Proptech

My MIPIM: Lisa Gunn

Lisa Gunn, TFT’s Head of Business Development and Marketing, suggests a little sustainable self-reflection and wants to hear new ideas for future-proof buildings this year on the Croisette (or during the Cycle to MIPIM ride beforehand, if you can catch her!).

What do you hope to see more of at MIPIM this year?

Though sustainability has been a prominent theme in previous years, I am happy to say it will almost certainly be even more widespread this year as the global environmental condition becomes more of a mainstream concern. What I would like to add to those conversations is a little self-reflection on our own industry. When we’re advising our clients on measures to improve their sustainability and wellness credentials, are we consistently applying that thinking to our own industry operations?

Will proptech set the agenda at MIPIM 2019? Should it?

As the market matures, we may be approaching a period of consolidation in proptech. So perhaps a gathering like MIPIM is a good place to understand where the real innovation and long-term value is. It’s likely next year will present a very different landscape of tools or services, so we’ve got to look closely at what could grow and what might disappear.

What would be your advice to a MIPIM first timer?

Two things:

  1. Take time to get away from the madness! MIPIM can be an intense experience, so step away from the Palais and see the old town and Cannes Castle on the top of the hill. The views from the Castle at dusk views are stunning.
  2. Don’t lose sight that MIPIM is work, and that you’re most likely attending as an ambassador for your business, and always as a representative of the industry too. Drinks are everywhere, so know your limits or devise a strategy to limit your consumption without having to duck out of the action. I find early meetings are some of the most productive of the day, so make sure you’re able to get up and make them count!

Is there an industry topic you feel is not getting enough attention?

Though it’s often brought up, we don’t yet have an industry consensus on the skills shortage, or a shared course of action to remedy it. Brexit will only make this issue more acute for construction and affect the viability of buildings due to increased costs of labour. 

Who would you like to meet at MIPIM?

I’m fascinated by Innovations in flexible use of buildings – not just multi-use developments, but buildings which have multiple lives planned in to them from the outset.

One example I’ve enjoyed seeing is from the U.S., where AvalonBay Communities has created a parking garage which anticipates a time when ride-sharing services or self-driving cars reduce car reliance (and our need for parking places).

With some smart design, such as level rather than inclined floors, the building is designed for future lives as shops, a gym or a theatre, for instance. I’d be very interested to meet with ambitious funds or owners who are applying this kind of long-term view to their assets.

My MIPIM: Alistair Allison

With MIPIM 2019 fast approaching, we caught up with the team to get their thoughts on the world’s biggest property event.

First up, we asked Alistair Allison, Partner at TFT, what he thought of the changing property landscape, hype versus utility and his advice for any MIPIM first-timers!

What has changed the most in your work/ industry view, since MIPIM 2018?

Globalisation of the UK market has been particularly evident over the past 12 months, with significant investment and development capital coming over from Asia and North America. Whilst historically this was limited to trophy assets in London, the focus is stretching to regional cities and logistics assets. Despite what we assumed would be a tentative market in anticipation of Brexit, we have also seen increasing transaction volumes across the board this year, including a notably increased appetite of UK based investors seeking to invest in mainland Europe.

What sector changes are interesting you at the moment?

Co-working office space providers have continued to evolve and challenge the traditional office concept, growing their market share and forcing traditional landlords to embrace customer service, flexibility and the ‘experience’. Whilst this is not likely to overly threaten the market for larger corporate space providers and occupiers, it certainly reinforces the need to move away from the adversarial landlord and tenant relationship to resemble a provider and customer relationship.

The immediate impacts include flexible leasing terms, space that considers ‘wellness’ as a priority and additional services on top of the space itself. In the long term, these different approaches will open many opportunities that landlords may have considered off the table historically.

Is proptech going to set the agenda this year? Do you think that it should?

Real, disrupting technology that changes the way the property industry works should absolutely be high on the agenda. For instance, I’m interested in the nascent use of block-chain technology to unlock liquidity issues and costs in real estate transactions.

However, with all of the hype surrounding ‘Proptech’, there is still some confusion over what is really innovative and game-changing and what is simply an improvement in tech that assists the way we work. Both are needed, but I would like to enter more discussions about the future operation of our industry, and how we can prepare today for current (and future) technological advances in real estate.

MIPIM’s 30th edition slogan is ‘Engaging the future’ – what should the industry do now to succeed in the next 30 years?

Focus on talent and investing in the future from school age upwards. The younger generation is far less fixed on a traditional career and arguably faced with far more exciting and interesting prospects. The application of ‘tech’ in the property industry will open up a wider scope of roles and skillsets we may never have considered important for our work to date.

What should every MIPIM first-timer do, or not do?

Plan your diary carefully and resist the temptation to attend back-to-back events. The instinct is to book everything you can in the hope that you’ll meet your dream clients/contacts. But with everyone stepping outside of their normal business environment, MIPIM is the ideal opportunity to meet with industry contacts, existing or potential clients etc to really understand a bit more about their business and aspirations. That’s not always possible with a crammed agenda!