SXSW and the Austin Economy


SXSW Austin, Tx

This March marks the 26th annual trade show, conference and music/ film festival in Austin, TX known as South by Southwest or SXSW. For two weeks the streets ran rampant with out-of-towners and Austinites alike to catch the newest wave of technology, undiscovered artists as well as renowned musicians from around the world, and a festival of film screenings from the famous and the up and coming. This year, Austin became the host of a 9 day industry conference, 2,100 artists who took the stage in over 81 venues, and upwards of 500 film screenings in 9 theaters. Total attendance in 2011 for the festival was over 286,000 and reports estimate this figure to have increased this year. Some events that drew attention this year included conferences where creators of start-up companies were offered the opportunity to rapidly meet partners and investors in a fashion similar to speed-dating, a plethora of catered parties hosted by companies, and drawings to gain access to exclusive performing acts such as Bruce Springsteen. Austin’s unique and veracious appeal make it the perfect fit for a festival of this magnitude and the city bolsters the numbers to prove it. Below are a few interesting facts about the festival and the economic impact it has on the Austin Economy.

  • This year, SXSW was responsible for over 50,000 individual room bookings at local and surrounding hotels.
  • Last year, SXSW added right under $168 million dollars into the Austin economy. This figure is drawn from three sources of impact: direct impact, indirect impact, and induced impact. The direct impact deals with money that is brought in directly through the festival such as the revenues a catering company receives from hosting events. The indirect impact is comprised of the benefits witnessed by associated companies that are directly affected such as a food distribution company that supplies goods to a company that hosts a catering event. The third component that injects money into the Austin economy is the induced impact, which includes an increase in spending by those who witness an increase in earnings due to the festival.
  • In 2011, SXSW and the city of Austin was the subject in over 260 million stories and articles including broadcast, print and the web.
  • Although the festival only lasts two weeks, SXSW keeps a full-time staff of over 120 workers throughout the year and other seasonal workers that equate to another 50 full time employees.

Sunday marked the final night of another successful year for SXSW. Luckily for small businesses, there is now an opportunity to ride the coat tails of all of the SXSW success. With a surge of cash inflow to the city, this could be a great time for small businesses to gain exposure and promote their Austin Office Space.

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