sxsw 2012As usually, my head was spinning upon my return from South by Southwest this year. The sheer intensity of the conference could do that to you. If you have never been, it is hard to explain the sensory overload that occurs, no matter what your level of participation.

As I reflect on the most important thing I got out of the conference this year, I would have to say that it was the Badgeless 2012 movement that I stumbled upon. As someone who was going to SXSW badgeless, I want to see if others were badgeless as well. What I found really astounded me. Yesterday during my Game Changer segment for the Pulse Network, I highlighted some of the badgeless and their reasons why they were badgeless. Check it out:

game changer

Whether the Badgeless Movement continues or not, there are three key takeaways that I think SXSW can learn from this:

Listen: If so many veterans are going badgeless, then there is something that has gone astray with the conference. This is a fantastic opportunity for SXSW to listen to what its loyal attendees are looking for within the conference.

Open Innovation: The veterans of SXSWi feel that the conference is losing sight of its uniqueness. By working with these loyal attendees, the conference may be able to grow in a way that they had not originally anticipated.

Core Product Value: As a product, the core value of the conference seems to be the connections that you make. What if SXSW focused in on that element and help people facilitate that more effectively? What if there were blogger lounges outside of the conference center, where people can pay for access to just that lounge. There are a plethora of opportunities to expand about this value.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that such a major conference should listen to its evangelists? Have you ever gone to SXSW badgeless? If so, why? We would love to hear from you.

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5 Responses

  1. Stephanie Cockerl

    I know that Blogher had “Lobbycon” for those who want to just network. There are also another handful of conferences that have “networking” pricing. Great idea!

    Reply
  2. Jeff Cutler

    I’ve never attended badgeless, but I’ve never had to pay for my own badge. I think that beyond your great points here, SXSW is broken. They’ve lost sight of what they festival was created for. They’re too big to move quickly. There are too many layers of personnel. They don’t understand the mindset of attendees. They don’t listen to their audience. They don’t properly police their own policies. They have a crappy registration, panel submission and hotel reservation system. AND the list goes on and on. I’ll be expanding on these specifics in an upcoming post. A bunch of us are doing a Google Hangout on Monday or Tuesday highlighting the BAD and the GOOD of SXSW 2012. And I’d love to do a 6-person collaborative blog post that each of us posts on our own blog. Each person does two paragraphs and everyone runs the whole piece in its entirety. Best, J

    Reply
  3. Ja-Naé Duane

    Steph, I think that is a fantastic idea. We need more of those.

    Jeff,I am game. Sign me up. And thank you for your honesty.

    Reply
  4. Steve Garfield

    Hi Ja-Nae,
    Missed you at SXSW!

    I guess the show on Monday/Tuesday will be called The Road From SXSW or something like that.

    Jeff is right. He was with me when we saw some of the broken things. When there is a robot person live streaming the sessions illegally, and conference managers are too busy to enforce the rules, there’s a problem.

    When registration goes on for 2 hours and people miss sessions, there’s a problem. How about mailing badges to people who register months in advance?

    Maybe my feedback that they should announce that a session is being live streamed, at the start of the session, so that people could share the URL, didn’t seem important, but I think the live streamed sessions need to be promoted a lot better.

    There you go, three things as a preview to the what’s wrong with SXSW show.

    It’ll be on http://stevegarfield.com/gplus

    And you’ll be on it, I hope.
    –Steve

    Reply

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