The RICS Building Surveying Conference Goes Virtual

The property industry is a people business and networking is a huge part of the process. Getting into the right rooms with the right people can be transformative for business. But the sudden emergence of COVID-19 has seen the property industry’s in-person networking and events come to a dramatic halt.

To help overcome the hurdle of not being able to meet in person, there has been a surge of innovative solutions to bring industry people together and allow them to build relationships virtually, and as a result virtual conferencing has exploded. A report by Market Research Media said the marketplace will grow to £14.6bn over the next five years.

Last week, RICS joined the virtual conferencing bandwagon and hosted its annual building surveying conference via the world’s first virtual reality e-learning platform, Learnbrite. Here, the Pexhurst marketing team provide some insights into the event, from how it was held to what they learnt.

Nick Tagliarini, Director

“While the platform itself was very clever thanks to features such as personalised avatars, from a sponsorship point of view our presence felt a bit more diluted than what it normally would. I don’t believe virtual conferencing will ever replace the real thing, with 500 people in a room.

Having said that, there were some really compelling sessions and topics covered. The closing keynote on urban resilience highlighted some interesting points, specifically around the importance of planning the resources needed for cities to improve on being able to deal with uncertainties such as COVID-19 and climate change.”

Nick’s Key Takeaways: There was one particular statistic that struck me; 80% of food produced globally is consumed in cities. It was really interesting to hear how the pandemic has sparked a rebirth of the local farm movement and growing your own crop at home!”

Kayla Vella, Marketing and Social Media Assistant

“It was almost uncanny how similar they made the virtual conference to the physical ones I have attended in the past. Similar to real life, the virtual conference featured a grand hall holding numerous exhibition stands and a conference hall where the CPD sessions and various other talks were held.

However, there is nothing like face-to-face interaction. People were mostly using the event for the webinars rather than gaining new contacts and making connections, which is something I definitely missed.”

Kayla’s Key Takeaways: What I found the most interesting in terms of the sessions was the importance of SMEs in the UK economy. I was surprised to find out that SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of UK private sector turnover. So, despite being identified as small or medium, we are indeed powerful!”

Dan Bridge, Marketing and CRM Coordinator

“The event proves just how amazing technology is. In terms of content, there was no real difference to attending the conference in person. The speakers delivered their presentations via Zoom and delegates were also given the opportunity to discuss and ask questions in the live chat at the end of the presentation.  

The Learnbrite platform was very clever, and the graphics for our Pexhurst stand were of very good quality. However, it just wasn’t the same as attending in person. There is no better way to network than face-to-face.”

Dan’s Key Takeaways: The key point I took away from the conference is that there are going to be big changes in the construction industry, especially for offices. Even with people working from home, office spaces are still needed, and more and more people are now taking on shorter leases.

Another key takeaway was the fact that the UK is experiencing a skills shortage due to older generations shielding and graduates/trainees being let go. However, many of the talks proved it is amazing what we can achieve when we are all working toward the same objective.”

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