I had an opportunity to experience SXSW for the first time this year and it truly is as epic and overwhelming as everyone proclaims it to be. With 30,000 heads geeking it out, plus the biggest names and thought leaders in the technology industry and parties around the clock — it’s an inspiring and amazing shitshow event.
Here are a few important things I learned about SXSW that might be handy for next year:
1. Planning Doesn’t Work Throw your schedule out, the laws of planning don’t apply at SXSW. Too many people, too many distractions and too many venues will detract your ability to get to where you need to go. Let serendipity happen.
2. Expect Anything This falls in line with the above. Keep your eyes wide open at all times.
3. Foursquare is Amazingly Useful The value of Foursquare becomes really evident at a event like SXSW and I was glued to it around the clock. Not only because it let me know what my friends were up to, but it also helped me find venues and hot spots that were “trending” and worth checking out.
4. Book Your Hotel Downtown Although I stayed at the lovely Doubletree a few miles away, having a hotel in close proximity to downtown Austin is invaluable during this event. The need for the occasional siesta and recharge is crucial to keep your momentum up during this marathon event and also reduce wasted time sitting in traffic going back and forth to the venues. Book downtown and book early.
5. Blogger Lounge = Best Kept Secret One of my friends (thanks Maria!) introduced me to the Samsung blogger’s lounge (hosted by Techset) which turned out to be a great place to relax and recharge, eat some snacks and meet a lot of interesting people. Probably one of the better places for networking at SXSW.
6. Free Lunch Still Exsits You can get away with finding free food and free alcohol almost at any hour. If you find yourself paying for alcohol after 3pm, then you’re clearly in the wrong place.
7. Geeks Know How to Party Yabadabadoo!!
8. Long Waiting Lines Everywhere My first “holy shit this is a long line” moment came the first day at badge-pick up which was a mess in itself. I soon realized there are massive lines for everything at SXSW… panels/talks, food, parties, etc. But i’m not hating, it’s all worth it. =)