People and communities continue to have a strong need to connect, network and exchange ideas. Congress city Turku’s partners Turku Fair Center and the video production company RajuLive, who have helped to arrange high-quality events in a flexible manner even in the exceptional times of the current pandemic, rely on this fact.
“Various digital solutions and virtual events have been a standard to us for a long time, but now the organisers and participants are more well-prepared for these than ever before. We can only hazard a guess as to how many years this transformation would have taken otherwise,” says Johan Ekman, Partner at RajuLive.
Päivi Hoikkala, Business Unit Director at Turku Fair Center, is also delighted with the remarkable digital leap, but she also emphasises the value and core of business made in person. Technology cannot replace face-to-face meetings entirely.
“Physical contacts may even have a stronger significance in the future after this long period of restrictions. It is highly likely that people will be eager to go to events in person once it is possible again,” Hoikkala says.
Hybrid, which brings together the best parts of traditional and online events, will surely establish its status as a more popular format. Hybrid events can even improve equality in communities and companies where only senior employees can travel to international seminars.
“If it is possible to participate in an event online, the organiser can attract a higher number of participants or even an internationally renowned speaker who would normally be difficult to attract to Finland. Eliminating the need for travel saves time and money and protects the environment,” says Ekman.
Turku Fair Center offers a versatile array of premises
Turku Fair Center is a natural choice for hybrid events today and in the future as its diverse selection of premises includes a suitable option for meetings of ten people, as well as fairs with tens of thousands of visitors.
In addition to large exhibition rooms, Turku Fair Center has a spacious auditorium, comfortable meeting rooms and a grand restaurant with its catering services. Good transport connections and the 3,000 parking spaces provide excellent accessibility during major events.
“The current restrictions will be lifted at some point, but health security has become an integral part of the events industry. This is, of course, very welcome,” says Hoikkala.
The materials of the Association of Trade Fair and Event Organisers in Finland help organisers to communicate about hygiene-related matters to customers and their visitors. Turku Fair Center is also part of the Clean & Safe Turku network. Companies of the network are committed to carrying out responsible actions for the best of the customer’s safety.
“We can accomplish our goal more easily with our good air ventilation system and wide areas with high ceilings,” says Hoikkala.
Fully equipped studio saves costs
Rajupaja, a company specialised in event technology and programme services, as well as its subsidiary, RajuLive, who are responsible for video production services, are Turku Fair Center’s partners skilled in arranging hybrid events. The fully equipped TV-level studio built in Turku Fair Center during the pandemic is a relief for customers as it saves costs and the equipment that is readily available on site saves at least one day of working time.
“Turku Fair Center is so adaptable that event organisers can simply decide on a date and start planning the content of the event. The actual method of production can be specified closer to the date,” says Ekman.
Uncertainty can be prevented with the help of professionals. RajuLive is not only responsible for providing technological solutions, but they also help customers plan and determine the smartest mode of production. Whether the final format of the event organised at Turku Fair Center is an online broadcast, a hybrid event or an in-person event, all additional services are always customised according to the customer’s need.
“We always start off with a thorough assessment of needs to ensure that the nature of the event is appropriate for its purpose. We want to support organisers all the way from planning to the actual event.”
Ekman believes that it is important to know how to talk about the technical side of online production in a comprehensible manner, while also respecting the customer.
“I have heard a lot of positive feedback about the professional way in which RajuLive interacts with their customers and considers their needs,” says Hoikkala with a smile.
Let makeshift solutions be in the past
The expectations people have of the quality of online broadcasts have changed rapidly. Initially, anyone forced to take part in an online meeting was satisfied if everything on the agenda was accomplished, regardless of how well it was done. Now, video meetings are almost like a daily routine.
“Online services used on a daily basis can therefore seem like an attractive and easy solution to arrange more official remote events. Nevertheless, it should be considered what message a makeshift event conveys to the participants,” says Hoikkala.
A professionally designed and organised broadcast stands out from the flow of daily online meetings and webinars. Even if only the keynote speaker or host is present at Turku Fair Center, the scenery and illumination of the studio creates an open atmosphere and provides credibility to the content. When technological solutions work impeccably, participants feel that their time is valued.
“People, in general, have a shorter temper when sitting at a computer than before,” says Ekman.
The remote participants’ ability to focus is tested, even if the event is organised professionally and everything is on schedule. Because of this, hybrid events can be made more interesting by adding stimuli and authentic interaction to the broadcast.
“Remote participants of hybrid events can participate actively through polls, quizzes or instant messages. If any comments are requested, they should also be responded to. The host has an important role in involving the participants in the event.”
Informal sections of meetings and conferences, such as coffee breaks and dinners, are impossible to arrange remotely in their original format. Virtual solutions and new ideas are be developed continuously, however, as networking is an important part of participating in an event.
“Yes, it is possible to make people spend an evening together virtually as well. For example, the participants can be sent a ready-made dinner at home or a package of ingredients from which everyone can cook their own dinner.”
Are the seminars of the future a forum for real people or a playground of virtual avatars – or something completely different?
Ekman and Hoikkala admit that it is hard to predict what the innovations of the events industry and the rapid development of virtual production will bring, even in a matter of a few years.
You should keep up with the times, that much is certain.
Text: Merja Kallikari
Photo: Mika Okko