The suited, brogued and shaded of the property industry arrived in Cannes this week to a very different Mipim

“I would say there are 30% less people here than the last few years,” said John Caine, London director of Curtins Consulting, before putting a brave face on things: “People are a bit subdued but the warm weather is making us more optimistic by the day.”

Perhaps the clearest indication of the smaller turnout was the ease with which attendees could get served in Cannes’ bars and cafes. “When you can grab a coffee at Cafe Roma without having to wait around for a table you know it’s going to be a quieter year ,” said Regis Jacquemin of King Sturge, as the event got under way on Tuesday morning.

But the quiet nature of Mipim 2009 wasn’t necessarily viewed as a bad thing. As Joe Giordano of property consultant Devsol said: “It’s a good environment for doing business because all the key people are still here – it’s just easier to get to them.”

Alex Davey, a partner at Davis Langdon, agreed: “I have been here for 24 hours and it’s already been much more useful than the past three years.”

So it seems that small can be beautiful. As Tony Williams, chairman of property consultant Watts Group, put it: “Although we’re having fewer conversations, the quality of conversations we’re having is better.”