How Some Austin Entrepreneurs Gear Up for SXSW

How Some Austin Entrepreneurs Gear Up for SXSW
Image credit: Old School Austin

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

SXSW is still growing, even after 30 years. So how do its small businesses handle hordes of hundreds of thousands of people? Planning and organization.

Dom Paonessa, the manager of the Old School Bar and Grill, says the venue does 200-300% more business on any given SXSW day compared to a standard high-traffic Saturday. A team of veteran servers, busboys and bartenders helps, says Paonessa, but so does setting expectations. He works on the employee schedule for weeks in advance and tells employees to sideline other obligations while SXSW is in full swing. "For those two weeks, everything revolves around their work here," he says.

Related: Phone Low on Battery? At SXSW, You Can Have a Dog Bring You a Charger.

Shifting with the crowds’ needs and wants can be key. Paonessa has noticed certain preferences among the attendees and plans accordingly. "During Music, we sell a lot of PBR and during Interactive, we're making martinis," he explains.

Following municipal guidelines can ensure events run smoothly and lock in repeat business. Brandon Badillo, the director of the Brazos Hall which Yahoo booked both this year and last, is careful to stay at capacity, keep lines from blocking the street and follow any local laws and regulations. "Try to not make things harder than they need to be."

SXSW or not, Paonessa says that speedy service is key. "People don't want to sit down and enjoy a long meal [during SXSW]," he explains. SXSW customers want to sit down, eat quickly and then hurry on to their next event or show.

How do you prepare for big events? Tell us in the comments. 

Related: SXSW: How a Small Festival Brought Austin Big Business

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources
Make sure you’re covered if an employee gets injured at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business
Use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21 to save on our collection of recommended career books, including:
  • Career Rehab
  • Entrepreneur Voices on Careers
  • The New Employee Manual
  • And more

Latest on Entrepreneur