As we gear up to wish a happy birthday to MIPIM with just days to go until the 30th edition of the influential conference, we reflect on the last three decades and look ahead…

MIPIM’s inaugural edition saw 2,973 delegates from 22 countries descend on the glamorous French Riviera. Since then, MIPIM has firmly cemented itself as the preeminent real estate event in the world. Thirty years on, MIPIM remains at the forefront of innovation and offers a strong global platform to educate, share, discuss and debate, network and ultimately help to shape the future of our industry.

Redwood has been making the annual trip to Cannes almost since our inception in 1992, and it is with hindsight that we see just how fundamentally the world has changed in that time. This year, with the conference theme of “Engaging the Future”, we hope to talk about building a truly sustainable future for the next generation.

Those first steps

As MIPIM was launched, the World Wide Web had only just been invented. Since then, we have lived through two recessions and remarkable technological advancements. The conference has firmly cemented itself as the preeminent global real estate event. This year, 26,000 attendees from over 100 countries are expected at the conference, with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon scheduled as keynote speaker.

MIPIM has earned its reputation as a trendsetter with an eye to the future; it’s easy to forget just how ambitious and pioneering it actually was for the early 90s. The flagship event was viewed as a game-changer at a time when the concept of a ‘global’ real estate market was still nascent, with relatively little overseas investment.

Attending the very first conference was a step into the unknown – now, the diaries of the who’s who of the international property media revolve around those pivotal few days in March.

A matter of real estate

It is essential that we do not grow complacent or underestimate the ongoing impact of real estate on the macroeconomic climate. Savills reports that the global real estate market value has scaled new heights, reaching a colossal $280.6 trillion by the end of 2017, marking an annual growth of 6.2%. To put it into perspective, this far outweighs the size of the financial instruments market, the oil market and even gold.

From the new kid on the block, MIPIM has matured and evolved in tandem with the ever-shifting industry landscape. ‘Real estate’, far from being homogenous, now covers an array of sub-sectors and asset classes (some fairly niche), each with its own set of nuances.

Players need to be faster and savvier than ever to survive and thrive, as technological, social, behavioural and environmental factors change the way in which we live, work and play. MIPIM offers the ideal platform to educate, share, discuss and debate, network and make the right choices for the future, individually and collectively.

Waves of change

Through the decades, the peaks and the troughs, MIPIM has been a stable influence, a microcosm of the key worldwide markets – a trusted barometer of the state of play, sentiment, and opportunity available.

On a much more serious note, over the last thirty years – industry-wide – we have made some undeniable strides towards gender equality and diversity within what was a predominantly male-dominated sphere. And as a female-owned and -run communications agency, we have had a front row seat to these gradual changes, as we have seen more women in top roles, and more women in the sector generally across disciplines.

Since the 90s, major trends such as globalisation, digitalisation and technology mean that everything is now at our fingertips. Today, all communication is immediate – messages and photos can be shared and multiplied instantaneously on many channels globally. This means that profiles and reputations can be built or broken more easily than ever before, and people now have no choice but to think very carefully indeed about the image and profile that they project at MIPIM.

Tomorrow, tomorrow…

As we find ourselves at an intriguing historic crossroads, on the cusp of an unclear Brexit, it seems particularly apt that the overarching theme of MIPIM 2019 is “Engaging the Future”.

Looking ahead, the major trends are likely to focus on sustainability, the environment, smart cities, responsible investing, mixed-use, prioritising ‘the experience’ (service and occupier wellbeing as the key to delivering long-term performance) and further proptech solutions (VR, AI, blockchain, for example).

From a communications perspective and our work with clients over the years, it’s clear to see the extent to which MIPIM has helped to uncover future trends, ask the difficult questions, inform strategic direction, and ultimately help to shape the future of our industry. It has proven an invaluable hub and launch pad for major announcements, relationship and profile building, deal making and star-making – supporting the emerging talent of tomorrow and ‘ones to watch’.

Most importantly, MIPIM is a force for good and a catalyst for positive movement. This year, we hope to talk about future generations and, in the face of climate change and an ever-expanding world population, the importance of building a truly sustainable future.

Even after thirty years, it’s clear that MIPIM has retained its place at the forefront of innovation. We’ll be there, raising a glass to the next thirty!