CANNES, FRANCE — The Illinois REALTORS® sent a delegation of members to the annual MIPIM conference in Cannes, France, last week.
For those not familiar with the event, it’s billed as one of the largest real estate investment conferences in the world. This year it attracted more than 21,000 people, and the exhibits spilled out of the Palais des Festivals and into pavilions located outside the Palais.
The Illinois REALTORS® took part in this event for the second year. Here are a few takeaways, in no particular order:
- This beats any global event you’ve ever been to: The sheer size of this conference is awing, drawing as it does thousands of decision makers who are looking for portfolios in which to invest. You have large real estate investment trusts, hotel groups, architectural firms and governments involved. What results as a four-day conference packed with presentations and networking events. Attendees will tell you it’s what happens at the sides of this conference in social settings that make going worth it.
- Which leads to point two: You never know who you will meet that can impact your business. The U.S. portion of this show is small relative to the European interests represented. But the U.S. presence is growing and there is interest in U.S. investment. There were many people who stopped by the Illinois REALTOR® booth in the NAR Pavilion. Members who attended as part of global outreach for their businesses said they felt they made meaningful connections which could yield economic benefit to their bottom lines. As REALTOR® Alex Ruggieri put it: I always get paid. I just don’t know when I am going to get paid.”
- The investment is worth it. Yes, it does cost a chunk of money to attend. It cost more than $1,000 to register, and the costs increase when you add the plane tickets and the hotel. But the opportunity to talk one-on-one with decision makers who you might bump into in a buffet line or at a reception is priceless from a networking standpoint. One colleague at another state association just happened to run into a principal at a major company looking to transact business in his state. It seems the business was looking for a REALTOR®, a connection that was happily handled out of this happenstance meeting.
- The scope of what you’ll see is staggering: Take this for instance. Instanbul, Turkey is marketing developments including some tied to a new airport. To do this, the country created a massive scale model of the city, accompanied by a wide-screen cinematic presentation that was as visually compelling as any economic development presentation we’d seen. Turkey was not alone, though. Cities, some of which were not exactly household names in the U.S., threw millions into telling the story of why investment was a good idea.
- You can subsist on free food at the event: Many of the bigger players have exhibits that feature food and beverages. We saw offerings ranging from espresso bars to sushi. Several German cities partnered to create a massive beer garden. And yes, there were more than a few exhibits that featured full bars as reception time came around.
- Did we mention the yachts? Look, IAR did not have one, but there were many companies that did use yachts as a place to talk to visitors. There was millions of dollars of high-end cruising craft docked outside the Palais. So, naturally, seeing the yachts was a big thing. And getting to attend a reception on one of those yachts was an even bigger thing. (Several members did make it to one of the parties.)
- Illinois REALTORS® were well represented, and their presence was noted: Illinois REALTORS® leadership attended this event. But we also had some partners who came, as well. REALTOR® Maurice Hampton was there for the second time; REALTORS® Adrianna Sidel and Bill Caton were there. And REALTOR® Alex Ruggieri attended, too. They provided expertise in the booth in telling the story of why investment in Illinois was desirable. It was clear from the folks who stopped by that there was an awareness of the state, and particularly Chicago. And the delegation met with at least one major development operation that was getting ready to spend serious money in the Chicago area.
- Serious about the global side of your business? Start planning now for the next year. The association is committed to going back to MIPIM next year. And already we are brainstorming what to do differently and how to involve more members in this important outreach. What’s important is having a strong portfolio of properties for investors to see. At least one attendee said he was asked by an investor for the opportunity to review an entire holding portfolio.