Friday, March 18, 2011

My Top 10 and Bottom 10 from SXSWi

A beautiful thing is never perfect.
 - Proverb

Top 10 Great Event Ideas I saw at SXSWi
  1. Charging stations - Everywhere. For phones, for laptops. Plugs. Power strips. Everywhere! Love it!
  2. Chevy marketing - Event shuttles were slow and far between, and sessions were spread out all over town. Chevy ran a promotion for their new Chevy Cruze where they had 10 cars driving around town branded with stick-ons offering free rides for conference-goers. I rode in the vehicles twice needing to get from one venue to another. All you were asked to do was tweet out a note with the hashtag #ChevySXSW to share the experience
  3. Event app - The SXSW app was great! Worked on all devices and allowed you to see not only the goings-on all over, but also the "My Schedule" that you could create online.
  4. Touchscreen gameshow at the tradeshow booth - The biggest crowd I saw on the show floor was gathered around the booth. They had a great interactive game using touchscreen computers and an emcee playing the game show host. People were really into the game. Not a lot of value to the content or the playing, but it sure drew a crowd and was a blast to watch people get into it.
  5. Photos on badges (helps with non-transferring) - When you checked in for your badge, you were asked to step on the yellow line and they used a webcam to snap a pic of you. This pic was printed onto the badge so it could be associated with you and led to the feel of non-transferability of the badge (of course, no one checked the pics that closely in the sessions, but it was still a great idea)
  6. Hashtags for each session - This was awesome! Every session had a sign with a hashtag assigned for the topic at hand so you could follow the room's conversations online as people gained knowledge from the presenters that they felt compelled to share with the world.
  7. Queue-style badge pickup, not alphabetical - The queues were intimidating and really long, but with their Fry's-style setup, they went super fast. No finding the A-L line. Just stand in the line and go to the next available registration person. Really well done.
  8. Great content - Some of the sessions I attended were really novel, really informative, and really well-planned. Some of the sessions I WANTED to attend got similar reviews.
  9. Immediate content via multiple streams (a.k.a tablet envy) - Not only could I pay attention to the presenters and get really good information, but I could watch twitter feeds and online conversations and get great information from my peers, too. But I felt like a chump with my laptop open the whole time. I really coveted the tablets!
  10. Simulcasts - With the event taking place all over town, the simulcasts of the keynotes were a great way to keep the crowd connected to the main keynote room.

My Bottom 10 Worst Event Ideas I saw at SXSWi
  1. Death by panels - It's great to get multiple perspectives on a topic. I love seeing a variety of experiences revealed in one session. But nearly every session was a panel and so many were poorly moderated that the panelists would get well off track of the session topic that was advertised. And just because it's a panel discussion doesn't mean you can settle for uncharismatic personalities.
  2. Too few shuttles for too many venues - Good thing there were Chevy's because the buses took almost 30 minutes sometimes. And the shuttles varied their routes, so when you thought you had the one that was the fast track to the next hotel, it would take a totally new route, adding 10 unexpected minutes to your ride.
  3. Poor signage - Shuttle signage led you to believe that the shuttles for SXSW Film, when in fact they took you everywhere. Good thing there were people standing there to help... would have been helpful if they actually helped and talked to the people looking at the signs and trying to figure out if the buses were the right ones.
  4. Seating arrangements - I hate standard seating at these events. I hate standard seating at our events. I think the entire planet should subscribe to Dr. Paul Radde's recommendations. It is the only way to sit comfortably in those horrible convention seats.
  5. Charging stations not where you needed them - They were all over the hallways, but not in the sessions. Probably a fire hazard, but when I needed to type blog posts and tweet and have charge on my system, I was in sessions. I was late to sessions sometimes just because I had to sit outside of them to charge my laptop.
  6. Panelists who assume you know them and their product - I was in a couple of sessions where the panelists were introduced, and the name of their company or the app was mentioned, but then they went right on talking about their product as if everyone in the room knew what it was. It was hard to follow sometimes when I had no idea what their product did.
  7. Slides that weren't "legally approved" before the presentation (camera phones are your enemy!) - a couple of times, audience members asked for the presentations. When the presenter worked for a corporation, they tended to respond with a "yes, once I get it legally approved, I will release it on SlideShare." Meanwhile, hundreds of people were taking pictures of slides with their phones throughout the presentations. If those weren't legally approved upfront, it's too late now!
  8. Growing too big for attendees to handle - There were so many sessions to choose from and they were so far apart from each other that I ended up picking sessions based on location instead of content sometimes. That was frustrating. I missed some great sessions because they were so far from where my previous session was.
  9. Terrible content - I got the Bait and Switch twice. The topics had NOTHING to do with the advertised title. Most of my experiences were great, but it was really frustrating when the sessions were 1.5 hours long and completely irrelevant to my needs. When you spend $700 on a pass, you don't want to waste 3 hours of your life on bad content.
  10. Heads were all down - was anyone listening? - SXSWi is all social. Tweeting was the primary way of keeping up with everything going on. But in sessions, most people spent the whole time blogging and tweeting... and likely doing other things. It was hard to tell if anyone was really paying attention to the sessions, or if they were completely immersed in their online world.

1 comment:

Mary Henige said...

Hi Liz,

I'm still catching up on all the posts and content from SXSX, and I just read yours. I'm so happy we added value to your conference experience. Chevy was proud to be a sponsor again.


Mary Henige
Director, Social Media
General Motors