Thousands seize chance to discuss real estate’s future

European real estate industry people are relishing an opportunity to talk in person about the challenges they face, as the 23rd edition of Expo Real gets under way in Munich.

Anticipation is high regarding the mood this time: will it be optimistic, or trepidatious?

As Expo’s director Claudia Boymanns points out, the industry faces many issues: ‘Certain sectors such as residential, logistics and healthcare are more likely to emerge strengthened from the pandemic, while risks have become apparent in hotel and retail properties’, she says. ‘The office market will also change - if only because of the significant increase in home office options.’

On top of that there is perturbing global economic news almost daily: rising oil and gas prices; supply chain disruption and labour shortages; the return of inflation.

How will all this affect real estate’s long-standing bull run?

Even more than before, this show is the culmination of months of careful planning by Boymanns’ four-strong team, and colleagues from overlapping areas such as technical exhibitor service, traffic and security, marketing & comms and protocol.

The halls are specially ventilated, routes will be clearly marked. There are social distancing rules, face masks and admission only when vaccinated, recovered or tested. The panel sessions don’t follow each other closely, allowing half-hour intervals to implement appropriate hygiene measures. Many are online. All this has been successfully practised at other shows taking place at Munich Messe since July.

Understandably 2021’s show is smaller; it is a more European than global affair this time. Certainly, a preponderance of delegates are based in Germany and the rest of the DACH region.

Boymanns says: ‘Of course, the pandemic continues to limit participation from overseas like the US and from the Asian countries, so we have mainly a European focus. The spectrum ranges from the Nordic countries to the Central European region and south to Italy, Spain and Portugal, from the UK in the west to the Eastern European states.’

Participants will miss the big social events on the stands in the cavernous Munich Messe halls. Nevertheless, informal dinners will still take place in downtown Munich, and some individuals plan to spend more time on meetings there, away from the protocols.

The number of exhibitors is down nearly half, by 45%, from 2,190 at the last Expo Real in 2019 to 1,200 registered this time.

Visitor numbers were still developing strongly as late as last week, ‘but it is clear that here, too, we will not match the record year of 2019 due to the pandemic’, Boymanns says.

Bur for the thousands that made the decision to be here, can there have been many more interesting times to get together again and network?