Earlier today a journalist colleague asked why I’m not currently at South by Southwest, which he’s having a great time attending and respects as a great festival, etc. My reply: “I was going to attend but I’ve developed an opinion over the last few years that while SXSW is interesting, crackling and cool, it’s not 100% vital. But I was going to attend anyway for the sake of Ondi Timoner‘s Russell Brand doc and Trainwreck and Alex Gibney‘s Steve Jobs film and one or two others, but I got angry about the expense.
By my standards the rates for a decently located Airbnb or Craig’s List room or hotel accomodation in Austin seemed stratospheric. I didn’t want to drop $1200 to $1500 for four or five days on a room of some kind plus another $700 or $800 on airfare, food, cabs and whatnot. SXSW is not worth dropping $2000 to $2300. If I could do four days for $1500 or maybe a bit less ($150 per night rentals), okay, but not $600 to $800 higher than that. Plus I really hated the lines when I was there three or four years ago. Lines, lines, lines, lines, lines and more lines. It’s as bad as Berlin in this respect. So I thought it over for two or three days and said “the hell with it.”
Every Sundance I pay around $125 per night for a nice place in Park City. I pay about the same on a per-night basis for a really attractive old-world Cannes apartment that comfortably holds two. I’ve paid $150 or $175 per night in Paris at Airbnb pads. I paid $150 per night at an Airbnb place in Berlin last year. And I paid way, way less that any of those places when I was in Hanoi. Who decided that SXSW is so cool that Austin hoteliers and Airbnb hosts get to charge much more than any of those other cities do? Who ratified that? The bottom line is that I would’ve liked to attend but I hate being gouged.