6000 Reasons to Avoid SXSW 2011

March 9, 2011

The queries are coming nonstop now. Two days before the hordes descend upon Austin, TX, it seems the only question anyone has for me is whether I’ll be there for South by Southwest 2011. While I have an overwhelming affinity for (that means I really like it) the event and for the people going, I am staying home.

I just got off a couple big speaking engagements, I have a few more coming up fast, and I have client work that will fall by the wayside if I take this upcoming weekend to go ‘network’ with thousands of my social media colleagues.

Will I miss the barbecue? Will I miss the booze? Will I miss the conversations?

Most certainly.

If you talk to anyone, this event is worthy of your attendance if you do anything in marketing, technology, social media or content. It’s got a target audience that any brand would be thrilled to reach. And it’s one non-stop, energy-packed party.

But, if you chill your heart for a moment and take a look at the event with a green eyeshade on, you might see it differently. As I said in my post earlier this year, I wasn’t going to go if I wasn’t being paid to be there. It didn’t make financial sense then and it still doesn’t. Here’s the nuts and bolts for those of you that still scream, “but the booze is mostly free, the parties are all open and you can get food on the cheap! How can it be expensive?”

Let’s start with the hotel.

$2121.75 for a room at the Hilton Austin from 3/11 to 3/16

$489 for a roundtrip flight on JetBlue – the #nerdbird – if you booked by January 1. The flight no longer has space and similar flights are now upwards of $1400 for that same trip.

$500 for entertaining, meals, incidentals and so forth. This includes the meals you’re going to have to eat. The after-party drinking that takes place. The parties that don’t really give free booze. And the Starbucks you’re going to need each morning.

$2000 for the work I would leave on the table by being absent for six days – my clients often require me to work onsite, so if I’m not around I don’t get paid.

$1250 for the speaking gig I would have to abandon because I’d be out of town. My rate averages between $500 and $2500 for a training session, so it’s fair to price that as possible lost revenue.

So, if you take a pencil to these numbers, you can easily see – even if I estimate low – that I would be spending around $6000 to go south this weekend and party like it’s 2011. That validates my earlier post about not going if I’m not getting paid to be there. And it mirrors to some degreeĀ what some other folks have said about not attending this year either.

I still wish I were going. I’m gonna miss it horribly. But for me, there really are 6000 reasons not to go this year.