South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) has been the largest technology event of its kind for at least the past seven or eight years. If you’ve attended or hosted an event at SXSWi before, you probably already know that competition for optimal event attendees is fierce.
According to ABC News, Hugh Forrest, the director of SXSWi, calculated that there were somewhere between 27,000 and 28,000 registered attendees last year. You can bet there will be even more this year. According to the South by Southwest website, SXSWi will accommodate 800-plus sessions from March 7 to March 11 in 2014. It is virtually impossible to gauge the number of unofficial fringe events that will take place during the same week, and equally difficult to gauge how many people will descend upon Austin, TX, just to attend a specific fringe event or handful of fringe events.
If you’re planning on hosting any event during SXSWi, now is the time to push hard to build the strongest possible list of registrants and take all of the concerted steps necessary to convert those registrants into actual attendees.
Acquiring attendees during the months and weeks prior to SXSWi can be difficult for companies of all sizes. Often, final event planning and event logistics tasks are so pressing that they wind up taking precedence over event audience acquisition efforts. When this happens, important markets go untargeted, registered attendees don't receive consistent, engaging messaging that continues to drive interest in the event, and important leads don’t get the follow-up attention they ought to get directly after event registration and post-event—since meaningful follow-up tends to require significant pre-event planning.
Are you going to be attending official or fringe SXSWi events in 2014? If so, what things are driving you to attend those events? Are you hosting an event during SXSWi in 2014? If so, are you confident in your anticipated registrant-to-attendee conversation rate projections? What steps are you taking to see that you acquire the optimal number and types of attendees?