:Ben Metcalfe Blog

Glad to see price increases for SxSW Interactive 2011

SXSWi 2009: Sketchnotes: First Spread

I’ve just completed my registration for SxSW 2011 and was pleasantly surprised to see that the organizers have increased the price of Interactive badges by ~15% for early-bird and ~40% for the on-site price.

SxSW Interactive 2010 prices were $395 (early-bird) and $550 (on-site), SxSW Interactive 2011 prices are $450 (early-bird) and a whopping $750 (on-site).

(yes, SxSW 2011 tickets are already on sale and you need to get a ticket before you can book a hotel room as SxSW pre-books all of them. And hotel rooms sell out quickly. And attending SxSW with an out-of-town hotel room sucks.)

…back to this price increase. Yes, I said pleasantly surprised at the increase.

One of the biggest gripes I had with the 2010 event was many attendees didn’t seem very vested in actually attending any of the conference itself. Many, by their own admittance, were just there for the parties. Even I fell into the trap of:

“oh, I can’t be arsed to get up and go to the sessions today. If it’s $395 for 5 days of conference, that’s only $79 of conference I’m missing out on! Bah!”

People just turning up to cruise for parties creates a different mindset and I think it really changes the overall vibe of the conference. I therefore am glad to see the increases as I hope they encourage people to see a greater value in sessions. This is partly based on the old adage that sometimes the best way to make people feel more appreciation and value for something is to charge more for it.

It also puts more pressure on the conference organizers to curate a better conference, of course. This year’s panel picker still had tons of panel submissions by PR firms shilling their clients and creating faux-conversation around the launch of their client’s products, without any disclosure. When those panels are picked, those people essentially get a free badge to push their product. There’s a whole blog post here, actually…

What remains to be seen is how this actually effects the attendance of SxSWi 2011. The comments on this post outline a lot of the resuling concerns: That freelancers and startups won’t be able to attend, creating a more corporate and homogenized event. And that many people will just turn up to attend the parties and not even buy a badge (the latter is somewhat mitigated by the fact you can’t easily book a hotel near to the conference as SxSW books up entire hotels for the event and ‘official’ parties are not supposed to let non-badge holders in. Of course there are ways around both.)

What do you think? Will you be attending?

photo by Mike Rohde, CC: BY-NC-ND