Every year, a group of high level people including billionaires, celebrities and politicians gather for the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, an annual exclusive leadership conference for the one percent who want to “map the key transformations reshaping the world.”
For this year’s event, it’s 45th, roughly 1,700 private jets are expected to fly into the region over the course of the week. Because of the 10% increase in overall airport traffic cause by the event, landing spots are scarce. High-profile attendees this year include Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Bill Gates, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Eric Schmidt.
With those sort of attendees, it’s only natural to want to go. Of course, there’s a huge barrier: money, and lots of it. Here’s a breakdown of how much it costs to attend the event:
In order to even buy a ticket, you have to be a member of the World Economic Forum — the annual fee is $52,000.
A ticket to the actual event costs $19,000 plus tax.
For the private industry sessions, you have to become an “Industry Associate,” which is an additional $137,000 per year.
If you want to bring a friend, you have to upgrade your membership to “Industry partner,” which costs $263,000 per year, plus the cost of the two tickets.
If you want to bring more than two people, you’ll need to upgrade your membership to “Strategic Partner,” which costs $527,000, not including ticket costs. If you bring five people, you’re required to bring at least one woman to help with the gender ratio. Finally, in order to even be eligible to purchase the “Strategic Partner” level of membership, you need to be one of the world’s 250 biggest companies based in China or India.
So without counting travel, accommodations and party-throwing fees, you’ll be spending at minimum close to six-figures just to be able to attend the prestigious event. An attendee could easily spend millions if they wanted to receive the ultimate experience of throwing exclusive parties, having luxury accommodations and expensive chauffeurs during the course of the week.
But why would people even think about paying such an astronomical amount for the event? According to Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget, who wrote about his experience in 2011:
“… think of Davos from the perspective of Michael Dell of Dell or Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, both of whom I passed in the corridors this morning. Where else can you take a single plane flight and meet with the CEOs of dozens of global companies that buy tens of millions of dollars worth of your products and services every year? Persuade a few of those clients or potential clients to increase their budgets and spending $622,000 plus T&E is a bargain … that’s why everyone keeps coming to Davos: Because it’s great for business.”
But not all attendees see the event as a valuable benefit to their business. Author David Rothkopf wrote in 2010 the following:
“The entire endeavor is fading for several reasons, all associated with the inadequacy of Davos as a networking forum … As Steve Case, founder of AOL, once told me while standing at the bar in the middle of the hubbub of the main conference center: ‘You always feel like you are in the wrong place in Davos, like there is some better meeting going on somewhere in one of the hotels that you really ought to be at. Like the real Davos is happening in secret somewhere.’ ”
Regardless of the cost, it’s clear that there’s great value in attending this year’s World Economic Forum. As the saying goes: Your network is your net worth.