The World Economic Forum in Davos is very serious, with delegates wearing suits and ties and generally conducting themselves in a very formal fashion. Despite the intricate color coding on our badges, you don’t really know who is whom this week, so everyone seems to be on their best behaviors—during the day. At night, it’s a very different story along the Promenade. Then it is time to party at Davos.
For those not here, it’s important to get the lay of the Davos land in your head. Davos is a small ski town at the top of a beautiful alp, with a train station and a few long roads running the length of the town. However, during WEF, the town is bisected by security, establishing basically two zones on either side of the congress centre.
At night, the Davos parties begin, and the delegates come out to play. And by parties, I am including fancy dinners at the historic Hotel Belvedere, topical panels on genuinely moving issues such as gender parity, inclusion, and leadership, thinly veiled sales pitches disguised as technical discussions almost all using the language of the WEF’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, and then just the plain honest parties. And there are lots to choose from.
Dispatches from Davos — Monday afternoon
Just last night our team of roving futurists started at our own party (err, informational exchange) held at the most historic and magnificent Hotel Schatzalp, and then came upon parties at Russia House next to a Ukraine woman leaders’ event, and the Blockchain Central (with the BitCoin ATM in a shipping crate across the street) each held in commandeered store fronts along the Promenade for the week. A fancy Geneva Day event on the other side of the Congress Center focused on Globalization 4.0 that challenged standard-setting institutions to develop new principles, norms, and standards for the governance of technologies, and of course the hot invites from the Wall Street Journal, Nasdaq, and other top global brands that spared no expense in telling their stories.
Some of these parties are walk in, some require you to talk your way in. Some require a brown ‘hotel’ badge, and others a full white conference badge. Some require RSVPs and others you have to know the right person. But understand that the parties are as integral a part of Davos as the speeches are. The parties are where information is exchanged, guards are dropped, and that world famous ‘Davos spirt’ is truly born. To truly experience Davos, you can’t have one without the other.
Stay tuned for my Wednesday afternoon dispatch, where I try to sum up all of the speeches, events, panels, and parties into a single word to take away. Until then…