SIOR recently completed its annual Fall World Conference in Portland, Oregon. Held at the Hilton Portland Downtown from Wednesday, October 16 through Saturday, October 19, the international event drew over 900 members, earning a place on the top ten list of the most attended conferences in the nearly eight decades of SIOR’s existence, a testament to its expansive forward-thinking curricula and networking appeal.
For the 79th year, the conference gathered the industry’s top commercial real estate brokers and global thought leaders to learn and share ideas through a series of presentations, breakout sessions, committee meetings and networking events. Major topics of discussion included:
- Smart Buildings – how sensorization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) can best serve landlords, brokers, and building operators
- Multiple sessions on emerging digital technologies and their practical applications for the brokerage community
- An occupier’s view of industrial space, which included discussions of how labor, transportation, technology, tariffs, and e-commerce are affecting current operations, decision-making around future planning, and the importance of industrial flex-space
- How cutting edge underwriting/due diligence trends and practices can be incorporated into deal-making
Special guest speakers included economist, political commentator and actor/comedian Ben Stein (“Ferris Buller’s Day Off,” “Win Ben Stein’s Money”), who shared his insights into the economy, the political landscape, showbiz, and his close relationship with former president Richard Nixon; business and cultural transformation expert Martin Lindstrom, author of “Small Data,” who discussed how becoming a student of human behavior rather than relying on data crunching will put the humanity back into marketing – while yielding significantly better results; and global trend-watcher and Harvard University lecturer Vikram Mansharamani, author of “Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst,” a guide to anticipating the future, managing risk, and spotting opportunities in an uncertain world.
In addition to the educational sessions, the various constituencies within SIOR (Young Professionals Member Group, Technology Committee, SIOR Foundation Board of Trustees, etc.) held meetings to advance initiatives and review progress of existing programs. In his opening remarks, incoming SIOR president Mark Duclos, of Hartford, CT-based Sentry Commercial, indicated that the organization has “never been in a stronger financial position,” and that charitable giving has doubled since 2015. Membership is also growing, as SIOR has added 66 new members since the last conference, held in Washington D.C. in April. Duclos also re-iterated the guiding principles of the organization, stating, “it’s not just about production, about getting big numbers - it’s about how you get there…Being an SIOR says as much about who you are as about what you do.”
Following the conference, Duclos remarked that, “there seemed to be a real energy that carried from the beginning of the conference all the way through,” and also praised the educational aspects of the conference. “The content we provide is always geared towards addressing what the future looks like – and we’re not necessarily talking about the potential downturn,” said Duclos. “What we’ve got are markets – both office and industrial – that are continually evolving, so whether it’s the impact of WeWork’s difficulties on landlords and tenants in the major city markets or the impact of the ever-changing world of ecommerce on the industrial sector, the content provides us with tools and insights to keep up with the changing markets.”
Attendees also had ample time to partake in social and networking events, including a Young Professionals Night Out event, a sold-out office broker dinner, and the perennial favorite Panattoni Party. The conference also featured a number of outings for SIOR members and their spouses/partners, including a tour of the City of Portland, featuring visits to the Pearl District, International Rose Test Garden, Nob Hill, the Cultural District, and Lan Su Chinese Garden.
“This is the first time the SIOR World Conference has been held in our market, so we were grateful to have the chance to show off our beautiful city, and thrilled to learn that this was one of the largest turnouts in SIOR’s history,” said Jerry Matson, Colliers International EVP, and president of the SIOR Oregon Chapter. “I think there was a genuine curiosity about Portland and its culture, and the feedback that we’ve received from members about their visit has been overwhelmingly positive.”