Crasman implemented Messukeskus’s (Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre) new online ticket store, which was integrated into the surrounding IT infrastructure and enables dynamic ticket packages with various services, as well as efficient use of marketing automation.

What is most valuable about customer relationships?

"The core of our business is not online retail", says Mikko Levo, CIO at Messukeskus, right at the beginning of the interview. Messukeskus is Finland's largest and most international event centre, and it has just survived the worst collapse in turnover in its more than 100-year history.

And that’s exactly why, when talking to Levo, the topic repeatedly turns to the identification of what’s important. For the same reason, the title of this article might as well be “What’s Most Valuable in a Business,” but hold that thought. At the end of the story, it becomes clear why.

Let’s go back in time almost three years, to the time before the pandemic. In the spring of 2019, an inevitable fact had been established in both information management and marketing: the online ticket centre had come to an end technically and operationally. A wide search for the implementer of a new solution was carried out, and a call for tenders was sent to fifteen parties. There was an old partner, large international e-commerce stores and a domestic supplier. Replies were received from seven, a few of which were selected for further discussion.

The winner was found in Finland

The winner was Crasman. Medium-sized in Finland, but small among giants. Why was that, Mikko Levo?
“Important things for us were Crasman’s domesticity, impressive references, and an operating model in which Crasman takes responsibility for the entire package - platform solution, implementation, and maintenance”, Levo lists. "In many ways, Crasman's references were much more demanding than what our needs required, so trust was strong right from the start."

Because Levo and his team had the ability to evaluate Crasman's offer technically, on schedule and in terms of content, there was a good basis for the success of the project already in the start-up phase. Levo’s team also conducted risk analyses of the suppliers, from which the partner was ultimately selected.

Strong vision, clear direction

“We had a very clear vision of what we wanted from the new online ticket store. Easy maintainability, a direct purchase path and functional integrations with other systems. We also wanted the online store to be embedded directly on the event page”, Mikko Levo lists. "As well as, of course, smooth mobile usage."

Successful service design started already in the sales phase of the project. Crasman's team strived to understand as well as possible the needs of Messukeskus's organisation, business and end customers before presenting the proposed solution. To support the preliminary plan, a prototype of the service was produced to help concretise the benefits of the solution.


Project and project implementers

The workshops in the design phase clarified the functional definition of the service. The design of the service was user-oriented, recognising the needs of different customer groups. This also ensured the ease of use of the service, which was high in the requirements of Messukeskus. The prototype of the sales phase was further refined as the specification progressed and its functionality was tested in user trials.

“The designer who made the proton was also involved in the actual project. This was a great benefit as the project progressed, as was the fact that we were able to book our own coders for the project, whose working hours were dedicated specifically to this project”, says Kenneth Åkerberg, Crasman's Account Manager. “We stayed on schedule. Communication worked in every direction.”

The schedule means Midsummer 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. Without it, this thing could have been done a year ago. Under normal circumstances, Pasila’s Messukeskus hosts 50 events a year, with 10,000 corporate customers and 1.1 million visitors. An online ticket shop has now been opened for them, which is all of this:

The e-commerce ticket selector can be embedded in the event page and the customer will purchase their ticket directly from the same place. They will not be directed to the external ticket vendor's system.

The online store is integrated into Messukeskus’s access, ERP and accounting systems – and also with HubSpot, which controls sales and marketing.

In addition, the new online store can sell a variety of ticket combinations and programme tickets, which can include services, products and really anything that the trade show organiser comes up with.

Trade on top of new business

"The purchasing path became dynamic and flexible, and at the same time it opened up opportunities for completely new business and earnings models", says Anu Hakkarainen.

And this autumn, the new online store with its shopping paths was finally put to real use. And how about now?

"After all, we tried to trade already this autumn in virtual events, where it got up and running with little effort", says Mikko Levo. "From now on, hybrid events will become commonplace, and we have the ticketing tools ready for them."

The future is behind the door

“We have already used their expertise to come up with a new service portal for exhibitors. We want to develop it in the direction of e-commerce. The automation of marketing is also to be further improved”, Levo estimates. “Crasman’s implementation delivered on its promise every step of the way, so we’re sure to trust them in the future as well.”

Now it's time to get started. The success of the project relied on the customer knowing what was important and the skilled supplier keeping his promise. But why have your own ticket online store? Could Messukeskus not have been able to get for even less the outsourcing of all ticket sales to those whose business it is? There are obviously many reasons, but one of them is above the others.

"We want to own our customer data", says Mikko Levo. "It's most valuable to us."




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