The South by Southwest Interactive Festival : March 11-15 in Austin

Austin’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival is coming up in a few weeks: March 11-15, 2005. It’s the only web conference I travel to beyond the East Coast. While nagging a friend that he should go, he mentioned that he was concerned it might just be a lot of hype based on an NPR article he read last year that blathered on about participants talking about blogs.

If you do anything on the web: labor of love or commercial, you should be at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It’s been around for over ten years and that includes all those pre-blog years, too. The festival is a few parts spring break, inspiration and fun.

And it’s cheap. The walk-up rate for the conference is $275. If you register early during the months leading up to the conference it’s as low as $175. I’ve used for three of my four trips to the festival. This year I’m flying out of Manchester, New Hampshire and staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (where I stayed last year — they’ve got free internet in the rooms). The total cost was $425 including fees/taxes, roundtrip airfare and the hotel room for five nights. Amusingly enough, the Crowne Plaza is listed as $139/night on the conference website. I figure that I’m paying about $30/night with the deal. Austin is a very walkable city so you save money not having to take many cabs depending on where your hotel is located.

There’s also the SXSW Baby! website for participants to conspire before the festival and post panel notes. Thanks to a post on the site I found out there’s a cheap bus from the Austin airport to downtown for 50 cents. Nice!