Baselworld initiates a profound transformation

The next edition of Baselworld will be held from April 30 to May 5, 2020. Already under the aegis of a profound evolution – more open, richer in content and more connected, the upcoming edition of Baselworld will reflect this positive dynamic that has been set in motion. And that, starting with the number of exhibitors, which is once again on the rise. The boundaries are shifting. An interview on the ongoing evolution – and its concrete effects – with Michel Loris-Melikoff, Managing Director of Baselworld.

What will be the major changes for the 2020 edition?

Baselworld is undergoing a profound transformation as the 2020 edition is about to demonstrate. A transformation implemented after listening to the wishes and expectations of brands and visitors –  those of today and those of tomorrow. This is how the world watch and jewellery event will present itself in a new light for exhibitors on the one hand, for visitors and journalists on the other, as well as for the community – everywhere in the world – that monitors our activities via social networks. For each of these players, the 2020 edition will offer a new face. But for all, Baselworld will be more accessible, more open, more content-rich, more modern and more interconnected. And this is only the beginning, because the movement that is being launched will naturally continue in the years to come. It must be understood that Baselworld is at the dawn of a real change.

If you had to summarise very briefly the “pluses” of the 2020 edition, what would they be?

A clearly more attractive exhibition, with more exchanges, more experiences, more exhibitors, more openness, more forward-looking and more adapted to everyone.

What about the number of exhibitors?

The number of exhibitors has not stopped growing because – almost until the opening of the show – new contracts are being signed. But the proposed developments have generated positive reactions from professionals and have helped to stem the negative spiral experienced in recent years. This allows us to be confident both for the 2020 edition and for the years to come.

You have, however, already reported progress in the “Gems & Pearls” sector…

Yes, we did because there is a very strong signal on that side. As early as November, we had already registered an increase of more than 50% in exhibitors in this sector. This is very significant and shows that the boundaries are shifting. Through listening, dialogue and creativity, we have been able to reposition our offers to better meet the specific expectations and needs of the players in the “Gems & Pearls” sector. To achieve this, we have worked closely with the largest international confederation of the jewellery, stone and pearl industry, CIBJO. From Manhattan to Jaipur, Hong Kong, Geneva, Antwerp, Tel Aviv or Idar-Oberstein, all gemstone trading platforms meet every year in the first half of the year in Switzerland at Baselworld. And this will be even more true in 2020.

We understand that you have sought to propose more flexible offers that are better adapted to everyone’s expectations. Is the new Community District part of this commitment?

Absolutely! The “Community District” responds to this need to rethink our offer. By responding to the needs of both exhibitors and visitors. This is clearly why exhibitors who chose to leave us two years ago decided to return in 2020, as for example, Maurice Lacroix. This proves that we are better and more responsive today to the expectations of brands.

The “Community District” is also the answer to a change of approach…

Certainly. As watchmaking is changing, distribution is changing, communication is changing, it was quite natural that Baselworld should also be transformed! Designed and conceived in collaboration with the brands, this new “Community District” concept initiates the change from the traditional
B-to-B model to a platform of experiences for the entire community: retailers and distributors, media, but also collectors, end customers and enthusiasts. Attentive to the needs of brands, we wanted to come up with customisable, turnkey proposals that meet their requirements and needs, especially here for those with extensive distribution networks with the reception and flow of thousands of customers, while developing large experience areas for the public in general.

And you have reserved a special spot for this “Community District”…

Indeed, this absolutely innovative concept for Baselworld takes place in the heart of Hall 1.0, the place to be for watchmakers! Just a stone’s throw from the most prestigious Swiss watchmaking brands, this is a fantastic opportunity for brands that want to make the most of our platform and, with us, transform Baselworld by experimenting with new formats. This is how we imagined this “Community District”, a new complex of several large buildings, each housing two to three brands. Identified thanks to a resolutely contemporary architecture, all transparent, with a harmonious layout between the different spaces whose interiors on two levels are customisable. This new meeting point, the “Community District”, combines prestige, with private areas reserved for professionals, with important new areas of experience for the general public.

You have also developed and refined various offers for independent watchmakers. What exactly is the situation?

We considered three distinct elements corresponding to the needs of independent entrepreneurs at various stages of their development. And we have offered them a choice space. Les Ateliers, the Watch Gallery and the Incubator will be installed in the main Hall 1, in spaces welcoming all watch enthusiasts who love to find here the hyper creativity of these craftsmen.

The public always wants more show, more surprise, more content. How will Baselworld 2020 meet these legitimate demands?

It is obvious that the public today wants to be amazed – and they are constantly confronted with it in their daily lives, so you will understand that we will not reveal everything until the beginning of Baselworld 2020! Let’s keep a little suspense. However, in general terms, we will be offering an “event” programme like Baselworld has never seen before. Starting with the Show Plaza that we inaugurated last year, and which will offer in 2020 a series of conferences and panel discussions highlighting the current challenges faced by luxury players in terms of distribution and communication in particular. The idea being less to reflect on the current situation than to sketch out scenarios of what tomorrow’s watchmaking and jewellery will be like. And to understand how new technologies will have disrupted them by then.

While they love surprises, visitors – exhibitors, professionals or others – do not appreciate unpleasant surprises. You have also worked in this direction. What is that all about?

Thanks to a strategic agreement with the Basel Hotel Association, and with the aim of facilitating the reception of our exhibitors and visitors to Basel, we were able to set up a new centralised e-concierge service this year – focused on individual and collective requests – able to receive, advise, guide and book all requests for accommodation and stays – hotels, flights, but also transfers, cultural visits – for the benefit of exhibitors and visitors. Via a single point of contact and a contact person, visitors can book their entire trip and stay in Basel. This is a real plus for all those who will be joining us in April and May.

You insist a lot on the role that brands play in the transformation of Baselworld. Is that so important?

This is fundamental. We have undertaken this change by listening to our exhibitors and those who would like to become a part of it. It is obvious that we will not undertake the transformation of Baselworld alone. With all our exhibitors, whether in the world of watchmaking, jewellery, stones and pearls, large, medium or smaller houses, we build adapted solutions and initiate change together. You will see this more concretely when the 2020 edition opens on April 30.

“A clearly more attractive show, with more exchanges, more exhibitors, more openness, more forward-looking and more suitable for everyone. »

“Watchmaking is changing, distribution is changing, communication is changing, it was quite natural that Baselworld should also be transformed! »

 “We wanted to come up with customisable proposals, delivered turnkey. »

“We will offer an “event” programme like Baselworld has never seen before. »

“It is obvious that we will not undertake the transformation of Baselworld alone. »

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