SXSW can be overwhelming to first-timers. All the things that make SXSW amazingly informative, fun, and unique are also what can make it so daunting. We've created this guide to help you prepare for the adventure ahead.
(Registering means purchasing a badge)
Book your hotel through SXSW
If you are going to be staying at an Austin area hotel, you will have the best choice of room at the best rate if you book through SXSW. You'll also have access to our hotel shuttles, which run all day and into the wee hours of the morning.
Use Your Tools
The new and improved SXSW website, the monthly email newsletters and social networking options like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and more offer valuable connections and information that can help you get the most of your time in Austin.
Make a Schedule
You don't have to stick with it, but having someplace to start will make all the difference. Plus, in the process of making your schedule, you may discover things you would not have come across otherwise. Once we get closer to the event, you'll be able to build a personal schedule and with so many events taking place simultaneously, it never hurts to have a Plan B or C. Don’t have time to make a schedule? Check out the Esurance footprint at the ACC after you register- they’ve hired some knowledgeable folks to make one for you.
Find a SXSW Friend
Seek out fellow attendees/speakers who have some experience with the event to give you advice, guide you, and even show you around. You'll come away with a new connection. See if you know anyone attending in SXsocial once you're registered.
Study the Maps!
This is very important. The Austin Convention Center is a very large venue. Closer to the event we will publish detailed maps of the location of all our programming within the Convention Center and surrounding venues, as well as maps of official party, screening, and showcase locations around downtown Austin. You will also find maps on-site in each event's pocket guide, but don't wait to familiarize yourself with where you want to go.
Pack for Every Occasion
SXSW is more than just a conference. You'll be attending sessions, meeting potential clients, attending screenings, networking at clubs, and hopping from one showcase to the next. And if you've ever been to Austin, you know that the weather can be unpredictable so be sure and check weather listings before you leave. All that said, Austin is a really casual city. If you want to attend panels in your pajamas, we won't judge.
You should also pack a reusable water bottle. The air in the convention center can be quite dry, but you'll find water stations throughout the building to keep you hydrated.
Check Your Flight
The skies over Austin get very full during SXSW. Book your flight early and be prepared. Delays are not unheard of.
Know Your Hotel
Be sure you know the name of your hotel. Austin is small, but we have a lot of hotels, some with very similar names.
If you are planning to drive in the Austin area during SXSW, you may want to consider alternative forms of transportation. Parking downtown will be limited, and street closures may make it difficult to get around. Check the Getting Around section of the website for information on public transportation and SXSW hotel shuttle service.
If you will be renting a car be sure to check the Charters and Rentals page for information and discount codes once they become available. If you will be parking near the Austin Convention Center, there are several lots nearby that charge a fee (usually around $7.00) for each day.
Dress for the Occasion
It's all about the shoes. You're going to be doing a lot walking. If you can manage it, you may want to have a change of shoes available. Your feet will thank you.
You will have the urge to hit the ground running and try to cram as much into your first day as possible. Resist it! You will only be overwhelmed and disappointed with yourself that you don't have the energy to go to that great evening event you had your heart set on. You may have to make some tough choices, but you'll be glad you took your first day slowly.
Whether you're coming to SXSW straight from the airport or bought an overwhelming amount of merch, find your storage sanctuary at SX Lockers. Charge your phone or lighten your load every day of SXSW. Open daily, March 8-17 from 10:00am-3:00am on 2nd & Trinity. Pre-register for your SX Locker here.
Read the Printed Materials
When you get your materials take a moment to look through them. Pay particular attention to the Pocket Guide. This will be your lifeline. It will have a list of all the programming times and locations along with a detailed map of the Austin Convention Center.
Take a Tour
This will sound like a crazy thing to do, but if you've never been in the Austin Convention Center, you'll be happy you took a little time to get familiar with the layout. Take your map and walk all the levels. When you have to get from that Joint Film/Interactive panel in Room 12 A/B to the Interactive Keynote in Ballroom A, you'll be glad you paced it out ahead of time. If you do happen to get lost, stop by one of the Connection Centers and someone will point you in the right direction.
We hope you've found this page helpful. We'll keep adding to this list as we get closer to the event. Think we're missing something? Email us.