The watch world is following its trade show events these days, including Baselworld, which for decades has been the industry’s most important. As the watch industry disruptively transitions to new business models, manufacturing, and marketing, the role of trade shows is changing, as well. What many people don’t realize is that Baselworld has a brand new organizational team, and they have been extremely hard at work modernizing the event format, as well as their relationships with exhibitors and visitors, alike.
aBlogtoWatch spoke with Michel Loris-Melikoff, who is spearheading the redesign of Baselworld for 2019, and beyond. The show is said to be markedly different from years past — in part, a response to a series of discussions Baselworld has had with its longstanding exhibitors. The hope is that those who decided to skip Baselworld 2019 will return in the future. I’m personally excited to see what new ideas Baselworld 2019 brings to watch trade show table, and here is what Mr. Loris-Melikoff had to say to a few of my recent questions:
Ariel Adams: The energy we sense from the fresh Baselworld team is something I wish our aBlogtoWatch audience could feel. Speak directly to them and talk about the top three major changes to Baselworld that transform Baselworld 2019 into the new show your team will be proud of.
Michel Loris-Melikoff: It is difficult for me to choose the top three because we are working on so many things, with 100% of our energy, and all at the same time (laughs)…. One highlight will definitely be our new Jewellery Hall 1.2, which we will furnish with a spectacular Show Plaza, where high-class Fashion & Jewellery shows will be presented three times a day. Shows, haute couture, and Baselworld: That is a winning trio, and it will surely be very good! Secondly, I think all our visitors, exhibitors, and journalists can look forward to the new Central Plaza in Hall 1.0. Here, amidst the hectic pace of business, we are creating a new oasis for relaxation, communication, and culinary enjoyment.
At the same time, we are also providing optimal conditions for you and your fellow media professionals with our new Press Centre, where media can work joyfully, enthusiastically, and directly at the epicenter of events. I also think the hotel partnerships that we were able to agree upon are very important. For the first time in Baselworld’s history, we were able to sign agreements with hotels to guarantee prices and conditions that benefit everyone — exhibitors, visitors and journalists, alike. Forty-six hotels (roughly 2/3 of available hotels) have agreed to participate. That is a terrific success for our hospitality team.
That same team is now also working to conclude similar agreements with restaurants and bars. Another change, which is perhaps less visible, but nonetheless extremely important, is the modification in our tone and interactions. It is very important to me that exhibitors and visitors, alike, feel comfortable here at Baselworld. We want them to know and feel that we take them and their needs very seriously. We listen very attentively and we want to cooperate with them to achieve the best possible outcome for each person and each brand. I can assure you that our team is approaching this task with passion and genuinely high motivation. This will be noticeable for everyone at Baselworld.
AA: The entire watch industry — whether those brands have historically exhibited at Baselworld, or not — is experiencing a dramatic transformational phase that will slowly pull them out of the traditional distribution and sales models which don’t offer the same effectiveness in a connected, highly mobile world. Industries change only when their players can communicate with one another, something that often happens when meeting large numbers of colleagues such at trade shows. Tell me, in detail, how Baselworld will facilitate, now more than ever, connections between people at similar companies who need to learn about best practices, and the results of experiences, so that the industry can more rapidly restructure itself.
MLM: You are absolutely right. After all, a trade show’s raison d’être is to play the role of a communications platform. Jean-Claude Biver from LVMH, whom I hold in very high esteem, hit the nail on the head at Baselworld 2018, when he explained that, without a trade show, he would need 100 days to schedule and attend all the meetings that he can pack into a fair. Our participants can focus, concentrate, update themselves, and make themselves understood on the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-industry here at Baselworld.
We will, therefore, continue to move forward with converting and expanding Baselworld to transform it into a platform for communication and marketing. Especially for the 2019 edition, we plan to strongly promote opportunities for informal meetings. For example, the new Central Plaza in Hall 1.0, with its restaurants and bars, and The Loop,” our new culinary island in Hall 1.1, are perfect gathering places for informal meetings. The fashion shows we present three times a day at the Show Plaza in Hall 1.2 provide plenty to talk about and ample opportunities to strike up conversations.
We have also greatly expanded our spectrum of communication solutions; we are currently relaunching our website, which features the latest news and trends from our exhibitors and the industry. And our brands get their own landing pages, where they can present their latest products more attractively and more successfully than ever before. We are disseminating information via newsletters and social media, and we are also expanding our chatbot to transform it into a veritable concierge for our show. Moreover, the Baselworld Daily News will return in printed form. We are doing all this to offer our exhibitors the greatest possible reach for their innovations, beyond their physical stands at the fair, and also to comprehensively inform our visitors about important topics and developments in the industry.