Bea World Festival is an annual Oscar gala for the international event community, in which the best events of the year are awarded. The 2018 festival launched a new category, Best Congress/Conference/Convention Venue, to award the world’s best venue for events. The first ever prize in this category went to Finlandia Hall of Helsinki. The merits of Finlandia Hall cited in the arguments for the prize were the adaptability of the hall’s spaces and its ability to handle challenging commissions successfully, such as turning itself into the media centre for the Trump-Putin Summit Meeting in July 2018 with a lead time of slightly over one week only.
Bea World Festival 2018 was held in Coimbra, Portugal, on 22–23 November. The competition was joined by 122 candidates from 28 countries. The total number of entries competing in the various categories of the competition was 303.
The new category added to the competition this year, to award the world’s best Congress/Conference/Convention Venue, highlights the vital role that the choice for venue plays in the success of an event.
The first ever winner of the Best Congress/Conference/Convention Venue category is Finlandia Hall of Helsinki. The candidates for the award included the well-known exhibitions and international convention centre ExCeL London, which was one of the venues of the London Summer Olympics 2012.
“We had an opportunity to present the merits of Finlandia Hall to the jury in Coimbra,” says Finlandia Hall CEO Johanna Tolonen. “We highlighted the central location of the hall, the architectural design by Alvar Aalto and the easy adaptability of the spaces for the needs of each customer. Responsibility is a key factor in our operations. For example, we installed solar panels on our rooftop among the first European event venues to do so. The Finlandia Hall restaurant prepares food mainly from local foods.”
The success of the Trump-Putin Summit’s media centre propelled Finlandia Hall to first prize
Factors contributing to the top ranking of Finlandia Hall included the media attention that Finlandia Hall earned in July 2018, when the hall served as the media centre for the Trump-Putin Summit Meeting in Helsinki. The media centre was presented in the competition as an example of the steadfast professionalism the Finlandia Hall staff.
International media representatives at the summit gave Finlandia Hall positive feedback, for example, on the friendliness of the staff, the level of service, flexibility, the saunas and catering.
“We are looking to new international media attention next year, when Finlandia Hall hosts about one hundred meetings related to Finland’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. We will execute the meeting services in a tailored fashion. Our role will include catering, interpretation and security, as well as some other services,” Tolonen says.