First of all they need to rename the Interactive portion of SXSW to Waste of Time. What I expected from SXSW was a social experience where you met a lot of people, network and get a lot out of the conference tracks. The conference tracks last year where 50% pitch, 25% the person had no clue and 25% awesome. The evening events for the most part are so loud that if you want to talk to someone you have to yell, terrible food and bottom shelf liquor. Meeting new people is ok sp long as you self initiate a 100% of the time, 90% of the time people had their heads buried in their phones and laptops not a lot of interaction. Be prepared for a lot of looks of why are you invading my space.
If your going to cover CES as press, here is my suggestion, bring your DSLR that can record video and interview some of the upper echelon celebrities that go, do not focus on vendors or many of the unknown session speakers. You should be prepared to deal with attendees that are rude, and interrupt interviews just so they can say hello to someone they admire. The best press thing I attended was a SXSW sponsored 10 minute pitch session where 6 vendors pitched the press for 10 minutes each.
They had an exhibitor area at the show, which I was able to walk through it in about 30 minutes. From that walk through I think I stopped to talk to one company, who today is not even on the radar map. Everyone says it is the place to be, well everyone else can go, and I will read the self centered blog posts from the comfort of warm and sunny Honolulu.
My experience with SXSW last year was not worth the money spent. SXSW is very expensive from a attendee standpoint, and hotel accommodations are simply grossly too expensive as compared to standard Austin pricing. Does SXSW have some good points, sure, but overall my experience in attending the interactive portion sucked.