From 22 to 24 January 2014, the 3rd Europe+Asia Event Forum took place in PetroCongress (5 Lodeynopolskaya street, St. Petersburg) with the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (EFEA 2014).  The event was organised by R&C Market Research Company.

EFEA is a communication site for building a professional dialogue of business communities of events industry in St. Petersburg, the regions and foreign countries, making it possible to establish international contacts, share experience and innovations, and attract investments. The purpose of the Europe+Asia Event Forum is to obtain up-to-date information on the state and prospects of the convention and exhibition industry from world-class professionals and expand of business contacts.

In 2014, the event brought together 330 events industry professionals from 25 regions of the Russian Federation and 28 foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Thailand, Belgium, Hungary, the USA, Poland, Austria and many others.

On the first day of the Forum, an extended meeting of the RF CCI Committee on Exhibition and Fair Activities was held, followed by a media scrum with the Chairman, General Director of Expocentre ZAO Sergey Bednov. A significant event of the Forum was also a meeting of World Trade Centres of Europe and Asia, which ended with a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between WTC St. Petersburg and WTC Seoul.

At the official opening of the Forum, on January 23, welcome address  to the audience was delivered by: Serguei Trofimov, President of RESTEC® Group; Oleg Markov, Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg; Vladimir Strashko, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sergey Bednov, General Director of Expocentre ZAO; Vladimir Salamatov, General Director of WTC Moscow; Anna Gorska, Chief Executive Officer, ICCA Central European Chapter Chairperson; Paul Woodward, CEO of UFI; Simon Foster, CEO of UBM Live.

According to Sergey Zimin, Deputy Plenipotentiary Envoy of the RF President to the Northwestern Federal District, the 3rd Europe+Asia Event Forum is an extremely significant event. ‘St. Petersburg was built as a window to Europe, and the fact that our city every year offers more and more important international events will improve its image and attract more attention to it. Our joint efforts are not in vain,’ he stressed.

As part of the EFEA 2014 business programme, the participants discussed the topical issues and problems of the events industry, market situation and prospects of the industry; Russian and foreign experts shared their experiences and presented their own ideas and projects. The event consisted of round tables, panel discussions, thematic sessions for 5 areas: exhibition industry, meetings industry, business and incentive tourism, regional marketing and venue management. The Russia – Asia conference was an innovation in the EFEA 2014; this event brought together leading players in the market of the exhibition industry, trade representations, industry associations and unions of Russia and the Asia-Pacific Region. A total of 20 thematic panel sessions, round tables and workshops were held during the Forum.

Particular attention of the Forum participants in 2014 was given to the development prospects of the events industry in the Russian regions. According to Serguei Trofimov, President of RESTEC® Group, two-thirds of the exhibitions and meetings industry are held in Moscow and St. Petersburg today. ‘But the Government’s objective is to hold 50% of business events in the regions by 2020. Against this background, holding the Europe+Asia Event Forum has become an important component of the events industry development, Serguei Trofimov stressed.

According to Janos Barabas, Executive Chairman of HungexpoCoLtd, who shared the Hungarian experience in business event management and incentive tourism with his Russian and European colleagues at his author’s master class, ‘the exhibition industry is a living organism, and qualitative changes as well as the onward movement are crucial for its ability to live. The direct interdependence of market trends, the society and sectors of the economy, industry and business is obvious. Structural changes within the industry can and should be the result of external changes and innovations. Thus, at its time, the information technology changed the minds of people, and business had to adapt to those trends. Today, the same thing happens. We must carefully analyse all these external flows, and establish sustainable and steady transformation processes on a step-by-step basis, using all modern tools in this,’ the expert from Budapest said.

For all the days of the Europe+Asia Event Forum, the Matchmaking Centre was working, providing the Forum participants and guests with the opportunity to establish direct contacts and strengthen business relationships with events industry professionals. For 3 days of the Forum, in the Matchmaking Centre, 143 pre-arranged meetings with the participation of events industry professionals were held, and more than 30 meetings were announced and organised directly at the Forum venue.

According to the member of the Government of St. Petersburg, Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg Alexander Prokhorenko, the city administration attaches much significance to activities that increase the city’s attractiveness, including the exhibition and congress activities. He made a special emphasis: It is very important that this big convention that unites leaders of the event activities is taking place in the Northern Capital for the third time.  I am sure that it will open up new prospects for market professionals, and will bring in inward investment and enhance the attractiveness of St. Petersburg.’

Vladimir Strashko, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry pointed out that the growing interest of market players contributed to the success of the only Forum of the Russian industry. He noted that the exhibition and meetings industries come close together at a fast pace in Russia. ‘Today, exhibitions are unconceivable without meeting, and vice versa,’ he said. ‘Exhibitions rarely show a new product, but business meetings that take place during exhibitions promote the development of the whole industry.’

Along with the above events, finals of the specialised competition for young events industry professionals Event TALENTS was held on the final day of the Forum. The jury composed of leading experts from specialised industry educational institutions of St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg Tourist Information Centre, and European experts Rob Davidson and Anna Gorska found that two project presentations by young events industry professionals were the best:  by Artem Machulsky from St. Petersburg and by Alexandra Shchedrina from Novosibirsk.

Given the positive feedback from EFEA guests and participants, the obvious growth dynamics in numbers of guests and participants of the Forum for the past three years, and the constant increase in interest in the activities by Russian and foreign players in the market, the 4th Europe+Asia Event Forum (EFEA 2015) is scheduled for January 2015.