The World Economic Forum brings together thousands of politicians, business leaders, philanthropists, academics, journalists, and celebrities—and in a unique locale. Here’s their advice for making the most of the summit.
Ditch the fancy footwear
"It’s all about the boots," says Edelman COO Matt Harrington. "Year after year, folks step out of their cars in dress shoes and go face down. Yes, it's a business meeting, but it's in the Alps, in January. It's all about the boots."
Agency leaders tell us snowy and slippery conditions are the norm in the small resort town every day. The streets and sidewalks only rarely get plowed, and when temperatures do rise a bit all that snow turns into a goopy slush. "Bring comfortable, waterproof shoes," concurs Weber Shandwick chairman Jack Leslie.
Plan your day...
The World Economic Forum includes more than 400 sessions. Some sell out. "Go in knowing what you want to get out of the annual meeting," advises Barri Rafferty, president and CEO of Ketchum. "Read through the program agenda, register in advance for your can’t-miss sessions, and meet as many new people as you can both inside and outside the Congress Center."
...but be ready for spontaneity...
Stuart Smith, global CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations, says, "Frankly, a lot of the best conversations happen by chance in hotel lobbies, so having someone with you who can navigate the chance meetings is important. It's often where the best value is found."
…and build in lunch meetings
The food served in the Congress Center is mostly light bites, so Rafferty suggests packing snacks or finding a decent spot to meet with clients or business partners over lunch to help keep you fueled and your energy up. "If your schedule looks anything like mine, you will be in meetings, sessions, or cocktail receptions from about 7 a.m. to midnight every day."
Manage your expectations
Margery Kraus, APCO's founder and executive chairman, says to prepare in advance and be flexible.
"Over the years—this is my 17th—I have also learned how to navigate in a way that maximizes value. There is an abundance of interesting things to attend and in which to participate, so making choices and having a view about what you want to accomplish is key. So... manage your expectations, don’t expect to sleep much, bring your curiosity and keep an open mind and the two essentials are bring enough business cards and bring great boots."