5 years ago

Previews looking ahead to SXSWi in Austin, Texas

This week marks the lastest edition of the SXSW music, film and interactive festival in Austin, Texas. What started as a small event has since blossomed into a must-do event for almost all creative industries: from developers to drummers, businessmen to Bollywood, creative types are checking the schedules, compiling lists, setting up loose meetings – and frantically RSVPing to everything in sight.

If nothing else, the SXSW experience is intense. While impossible to do everything, the key to a successful SXSW is a dash of planning alongside a healthy portion of flexibility. Of course, technology is at the center of it all – using Twitter to meet in-person, scheduling on the SXSW Go app, or using one of the myriad other apps available to festival-goers are all a part of this tech-centric conference.

While not explicitly travel-related, the conference provides context, best-practices and insight into all aspects of the interactive worlds. With tens of thousands of compatriots also attending, the SXSW serendipity is also a not-to-be-undervalued trait of the whole experience.

After spending hours combing through endless sessions and parties, here are some of the can’t-miss happenings at SXSW 2013, in order of appearance. If you have an addition, please note it in the comments!

Friday March 8th

Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience

Emerging technologies are one of the key reasons to attend SXSW: many a new-fangled product has launched at SXSW (see Twitter), and this is the ideal time to come see what the minds of the internet are working on right now.

In an increasingly fragmented landscape, how do you navigate through all of the new technology and keep your message from getting lost in a sea of communication?

This discussion focuses on ways to utilize emerging technologies and devices to not only reach your target, but to also engage and excite them, focusing on practices in digital and social media through an integrated multi-device approach.

Calendar event here.

Architecture of the Air

For savvy hoteliers looking to move beyond the box and into an interactive environment that truly engages their guests, this session by installation artists re-thinking concepts around space could prove revealing. At the very least, it may inspire the forward-thinking hotelier to develop a space strategy that reflects the engagement desires of a new generation of savvy consumers.

Trained as an architect and a jazz musician, Christopher Janney has been combining these two disciplines for over 30 years. Sometimes trying to make architecture more like music- more spontaneous, more “alive”- Janney has created a series of permanent interactive light/sound installations in both the US and Europe, titled “Urban Musical Instruments.”

At other times, trying to make music more like architecture- more physical, more visual- Janney has created a number of performances and performance instruments including “HeartBeat” for Mikhail Baryshnikov where he danced to the sound of his heart in “real time”.

Calendar event here.

Lean Forward, Lean Back: Tablet News Experiences

Many travel brands have entered the publishing game. Alongside the airlines, branded magazines have become de facto for nearly all hotel chains. In order to most effectively leverage these into digital assets, any digital media publisher in the travel space should check out this session to learn what the latest research shows about how consumers use these new tablet technologies.

Insights from the Poynter Institute’s major study of news and storytelling on tablets. The study explores the way that elements of touch, gesture, interactivity and position come together to create engaging, satisfying journalism. The research combines usability testing in the U.S. and Europe with worldwide industry expertise on what it takes to create and sustain excellence in publication.

Calendar event here.

Travel bloggers meet-up

‘Nuff said.

Get together with other travel writers and bloggers for an hour of brainstorming, networking and storytelling. Coolest passport stamp smackdown is optional. Travel and tourism industry reps also welcome.

Calendar event here.

Saturday March 9th

Lean Startup with Eric Ries, 500 Startups and Airbnb

Alongside other startups, Airbnb will be representing at the Lean Startup/Geeksta Paradise all-day session at SXSW.

YO STARTUPS – JOIN THE MOST POPULAR TECH EVENT @ SXSWi! Come hang with Dave McClure, Eric Ries, & 1,000 tech startups + influencers for a day of tactical case studies & inspiring keynotes about what it actually takes to build a killer startup…featuring some of the most important entrepreneurs + innovators in tech today. CHECK IT OUT >

Calendar event here.

American Airlines/AT&T Hackathon

While our THack is most certainly far-better and clearly the industry standard, conference sponsors AT&T and American Airlines have joined up for a travel-related hackathon. Teams must RSVP, and will be challenged to create next-gen travel apps.

AT&T and American Airlines Travel Hack: Event Kick Off, Team Registration and Presentation of Technology.

AT&T and American Airlines are co-hosting a travel/location challenge. Be the first to program with these unreleased APIs. Cash and other prizes to best apps! Register here to participate http://hacksxsw.eventbrite.com/# if you are selected to attend the event will go through the night.

RSVP here.

