As a rookie to SXSWi, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve now decided it’s a complete love-hate relationship. In this post, I explain what I hated about it.
3 reasons why I hated SXSWi
1 – The crowds. Make no mistake about it, SXSW is one big crowd. I’ve heard estimates of about 20,000 for the Interactive portion, and I believe it. After getting up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 a.m. and traveling from RI to Austin via a layover in DC, I arrived at the Austin Convention Center to get my badge. I found myself in a line that stretched from the doors, down the hall, around the corner and back through the Austin Convention Center. Once that crazy line ended, I found myself in a ballroom, where I stood with my fellow SXSW attendees herded like Texas cattle. After waiting in line for just over two hours (yes, two hours!), I finally got my badge. So why did I register early and upload my photo to make registration easier? Isn’t this a tech conference? Can’t somewhere figure out a better way to 20,000 people get a badge? Here’s some suggestions from a non-techie: an QR code on our smartphones emailed to us and easily printed, or better yet, how about snail mail after we register? Surely the cost of the conference could cover the cost of mailing a badge.
2 – Too many sessions, too little time. The thing about SXSWi that brought me here is that it has a health track. Unfortunately, because I wear so many hats in my role, I’m also interested in branding and marketing, keynote presentations, journalism and online publishing, etc. And all of these sessions run simultaneously all in different locations. So if you pick a session and discover early on that it isn’t the right one for you, there’s no shame in sneaking out. But the problem is you’re going to be hard pressed to hop on a shuttle and get to the one that you skipped in favor of this one. That, to me, was annoying and disappointing.
3 — FULL session. As a huge fan of The Office, I was thrilled to see that Rainn Wilson was doing a book signing and a keynote address. The problem with that? Full sessions and long lines. Was I ready to wait in another line like the one to get my badge? No way. Too many other things to do and people to see, but do I regret not seeing it? You betcha!
So clearly I had issues with SXSWi, but check out my next post for why I loved it too! What were your pet peeves about SXSW?