SXSW officially opened today and one of the first sessions entitled appropriately, “Welcome to SXSW Interactive” kicked off with event IA Director, Hugh Forest, speaking to the crowd in Exhibit Hall 5 at the Austin Convention Center. He discussed peoples expectations of SXSW Interactive and how to get the most out of it. The session is especially designed for newbies, (those whose first time to the event) and gives out general info about the event and a chance for attendees to ask questions via Twitter.
In his opening remarks he spoke on the event being “Serendipity” for the attendees and how they needed to network, “reaching out to those outside of their expertise,” and “that those are sometimes the best connections that you may make at SXSW.”
He also related that there are many events and activities for those who do not have a badge such as the new Gaming events at The Palmer Center and that for the first time SXSW would be having a Gaming Awards event.
Attendees had a chance to ask questions and one of them via Twitter, “how many attendees were expected this year?” Forest shared, “last year was our biggest year with 34,000, and we expect that this year; But always quality is what we strive for…. We are always a work in progress. Quality is much more important than quantity.”
Also, he explained how the city of Austin now has a direct flight to/from Heathrow Airport (England) “and we think that this is going to be a game changer, that will open us up to a lot more International attendees.”
Another question via Twitter, “how to over-come “FOMO – Fear OF Missing Out.” His “best solution is to enjoy what you are doing at that time. If you are at a great networking event, stay there and don’t worry about what is going on around the corner. SXSW is a living breathing event. Enjoy the thing that you are at, if not move on and find something that suits your taste.”
Attendees will be able to do just that, with more than 2,000 options available for them at various interactive sessions, booths, and tons of events that have spilled outside of the official events on the surrounding streets. The 3 conventions in one, -Interactive, Film, and Music runs until March 16th.
He concluded that “the best thing you could do is meet as many people as possible” and “just be open to talking to other people and be open to connecting as much as possible.”
He also announced that next year’s SXSW will be moving back five days next year but did not say the exact date.