Brand Fans, the new Brand Marketers

After Tnooz wrote about Tourism Australia’s super success with user generated content, the narrative continues to shift in favor of DIY-content creation and empowering brand fans even further.

Before Time’s Person of the Year was “You” – a corporate powerhouse was already putting “You” in control. Since 2006, PepsiCo has been at the forefront of crowdsourcing – letting fans produce the Doritos brand’s Super Bowl ads and create the next flavor of Mountain Dew or, more recently, empowering consumers to help the Pepsi brand introduce the Super Bowl Halftime Show and inspiring fans to create the next Lay’s potato chips flavors.

PepsiCo has proved that this DIY approach resonates with fans – and no one defines your brands like your fans. This panel, featuring Frito-Lay senior director of brand marketing Jen Saenz, PepsiCo Beverages global head of digital Shiv Singh and Facebook creative strategist Kevin Knight, and moderated by Mashable business editor Todd Wasserman, provides an opportunity to learn how to tap and inspire the “creative genius” among your DIY-inclined fans, how to control the risk of “letting go” and take fan engagement to the next level.

Calendar event here.

Taboo Travel

For the travelers seeking the unknown and the undiscovered, today’s always-connected world is a tough place to be. BBC Travel editor Allison Busacca explores taboo travel.

From the Vatican Secret Archives and Nevada’s Area 51 to the Google server warehouse and the giant floating plastic garbage island in the middle of the ocean and a myriad of former insane asylums, hidden metro stations and towns evacuated by industrial disaster — digital and social media have dramatically unearthed places that you’re not supposed to know about and how to get there.

Calendar event here.

This book is About Travel

15 countries with 15 items in a backpack: Andrew Hyde will speak about his experience in relation to modern travel.

Andrew Hyde spent the last two years on the road traveling to 15 countries with only a backpack of 15 things, his book is a collection of stories as a critique of the world of modern travel. Andrew will talk about his travels, self publishing, his passion for community, writing, travel and startups. He will open up the black box of the number of books he has sold, the royalties of each online service and what actually sold books.

This Book is About Travel reached the #1 sales slot for iBooks and Amazon’s travel sections.

Calendar event here.

Baby Got (Feed)Back: Measuring up with Hubspot, ShareThrough and HotelTonight

The 500 Startups/Lean Startup program continues, featuring HotelTonight’s Sam Shank.

Calendar event here.

Sunday March 9th

Airbnb’s Chesky Speaks with Fortune

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has been making the rounds this year. After PhocusWright, SXSW is next up.

A spirited conversation with Airbnb’s cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky in which we delve into the process of designing and building a platform for sharing homes, explore the company’s new push into the travel guide area with its Lonely Planet competitor, and talk about the challenges of scaling a truly disruptive business model.

Calendar event here.

Digital Teleportation Meetup

The technologies that allow users to explore hotel properties online are only a drop in the bucket: what if you could combine interactive technologies to immerse potential guests in the full experience? Dubbed “digital teleportation,” this session will trigger creative connections regarding place marketing – in addition to just doing unique things to promote space via technology.

This is a meetup for people interested how the analog and digital words collide. The idea of “Digital Teleportation” is being used to describe digital experiences that allow users to affect something physical somewhere outside their current surroundings

These projects typically use a software solution in concert with connected hardware to enhance the physical experience that is happening somewhere else in the world—digitally teleporting a user’s presence into another space. See examples at http://digital-teleportation.posterous.com/

The organizer is interested in bringing people together from the interactive community who may want to explore this topic further by connecting people interested in hardware development, sensors, robotics, web developers, interactive storytellers, tinkerers, hackers and creatives of all types. We may even experiment with some ways to bring folks into the meetup who are elsewhere in the world!

Calendar event here.

Maps as the Emotional Connective Tissue

Maps continue to be at the center of the mobile/local revolution, and this talk promises to deliver more insight into this area.

Why are maps engaging, emotional? If you think about a significant moment in your life (your first day of school, your wedding day, or your first broken heart), wherever that special moment happened, digital maps can accurately connect you to not just the physical location, but to the emotion that makes that place significant to you.

In the last year, the world’s top creative agencies used the Google Maps API as part of a significant advertising campaign. Using maps as the ‘emotional connective tissue,’ a personal connection to the consumer can be created in websites, interactive campaigns, mobile apps, games, and much more. In this session, we’ll cover how it’s been done, how it can be replicated, and the future of this tool. We’ll also dive into the mechanics and outcomes of several major marketing campaign using maps.

