Why MAPIC reminds us all to go #Phygital

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Why MAPIC reminds us all to go #Phygital

Normally right about now, I would have been climbing aboard the evening BA flight in Nice, shattered, homeward bound to London.

Every November for the last 23 years I’ve been in Cannes for MAPIC, and it’s never disappointed. OK, last year’s torrential storm that cut the electricity in the middle of my Innovation Session wasn’t a highlight, that was a freak of nature – but it’s been a real inspiration for the global retail and leisure industry now for over a quarter of a century. This year, no evening flight, instead I attended the digital conference from my desk at home with a cup of earl grey instead of the rosé.

Will we ever see the likes of a physical MAPIC – or indeed MIPIM or EXPO Real – again?

These visceral opportunities to promote, exhibit, market, network, speak, bond – can we really do this all in an online forum? You have to admire the ingenuity of the events sector as it scrabbled to take stock and make opportunity from adversity. Many event companies have flourished offering online alternatives to real-life events – and we’ve already “attended” many glitzy awards and conferences that have not disappointed! Augmented and virtual reality platforms have played huge roles to ‘transport’ people to venues and events – just in the way they have done immersing stake-holders in new development projects with Oculus or HoloLens type technology.

The two days of MAPIC Digital deftly brought together over 2,300 senior international decision-makers from the commercial real-estate, retail and leisure sectors. On the conference side, the itinerary of 25 live sessions gave the floor to 114 speakers (many were Innesco’s clients) and brought together between 150 and 460 listeners per session and used the digital conference service to join the debate from home too. An (all new) networking platform proved a great success too, with over 1,250 virtual meetings organised directly among professionals – proving the vibrancy of the sector and the suitability of an online forum,

Whilst digital platforms and tech has reminded us just how easy it is to operate businesses remotely from home, we also know that the uncertainty and nervousness surrounding business travel has truly set in – a double whammy when it comes to meetings in real life – now with its natty acronym “IRL”. The global pandemic all but extinguished airline travel in Q2 and Q3 and was down 70% as of the first week of October 2020 vs. the same week in 2019. Rail travel has been equally hit, with colleagues in Manchester and Cardiff reporting near empty carriages into London for recent meetings. We need to communicate clearly to build trust – something the British Government has learned the hard way during the pandemic. 20-20 hindsight will mean something completely different going forward.

The three major learnings from the pandemic have been well documented and debated – they have been the critical importance of Community, Collaboration and Communication.

We are proud to be a communications-focused agency, to drive ‘the three ‘C’s above, and to work within one of the most challenged sectors – commercial real estate and the built environment. And we’ve seen over 60% year on year growth in our digital work. Necessity is the mother of all invention – and we are embracing these changes in everything we do.

Where do you sit on all this?

Don’t say ‘at home’! What I mean is how do you feel about not seeing colleagues, business partners, project teams, clients? What needs to change for you to return to normality? The physical aspects of human interaction are a basic human right (need?)- but if a pandemic intervenes, even with the vaccines emerging now, we must adapt and pivot our business plans towards a more phygital* world if we are to prevail.

At Innesco, we are working with all our clients to build confidence as part of a resilient business plan – ensuring they and their audiences have all the latest information in front of them to inform important business decisions – whether that be investments, acquisitions, disposals, lettings or development. Our work has embraced phygital for many years now – such as delivering a European and Asian app for @Tesco (Malls by Tesco with over 700 assets), film and digital content to launch schemes such as @Westfield’s UK/European projects and Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (@ECE + @Brookfield), leveraging social channels and engagement data, huge pieces of social listening research with @MaybeTech reaching over a million #CRE professionals and members of the public, right up to this summer facilitating three major asset-management workshop sessions online for a top-5 global fund manager with 20+ participants from four different countries. #Covid has only accelerated the shift towards phygital.

What next for marketing?

The growth of phygital and the inexorable march of the hand held device dominates these processes. Data, results and engagement are the yardstick that marketing campaign must be held against. Reaching MAPIC customers was once a captive roadshow audience in Cannes – and I hope to be back. But until then, I urge you to stress-test your marketing and the way you communicate to further embrace digital platforms, shared content, data and engage with the many ways for consumers, investors, stakeholders and occupiers to discover and learn more about your business, project or portfolio. My team is geared up to advise you on the latest strategies and tactics to optimise the value of your business or assets, adding value through communication – in real life, or online!

Let me know your thoughts – do you have concerns? I hope to see many of you IRL very soon.

Dan Innes. MD, Founder, Innesco. @DanInnes

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