I have wanted to go to SXSW in Austin for several years, but never had the chance to go. This year I was given the opportunity by Pfister and was excited to jump at it. I have always heard amazing things about the event and knew I could learn from incredibly talented stars in the social media world. What I didn’t know was how much I had to learn about attending SXSW. Next year, with the tips I learned on how to get the most out of SXSW, I will have an amazing experience for sure.
Get the Most Out of SXSW
With 70,000 attendees embarking on the city of Austin, Texas, you need to have a plan… and then be prepared to deviate from that plan.
- At the 1st thought of attending, book your hotel. Now. Not even kidding. The rooms are gone super quick and many book rooms for next year as soon as the festival ends. AirBNB is a good alternative. Friends or family in the area could also be helpful.
- However amazing you want to look while you are there, always wear comfortable shoes. This should really go without saying. Protect your feet, People! There is a lot of walking. The festival covers several blocks of the downtown Austin area and most of it can only be accessed by walking.
- Bring a backpack. You will be given items from time to time that will need a place to “hang out” as you go about your day. You may want to carry a tablet or other accessories. The backpack is the best way to evenly distribute the weight as you trek through the city.
- Inside your backpack I recommend you carry the following items: water bottle, snacks, hand sanitizer, phone charger, power strip (plugs are limited and you can offer to share), portable battery charger, poncho/umbrella. Other things may be optional based on your own needs, but the few things I mentioned are almost guaranteed essentials.
- Eat whenever you can. Seriously. The days are extremely long. Food is offered around every corner. Whether walking the streets going from session to session, relaxing in a branded lounge, or networking, eat. You need energy to get through the day. Stay hydrated as well… with water!
- Schedule your sessions… and have a backup plan. Sessions fill up quickly. If there is one you particularly want to attend, get there early and be prepared to stand in line. Knowing the size of the venue is also helpful. Do your homework and know that you may not get into every session on your list. Download the official SXSW app to have all the information at your fingertips any time of the day or night!
- Bring cash for parking, pedicabs, tips, bicycle rentals, whatever may arise. Bonus tip? Use the Catch a Chevy service to get around… for free! It’s awesome. They have cars going most of the day and their only job is to cart attendees around the city using their OnStar service. Pretty fabulous marketing really for both Chevy and OnStar. Plus, it was a lifesaver on the cold, rainy days!
This being my first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, I did have the experience of past conferences and events under my belt to know the basics. But, SXSW is unlike any I have been to. So, as I mentioned, be prepared… for anything. Like running into Guy Kawaski in the PayPal Lounge 20 minutes after you arrive:
I may not be able to point out music or film stars, but I typically know the social media ones. Ha!
What tips do you have for attending SXSW?
A special thank you to Pfister for this amazing opportunity. I definitely learned a thing or two about Austin’s infamous slogan: “Keep Austin Weird.”
Gotta love the diversity!