Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What It Takes to Get Into the World Economic Forum in Davos

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is just getting underway. Treasury Secretary Geithner will be there, as will be JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon and the Prime Minister of Greece George A. Papandreou. You get the picture, big time schemers.

Andrew Ross Sorkin spills the beans on how you can join the Scheming Set:

Just to have the opportunity to be invited to Davos, you must be invited to be a member of the World Economic Forum, a Swiss nonprofit that was founded by Klaus Schwab, a German-born academic who managed to build a global conference in the snow.

There are several levels of membership: the basic level, which will get you one invitation to Davos, costs 50,000 Swiss francs, or about $52,000. The ticket itself is another 18,000 Swiss francs ($19,000), plus tax, bringing the total cost of membership and entrance fee to $71,000.

But that fee just gets you in the door with the masses at Davos, with entry to all the general sessions. If you want to be invited behind the velvet rope to participate in private sessions among your industry’s peers, you need to step up to the “Industry Associate” level. That costs $137,000, plus the price of the ticket, bringing the total to about $156,000.

Of course, most C.E.O.’s don’t like going anywhere alone, so they might ask a colleague along. Well, the World Economic Forum doesn’t just let you buy an additional ticket for $19,000. Instead, you need to upgrade your annual membership to the “Industry Partner” level. That will set you back about $263,000, plus the cost of two tickets, bringing the total to $301,000.

And if you want to take an entourage, say, five people? Now you’re talking about the “Strategic Partner” level. The price tag: $527,000. (That’s just the annual membership entitling you to as many as five invitations. Each invitation is still $19,000 each, so if five people come, that’s $95,000, making the total $622,000.) This year, all “Strategic Partners” are required to invite at least one woman along as part of an effort to diversify the attendee list.

As part of the strategic partner level, you get access to the private sessions as well as special conference rooms to hold meetings. And perhaps the biggest perk of all, your car and driver are given a sticker allowing door-to-door pick up service.

At the moment, the forum says they are not accepting applications to become “strategic partners” unless the company is from China or India and must be one of the 250 largest companies in the world.
Sorkin also has some travel tips that any top schemer is already clued in on:
A first-class fare from New York to Zurich is running at about $11,000. But a private plane using NetJets will cost you about $70,000 round trip. Helicopter service from Zurich to Davos? $3,400 each way. (The forum provides a free bus service for those worried about their environmental footprint.)


  1. It's a good thing the World Economic Forum is a non-profit; imagine how much membership and tickets would cost if they had to manage their accounting like a profitable business.

  2. Is Geithner using taxpayer money to attend, using his own money, or is he going gratis? Or will the Fed just print up some fresh bills for his fee?