The world’s leading organisation in the field of health and reproductive medicine, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), held its Annual Meeting of the year 2016 at Messukeskus Helsinki. It was the biggest congress of the year in Finland.
In July 2016 the congress gathered nearly 10,000 visitors from over 100 countries, and the event utilised the entire Messukeskus Helsinki. One of the biggest medical exhibitions ever held in Finland was organised simultaneously. The financial impact of the event was substantial as ESHRE is estimated to have generated over 15 million euros to the Helsinki metropolitan area.
– We looked for a suitable city in northern Europe. Messukeskus Helsinki’s versatile premises suited our purposes well and Helsinki’s immaculate reputation as a congress city also influenced our decision, summarises Managing Director Bruno Van den Eede from ESHRE.
Scientific congresses are like massive caravans travelling from one country and city to another.
– Even though most delegates are from Europe, we also have delegates from, for example, India, China and the USA. This is the main event for the members of ESHRE.
The congress provides a platform for presenting the latest research results from the field of reproductive research. – The feedback from our visitors was positive. Some of our regular participants considered this year’s congress to be one of the best in the history of ESHRE. All in all it can be said that the personnel of Messukeskus Helsinki really went the extra mile to make our congress a success. Organising an event of this magnitude requires careful planning, effective work and seamless cooperation. All this combined with the helpful, positive and professional attitude of the staff equals success, lists Van den Eede. – I am very thankful for the Messukeskus team: Pirre, Tommi, Pertti, Vesa, Susanne and all the others.
Synergy between premises and services
According to Van den Eede, venue plays a key role in successful congresses.
– We needed plenty of room for our meetings and seminars as the programme included hundreds of presentations, panel discussions and debates. The time table was also demanding. To our advantage the meeting rooms, seminar halls and exhibition premises were all close to each other. Time is of the essence and this way visitors didn’t need to reserve a lot of time for moving from one occasion to another. One big challenge was our Annual Meeting for which we needed a very large venue. The Amfi Hall of Messukeskus Helsinki turned out to be perfect for the occasion.
The ESHRE exhibition showcased the latest equipment and solutions. It has a central role in the event, this time in a very concrete manner. – Altogether 146 exhibitors filled the biggest exhibition hall of Messukeskus Helsinki and the exhibition was in the middle of all the action. The cafés and restaurants serving lunch were in the same hall and visitors could easily get acquainted with the exhibition during their breaks. Needless to say that our exhibitors were very pleased with this arrangement.
Critical areas in shape
Well-functioning audio-visual technology and information technology, as well as catering services, are a must in these types of events. Everything must work smoothly. – We are very demanding when it comes to audio-visual services and IT, states Van den Eede. – Many of us travel from one congress to another and expect these things to work. It is essential in our work.
Offering appropriate catering services was also challenging. – Having people from all over the world sets great demands as different cultural backgrounds and preferences must be taken into consideration. The visitors of ESHRE gave credit for the Fazer restaurant services and the amount of critical feedback was almost non-existing.
The ESHRE Annual Meeting was the second paperless congress of the organisation.
– We disregarded the traditional congress portfolios and all programme and material was in digital form. Thousands of users logged on to the network simultaneously and used our mobile application. High-speed internet connection and easy access to a wireless network were an absolute necessity. We have experienced what the worst case scenario can be but this time there was no need to worry, summarises Van den Eede.
Helsinki lived up to the expectations
The ESHRE congress caravan travels from one country and city to another around Europe.
– Helsinki possesses the qualities that we look for in a congress city, states Van den Eede. Good flight connections, the compact size and the simple clarity of the city make Helsinki an excellent congress destination. It is difficult to get lost. Helsinki has plenty of beautiful nature and the city can be considered safe on an international scale. This is a huge advantage in today’s world.
Van den Eede has one suggestion for improvement
– Helsinki could increase its hotel capacity. Our congress was large enough to really test the capacity of the hotels. More accommodation options would surely bring more international events to Helsinki.
Our keys to success
The experts of Messukeskus Helsinki really went the extra mile and showed their expertise at ESHRE 2016. Project Manager Pirre Sandström led the team whose responsibility was to meet the expectations of the customer.
SVV Suomen Videoviestintä – audio-visual experts
- The audio-visual knowhow and IT expertise, not to mention the state-of-the-art equipment, all met the requirements and expectation of the customer. The wireless connection was surely pushed to the limit but everything worked perfectly, Sandström rejoices.
- ESHRE also challenged the construction and design services of Messukeskus Helsinki. The exhibition stands were impressive and big. Also adjusting the meeting rooms and seminar halls according to the customer’s needs pushed the construction services to the limit but the results pleased all parties.
- The customer service of Messukeskus Helsinki was put to the test already months before the event. Visitors and exhibitors from all over the world required answers to all kinds of questions and none of them proved to be too difficult for the customer service professionals to handle.
Fazer restaurant services
- Providing nearly 10,000 people with nourishment each day required precision and hard work. Taking the visitors’ different backgrounds and preferences into consideration was an utmost necessity.
- Knowing where to go is an essential element in a congress of this size. No time can be wasted. Good, informative signs guide visitors effectively to where they need to be. Standiman took care of designing and manufacturing the needed signs in accordance with the visual appearance of the congress.
- Security is the cornerstone of successful international congresses and requires meticulous planning and preparations. It is one of the key issues considered when choosing a suitable venue for any event.
Text Juha Kontu
Images Pekka Hannila