15.12.202016.12.2020 The first virtual World Sauna Forum saw the daylight in the beginning of December, 2020. Previously organized live, the event gained thousands of viewers around the world and a lot of positive feedback from the international audience. In the spring 2020 the Sauna from Finland’s biggest annual event, the World Sauna Forum, faced the destiny of many other events alike—it had to be cancelled and didn’t take place in the end of September as planned. “We felt that it’s important to adapt to the current global situation as fast as possible, and after the cancellation we immediately started to think about alternative options. As soon the boom for home sauna renovations started we realized that the Finnish sauna experience with all its health benefits is now needed more than ever,” says Carita Harju, the Executive Manager of Sauna from Finland. “We thought that sauna is something we Finns should offer for the world right now. Therefore we decided to build the World Sauna Forum into a virtual event with slight changes in the agenda—instead of being purely a chargeable B2B event, World Sauna Forum should be free and accessible for all interested in the authentic Finnish sauna.” The programme of the two-day event offered the participants a deep dive into the wonders of authentic Finnish sauna. The 12 fascinating interviews with sauna professionals and sauna lifestyle enthusiasts included topics such as Finnish sauna design, health benefits, sauna as a creativity booster, and the potential of the Finnish sauna in the global wellness markets. “If the sauna was invented by Swedes, it would be sold in every IKEA around the world. We Finns need to be more proud of our sauna heritage and sauna knowledge and use it to conquer the world. Sauna is super interesting to the international audience right now,” the internationally celebrated actor & sauna entrepreneur Jasper Pääkkönen stated in his interview. The two event streams gained thousands of views during the event days. The live streams were followed by hundreds, and the live chat hosted attendees from New Zealand to South Africa. The programme raised a lot of discussion among the attendees, and the varied selection of topics offered everyone something to think about. “We are very happy with the outcome of the event. As much as 92% of the participants rated the event 5/5 or 4/5. Above all, we are really proud that our event managed to reach a lot of those people who had never heard about the World Sauna Forum or Sauna from Finland before. We connected with many new companies and individuals, who in return gained a lot of new information about the authentic Finnish sauna experience which will surely keep them wanting for more in the future,” says Elina Heininen, the Communications and Event Manager of Sauna from Finland. As much as 95% of the participants would attend the event again. According to the feedback, many hope that the future event would give even more more information about building a Finnish sauna in their home country. Many also feel a need for support in communicating about the authentic Finnish sauna experience. There are many saunas outside of Finland titled as ‘Finnish saunas’ which often lack crucial elements, such as a proper temperature or possibility to throw water on the stove. “Authentic and high-quality sauna solutions are becoming more and more popular in the international markets. A cheap copy or poorly assembled sauna doesn’t do the trick anymore, because it doesn’t create the health benefits like the authentic sauna does. People know that Finland is the sauna country and that Finns are the happiest nation in the world. They want to experience exactly what Finns experience, not less,” says Harju. Sauna from Finland plans to organize the World Sauna Forum again in 2021. “We will most likely continue producing a virtual event in one way or another. We still look forward to organizing the event live again here in Finland and host sauna company representatives around the world and offer them authentic sauna experiences. Nothing can replace that part of the event. However, virtual events do enable involving companies who aren’t yet ready to invest in a trip to Finland, but wish to know more about the Finnish sauna experience and the business possibilities it brings. Perhaps we will have some sort of a hybrid event in the future,” Heininen ponders. Excerpts from the World Sauna Forum 2020 Virtual Event feedback: World Sauna Forum 2020 Virtual Event interviews are available for Sauna from Finland members. World Sauna Forum 2020 Virtual Event was organized in co-operation with Cariitti, Creative Finland, Finnmark Sauna, Harvia, Karhu, interbad 2021, Nordic Sauna, Snowpanda Innovation / SERC, Visit Jyväskylä, and Visit Tampere.