Baselworld in full transition

On March 26th, Baselworld drew to a close after what its new CEO Michel Loris-Melikoff referred to as a transitional edition.

The 500 or so exhibitors present attracted 81,200 visitors, a 22% decrease in attendance compared to 2018. Media representative numbers were also down with a total of 3,300 journalists, photographers, bloggers, influencers, etc.

Following the departure of many exhibitors, including the Swatch Group and its 15 brands previously loyal to the event, the layout of the stands has been completely redesigned. Hall 1.0 this year hosted the expanded and improved press centre, which provided the media with optimal working conditions. In the heart of Hall 1.2, dedicated to the jewellery sector, the new Show Plaza featured press conferences, fashion shows and brand events. The south entrance of the complex welcomed the Ateliers, with a new “Incubators” area dedicated to youthful brands on the first floor.

There were also innovations also in terms of information channels, with the launch of an app featuring augmented reality functions, the chatbot messaging service Baselworld Live News and a redesigned website. The Daily News reappeared this year. The range of food and beverage options within the Show was also completely overhauled, notably with the presence of restaurants, areas offering the possibility of a quick meal, as well as a Moët & Chandon champagne bar.

These changes are the beginning of a major transformation – Vision 2020+ – Vision that will be progressively implemented in future editions. In 2020, the show will be enriched with several new features such as event and experience areas. These novelties include a Retailer Summit, CEO-Talks and a Virtual Reality Zone. The concepts of the halls will also be redesigned, notably including moving precious stones to Hall 2. An Innovation Square will be located in the same hall, as well as a vast area dedicated to smartwatches and wearable technologies. The resulting entirely reorganised Baselworld will promote an interactive approach. At the same time, it will be opening up in a carefully targeted way to end customers and collectors through a special offer. In order to win back the dozens of watchmaking companies exhibiting in fringe locations around the show and others who have completely abandoned their springtime presence in Basel, the booth rental tariff system will be simplified. A reduction of 10 to 30% depending on the sector is announced. As far as hotels are concerned, a price transparency agreement was concluded this year with many establishments, with the operators having to meet three (Preferred Partners) or even four (Official Partners) criteria issued by Baselworld’s management. Two-thirds of Basel’s institutions responded positively for the 2019 edition and others will be added to the list in the future. After having successfully repositioned Baselworld within just a few months, Michel Loris-Melikoff nonetheless still has major challenges to overcome.

It should be noted that a major step forward has been made by harmonising the dates of Baselworld and the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie from 2020 onwards. The Basel event will take place from April 30th to May 5th, while the SIHH will run from April 26th to 29th in Geneva. This alignment was long overdue in order to avoid foreign media and retailers having to travel twice to Switzerland within a short period of time. The calendars have been synchronised until 2024.

April 04, 2019