Expectations of a MIPIM virgin

Having lived the MIPIM dream through colleagues in the past, Janice Northover prepares for a week of sun, stereotypes and new connections

Janice Northover
Janice Northover

This is my first time to MIPIM and yet I feel like I’ve been going for years.

I have vicariously experienced my colleagues’ early breakfast meetings at Festivale with the property developer/investor/funder we have all been dying to meet; the late night parties; and the inevitable long walk back to the apartment, which – thanks to HR – is always about five miles from the Croisette. There is then the customary debrief once back in the UK. This usually involves said colleague unloading no less than 2,000 business cards from people he/she met but can no longer recall.

As we wait for our Easyjet flight to Nice – delayed, naturally – I have fairly preconceived ideas about MIPIM.  The departure lounge pretty much sums it up: full of men of a certain age wearing the same colour suits. It’s depressing. Where are all the women?

One thing’s for sure, I don’t expect it to be the jolly everyone left behind at the office seems to think it’s going to be. Anyone who’s ever done any business development will know it’s bloody hard work. In fact, I imagine MIPIM to be some sort of endurance test where only the fittest (i.e. those able to consume vast amounts of alcohol without collapsing/vomiting/feeling the urge to take off their clothes in public) survive.

I’m told the place is full of solicitors and prostitutes (not to be confused) both of whom are looking for new clients while trying to protect their existing ones.

While I’ll be meeting up with some of my clients in MIPIM, for me the event is an opportunity to meet new people. Where else am I going to be able to hang out (hopefully in the sun) and meet anyone who’s anyone in the property business?

In a way, I’m really hoping that MIPIM does live up to some of the clichés – what goes on in Cannes stays in Cannes being one of them – but, at the same time, I also hope that it offers much more. I for one do not want to go back with a case full of business cards of people I vaguely remember (or not all) and will never see or hear from again.

I would much prefer to make real connections with fewer people but let’s see… it’s only Tuesday morning.

Janice Northover is a partner at Brecher