8 years of innovation: the evolution of SXSW GO
South By Southwest (SXSW) just wrapped up their 31st year of bringing together the greatest minds in music, film, technology and culture, and Eventbase was proud to be onsite to support our partner app for the 8th year.
The ten day event has been known around the world for being a leading innovator in tech, and became one of the earliest adopters of event technology launching the mobile app SXSW GO with Eventbase in 2011. The SXSW GO app is an essential part of experiencing the massive conference and festival, and together Eventbase and SXSW have twice been named Gold Winner for "Best Event App" at the Event Technology Awards.
Working with SXSW, our goal has been to focus on attendee experience and eliminate the headaches common to large events, such as wayfinding, session participation and networking. Here's a look at the highlights of the past years of the SXSW Go app, plus a look at the features we unveiled for 2018:
Back in 2011 when we were still known as Xomo, we launched the first SXSW GO. Attendees could sync their schedules between the SXSW website and their phone, see the entire event schedule, check maps, browse exhibitors, and stay up to date with the SXSW Twitter feed.
For our second year we introduced SXSocial: an integration tool that allowed users to see other registered attendees. This was the launchpad for future networking capabilities that we’d later develop.
SXSW 2013 was a huge year for the app, winning a Webby Award for People’s Voice - Events (Handheld Devices). This was the year we launched Discover, which allowed attendees to see upcoming sessions on a visual video wall, and Schedule Sharing, making it easier than ever to meet and collaborate with colleagues and clients on site.
In 2014, Eventbase pioneered the use of iBeacons at SXSW. The SXSW GO app was integrated with proximity beacons that were placed in session rooms, triggering an alert when attendees entered the room. The alert invited attendees to check in to see who's in the room and network, and participate in live polling during sessions.
After the successful use of beacons in 2014, SXSW went big in 2015 deploying over 1,000 beacons across hundreds of venues to help attendees network. SXSocial got a complete makeover that linked attendee badges with the app to allow attendees to sign up for workshops within the app. This year marked our first gold win for Best Event App with SXSW GO at the Event Technology Awards.
In 2016 we introduced SX Recommends, a personalized recommendation engine that suggested sessions based on user preferences. This was the beginning of a drive to make The Intelligent Event App by adding a layer of intelligence to enhance the the event experience.
Breaking new ground in 2017, we introduced attendees to Abby, the first AI-powered event tech chatbot. We also extended SXSW Recommends to suggest attendees you may like to meet. We marked the end of a fantastic year with a gold Best Event App win for SXSW Go at the Event Technology Awards.
For 2018, the SXSW GO app contained details of over 8,000 sessions taking place across 600 venues in Austin. Attendees enjoyed the return of the event chatbot Abby to answer their burning questions. We also unveiled a set of new features to make it easier to optimize your time at the event.
SXXpress (South by Express) Passes: Fully digital in SXSW GO, SXPress Passes reduce the need to line up to pick up passes on site. Attendees could request priority access for music festival showcases and film festival screenings, and receive confirmation within the app.
Event Status: The SXSW GO App let attendees check the current status of a room or a venue’s remaining capacity for conference sessions and festival events. Session availability updated dynamically within the Schedule section of the app and icons indicated when a session had room, when it was filling up and when it was at capacity. For many sessions, the app also included a description of the venue capacity and the potential popularity of the session based on the number of people who have added it to their Favorites list. Say goodbye to waiting in line for a session you won’t make it into, and let SXSW Recommends navigate you to an available session.
Eventbase is excited to work with the SXSW team to continue launching game-changing innovations at this event, and we’ve already started planning SXSW GO for 2019. What will be launching next year? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. One thing is for sure—you won’t want to miss it.