Baselworld 2020 – Interview Michel Loris-Melikoff

Baselworld initiates a profound transformation

Starting with the number of exhibitors which is once again on the rise, and the more than 80’000 visitors make Baselworld the biggest and most important watch and jewellery show in the world. The next edition will be held from April 30 to May 5, 2020. The new Managing Director Michel Loris-Melikoff and his team are shaping “Baselworld 2020+” into a modern platform that promotes business, delivers an incomparable experience, and interconnects the entire industry. At next year’s event, you can expect to see a great mix of new event formats, open conference sessions, pop-up events, innovation zones and other ways of highlighting the industry’s diversity and potential. The boundaries are shifting. An interview with Loris-Melikoff on the ongoing evolution and its concrete effects.

Last year, you announced the transformation of Baselworld from an order platform to an experience platform. What further steps will the fair take here this year?

Only Baselworld connects the whole Swiss and international industry. During the 8 days of the Fair, people do not only enter into the heart of the industry, but also feel its pulse and get a vision of the future. Our vision of “Baselworld 2020+”, is transforming and developing the show into the industry’s most relevant B2B/C “live experience and business platform”. This process will take some years to complete. In concrete terms, we are reuniting the digital and the live experience, transforming our community into a large social network, active throughout the year, through events and digital channels. We will also establish new event formats such as thematic exhibitions with ones of the most amazing watches, CEOs talks and conferences, and pop-up events. We will open a new Innovation Zone, and we are offering new services, such as an e-concierge to welcome visitors from all over the world.

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

Our goal is simple: we want to build a modern platform that promotes good business deals, offers incomparable experiences and interconnects the industry and the community. Baselworld should be a “must-attend” event because it uniquely interlinks the players in the industry.

What about the number of exhibitors?

Through listening, dialogue and creativity, we have been able to reposition our offers to better meet the expectations. For the watch sector, the new formats have generated positive reactions from professionals. Some global brands such as Maurice Lacroix are already returning and some brands such as the Dolce&Gabbana Group are joining for the first time. We have also registered a significant number of independent brands which are now joining.

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

In recent months, I have travelled extensively in Asia, India, Europe and around the world to meet personally with the players in the “Gems & Pearls” sector and better understand their specific business needs. We received a very strong signal on that side. Before Christmas, we registered an increase of more than 50% in exhibitors in this sector. This is very significant and shows that the boundaries are shifting. To achieve this, we have worked closely with the largest international confederation of the jewellery, gemstone 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 Switzerland at Baselworld. And this will be even more true in 2020. The entire sector understood they can count on the support of Baselworld.

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

Certainly. Designed and conceived in collaboration with the brands with a resolutely contemporary architecture, all transparent with a harmonious layout, this is how we imagined this “Community District”, a new complex of several large buildings, each housing two to three brands. Attentive to their needs, 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 experience areas for the public. In short, 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. 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?

Let’s keep a little suspense. However, in general terms, we will be offering an “event” programme like Baselworld has never seen before. For example, with the inauguration of a new “Grand Forum” which will include 25+ sessions with more than 50 renowned speakers. The objective? To create a unique platform showcasing the industry’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers to get the big picture, the future landscape or a deeper understanding of emerging technologies.

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, we are now able to offer a new centralised e-concierge service this year, 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, even completed with a Museum visit or a private transfer from the airport. This is a real plus.

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, gemstones and pearls, large, medium or smaller houses, we build adapted solutions and initiate change together.

“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. »