AUSTIN, Texas--With thousands of people descending here for this week's South by Southwest festival--most of whom are planning on nightly party-hopping--it can be vital to RSVP to the endless string of sponsored shindigs.
The party invites come in batches, and it can be a serious mental task to keep up with the ones that require reservations. And that's to say nothing of the dozens of spur-of-the-moment booze-and-conversation fests that pop up on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and other social networks. Yet many attendees are so busy with their wall-to-wall panel schedules, business meetings, lobbyconning, and other engagements, that making the time to send back all the relevant RSVPs can actualy be a burden.
So maybe this is a sign of SXSW excess or perhaps it's a SXSW-themed prank, but it is possible that some at SXSW have found a way to dispense with that pesky requirement--if an e-mail someone sent me is on the level.
The gist of the e-mail: why worry about whether you remembered to tell a party organizer that you're coming--or even bother to personally take care of that social nicety--when you can pay someone else to do it for you?
Pimping a service called RSVP While You Sleep, an Austin "coworking" community called Conjunctured is kindly promising to take over the oh-so-arduous task for you--as long as you're willing to fork over $37, that is.
"Want to RSVP for tons of free SbSW parties and events but don't have the time? We have a team of virtual assistants overseas that has already been RSVP'ing all the Conjunctured members to the parties as we sleep," the service's Eventbrite offering reads. "If you want in on it, simply add your info to our database and you'll start receiving RSVP confirmations in your inbox daily.
"Each RSVP'er is guaranteed at least 75 RSVP's (high chance to receive more the sooner you sign up due to availability)."
On a previous version of the offering, Conjunctured explained why it is using the acronym "SbSW" rather than the ubiquitously employed "SXSW:" "NOTE: We had to change the name and URL due to trademark issue request from SXSW."
Now, this is my fifth SXSW--er, excuse me, SbSW--and so I'm familiar with the nonstop activities. That's true whether you're part of the interactive festival, the film festival, or the music festival--each of which is a discrete confab--or a combination of all three.
But seriously? Paying someone to handle your RSVPs? Or even having the chutzpah to put a service like this together? Puh-leeze.
The RSVP While You Sleep language is clearly targeting specific groups here. It states that the service only handles invites for interactive- and music-related parties. If you're a SXSW film attendee, sorry, bub, you'll have to get your personal assistant to do the job for you.
Oh, and just in case you thought $37 is a bit steep, consider yourself lucky. Conjunctured has kindly, "for a limited time," consented to discount the price from its original $55.
Of course, there's always the distinct possibility that the whole thing is a very cleverly crafted hoax designed to get people like me riled up enough to rant from my soap box about how ridiculous it seems. But the Eventbrite page, a system ready to take your credit card info and a countdown timer alerting you that you have--so run, don't walk--just minutes left to finish the transaction, all would indicate that this is for real.
So if this is aimed at you, do indeed take these fine people up on their offer. Because after all, getting 75 RSVPs handled for you guarantees you a special place at all those wonderful gigs: a spot in line next to the hundreds of others who RSVP'd without the help of overseas virtual assistants as you all wait and wait on the odd chance that you'll finally get in.