Will the famous World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, be the latest victim of COVID? Does jetting to “Davos,” as an exclusive annual event, during a week of expensive wine and hobnobbing still make sense for tycoons and stable world leaders, given the program costs and the health risks of the pandemic? What Klaus Schwab, The 82-year-old founder of Davos, will it do so in the face of the increasing existential threat to her baby?
That’s a question that’s been circulating on Wall Street recently as the annual membership fees to hype clubs for big sponsors can seem to be as high as 1 million Swiss francs. “They’re going to get in trouble,” one of the Davos attendees explained to me. “… Many of my friends have postponed their Davos membership. You are permitted to hold it for two years before you lose your membership. And I know a lot of people who do that now. What Klaus did was he called out to those people and he said, ‘Hey, please don’t do that. I need your help now. ” ‘
What is clear is that Davos will not lose without a fight. The organization has taken a number of prophylactic steps to try to keep the World Economic Forum away from economic ventilators. Since the outbreak in March, the World Economic Forum has hosted more than 220 virtual Zoom events as a way to try to stay relevant during the pandemic. Then, in August, the Forum Board of Governors decided to rescheduling January 2021 physical meeting in Davos and decided to replace it with a virtual event. “It was a big decision and not taken lightly,” he explained Dominic Kailash Nath Waughray, managing director of the World Economic Forum, via Zoom, from Switzerland. “This is a very, very rare event.” That just another time The event was moved from Davos after September 11, when the Forum was held in New York City, all over the place, in November 2002. He hopes Davos will return in January 2022.
The so-called Davos Dialogue will be held almost the same week in January as the physical Davos formerly. Waughray promises a similar combination of world leaders and corporate executives – he won’t say who other than that he has “confirmations” from “leading figures in the G7 and G20 economies” – talk about the economy, the environment, social justice issues, stakeholder capitalism , and, of course, COVID. (Waughray noted that the President is Chosen Joe Biden been to Davos “five or six times” before and was aware of Davos’ “circuit”.) He also said Forum executives were holding back the cost of attending the event by promising more content and more ways to get that content for the same annual fee. “We don’t see a significant drop in overall earnings,” he said, although some companies, such as those in the travel and tourism industry cut back on “discretionary” spending like Davos, while others in the technology, banking sector and pharmaceuticals, appear to be benefiting from the pandemic, is still paying for Davos content.
Then, in May, in order to continue to “project that confidence into the next year,” said Waughray, the World Economic Forum intends to have a smaller, direct group, “safe and secure,” of about 1,000 participants at Tony Bürgenstock Resort, on Lake Lucerne, in Switzerland. Waughray said the area was “one of the most beautiful parts of Switzerland, which was deliberately selected to be better that season.” He said that while it was too early to say whether as many as 1,000 people would attend in May, reactions to the rescheduling and relocation announcements had been “generally positive” but, he noted, reactions differed sharply by geography. “When you look at different parts of the world and all kinds of optimism about vaccines and the like – I mean if you look at China or Russia and you look at Europe or the US – you might have some different reactions,” he said.
There are two aspects of the Davos experience that are more difficult to replicate digitally. One, of course, is the flamboyant party that takes place in the evening and the opportunity for meetings between the rich and powerful that take place on the track, at a breakout session, or on the ski slopes. Waughray understood that. He said that at this point of the pandemic, people are getting more and more comfortable with Zooming calls and talking to other people from their homes. He said the Forum had been experimenting with virtual “green spaces” where panelists could meet and get to know each other and had tried to organize business leaders to meet digitally. “We are working hard to create moments like that,” said Waughray.
Media is another important ingredient for Davos. Cable business channels, such as CNBC, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, set up outposts on Davos in January, broadcast continuously and hoping to break the news with one leader after another after they made the difficult decision to appear on location in Canada’s Goose. parka, or not. “It’s not Davos without the media,” said Amanda Russo, head of public engagement for the Forum, via Zoom. “It’s not. That’s the biggest part of it. I can’t imagine Davos without a television session, without an interview. People have lots of questions they want to ask. And we wanted to find every way we could to let them ask those questions.” But my sources tell me, at this point, business cable networks are wary of sending crew to Lucerne, in May, given the pandemic still raging in North America and in Europe. (Obviously, a successful vaccine deployment could change that dynamic in May.) Russia remains hopeful the media will continue to play an important role in the Davos Dialogue in January and at the Lucerne event in May. “That [corporate] partners expect it, “said Russo about interaction with the media. “They want to convey their message to the press. The press wants to talk to people. We definitely see it as part of the experience. “Regarding whether Schwab has asked people not to suspend their membership, Russo said the organization regularly checks with members and partners.