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MIPIM - is the music over?

By Phil Briscoe
09 March 2023

By Phil Briscoe

As thousands of real estate professionals from around the world pack their bags to head to Cannes next week, I am often asked if MIPIM has 'had its’ day'.

Running since 1990, MIPIM is the largest global real estate event, attracting thousands of participants and exhibitors from every corner of the world. Critics might describe it as an expensive and self-indulgent jolly - the excesses of the past have provided many column inches of negative news stories, usually involving luxury yachts, Champagne and “secret” deals. The sustainability debate has led more people to question the value of taking an international flight to go to a business conference, and of course, there is a lot of historic truth when the event was described as almost exclusively a men-only event.

MIPIM is not a cheap event to attend and, with the passes alone costing €2,000 each, for most companies it is the chunkiest single item of their annual marketing spend. So, surely attendance levels will give us an indication of whether the MIPIM party is coming to an end. Before the pandemic hit, a record 27,000 participants registered for MIPIM – with the unofficial rule of thumb being that for every registered person, there is another person who visits Cannes to join the networking buzz of the town, so this was probably upward of 50,000 property professionals in town in 2019. Last year saw a tentative recovery as some people took the “risk” of an international conference and although official figures suggest 20,000 registered attendees, it was significantly quieter than usual. However, numbers are up again this year, with organisers predicting more than 23,000 registered attendees – a single figure that hides the breadth of participation, with delegates from more than 90 countries, over 2,400 exhibiting companies and 76 of the world’s top 100 investment companies, advising on over €4 trillion of assets.

As for MIPIM’s reputation and how that fits with the ESG world, every sector has been through a lot of change in the last thirty years. Whether that is tackling issues of diversity, ethical governance or sustainability, the property sector is no different to let’s say the motor industry, the fashion industry or indeed the film industry. But changes have been made, attitudes have modernised and the MIPIM of 2023 will be much more diverse, professional and outcome-driven than the MIPIM of 1993. Writing this on International Women’s Day, it is worth reflecting that some of the best attended events in Cannes this year will be those organised by Women in Property and Real Estate Balance.

When it comes to the parties, for most professionals, a lunch or hospitality requires a return on investment and in the weeks after MIPIM, most attendees will be focused on justifying their spending with the new business they have generated – the days of frivolous free booze-ups have largely been consigned to history or the movies.

Turning to  sustainability, MIPIM draws potential partners, customers, clients and collaborators from every corner of the globe and if one flight (or train journey) to France can deliver 20, or even 50 meetings that would otherwise each have required an individual journey, then it turns out to be a much more efficient (both financially and environmentally) use of a week for most attendees. One of the stages at MIPIM this year will be the “road-to-zero” stage, where the Urban Land Institute, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Green Building Council will focus on decarbonisation.

Aside from business attendees, there is the thorny topic of whether political leaders should join the MIPIM networking – and they do come from around the world. But while some UK regions will continue to be well-represented this year, such as Manchester, Belfast, Liverpool and the West of England, others shy away from the limelight that attendance draws. Representing your local town, authority or region at a global event is not something to be embarrassed about or to hide – it fosters partnerships, identifies investment and unlocks opportunities that can only be delivered by looking outward and championing your place. At the Future of London event we hosted last week, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham, talked about the investment he had encouraged into the borough, not from waiting for it to arrive but by going out to find it.

The other question I get asked is whether people should attend MIPIM or UKREiiF. My answer is clear – if you are serious about the opportunities that real estate investment can bring to any area, go to both! In very simple terms, MIPIM is where the UK interfaces with the global real estate market and UKREiiF is where the UK private and public sectors come together to achieve results – they are not in competition, they are not mutually exclusive and embracing both helps to deliver levelling up, creates solutions for countless local areas, and can only be good news for the UK economy.

As attendees become ever more focused on delivering results, utilising technology and enshrining themes such as sustainability, design quality and community engagement within the planning and construction process, it is far too early to turn out the lights on MIPIM – in fact, the DJ has only just changed the track!

SEC Newgate UK will be attending MIPIM, and our eight-strong team look forward to meeting friends old and new to discuss how we can help to foster dialogue, unlock opportunities and contribute to real estate solutions.