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Maria Kirillova: There is no change without people

Maria Kirillova: There is no change without people

Interview with Maria Kirillova, founder of the North-Eastern event agencies association BEIC and the creator of the largest Pan-Baltic forum for event profs and their clients - Baltic for Events Forum.


 - Three years ago you were planning the first festival. Now we are talking about the third event. How has it evolved during this time?

 - We invented this event as a global meeting place for the special events organizers from countries of Eastern Europe. At first it was the Baltic States and Finland only. Delegations from Sweden and Norway came to the first forum unexpected. But that was a sign. Then the idea was born to bring together the whole region.

The second forum gathered 8 countries. The third forum includes all 10 countries of the region: Germany, Poland, Baltic States, Russia, Finland and Scandinavia. This is an ambitious and complex project. But now it’s not just a chance for market players get acquaintance, now we speak about the development of the region and of event industry as a global goal.


- So now you’re talking about a much larger scale than just Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania… Do you want to become global?

- That’s an illusion. Nobody is global. Especially if he calls himself that. All agencies are focused on local markets. Elected in several countries. Now we are talking about the fact that the rules of the game are changing. European sponsorship, optimization of corporate budgets, the opening of regional offices in this area... Agencies are forced to become bigger, to work wider, to know how to be “global”. This is almost impossible, but theoretically clients need agencies to know everything and to be almighty. To be everywhere and to do everything. That's why it's so important to have partners. Therefore it is necessary to understand the neighboring countries.


- How would you describe your forum?

- We are a meeting of the region. This region exists in the minds of investors and corporate customers. I start from the realities. Some experts separate Baltic and Nordic “worlds”. But there are corporations that unite them. There are offices that are now called Baltic-Nordic. It's a trend now. We'll be forced to work together. Like a united region. We need to understand how to operate in that particular reality.


 - You are talking about the countries of North-Eastern Europe. Don't you think that Russia is a different story?

- Russia is a different world, yes. But this world, firstly, is interesting for many potential customers, and secondly, there are agencies and customers who are interested in Europe. It's an event for them. This is the shortest way for understanding, networking and new connections. These are neighboring markets. And these are the strongest markets at the moment.


 - I can't help but ask about your nationality and why you are not doing such an event in Russia.

- Events give us the opportunity to create something unique anywhere. 3 years ago I found that I have a chance to present a gift to the whole our creative business (the most creative business in the world!). In Russia this gift it is called “room to maneuver”. Many new opportunities in a new environment. After 3 years we have 400 positive reviews, 67 contracts worth 150 million euros, more than 300 mentions in the media in 10 languages. So that’s a good start.

I always say that we're still a startup. We have a lot to work on. We are preparing the third forum now and I believe that Russia is part of this great history.


- Ok, so what else is so special about Baltic for Events forum?

- Well, just that: it’s the only Pan-Baltic intellectual business platform for those who need inspiration, opinions, disputes, networking... This forum brings together 400 expert guests. Their total annual turnover is more than 173 million euros. These are those who dictate and shape the business mood and even the “fashion” of event industry in the region. This is an event that defines the future, global trends of event business.


 - The third forum is released under the theme "Event-futurism" - what does it mean?

- There are features of activities related to different culture, language policy, customer requirements. Event futurism is about how to combine our authenticity with global changes. The forum is a galaxy of countries forming more than half of the European community. The forum will discuss such deep topics as ethics, scenography, experimental marketing and transformation of brand experience into a special way of organizing the event, as well as a number of practical issues: relationships with the client in legal aspects, exchange of experience by means of emloyees exchange, formation of contracts between states, rules of work with contractors, sponsorship and integration, etc. Changes do not happen without people. We gather leaders who are moving the industry forward. This is the development of the market.


Baltic for Events Forum and Baltic-Nordic Event Awards will be held on April 24-25 in Tallinn.



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