Takeaways – RICS CEE Property Forum, Vienna (Sept 2017)

Elina and I went to another brilliantly organised RICS CEE Property Forum, this time in Vienna. A strong and growing Central & Eastern European property market is the impression we took away again from this event.

We were delighted to have been invited to the pre-conference reception on Monday evening at the Hotel Park Royal Palace; it was very well attended and gave all delegates a great opportunity to network and start conversations that could continue the following day. The food was plentiful and full of Austrian flavours which we thoroughly enjoyed.

After a hearty breakfast, we joined the 400 other conference delegates to hear Dan Busca, Lead CEE Economist from Unicredit Bank, London open the conference with his talk on the Economic Growth in CEE.

Key points mentioned:
• growth remains above potential
• the mortgage market benefits from a wealth transfer into real estate.

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Pal Danos, Director, KPMG talk on the Property Lending Barometer for CEE & SEE mentioned banks prefer lending to income generating projects v new developments

Wellbeing in interiors is recognised as a core issue in Europe and Elina was delighted to present on the subject offering lots of food for thought. An excellent panel discussion took place after the talk with Zinaida Vojnar – International Business Development Director for HB Reavis, Jens Boehnlein – Global Head of Office Solutions for CA Immo, Maciej Markowski – Partner, Head of Workplace Strategy CEE for Cushman & Wakefield, John Fekete – Global Head of Real Estate Management for Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Michael Smithing – Green Building Advisor for Colliers who did an excellent job chairing the discussion.

Nuggets from the above Panel Debate on Office Trends were as follows:
• it’s about the perception of value, long term partnerships and a story around the property to set it apart from competitors
• give purpose to the being of people
• features such as high ceilings will be more suitable to tech tenants rather than traditional tenants
• stop designing ‘vanilla’ spaces
• how to design around safety
• building data: we have to use it under an overarching ethical banner
• a building is currently being designed with a brain (CA Immo)
• engage the users so that they know how to use the building
• will data reside with buildings or tenant?
• need to combine HR, FM, building and corporate data to get the full picture; don’t view data in isolation
• Does more data give us strategic advantage?
• what do you do with the data after the building has been sold?
• Weakness: no one in the room knows about AI and how it will affect/impact the property industry
• the future is here, just not evenly distributed
• there is preference for open source software and adaptable software
• to future proof in this fast changing working environment – and with AI emerging, the need is even stronger to design for the fundamental human needs, with the job/task specific design elements to be flexible.

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The Panel Discussion on Innovations in Recent Trends of the Retail Industry had these key points to share:
• an online store needs seven times the storage capacity than an online shop
• the observation of online retailers ensures logistics companies can stay ahead of demand opportunities
• delivery options have dramatically changed in the past two years
• crazy ideas will be supported to provide customers with the service they expect
• the ‘last smile’ has become ‘the last touch’
• personal contact is secondary for current teenage shoppers
• millenials like to be entertained and shopping centres need to deliver that
• secondary shopping centres are a ‘dying breed’
• leasehold warehouses are preferred to owned as a safeguard from the uncertain market, even for the larger e-commerce retailers like Amazon
• pick the right retail asset, location is still key, entertain and amuse your customers and demand for traditional retail environments will remain
• E-shopping centre concept exists in Germany, where the customer can click to reserve an item, go to the store, try it and then decide to keep or return it

James Dearsley, Founder of the Digital Marketing Bureau, gave a thoroughly interesting talk on PropTech innovation.

He included the following points:

• $2.6b invested in PropTech in America in 2016
• 52% of all VC funding went to seed PropTech companies
• the future is: data, robotics and machine learning
• all significantly impact commercial retail logistics
• 200+ PropTech companies in the U.K. and growing
• blockchain technology and AI are the silent unicorns of PropTech
• 15% of let office space in London is a co-working space
• do a search on Twitter using #spaceasaservice: it will come up with reasons why co-working spaces are valued more than standard office spaces (e.g. Regus v WeWork company valuation etc)
• digital transformation is lead by the top; if not, you will be left behind.

For a further summary of the most thought-provoking discussions of the RICS CEE Property Forum Vienna 2017 have a read here.

We thank everyone involved in organising and hosting this fabulous event and look forward in taking part again in the future.

If you have questions on Wellbeing in Interiors, Sustainable Offices or would like to engage Elina as a speaker, please contact us.

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