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54 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / ISSUE 67Nordic: FinlandFinland designs the right meeting approachFinland's meetings attraction seems to be its ability to design the right meetings architectureFinland has recently won a series of accolades which highlight the country's meetings appeal. According to an annual study by Swiss consultancy firm Mercer, Helsinki, Finland's capital, is the second safest city in the world. The New York Times listed Helsinki as the second most interesting destination in the world in 2012 and one reason for the ranking was Helsinki being named the World Design Capital for 2012. It is a joint venture between five cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti. In the ICCA Country Rankings Finland placed 21st and 13th in Europe with 150 qualifying meetings. The Finland Convention Bureau conducted a survey of 2,474 congress delegates and found that 62 per cent were in Finland for the first time. Eighty-nine per cent of those regarded the local congress industry as 'excellent' or 'very good'.The bureau says the country hosts on average 400 international association congresses, attracting 60,000 delegates a year. The economic impact of its meetings industry is ?72m annually. Last year broke all records for meetings at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre (HECC). In all, 1,706 meetings, congresses and events were hosted there in 2011, which is a 15 per cent increase year-on-year. "Over the year, the centre provided its services to over one million visitors meaning we are the busiest event venue in Finland," says HECC Congress Manager, Veronica Krabbe. Recently, the HECC won the 2012 edition of Nokia World, an annual convention of 3,000 delegates dedicated to the mobile phone manufacturer's products. It will take place 25-26 September at the HECC's new 15,000sqm Hall 7, which opened in 2011.In terms of logistics, 145 daily international flights operate to and from Helsinki and Finland offers organisers 1,100 meeting venues and hotels. One of its newest ventures is the Scandi Paasi hotel, which will have 170 bedrooms, 30 meeting rooms and four restaurants when it opens in spring 2012. It is connected to the recently-renovated Helsinki Congress Paasitorni. Location, meetings infrastructure and an experienced industry seems to be the right combination for organisers. In 2011, the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre hosted 1,706 meetings with the largest being the European Congress of Pathology, which brought 2,400 medical professionals and exhibitors to the centre. Date: 27 August to 1 September 2011Delegate numbers: 2,100From how many countries?76. Most of the delegates were from Greece, Finland, Spain, the US and Germany. Challenges: The destination was new to all parties organising the conference.Activities/events held: The Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre worked with a local destination management company to offer sightseeing tours in and around Helsinki as well as a post congress tour to St Petersburg, which was very well attended by approximately 100 participants. The organiser also held a reception in the City Hall. Comment from organiser: "Helsinki is a safe city, where everything works. The city was perceived as a good congress destination. And the event team in Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre was extremely professional, helpful and friendly. "We had their full attention and every additional request was taken care of right away. Also the catering was honestly the best we have had at a convention centre in many years and the client, the European Society of Pathology, was extremely happy with it. "The centre's conference technology and all other services worked well and effi ciently, too," says the MD of congress organising company CPO Hanser Service, Inge Hanser.Case studyAbove: The Helsinki Exhibition and Convention CentreDelegates surveyed were visiting Finland for the first timeFINLAND CONVENTION BUREAU62%

So?tel Legend The Grand Amsterdam Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, 1012 EX Amsterdam - The NetherlandsInformation and reservation: +31 (0)20 555 3 339 - H2783-SB@so?tel.com - www.so?tel-legend.comSo?tel Legend The Grand Amsterdam is the iconic business hotel in the luxury segment of Amsterdam city centre destinations. The ulti-mate venue for a conference, meeting or social event; the hotel is ideally situated just a few minutes from Dam Square and Central Station. Together with the award winning restaurant Bridges, Library "Or" and The Flying Dutch-man bar, The Grand boasts an exclusive So SPA with ?tness centre and a private valet car park. This historic destination provides 19 exclusive meeting rooms, able to accommodate between 2 and 350 guests in either contemporary elegance or one of our monumental listed rooms.