This week I made my annual trek to Las Vegas for the greatest commercial real estate show on earth. ICSC’s RECon 2018 had all the pomp and circumstance as the last 7 years (my consecutive attendance streak), including: the big booths, extravagant parties (shout out to Linda Day Harrison, Buildout and others for the great CRE Social kick off), free Aunt Annie’s pretzels, and yes — the famous CoStar / LoopNet Tesla give away.

It’s what RECon 2018 did not have that was troubling, and perhaps, most telling of the future of commercial real estate.

The first, and most glaring difference this year was the attendance. No, not the reported attendance — but the actual attendance. As early as the Sunday evening parties you noticed a significant drop in bodies. I, and all I spoke with, estimated up to 30% difference. These observations continued through both Monday and Tuesday. Although the South Hall was noticeably busier than the Central and North Halls, the lack of velocity, crowds, and lines was obvious.

The good news — this reduction in mass migration (like years past) allowed you to actually talk with others, walk up to booths (even if you did not have an appointment), and connect with prospects and clients. Although I had a full slate of back to back days of meetings with brokers looking to engage our coaching services — I still found I could pop-in for a quick hello during my commute to various booths.

The second missing piece was the ICSC book store, which was historically located between the Central and North Halls. Yes, of course, I liked having my books displayed in the store — but more surprising, that the physical book store was removed from the hall (there was certainly ample room for it). Isn’t it ironic that the physical store at the biggest retail commercial real estate show on earth was replaced with other sponsors? It would have been surreal if one of these sponsors was Amazon!

Finally, where was the tech? Yes, there were several booths in the North hall demonstrating their latest commercial real estate technology platforms — but these were few and far between when you consider all the new technology that is evolving in our industry.

Certainly, there are reasons for each of these missing pieces, beyond a plausible market slowdown.

Regarding attendance, ICSC has recently focused on offering more opportunities for connecting regionally. These shows have become stronger, just look at New York. Anyone missing the Hilton Hotel – no. This can certainly keep regional brokers, developers, and retailers away from Vegas.

Regarding the missing bookstore, it is likely ICSC found a more profitable purpose for the space.

And as for the lack of technology, I have heard leaders of tech companies simply saying RECon is not a place where folks focus on technology. Perhaps they are all hanging with Michael Beckerman, who no doubt — has the market’s leading CRE tech platform.

I, for one, enjoyed the reduction in attendance. We selfishly had a great show and will be back in 2019. My only regret, besides the missing bookstore and lack of technology, was that I did not win the Tesla. Then again, maybe my recent posts have something to do with that. No, it can’t be.. can it?

I went to RECon 2018 to meet with commercial real estate brokers and agents who want to transform their personal practices. If you would like to learn more about how we coach our Members to great success — I invite you to join me on May 29th at 1pm EST for a FREE live webinar. During this webinar, I will unpack how we coach and share with you the transformation that takes place. Join us live on May 29th by CLICKING HERE.

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