Like trade missions, there are many different types of international trade shows. In size, they range from a few hundred attendees to tens of thousands of participants. In scope, they may focus on one country, or a region, or the globe.
Some trade shows are geared specifically to real estate practitioners, whereas others include attendees from industry partners (developers, investors, etc.), or even consumers. The programming at events also varies, depending on the objectives of the meeting. Common features include:
Networking – either casually, at social functions, or more deliberately, via “speed dating” sessions or previously arranged appointments
Education – presentations by various subject matter experts can stimulate thoughts on new growth opportunities and offer additional networking contacts
Exhibits – a great way to learn about new resources and/or showcase your own market
Whether it’s preferable to participate as an attendee or an exhibitor depends on your goals (and your budget). If you are deciding on whether to be an attendee or an exhibitor at a trade show, talk to your colleagues/association who have attended these shows and seek their thoughts. Also, if you are attending a show by yourself for the first time, it may make more sense to be an attendee and have the flexibility to walk around and network.
Either way, at an international trade show, your experience will hinge on making plans and preparations. Unlike a trade mission, where agendas and participants are organized by others, a trade show is open-ended. Participants who plan well, in advance, walk away with the best results.
In spite of their differences, trade shows share one common trait: they’re an excellent way to immerse yourself in an exchange of ideas that will stimulate fresh thinking and strengthen your global network.
Consider the Possibilities
A great networking event for CIPS designees is the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. It’s the largest gathering of real estate practitioners and association leaders from around the world (over 20,000 attendees from more than 60 countries) and includes an International track—a rich mixture of networking and educational opportunities specifically geared towards global practitioners. (Many of these ticketed events are also discounted for CIPS designees.) This year’s host city is Boston, November 2–5. (nar.realtor/convention)
REALTOR® Quest is Canada’s largest real estate trade show and conference, held each May in Toronto. While focused on Canada, it’s also well attended by agents from second home destinations in the U.S. and Mexico. (realtor-quest.ca)
Similarly, the AMPI National Congress is focused on Mexico, but is attended by agents in cross-border markets. It’s held each October, in various Mexican cities. (ampi.org)
For a more comprehensive snapshot of international trade show opportunities around the world, turn to the June 2017 issue of Global Perspectives. Past issues are posted at nar.realtor/global-perspectives and in the NAR Global Marketing Center. (printingstorefront.com/narglobal)
A Closer Look: MIPIM
To grasp the potential benefits of international trade shows, consider MIPIM. With over 27,000 attendees and 3,000 exhibiting organizations, MIPIM is one of the largest real estate trade shows in the world. Held each March in Cannes, France, representatives aim to showcase their market to potential investors and developers. (See a snapshot of this year’s conference.)
Seventeen different REALTOR® associations were represented in the NAR-sponsored USA Pavilion, including first-time attendees from “Capitalize D.C.”—a Virginia/ Maryland/Washington D.C. coalition of REALTOR® associations2 . (capitalizedc.net)
By pooling their resources, the three associations were able to exhibit at the highest level of participation (top-tier booth space, versus a table) and promote an extremely recognizable “brand” to global investors. (After all, everyone knows where Washington, D.C. is located, but neighboring markets, like Fairfax County, Virginia, are much less familiar.) The team from the Washington, D.C. area were joined by their neighbors to the south, the NC REALTORS®—another first-time MIPIM exhibitor, including Tony Harrington, ABR®, AHWD, CIPS, Appraiser and Broker/Owner of The Property Shop of the Carolinas.
“Both the quantity and caliber of attendees at MIPIM is very impressive,” says Harrington. “For example, one investor was interested in a series of hotel properties. Our team at the booth, backed up by others at the home office, were able to immediately answer his initial questions, with additional follow-up steps in the works.” (See "Booth Booster! Leveraging Technology" section below, and visit global.ncrealtors.org/mipim for more on NCAR’s MIPIM efforts.)
The Miami Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) have participated in NAR’s USA Pavilion since its inception in 2015, in addition to maintaining its own booth in close proximity. The long-term commitment has paid off, in terms of building awareness and relationships that support more global business for Miami, the state of Florida, and the U.S.
To be successful in building relationships at MIPIM and other international events, MIAMI emphasizes the importance of maintaining an open mind and listening to others. When meeting a new contact, representatives make a point of asking first about the other person’s goals and objectives. In addition to demonstrating respect, visitors quickly feel more comfortable discussing opportunities for collaboration.
Booth Booster! Leveraging Technology
Brochures and branded trinkets are still popular pass-outs at trade shows, but North Carolina’s representatives at MIPIM took a decidedly different approach:
Instant follow-up — While one booth representative was learning more about a visitor’s interests, another representative was preparing an email response (using an existing template, supplemented with personalized details). The visitor received the follow-up message moments after leaving the booth.
Cloud storage — Booth representatives also snapped photos of each visitor, and their business card. The images were immediately uploaded into private cloud storage—a helpful reference tool for additional follow-up.
Back-up support — Any questions the booth representatives couldn’t answer on their own were immediately referred to a NC-based team, who accessed the private cloud account for contact details. In this way, additional follow-up messages were sent in an expedited manner.
Business cards — Booth representatives distributed specially-printed business cards with a QR code on the back, which provided digital access to their brochures. (Limited quantities of printed brochures were also available in the booth.)
Are there ways you can adapt these ideas into various aspects of your own business development efforts?