Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director, Baselworld, is the man of the moment at Baselworld. Her role, besides putting the whole show together, is also required to be omnipresent to be here, there and everywhere, as she was at the fair. One moment she was addressing Press Day, the next she was addressing her team, the third minute she was convening a meeting, then off to an interview.
To be able to pull off a successful exhibition of this magnitude is a feat of a kind. How does she do it? "We're already working towards Baselworld 2015", she says. Our core teamcomprises 20 people. We have to be on the top of our game; dealing with new ideas, you have to keep shopping around in the world market, new patterns, the emerging demands of consumers and exhibitors of international fairs such as this.
According to Ritter,The markets have changed tremendously. They are in a constant state of flux owing to technological breakthroughs, geo-boundaries and consumers are its indicators. Baselworld, she believes, is a microcosm of this change, a reflection of the world outside.
Why Basel though, when this show could be hosted anywhere else in Switzerland? "Basel is the right fit", she says, "it's not unwieldy enough to make an exhibition lose its identity, and not so small that no one sees it. Every citizen in Basel is part of Baselworld. All the people are involved, however closely or remotely." True. Anyone who has sought a room reservation at the last minute will know that even bed and breakfast arrangements are choc-a-block all through Basel, so much so that visitors sometimes have to trudge all the way from Germany and France (close neighbours to Basel, in fact just a short train journey away). In Paris, a show of this magnitude would be an exhibition people visited and then moved on to other parts of Paris. In Basel, Baselworld becomes the centrepoint and everything else revolves around it.
How difficult or easy is it to pull off an international exhibition like this? "Let's put it this way," she says, "you cannot template a good year. Every year brings its own set of expectations and challenges. I cherish last year's show. We had a new layout, a new packaging. We reorganized the whole show. It has worked very well, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Staying No.1 is challenging, but we're getting better at it".