March 24, 2020
Vice President of Research Matt Price was preparing for his annual journey to Austin, Texas to conduct attendee research for SXSW and SXSW EDU festivals when the word came out. The festivals were canceled for health risks associated with Coronavirus. We were disappointed to not be doing this work for the event going to market FINN while absorbing travel investments we didn't use.
But our disappointment is nowhere near what the city of Austin will feel now and well after dates the festivals would've occurred. SXSW wasn't the first event to cancel because of the COVID-19 crisis but it's definitely one of the biggest examples of economic boosts a destination will now not receive. Since then the NCAA has canceled all championships and the National Association of Broadcasters has canceled their annual convention to name a few. We decided to dig into the reactions and opinions of Austin residents to get an early picture of what these event destinations will be going through.
The full report is available here, but here's some highlights.
Most Austinites think this will have a positive effect on the spread of the coronavirus.
- 63% believe this will halt the spread of coronavirus (28% say they definitely believe this), compared to 29% who do not believe this.
- Over half (52%) say they feel better protected, compared to 34% who do not.
Disappointment, but acknowledgment that canceling SXSW and SXSW EDU probably had to be.
- 76% agree that canceling the festivals was the right call (including a plurality, 41%, who agree strongly.)
- 38% are personally disappointed about this, compared to 23% who aren’t disappointed and 38% who say it doesn’t matter much either way.
- However, when asked if your friends and neighbors are (i.e., the community is) disappointed, those numbers are higher: 59% say their friends and neighbors are disappointed, 12% say they aren’t disappointed, and 22% say it doesn’t matter to them either way.
Despite this being the right call, and despite this helping reduce the spread of disease, residents are concerned about the economic impact.
- 85% say there will be a significant (44%) or enormous (41%) economic impact on the city of Austin.
- 37% say they know at least one person who will lose income because of this.
- Though just 11% say they will personally lose income, of those, 55% say that impact will be significant (30%) or enormous (25%)
- In the words of those who say they will lose income, they mention things like no longer being able to sell goods and services at the festival, having fewer people patronize bars and restaurants, not being able to work at canceled events, not being able to drive Uber/Lyft, and not being able to rent out rooms or sell other hospitality products.