The annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos brings together political leaders, billionaire entrepreneurs, bankers, and some of the world’s most-accomplished academics.
But as the night draws in across the snowy mountain scenery, even the elite are on the look-out for some company.
I fired up dating app Tinder during the meeting and I was surprised by how popular it was.
While in the Congress Center, which is where all the important conference sessions, press conferences, and meetings take place — and next to many of the hotels on the nearby Promenade — I changed my “discovery” settings to search only for people in the immediate vicinity.
Most of Davos is on security lockdown during the meeting — understandable given the gravitas of the people in attendance and the meetings they are participating in — so there was a good chance that most of the people popping up within a 1-mile radius of me would be here for the event too.
And that hypothesis was correct. There was the odd skier and local, but the majority of people flashing up were clearly in Davos for the meeting. That was made more obvious because many of their profiles included their places of work — I saw people (I’d estimate about 90% men) from NGOs, blue chip firms, and governments from across the world.
I didn’t recognise anybody famous during my swiping, but there were certainly some big-name, recognisable organisations and universities. I also recognised some people I had met during the event — awkward.
I began having a chat with some of my matches. I disclosed straight away that I was a journalist researching Tinder use at Davos and kept our conversations as far away from romance as possible (I’m in a very happy relationship.)
Bob *works at a big-name management consultancy, and he was very chatty.
I asked how his Davos Tinder experience was going so far. He said other dating apps were proving more popular than Tinder, but he hadn’t seen many people on there likely to be attending WEF.
Peter*, an entrepreneur from Europe, had an interesting approach to Davos Tinder. He told me he was primarily using it to see if he could find someone to meet when he is travelling to New York because there are so many people from the US at the event.
Clive*, who works for a US non-profit, said he found very few people on Tinder. Every time he’s checked there have only been about two or three profiles of women and that would be it.
Jean-Luc*, a French journalist who, like me, was a newbie to the Annual Meeting had a little more luck. He’d been using both Tinder and Happn and had managed to strike up conversations with three matches. He joked that someone should invent a “Tinder for Events” which would probably make it easier to meet like-minded people and organise which parties to meet at.
Tinder is often described as a “hook-up app” but none of the people I spoke to used any language that was sexual in nature. If there was one common theme in the conversations I had, it was that everyone wanted to find someone friendly to meet for a coffee, drinks later in the evening, or they wanted to know where the best party was at. Maybe they were looking for something a little more (not least as I’m based in London and almost everyone else I saw on the app was from a different country,) but nobody was pushy — especially not once I disclosed my reason for being on Tinder.
In fact, the most forward approach was a message — before I had even responded — that suggested an exact time and location to meet later that day. I responded mentioning my research project and I was unmatched — a bit like a “block” on other social network apps, meaning we could no longer continue our conversation and the messages disappeared from the app.
As you’ll see from above, I set my discovery settings so that I could see both male and female profiles. Finding a female profile was rare, and when I did stumble across one, it looked as though they probably lived locally or were here to ski (I deduced that because they had photos of themselves skiing in their profile pictures.)
The fact that there were so few female profiles was hardly surprising. I have no hard numbers, but over the five days I’ve been walking around the Congress Center and nearby hotels and pop-ups, I’ve noticed that men far outnumber women at this event.
But what was perhaps surprising is that Davos Tinder was most definitely a “thing.” No matter what time I logged on to the app, there were always profiles waiting of smartly-dressed people at the event looking for a little off-piste action.
(* All the names in this article have been changed)