More off-site meetings, some no-shows and a real buzz

Expo may be smaller this year, but by lunchtime on the first day the buzz was building that comes when crowds of real estate people congregate to talk deals.

Delegates thronged the outdoor spaces between the halls, enjoying the sunshine. The stands in the five halls being used this time were busy and informal and almost none had perspex shields or strict mask protocols in operation.

‘There are less people, but they are mainly decision-makers and it's a very focused fair,’ said Colliers' head of Germany, Matthias Leube. ‘Colliers’ team is half the size of previous years but we are still covering all asset classes and have teams from all over Europe.’

‘This is not a quiet Expo Real, I have a really busy schedule,' said Jochen Schenk, CEO of Real IS from Munich.

A bonus of being at Expo for Paul Lewis, who joined Principal Real Estate in May to expand its US expertise in data centres into Europe, ‘is that this is the first time I’ve actually been able to meet many of my European colleagues face to face'.

One noticeable difference is an increase in the number of visitors opting for off-site meetings in Munich city centre. It seems that this year more people are opting to split their visit with a day of meetings in town and only a day attending the exhibition halls.

There is more talk than usual of last-minute cancellations and no-shows, though some of these are visits nixed by people testing positive for Covid.

Leube for one, didn’t believe that the defection to the city centre will become a permanent feature of the show in future years. ‘Expo is not like Cannes. At Mipim you can walk up and down the beach on The Croisette and bump into everyone. You can’t do that in Munich city centre.’

One thing that hasn’t changed is the dash between stands to meet packed meeting schedules. On Monday, this reporter’s fitbit clocked up over 20,000 steps - and that’s with two halls fewer.