How does one prepare for this thing they call SXSW interactive?
South By Southwest, the annual Austin, Texas festival of all things awesome in music and media, continues to expand in scale. Once a cool little Texas festival, SXSW is now a sprawling two-week media fest. Divided into three distinct components (interactive, film and music) SXSW can be a bit overwhelming, without a plan. Fortunately, we have a few tips to help you prepare for your trip to SXSW Interactive.
*Arrange Your Transportation and Housing Early
As mentioned above, SXSW attendance continues to grow every year. Last year, SXSW officially endorsed hotels had close to 12,000 reservations during the festival. Last year, the Interactive festival had around 25,000 registered guests from over 72 countries. Don’t wait to the last minute – book your room and your transportation early. If you forgot to do this, there is one ‘experimental’ option that’s free housing at SXSW…
*Know Why You Are Going
SXSW Interactive is an amazing mixture of forums, discussions, parties and events. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle with all the parties and booze. Try to take advantage of all these activities by having an idea of what events you need to see, and why. Whether you are there primarily to network, or to gain information, or to even share information about your own products or services, take the time to examine the scheduled events and build an itinerary that fits your needs. Even if you are there just to geek out or party, the schedule is there for a reason. Use it! You will be surprised how much useful stuff there is going on…
*Don’t Wait to Register
Remember those attendance numbers mentioned above? That’s not necessarily everyone that’s attending the festival. Locals and others who may not need hotel accommodations will attend. To that end, register as soon as possible. Events get booked to capacity just about every year, and it would be terrible to spend the resources to get to Austin and not be able to go to that forum you’ve had your eye on. The sooner you register, the better. Also, the price goes up as the event gets closer… Don’t pay too much because you were waffling!
*Wear Comfortable Shoes
Ladies, I know you want to look cute. I know, because I do too. SXSW Interactive is considerably less spread out than SXSW Music. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be practical in your clothing choices. There is a lot of walking and standing. Any veteran of any festival or conference will tell you that the wrong shoes can completely ruin your experience. It may sound like a small thing, but comfortable shoes make all the difference in the world.
*Be Ready to Meet the Person You Always Wanted to Meet
When attending industry events like SXSW, you should be prepared to rub elbows with industry leaders in their respective marketplaces. You will not believe how many amazing people will be accessible to you! In fact, it is highly likely that you will see or talk to someone who has something to share with you that is worthwhile. If you’re there in a professional capacity, be ready to put your best foot forward. Be sure to have business cards, product samples, or just a great attitude (well, especially a great attitude) on hand. After all, you’re at SXSW Interactive – it’s meant to be fun and informative.
Use the tips above to help get a handle on one of the biggest Interactive conferences of the year. There’s much to see and do, so get organized to take in as much of it as you can.
If you remember nothing else in this post, BRING A POWER STRIP. People actually fight over outlets so they can keep up with their furious blogging. I watched two grown women squabble over an open outlet. If you bring the surge protector, you’ll likely be the hero….