As a journalist, I had a love-hate relationship with MIPIM, the annual global real estate conference in Cannes.
I loved leaving grey, chilly London in March for the sunny and glamorous Mediterranean resort. Well, who wouldn’t? But I hated the packed diary, the need to write reams of copy for the paper in London and the pressure to find stories in order to justify your trip to jealous colleagues. With deadlines always looming, it was impossible to relax and enjoy MIPIM in the way that the real estate professionals seemed to do, merrily sinking beers, sipping wine or, even, coffee, in the cafes, boats and fabulous hotels. I was very envious.
But, this week – and for the past three trips to MIPIM since I gave up journalism for public relations – life is pretty sweet. What is really productive is bumping into people along the Croisette or outside the grey, outdated conference centre, commonly known as the bunker, and having time to chat and swap business cards rather than rushing from one meeting to the next. I have managed to see a number of clients, including one who very generously invited me to his boat to feast on lobster, oysters and prawns for lunch, not forgetting the Minuty Rose.
The UK real estate market is suffering from a fair bit of uncertainty at the moment, caught up in Brexit and Europe worries. But this week in Cannes the sun is shining and the mood is good. I think what the past five years has taught us is that international investors absolutely love the UK. And it’s not just central London. Logistics, student accommodation, Manchester are all popular. The UK real estate market is resilient and bounces back quickly from difficulty. While some investors and developers are holding fire because of concerns about what Brexit might mean, others are taking advantage of their inertia to pounce. And the Chinese, in particular, are dominating the London investment market, paying high prices for prime assets.
MIPIM works in Cannes because it instils in its 20,000 attendees happiness, wellbeing and a feeling that they are part of the elite and are a success. it is only the poor journalists that go home frazzled.