Going to SXSW 2018? Lucky you! Check this out!
Fun Fact: 2017 was my first SXSW but third visit to Austin. I feel that having been in Austin before helped me A LOT in getting the most out of my experience. I won’t be attending 2018 *a collective moan of sadness from many men is heard*, (Sorry guys!) BUT I’m going to share some advice if this is your first SXSW and your first time in Austin.
1- Be sure to turn on notifications for SXSW’s Twitter and Instagram profiles. That way you’ll know what’s happening at the moment and you can get there if you’re nearby. That means happy hours, free breakfast, brunch, lunch, events, promotions, etc.
I got the best brunch I had throughout SXSW for free because of this. It was eggs benedict with duck confit and unlimited mimosas. It’s nice to take a break from the breakfast tacos, which are YUMMY, but never-ending and ultimately your butthole might start to hate you.
If it’s your first time in Austin make a stop at Torchy’s. You’ll love it! Also, get Preparation H. There’s no shame in that. You’re welcome.
2- Get a feel of your surroundings. Downtown Austin is where most of the action will be. You’ll be walking. A LOT. If you’ve never been to Austin I suggest you walk around and see where your points of interest will be (Mashable House, Twitter House, Pinterest House, NatGeo House, etc.). Most of them will be on Sixth Street which is where most of the bars and restaurants are at. Some might be on Rainey which is not that far but you still have to walk. Ridesharing apps are ok but traffic will be nuts since streets get closed so bring some sneakers.
3- ALWAYS check in and/or use geotag in social media during your time in SXSW. This is SUPER important if you want to have a unique experience in Austin. Brands that are doing promotions in the city are always on the lookout for users that are active on social media in their perimeter. This could bring an opportunity to be part of exclusive promotions and experiences aka free stuff/bragging rights with your friends/coworkers when you get back home.
True Story: While I was having lunch at Easy Tiger, a bake shop/beer garden on Sixth Street near the Convention Center, I shared this post on Instagram:
After writing all the necessary/relevant hashtags this happened
I ate my lunch, drank my beer, went to the rest of the workshops I had that afternoon, and went to have my Rogue One experience which ended like this:
I was also featured on a post on the SXSW Instagram (Yes, it me):
So in between Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Jason Sudeikis… there’s little old me.
4 – Get up early. Does it suck to get up early? Maybe. Is it worth it? Obviously. Make the most out of your mornings by attending Workshops (if you did the responsible thing and RSVP’d), panels, keynotes or checking out all the “houses”. Leave the night for the parties (if you did the responsible thing and RSVP’d). If you’re like me, you’ll have an adrenaline rush (combined with Emergen-C because no one wants to get sick on SXSW) and will be ok.
5 – Choose your house. This is VERY important, especially by the end of your respective SXSW experience but it counts the most if you have the INTERACTIVE badge. Go to all the houses you can and see which one has the best experience for you (unlimited drinks, food, activations, free merch, etc.). In 2017, the NatGeo house was the place to be. They had unlimited drinks in big glasses, live music, inhouse activations, and pies during Einstein’s birthday celebration which was on Pi day (March 14). So… check out the houses and choose wisely. Your fun SXSW stories depends on it.
6 – Have fun. You’re in Austin during a great time to be there. Enjoy it. Meet new people, network (Bring business cards!), go to as many places as you can and have some fun while you’re learning a thing or two about whatever it is you do or want to do.
If you need any tips on where to eat check out my Foursquare list of AUSTIN. There’s something for everyone there. If you have any questions write them on the comments below!
Hope this helps. Soon I’ll be doing a post about what you should be doing already to go to SXSW 2019 if you’re a freelancer and/or will cover your whole trip (Which I’ll be hopefully attending if I follow my own advice) so stay tuned!