How to find a last-minute room in Austin for SXSW

Over the past several years, the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, has topped the event calendar for industry insiders, along with anyone eager to discover the Next Big Thing. This year’s festival, which runs from March 9 to 18, promises to be the most intense yet, with hundreds of panels, workshops, concerts and events on the official schedule.

But Austin, it appears, isn’t ready for the visitor boom brought on by the two-week spectacle. In December, organizers announced that SXSW rooms had sold out in local hotels for the Interactive and Film portions of the festival, with three months left before the start of the event. Last minute attendees, in particular, have been scrambling for places to crash.

SXSW organizers have stepped in with an option. In true “interactive” spirit, the SXSW Housing Desk is encouraging individuals who booked a hotel room with two beds to offer their additional bed to a friend or colleague, or swap for a room with a single bed. They’re maintaining a waiting list for people who wish to be informed when a room opens up this way; you can get on it by emailing

And then, of course, there are the online options. Thousands of enterprising Austin residents are making significant chunks of change by offering their homes, spare rooms, couches, and even air mattresses to desperate attendees. Airbnb reports a 44% increase in Austin host sign-ups since January, and more than 3,000 nights have already been booked. But Airbnb’s Austin listings don’t come cheap; inflation has led to nightly rates of $200 to $2000 per night. A more lo-fi option is Craigslist’s Austin vacation rentals listings, which offer up new places seemingly by the minute and have lower average rates than those found on Airbnb. Or, try issuing a desperate plea on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll certainly have lots of company.

[image by Merrick Ales via]