Typically, when referring to Austin festival South by Southwest (SXSW) we refer to its prestigious film festival or the up-and-coming bands expected to grace the many stages in Austin. But the impact of this year's festival may stretch further than just film and music.
As reported by Michelle Bruno on the Tradeshow News Network website, South by Southwest is being opposed by a renegade group called the Badgeless. The Badgeless is a group of social media users who refused to pay the price of the SXSW festival. This group, rather than seeing the official films, concerts and keynote speeches of the SXSW festival, put the element of gathering together at top priority. As described by Michelle Bruno, "Badgeless participants didn't get to see the Al Gore or Ray Kurzweil keynotes...but they did get a lot of free tacos and beer and themselves, which is apparently the main attraction for them."
So how might it affect other tradeshows? It is possible that other festivals known for exclusivity or steep pricing could be outpaced by the spread of social media groups. The result could continue to wear at waning participation and pull tradeshow veterans away from the original tradeshow.
Organizers seemed not to be threatened by the Badgeless, acknowledging the group and explaining how each year of the festival has been more successful than the last. With over two decades of success, it'll be some time until the Badgeless can cause a reasonable dent in the participation.