I had the privilege to attend the World Economic Forum 2018 held last week from January 23 to 26th annually. A helicopter ride was unfortunately not among my available transportation options, hence I took a two hours train ride from my current home-base Zurich, and along the way I had stunning views of the Swiss Alps which became more impressing as I approached to the my final destination: Davos.
The World Economic Forum is among many things a grand event logistics’ orchestration, specially this 2018 edition due to extra special guests flying in despite the avalanches alerts.
Here are my very own personal key takeaways.
Davos: The Global Village
Davos is considered a mountain paradise for sports, stunning natural views and one of the World’s Finest Meetings Place. One of its stellar events is the World Economic Forum (@WEF), but there is more beyond that, as DavosKluster has gone through some serious destination repositioning.
Besides an exceptional Congress Centre, there are many event locations and meetings rooms with a total capacity of 15’000 participants and 60 top-level properties with over 27’000 guest beds, and more recently the third Hard Rock Hotel in Europe (where I have had lunch)
Davos Klosters holds around 400 events per year including the JAPANIMANGA NIGHT, an entire convention dedivated to Japanse manga. The destination has grown its capacity of adaptability, fitting different tastes and needs, shifting beliefs while building new impressions of a multi-personality destination brand (The Congress Center Davos is founder member of the Swiss Convention Centres (@SCC)
Reflecting on Gender Equity and Sexual Harassment
My main focus was on capturing the event design and ongoing logistics, I did not have many expectations in terms of meeting world leaders, but it is hard to miss that part out when strolling in Davos’ promenade. I bumped into into Ginni Rometty President and CEO of IBM. She was a key player and member of the first entirely women co-chaired summit.
Following that fleeting instant, I reflected on the global #meetoo and #timesup movements, which have been fueled by sexual harassment. A phenomenon happening across industries. including the events industry.
A recent survey conducted by PCMA Convene Magazine showed that out of 100 meeting professionals, 80 percent had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the work place, while nearly three-quarters hadn’t reported the incident. It makes sense that a stronger policy and higher engagement against sexual harassment are considered an important trend for this year.
Sustainable food, sustainable peace, sustainable events
Whether it is through sustainable food or sustainable peace, sustainability is more than ever a hot topic. This shift towards more sustainable and resilient societies has been embraced by event stakeholders, who have adopted more pro-active roles for the generation sustainable solutions, which not only reduce the environmental footprint of our events, but that also add tremendous value.
A timely example was the conferment of the ISO 20121:2012 certification to PublicisLive, the official provider of event logistics and key support services of the forum. Although the announcement was made during the WEF18 week, the firm introduced the sustainability program since November 2015.
Bleisure: Business meet leisure
Even though the global agenda was discussed during the entire week, there was space for entertainment, adventure and relaxation under Davo’s sunny winter, specially during the post-WEF18 days. Whether a private party with about 100 attendees inside an improvised wooden chalet located next to the exclusive Seehof hotel or it is an unlike meeting of locals and ambassadors sharing a bier at a convenience store. After all, beyond the badge hierarchy, we were all humans meeting to advance the world.
This bleisure travel segment is becoming more popular as business travelers continue experiencing demographics and lifestyle shifts. While walking around (please bring appropriate winter shoes to avoid falling as I did) I met a group of WEF participants wearing no suit or tie but ski gear.
They decided to extend their stay and conquer the alpine peaks over the weekend as the #WEF week is one of the best times of the year to ski the nearby slopes as large groups of ski-goers are no where around due to the extensive security measures. In destinations like Davos, ski and snow-sports are definite bleisure activities, that can create a lifetime memory that benefit the event participants, the city, and the events’ brand.
The local perspective
I had an insightful talk on the train ride back home with a lovely alpine lady who has spent most of her life in Davos. She shared some interesting hints from her local perspective, she mentioned for instance, that most of the locals are gone for holidays during this busy week which opens the door for lodging rental opportunities. Now imagine a millionaire technology investor from Silicon Valley staying over in your flat, you better wash the sheets.
The small shops in the promenade are rented and transform into state of the art meeting spaces, where millionaire deals are closed. My train ride amiga told me she missed her favorite coffee-shop transformed in Google meetings space, and that Facebook location was in her neighbors’ lawyer’s firm office. This transformation of ocal spaces is work 100% carried by local carpenters, electricians, and other workforce suppliers, she emphasized on the community strong powerhouse.
Not so far from there, I found the @ETH space (The science, technology, engineering and mathematics university of Zürich), located next to Davos Kluster offices. This meeting space was devoted to showcase some cutting-edge research and technology developed by local academics, scientists, entrepreneurs and alumni.
It became evident to me that some of the most notorious trends during the 2018 edition were a commitment with the destination with local event sourcing and towards the exposure of wealth of local intellectual capital.