Longstanding managing director of Switzerland-based trade show Baselworld, Sylvie Ritter, has resigned. Ritter has spent over quarter of a century at MCH Group, which runs Baselworld, and 15 as managing director of the prestigious jewellery.
Interview with Sylvie Ritter
She runs the world’s largest watch fair: World Tempus spoke to the director of Baselworld.
This is the third edition of Baselworld in its new configuration. Have you made any changes?
The big changes were made in 2013 but every year we make a few adjustments to meet the needs of our exhibitors and other attendees. Our goal is that every year people leave saying “wow” without necessarily knowing why.
What is the strong point of this 2015 edition?
Each year, the strong point is the new products. We make every effort to keep buyers and the global media focused on what’s new. If Baselworld is a single fair, it nevertheless represents 5 or 6 different sectors. It is for this reason that there are several “universes” for different sectors in the exhibition halls.
What are the most important figures?
Baselworld is 1,500 exhibiting brands, 4,000 accredited journalists and 150,000 visitors. During the duration of the exhibition, our Facebook posts are seen by nearly one million people. The impact of social media has grown exponentially over the past five years.
The strength of Baselworld lies in its ability to bring together the entire industry once a year – watchmaking and jewelry, but also gemstones and machine tool makers. This unique event generates an extreme concentration of international media and buyers for a week.
Did you have to deal with the strong franc problem in any way?
The strong franc did not have a direct impact on the exposure, but it is obvious that the subject is sensitive. The problem is the complete lack of visibility. We don’t know what’s going to happen and no one can predict the implications.
Is there an area you want to focus on in the future?
One of our strengths is to listen to exhibitors and visitors from the main watchmaking markets. We must anticipate what is happening in the markets and adapt our strategy to their needs.
Does the unstable geopolitical situation in the world affect exhibitors and visitors?
If there is, it is a minor. Since the public buys their tickets on site, it is difficult to predict the exact number of visitors. However, the demand for visas remains stable, and we therefore have no particular concerns.
What would you recommend to a visitor who only has half a day to visit Baselworld?
It depends on the interests of the visitor. Many buyers, for example, only come for gemstones. This is a question we have asked ourselves in the past, and our feeling is that visitors should be given the opportunity to focus on the particular area that interests them; this is the reason why we have introduced a clear separation by sector.
In 2013, we decided to organize the exhibitors according to the brands that the retailers represent, and so all the major brands are now in Hall 1, whether they are watchmakers or jewelers.
To a visitor looking to be impressed, I would recommend a visit to Hall 1, where the stands are real constructions and are definitely worth the trip. Then you would have to stay there for 2 or 3 days the following year. This is in fact what usually happens. It’s the same with reporters who only come one day the first time – they only come once! We have found that the average length of visits has been growing from year to year for the past 5 or 6 years.