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Andrew Barber

A few takeaways from #MIPIMPropTech EU 2018

I was fortunate to attend MIPIM PropTech EU recently - a two day conference in Paris. It was the first time the PropTech version of MIPIM had been held in Europe and the consensus was that it provided a valuable and rewarding opportunity for those involved in this growing sector, to meet, learn, swap ideas and make new business connections.

In addition to the networking opportunities, of which there were many, the two days also offered the chance to listen to many interesting speakers in the numerous conference sessions, covering a diverse range of topics from Blockchain and Cyber Security to responding to occupiers’ needs and “making technology disappear.” 

Mipim PropTech

While there were a number of themes that emerged from the sessions I attended, two things in particular struck me as relevant to both traditional property businesses and PropTech firms when it comes to publicising their products or services.

Property talk

Firstly, in a fascinating keynote presentation regarding the history of innovation in the built environment, Roma Agrawal suggested that, as “property is all about human relationships”, individuals and business, need to communicate with customers, clients, occupiers and partners in a way that they understand. In other words she was saying that you have to use the same language and that your target audiences use.

It’s an easy, and obvious, thing to say. However, as I have previously commented, all too often real estate professionals and businesses use language and jargon that does not always resonate with their audience. While this might be less of a problem when the communications and conversation is between real estate professionals, it can be more of an issue when communicating with customers who may not be from within the industry or who are not familiar with its particular jargon. When it comes to PropTech businesses this is also true when addressing journalists (more about that problem in a previous article: “Why PropTech businesses need a different approach to media relations”).

It’s also an issue when your target audience is actually a robot or a spider.

Think Google.

Think search engines.

Think about how people search.

Think about your content.

Data in real estate

The other theme that caught my attention was data. Not necessarily ‘Big Data’, but the growing importance of gathering and analysing data, big or small, within real estate.

There was one particular conference session on the topic, “Data: reshaping the evolution” - moderated by Dan Hughes. The session’s main focus was on how the property sector is beginning to realise the power of data and how real estate professionals are adding value to their businesses by using data.

Dan used the “data is power” cliché in the presentation. While he was probably talking about property data being used to improve business functions, data is also powerful when it comes to PR and publicity - a fact highlighted by one of the speakers, Stefano Heitmann of Price Hubble AG. He underlined data’s importance in the context of PR and highlighted its use as a way for real estate businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition. He understands that not only is data interesting to property owners, occupiers, managers and brokers, but it is also interesting to journalists, news outlets and consumers.

The challenge is not necessarily analysing data or even composing an interesting news release about it - it is often the collection of the data in the first place. If a business has not previously understood the value of data, or simply never had the technology to make it's collection easy, then that data simply falls through the net. To realise the PR potential within data it is essential that it is collected in the first place. PropTech businesses realise this and I think, anecdotally, that the penny is beginning to drop with traditional real estate businesses too.

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