Interview with Maria Kirillova, the founder of the Northeast Association of Event Agencies, which organizes the Baltic For Events Forum – the largest forum on live events and in Northeast Europe.

Q: Mary, this is going to be the third Baltic For Events Forum and second Baltic-Nordic Event Awards. How has the Forum evolved over time? What has changed?

We conceived this event as a global meeting for northeastern European countries. At first, this included the Baltic countries and Finland. Then delegations from Sweden and Norway came to our first forum. That was a surprise. But that’s how the idea to bring together the Baltic Sea region together was born. The second included eight different countries. The third forum will feature all ten countries of our region, including Germany, Poland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Finland and Scandinavia. This is an ambitious and challenging project, but it comes at just the right time. This is not just a way to network, but rather an impulse for developing the region as a global platform for events. The Baltic For Events Forum also shapes the region’s reputation for Western European countries.

Q: Were there any special prerequisites for creating a forum for the Baltic Region?

The agencies that take part in the Forum are mainly concentrated in local markets. However, there are a number of trends that cannot be ignored: European sponsorship, optimization of corporate budgets, opening of regional offices, etc. Agencies are forced to become bigger, to work more broadly, to know how to be global. In practice, this is impossible, but in theory, agencies should know everything, and be able to go everywhere. Therefore, it is important to have partners. It also makes it essential to understand the neighboring countries.

Q: How would you characterize your forum?

We are THE meeting of the region. This region exists in the minds of investors and corporate customers. There is the Baltic world and the Nordic world, and there are corporations that unite them. There are corporate offices that are now called Baltic-Nordic offices. It’s only a question of time before we start working without any borders at all. When there is no difference whether you’re based in Poland or Latvia. We all have to work together. As a region. We must understand how to cooperate in our realities. We need to understand how our customers from neighboring countries think too. Lastly, events are the most creative business environment. We always need to shake up our event landscape. The Forum is an opportunity to look at events from 10 different points of view in 2 days. This is unique content that makes you stronger.

Q: Who is your audience and what are they looking for in the first place?

Our audience is made up of event agencies, event customers, and venues. We also have IT sector representatives. In general, our audience conducts about 2,000 events a year, with a combined turnover of more than 173 million euros. The Forum unites decision-makers. These are people of practice. These are the people thanks to whom the event industry is developing today. I like to say that we are an intellectual platform first and foremost. Indeed, new ideas arise out of inspiration, discussions, and informal communication. The Forum history includes more than 62 new contracts signed, 62 success stories, and more than 200 mentions in the media in 10 different languages. Therefore, the Forum is obviously an opportunity to develop your business and search for new partners. This is a terrific opportunity to meet and talk with many leading professionals.

Q: The third forum was launched under the theme “Event-futurism”. What does that mean?

There are features of events associated with different cultures, language policies, and customer requirements. Event futurism is about how to combine our authenticity with global change, tendencies, and fashion. The forum is a galaxy of countries that forms half of the European community. The forum will discuss such deep topics as ethics, set design, experimental marketing, and the transformation of brand experience into a special way of organizing an event, as well as a number of practical issues: the latest legal aspects of holding events, exchanging experience about the labor market, the formation of contracts between countries, rules for working with contractors, sponsorship and integration, etc. Change does not happen without people. We gather people who are moving the industry forward. This is how the market develops.

The Baltic For Events Forum and the Baltic-Nordic Event Awards will be held April 24-25, 2019 in Tallinn, Estonia.