Here are ten lessons that a MIPIM newbie took away from the conference that's held on the French Riviera:
- Pack a sweater
“Cannes” may carry connotations of scorching sun and vitamin D, but this year it was foolish to second guess the weather. The sun may have broken out while I was meeting contacts in the windowless bunker. But overall, MIPIM 2011 felt closer to Margate than Marseille.
2. Catch the train again
I heard at least 20 people moan about fog at London City Airport. Another 10 complained about traffic on the last stretch to Cannes. Hop on a Eurostar, then a TGV, and you have none of this bother. Plus, you can grab your first glass of French red during the stopover in Paris.
3. Over-promise at your peril
One property veteran told me to book only 40% of my MIPIM time as meetings. He was right, because tearing around the Croisette between hourly diary slots is no fun. So next year, more of my time will be spent bumping into familiar faces, having impromptu wine-tastings, and loitering around the London stand with a notebook and a business card.
4. Tweet clearly
When Coventry City Council brings together private sector partners to fund a two-Michelin-starred inward investment dinner on the outskirts of Cannes, don’t send a Tweet saying: “I’m off to a Michelin** restaurant, courtesy of Coventry.” More than one charitable organisation got the wrong end of the cinnamon stick.
5. Stay central
If you have the option to get a city-centre hotel, take it. Standing at the taxi rank for 40 minutes each night to get to my hotel, 20 minutes away, was far from pleasant.
6. Canapés rarely satisfy
Lamb and red pepper skewers may sound hearty enough, but eating 10 of these miniature kebabs does not constitute a dinner or a lunch, especially when accompanied by the same number of beers.
7. Pre-iron your shirts
Not only was my hotel miles out of town, it only possessed 20 irons to service 500 apartments, so probably 2,000 shirts in total. Needless to say, with a property conference going on down the road, there weren’t enough irons to go around. On the upside, I now know that the French for an “where is the iron?” is “où est le fer?”.
8. Don’t be gullible
Rumours abound at MIPIM, and most must be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. I heard last week that 140 people were in custody in the Tchenguiz arrests, that MEPC was being bought, and that the Homes and Communities Agency had begun a firesale of its London assets. All these were unfounded.
9. Hold the front page!
MIPIM, I have learned, is a place where the unexpected happens. If a property man was having a heart attack at the Martinez one day, another property man was finding a dead body at the beach on the next. And who could have predicted that the Tchenguiz brothers would be arrested on the Wednesday morning, a day before their legendary yacht party?
10. Stay up to date at PropertyWeek.com
I was standing on the Cushman & Wakefield beach trying to persuade a naysayer just how useful the website, PropertyWeek.com, can be.
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