NAI Global Convention 2023: Viva Las Vegas!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since the last NAI Global convention in New Orleans. Back then, we were just emerging from the pandemic, and finding our feet again as we renewed the connections, partnerships, and friendships that are such a core part of the NAI network. What became more apparent than ever this year, was how much that network has become a family.

Which is why we were delighted to have so many of our members in Las Vegas in 2023. Nearly 600 attendees joined us, including professionals from 103 NAI offices. This marked the turning point where we can finally say things are back to pre-pandemic levels and back to (in-person) business for NAI professionals across the globe.

The convention agenda was jam-packed and the energy in every room was electric! And while we don’t have nearly enough space in one blog to do justice to all the insightful, inspiring, and thought-provoking content our speakers covered, here are some of our highlights from Vegas 2023.

State of Union speech

One of the most anticipated presentations was NAI President and CEO, Jay Olshonsky’s “State of Union” address. Right out of the gate, Jay mentioned the importance of family. He noted that many of our own NAI member offices are family-owned businesses with succession plans in place that ensure the stability and future of the NAI network.

Jay also pointed out that even throughout the height of Covid, NAI achieved an impressive 95% membership renewal rate. As that figure shows, members from across the globe not only want to stay a part of the NAI family, but also know they can rely on the network for support, guidance, and value added even in the hard times.

Leaders and mentors

Jay’s speech tied in to another concept that came up in many of the sessions: The importance of strong leadership, mentorship, and development programs. Several speakers also discussed cross-generational leadership, and how to build teams that can work together whatever the age and experience gap between team members.

Among them was NAI Senior Vice President of Operations, Lindsay Fierro, who succinctly framed the issue: “The first thing to remember about cross-generational leadership is to embrace it. Once we embrace it and collaborate with our fellow leaders things really start to fall into place. The second part is respect. We have to respect each other’s knowledge and realize that there’s a wealth of experience waiting to be tapped if we work together with leaders from different places, different backgrounds and leaders of different ages.”

A powerful panel discussion on ‘how to have hard conversations’, challenge biases, and work effectively with team members from all walks of life rounded out these themes. For many attendees, these sessions really brought home how changing your perspective can encourage growth, learning and teamwork.

Sector insights

For those looking for sector-specific insights, several breakout sessions touched on different aspects of the commercial real estate (CRE) industry.

Naturally, one of the hottest topics was the future of office real estate and hybrid work. What shone through was the fact that the situation on the ground really is different everywhere, even between different states and areas in the US. It was also a good reminder of the importance of connecting with other brokers and CRE professionals to understand the ‘bigger picture’ of a sector and get ahead of incoming trends.

Meanwhile, for those working in industrial, Michael Brennan of Brennan Investment Group had some choice advice on prospecting with corporate clients. He noted that many of these companies are “non-professional property owners” who prioritize speed, certainty and simplicity in CRE transactions. He added that opportunities abound for savvy industrial brokers that can make dealing in CRE assets a seamless process for their clients.

As always, coming together to learn from so many talented professionals reminded us how rich and nuanced the CRE picture really is.

Talking tech

There was also big news on the tech front, with the announcement that proptech platform Buildout has acquired the Oval Room Group. Oval Room specializes in CRE Visual Media Solutions, including tools like 3D modelling, virtual tours, and videography. All of which are essential components in the CRE marketing kit.

NAI has been working with both of these cutting-edge platforms in recent years (with over 90 offices using Buildout), and has recently launched a project with Oval Room to build a portal for NAI Global members that will grant access to a wide range of media services.

So, with two of our favorite proptech offerings coming together, we look forward to seeing the synergy and tremendous value-add this brings to NAI offices across the globe.

DEI and Women’s Alliance

Another hugely popular session was the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) presentation by business strategy expert, Toni Navy. As regular readers of the blog will know, DEI is something close to our hearts here at NAI, and with the recent launch of our DEI Council we hope to promote a global CRE culture that is inclusive and supportive of all CRE professionals. We were therefore heartened to see a high degree of interest and enthusiasm for this topic from NAI members.

This was also the first year that NAI announced our Women’s Alliance Champion award, a new accolade that recognizes women in the NAI Global network. We were proud to name Amber Brandhagen as our first honoree for her exceptional work as part of NAI Global Wireless.

The next evening, all the ladies got together for what many described as “one of the best” dinner evenings of the convention. Lindsay Fierro puts it like this: “What really came through for me was the strength and support that all these women have for one another, to empower one another to become leaders in this industry. It’s fantastic to see that, and I think that momentum is going to keep growing in the coming years.”

“Reset your Preset”

In the final session of the convention attendees were treated to something really special as keynote speaker Coach Ken Carter took the stage. With his trademark blend of directness and passion, Coach Carter reminded us of the importance of supporting one another to grow, learn, and change.

As we head into the rest of 2023, with new vigor and energy for everything to come, one phrase that seems to have stayed top of mind for everyone is Coach’s “Reset your Preset” – reminding us all to change our preconceptions and strive to help one another achieve excellence in everything we do.

And that’s a wrap!

Coach Carter’s presentation may have marked the end of Vegas 2023, but the sense of camaraderie is something that will stay with all of us as the year unfolds. More than ever, NAI is proud to count such a diverse and vibrant community of offices as part of our network. In coming together, we were reminded that we truly are a global family that supports and strengthens one another through the toughest challenges. We look forward to growing with each and every one of our members in the year to come.

To everyone who attended, we’d just like to offer up a big ‘thank you’ for the energy, passion and enthusiasm that made Vegas such a success. A special thanks to all of our sponsors as well – it wouldn’t have been possible without your collaboration and support. See you all next year!

Missed the convention? Our 2023 Leadership Summit and Global Market Outlook is still upcoming. The Global Market Outlook portion is free to attend for NAI professionals and their clients, so keep an eye on the site for details!