SXSW Without Uber And Lyft Is a Lesson In Event Planning

Imagine a monster event that takes place in multiple locations around a big city but not enough transport to get attendees from place-to-place. No Lyft, no Uber. It sounds like a nightmare. It sounds like SXSW.

Back in May, Uber and Lyft both decided to quit Austin because the city voted against allowing ride-sharing companies using their own background check systems. In itself, not a huge problem for Austin, Texas. Other options, such as Fasten and Ride Austin are available and offer ride-sharing services similar to those offered by Uber and Lyft. And for almost a year, that was just fine. Fine until SXSW happened, that is.

SXSW Without Uber And Lyft Is a Lesson In Event Planning

Events Like SXSW Need Good Transport

Every year, SXSW attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city from all around the world. Last year, SXSW was responsible for injecting $325.3 million into the Austin economy and saw 59,376 room nights booked in 64 official hotels, as well as 14,095 individual reservations booked. Any city could be excused for not being able to cope with that and with that in mind, it falls to the event organizers to make sure that their attendees can get to all the places they need to be. SXSW clearly thought it had this covered, listing Fasten as the official ride-share partner for the event and a host of other options including hire bikes, pedicabs and electric cabs. However, it looks like somebody didn’t do their sums correctly. Every night so far at SXSW, the taxis have been over capacity and attendees have been left out in the cold.


What People Are Saying On Twitter

As is often the case, attendees are taking their frustration to Twitter. The following Tweets are just the tip of the iceberg.

Lessons Learned

The silver lining to this is that everyone will have learnings to take away from this. SXSW’s organizers will know where they fell short and Austin’s Uber equivalents can chalk this up as experience. What they now have, that they didn’t before, is data. The cab companies will know how many rides were requested (or attempted) and SXSW will have data and feedback from attendees. If all parties take that data and use it, next year’s event will be just fine. With or without Uber and Lyft.

In Conclusion

While Austin might not need Uber or Lyft, their absence at SXSW clearly made an impact. Ride-sharing services are perfect for events and although you can never predict exactly how many taxis you’re going to need on the day, year-on-year learnings and data should give you everything you need to do the best you can.

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Julius Solaris
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