After two difficult years dominated by Covid restrictions, Expo Real director Claudia Boymanns is looking forward to a busy 2022 event, with exhibitor numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels.
In an interview with PropertyEU on the eve of Expo Real, Boymanns said that despite the grim macroeconomic environment and sombre industry mood, real estate professionals were looking forward to the opportunity to meet and discuss common challenges.
‘After the Covid-related restrictions in the last two years, this year many exhibitors and visitors are again taking advantage of the opportunities Expo Real offers them,’ she said. ‘The mood in the industry is rather subdued in view of current conditions such as the Ukraine war, rising energy prices and inflation, interest rate hikes, supply chain difficulties and a shortage of skilled workers. However, we also note time and again the will and conviction to overcome the many challenges together.’
After reducing the amount of exhibition space in 2021, this year the number of halls in use is back up to seven (from five), to accommodate a nearly 60% increase in exhibitor numbers to 1,874. Last year, Expo hosted 1,198 exhibitors, against 2,189 in 2019, the year before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Said Boymanns: ‘This means that we are almost reaching the level of 2019. We are also seeing a significant increase in visitor registrations. It is particularly pleasing that the international exhibitors and visitors are also coming back. We have exhibitors from 33 countries and thus not only from all over Europe, but also from the US, Australia and Singapore.’
Compared with previous editions, exhibitors have been offered more opportunities to host their own events this year, she said. Other new initiatives include so-called Innovation Tours, whereby delegates can sign up to take part in guided, topic-specific tours of exhibitor stands lasting an hour each. The tours have four themes: Invest & Finance, Research & Valuate, Market; Plan & Build, Manage & Operate; Tech Alley Tour I & II; and ESG.
Said Boymanns: ‘The tours lead not only to Hall A3, which is dedicated to the topic of innovation, but also to other exhibitors, some of whom have developed their own start-ups and innovations. In addition, there are also corresponding tours on the topic of ESG, since the need for action and thus the search for practicable solutions is very high here.’
Also new this year is a so-called GoGreen ticket, enabling visitors to offset part of the unavoidable CO2 emissions of their journey to and from the fair.
Amongst this year’s conference programme highlights is a focus on ESG and climate protection, housing, urban development, and the future direction of economic conditions and how these will impact the real estate industry.
Said Boymanns: ‘These questions run through all areas of the real estate industry, so they will also be examined from different perspectives…We have gathered experts who will be able to comment on all these issues in the various forums and discussion panels.’
The current situation in Europe – notably the war in Ukraine and its ramifications in terms of energy prices, inflation and interest rates – is ‘certainly a point that will come up in many discussions’, she noted, since it ‘is a concern that moves us all about what will happen next’.
Expo Real is hosting a networking and information pavilion for Ukraine to help delegates gain a better understanding of the war-torn country, its cities, real estate players, and projects.
Besides providing a forum for discussion, it will offer information about the possibilities for future reconstruction, and for establishing cooperation and networks.
‘For the first time, Ukraine will be represented with a booth in Munich,’ said Boymanns. ‘Kyiv is Munich’s twin city, so it made sense to provide a forum not only for the capital but for the country as a whole, to provide information about possibilities for future reconstruction, and to establish cooperation and networks.’