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40 | WISH YOU WERE THERE? WORDS | Jean Liggett and Catherine Proctor

Land of opportunity? T

he St. Petersburg International Property Show was held at Lenexpo Exhibition Centre,

Vassilievsky Island, from 29-30 March. Organised by AI Group (www.aigroup. ru) - the show has been running for more than fi ve years.

St Petersburg St Petersburg, perhaps better known as Leningrad, has been described as beautiful, complex, imperial-like, majestic, a city adeptly planned to showcase Russia off to the West and launch Russia as a world player in the 18th-century. I was struck by the awesome beauty

of the iconic buildings’ refl ection glistening over the canals and waterways. According to my colleague Mike

Gill, who was at the show, “The city itself has some truly magnifi cent and proud buildings mixed with some very tired and unloved structures. Two days of sightseeing just does not do this city justice.”

The show

The show is aimed at the growing number of Russians who can now afford and desire to buy an overseas property. The main offering at the show was holiday homes, as most Russians are seeking to buy these abroad rather than a property for investment. There were 7,800 attendees, almost all of whom were paying visitors. The dominant age group was 30- 45 - most were married but very few brought their spouses with them – and, unsurprisingly, the majority were male. Business owners, senior company executives and managers (or their representatives) made up the bulk of the people we saw – according to Liuba, our interpreter, there were very few ‘line employees’ looking to buy as they would not be able to afford real estate abroad. We also had a number of people approaching our stand who were looking to buy real estate as a way of gaining residency in that country. It’s hard to say what the average budget was as I can only judge by those we spoke to, but I’d guess around USD150,000.

Most people whom we spoke to at Jean, Catherine and their team | on their stand at the St Petersburg International Property Show

the stand did not speak English, so having interpreters at the stand was essential.

Our experience The AI Group was very friendly and effi cient. Staff went out of their way to ensure that everything worked and were always very willing. Anna Anokhina was our project manager and worked very closely with us before the show - she was excellent and lovely to work with. I enjoyed interacting with the visitors. Russians are very direct in

“The main offering was holiday homes, as most Russians are seeking to buy these abroad”

their questions, which perhaps, as an American, I like and am familiar with. They also asked intelligent questions and respected the answers I gave. My colleague, Mike Gill, says, “I found the show to be a valuable learning exercise in how to present yourself and interact with Russian nationals on the stand. Working with professional interpreters proved invaluable and showed respect to the visitors who had little or no knowledge of English.”

Our two main products, Saloc Luxury Resort & Spa in Hungary and Lakeside Phuket in Thailand, created

strong interest and we expect to convert that interest into fi rm sales.


More than 150 companies exhibited. They included property developers, international real estate agents, banks, international fi nancial advisers, letting & relocating agents and national tourist boards.

Exhibitors featured properties from all over the world, the most popular countries being Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Italy and Greece. The show’s visitors did not appear to be put off by the crisis in Cyprus. Many of them see the crisis as an opportunity to pick up a bargain. Due to the city’s close proximity to Finland and the Baltic States, there is an increased interest in properties in Finland, Latvia and Estonia. There were also participants from Thailand, Singapore and the Seychelles as well as the UK, USA, Germany and Canada. The latter countries appealed to the wealthier investors, according to Anna Anokhina.

Our advice

If you are considering exhibiting at either the St Petersburg or Moscow International Property Shows, we recommend the following: · Do your research to determine which countries Russians are buying properties in and what type of properties they are buying. · You are best off with a hot country

with properties by the sea. · Ask yourself: do you have the right product for the Russian market? If you are not sure, it is probably a ‘no’. · If it is a ‘yes’, then start to do your preparation work for the show at least five months in advance and appoint someone in your organisation to take charge. · As soon as you have pressed the ‘go’ button, start to approach Russian property agents to work with you. This way you can launch into the overseas Russian property market at a low cost. · Put your properties on the Russian overseas property portals so you can gauge interest in your product and start to get feedback from potential buyers. · Sell one product and design the backdrops to give the buyer an experience of being there. Most of the stands in St Petersburg were selling multiple products and were cluttered.

At the show: · It is essential to have Russian translators at your stand, and for any meetings with potential buyers/partners. · Ensure you obtain the contact details of all the people you speak to at the stand. We designed an information form in Russian, which worked very well. · Check out what Russian overseas buyers are buying to ensure you have the right product for the market.

For more details about Jean, see:


The Russian and former Soviet Union markets are of growing importance to the international property industry. Not surprisingly, they host a number of highly successful property shows. Can a newcomer exhibit successfully and how diffi cult is it to cater to the needs of the Russian buyer? Jean Liggett explains...

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