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In May last year, I attended the Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) conference in Adelaide. It was an amazing 3 days where I learnt a lot about the MICE industry, met so many new people, and connected with some old friends. There was one significant highlight for me from that conference, and that was the keynote from Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival. He delivered a great presentation about SXSW and how much it’s evolved since its inception 32 years ago. Hugh spoke about the future of the events industry and that creativity is king in today’s fast-paced world fuelled by artificial intelligence and automation. Little did I know I was going to walk away from Hugh’s presentation with a free badge to SXSW 2019 – the world’s largest gathering of creative professionals!

Located in one of the start-up capitals of the world, Austin, Texas, SXSW is a 10-day conference and festival running between 8th – 17th March that brings in over 75,000 attendees for the conference, and another 288,000 attendees for the festivals. SXSW is a meeting place of the world’s leading professionals and entrepreneurs within the interactive, film and music industries.

I am extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity to rub shoulders with and hear from the best in the business. On February 19th, I went to the SXSW Meet Up in Sydney to meet some other first timers and hear from a panel of veterans about what to expect and their top tips for tackling SXSW. The buzz around the room was amazing and it was great to share that excitement with passionate individuals. I will be in Austin 7th – 16th March to overload my brain listening to world-class keynotes / speakers, participating in interactive sessions, attending networking functions and parties, hearing various presentations from early stage tech start-ups to pitch their products and/or services to a panel of experts, discover my next favourite musician, and of course to have fun! The hardest part will be choosing which of the 2,000 sessions I attend (I’ve already got 55 sessions favourited in my schedule!) while also enjoying the experience serendipitously.

I plan on gathering as much information, knowledge and ideas from this conference to share with my colleagues at Be Challenged and the MICE industry. This is a really exciting once in a lifetime opportunity for professional and personal development that I hope to share with you all as well.

Read more about SXSW 2019, or watch the official promo video.

See you in Austin!

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