Calendar event here.

Monday March 10th

The New Golden Age of Space Flight

Grab those spacesuits and listen up as a brainiac engineer tells you what’s up – in space.

Dr. Richard Garriott de Cayeux is a key member of the commercial spaceflight revolution that is changing how NASA is planning its future in space. Garriott de Cayeux will discuss what the next generation of space vehicles promise for NASA, commercial users and private citizens who just want to fly. He will outline how the cost of access is dropping fast and may go from today’s cost of greater than $100 million per astronaut to near $1 million for an orbital flight and potentially only $75 thousand for a sub orbital flight. Combine this, with the fact that space is a valuable place to do key research and other work and even if you are not wealthy, he says you can begin to plan your own trip to space, as long as you are willing to work on board.

Calendar event here.

Damn the Man! Disrupting Regulated Industries

Transportation is one of the more heavily regulated industries, so check out this piece of man-destroying advice.

As if building a successful company from scratch wasn’t hard enough, tech startups in certain industries are facing an additional hurdle: government regulation. From product design to launch strategy, pricing to fundraising, regulations pose challenges in every aspect of the startup lifecycle.

We’ll explore success stories from entrepreneurs in some of the most regulated industries (ie. Health, Finance, Energy, and Transportation) to understand better how to navigate this tricky landscape and position your startup or your portfolio companies for success.

Calendar event here.

Building New Experiences with Glass

With Tnooz talking about Google Glass’ potential to disrupt the travel industry, this session is most certainly of the moment.

By bringing technology closer, we can get it out of the way. This is what Glass does. It provides an experience to the user that’s there when they want it, and unobtrusive when they don’t. In doing so, Glass creates a new kind of computing that’s more about people than it is about computers. In this session, we’ll look at Glass in people’s lives with emphasis on how to use the cloud API to build new experiences and bring people closer together. Sponsored by Google Project Glass.

Calendar event here.

March 11th-12th

SXSW Interactive Accelerator

Three travel startups are in the finalists: voice-assisted Desti, social travel finder Mr. Arlo, and bus/train travel planner Wanderu. Each company will be presenting and vying for awards – and surely working to build buzz through guerrilla marketing throughout the conference.

The fifth annual SXSW Accelerator will take place March 11-13 in Austin, Texas. A live audience, as well as a panel of expert judges will be discovering advancements in social media, mobile applications, web entertainment, and more. The best part? Product demonstrations by the most ambitious talents in the world with the most creative new ideas to change it. We will catch a glimpse of the industry’s future, with a guided tour by our emcees and judges.

Calendar event here.

Tuesday March 11th

Tnooz represents: Blog to Brick: How We Turned Our Blog into a Bar

This author is actually speaking at the conference about his night job running Booty’s Street Food in Bywater, LA, a neighborhood of New Orleans. The Core Conversation is entitled “Blog to Brick: How We Turned Our Blog into a Bar,” and will focus on the blog-to-brick transition specifically, and about the wider trend towards real-world, in-person experiences as a balance to location-independent, telecommuting digital world.

“What are you, crazy?”

We’ve heard this often over the last 18 months in our execution of a strategy that we call “blog to brick.” This strategy is leading us from building one of the most popular LGBT media sites in North America, Unicorn Booty, to a restaurant, cafe and bar in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans: Booty’s.

The blog was the beginning, and the bricks are the evolution. We are passionate believers in this change, and our session will share the who, what, where and, most importantly, the WHY of Unicorn Booty’s blog-to-brick progression.

Attendees will be brought through three phases: 1) The Idea, 2) The Journey, and 3) The Future. We believe blog-to-brick is one very real future for online media, and want to share our knowledge with other online content creators so they can capitalize on their own online audiences in unconventional offline settings. It turns out that diverse revenue streams are just as essential to bloggers as big business – so what’s yours?

Calendar event here.

NB: Austin image courtesy Shutterstock.

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick is the Editorial Director for Tnooz. Prior to this role, Nick has multi-hyphenated his way through a variety of passions: restaurateur, photographer, filmmaker, corporate communicator, Lyft driver, Airbnb host, journalist, and event organizer.



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  1. Fred Perrotta

    WeHostels is hosting a happy hour for travel startups, entrepreneurs, journalists, and bloggers on Saturday, March 9th from 5-8pm. Join us for live jazz, handcrafted cocktails, and a $1,000 bar tab.

    RSVP here: http://wehostelssxsw.eventbrite.com/


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