded form of support was the right kind for Management Events, as the support allowed the company to reverse its direction.
“Of course, more money went into the change, but it was an important catalyst. We are really grateful for that. ”
The money went directly to virtualization, that is, to the very change for which support was sought.
The company had no experience with virtual events. Attempt, error, and investigation were required. In the spring, the company organized test events with different models and developed them with the help of customer feedback.
“For a while, we were a product development organization. When nothing else could be done, it made sense to spend time on it, ”Muurainen says and thanks the employees for their open-mindedness.
It was a little helpful that over the years, Management Events had invested around € 10 million in its own work software. So there were technical skills – everything else had to be learned.
In the new there is a lot of familiar but also a lot of newness in virtual events. The traditional stage program is replaced by discussions, debates and panels in the studio, for example.
“In practice, it requires the same type of expertise as even making a morning TV. We need a studio and cameras, ”says Muurainen.
Face-to-face meetings are organized as two-way video calls. The company has thought of the interlocutors so that they benefit each other.
According to Muurainen, appointments are more secure than before. Before, they were held at the long tables of the convention center side by side.
“No matter how quietly they talk, the neighbor’s table can hear what is being said. Sometimes they may have been shy about it. ”
One reason for stopping physical events is efficiency. Virtual transactions are effective not only for customers but also for the company itself.
The benefits come from centralization and scaling up. According to Muurainen, the contents of the events may be partly similar in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. On the other hand, more targeted content can be organized for smaller audiences.
“We believe we can offer more in the future with the same money.”
International business travel stopped this year like a wall. Muurainen predicts a continuation of development even after the pandemic, but believes that face-to-face events will rise out of distress at all.
He predicts that in a world that favors future telework, people will need face-to-face contact and experiences.
“However, those experiences are not so easy to organize virtually.”
Muurainen thinks that it is easier to take corporate events online, because their core is not experiences but business and two-way encounters.