The first morning of this year’s Mipim conference kicked off with a sigh of relief for many. Plenty of us didn’t think we would make it at all yesterday circa 2pm after the Eurostar delays and subsequent mad dashes across Paris to catch a new train to Cannes having ALL missed our initial connections.
With around two trains’ worth of people fighting over seats, the 16:49 from Gare Du Lyon was bursting at the seams - and the buffet car sold out somewhere north of Aix-En-Provence. Only beer and one type of soft drink left by the end of the line. Orange Fanta shandy anyone? It’s as disgusting as it sounds.
But we’re all here now. And apart from the non stop chat about the hellish journey - we’re British, what do you expect - and the weather (same applies), talk so far has been about thoughts and predictions for the week ahead.
At breakfast aboard Malcolm Hollis’ yacht this morning views were mixed. Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF) said it was too early to tell just how the week would pan out, but, against the backdrop of such an international property event, urged people to think more about what overseas investment in London really means; “are people not interested or concerned that great swathes of London are being taken over by overseas investors and sovereign wealth funds? We need to engage more with these people. Understand them and find out if they have the same objectives as us in London. Are they in it for the long term, for example? There needs to be more communication.”
And Mipim is certainly the place for it. Meetings had already begun in earnest by 8am this morning and a quick walk around the bunker gave the impression that countries have pulled all the stops out. Displays are bigger and better than i have seen in the last couple of years, stands more elaborate and freebie offerings more generous (and a bit odd in some cases. I am not sure what the chocolate ducklings are all about. Answers on a postcard, or tweet!)
And the Qatar pavilion has taken the biscuit. The first two-storey space of its kind at Mipim and offering direct access to some of the most influential Qatari developers has created a real buzz at the conference already. I will keep you posted on further developments.
I have yet to make my way to the London Stand. I am hoping that it will have a decidedly 2012 feel and am looking forward to catching up with the Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive Dennis Hone for a chat about how things are going with mere months to go until the London 2012 opening ceremony.
More updates to come - and check out my “5 minutes with…” series as we bring you news and views from the industry in Cannes throughout the week