Five countries, eight cities, 38 advanced, next generation commercial real estate 12 days! In 12 short days, seven industry professionals will tour the most advanced best practices in the commercial real estate industry in Asia. Not only will they get the opportunity to see some potentially advanced concepts in action, they will also be able to use these practices as a benchmark for comparison when looking at how the industry is conducting and using commercial real estate in the United States.

The idea for this trip started in June 2002 at Realcomm in Las Vegas. In several sessions on the topic of advanced practices in building operations and management, speakers whose companies had international experience kept referencing best practices in other countries. When asked whether these countries were more open to the idea of paperless, digital operations, management, and transactions, their answers were flat out "yes."

That summer, Realcomm and other industry officials decided to begin their journey not in Asia or Europe, but rather the United States. They figured before venturing out to see the world it would be best if they took a good look at the projects in the United States. Approximately 10 cities and 30 buildings later they had a solid understanding of some of the most advanced buildings and operations in the United States. From Rudin Management and 3 Times Square in Manhattan to SENTRE Partners and 1 America Plaza in San Diego, they climbed stairs and rode elevators in search of innovation and next generation ideas.

Although these progressive operators had definitely pushed some envelopes of innovation, the group was still hearing that things were quite different abroad. At that point, they reached out to the commercial real estate and technology community for examples of next generation practices in Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. The response was better than expected -- from paperless leases in the United Kingdom to people-less parking garages in Australia -- they were impressed with the feedback. Eventually they decided to start their search abroad in Asia.

The cast of characters participating in this adventure is pretty interesting. There will be a group of seven traveling from the United States and over 25 people helping to coordinate logistics and appointments once they arrive. The team includes Dave Clute and Wolfgang Wagener of Cisco, Matt Spathas - SENTRE Partners, Gary Brandeis - Lincoln Property, Geoff Kasselman - Studley, Paul Ehrlich - Trane, and Jim Young - Realcomm.

Each member of the team has been assigned tasks ranging from taking photos and videos to completing ranking forms. Once the team arrives back in the United States, all of the information will be assembled and compiled with the help of organizations like CABA and Carnegie Mellon. A great deal of the findings will be presented at Realcomm 2004 in various formats and venues.