Austin Guide for Business Travelers
Austin is fast-growing city with a burgeoning tech scene, and it becomes a top business travel destination every March during the South by Southwest conference and festivals. Known for its breakfast tacos, barbecue, lively music scene, and quirky motto “Keep Austin Weird,” the Live Music Capital of the World has plenty to offer during your next business trip, beyond the shops of 6th Street and in spite of your hectic schedule. Bookmark our Austin business travel guide for your next trip, so you can get work done like a pro and still find some time to enjoy the city.
Before each trip, you can create a predictive budget with TravelBank to forecast how much it will cost. Since the budgets are based on real-time market data, they can accurately forecast travel spend even when events like SXSW cause an increase in airfare and lodging prices.
Team TravelBank is sponsoring a party on March 11 this year, so a few team members will be going down to Austin March 9-12 to participate in the SXSW activities. Running a budget today, the average flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), based on 70 direct economy flights comes in at $621. To save money, we could look at flying out of an alternate airport like Oakland or San Jose, or consider one-stop flights.
Lodging, which tends to be the most expensive piece of any travel budget, is currently $416 per night on average, based on 30 3-star hotels in the Austin area. That ends up being $1,249 for three nights. To save money, we booked a business travel-ready Airbnb instead of a hotel (many of which sell out long before SXSW).
Ground transportation costs $32 per day on average, giving us each a total of $127 for our trip to SXSW. And the per diem in Austin, based on GSA rates is $75 per day, or $263 total. The entire budgets adds up to $2,259, which is well above the norm for Austin since it is reflecting real-time market rates increased by the influx of travel occuring during SXSW. The power of trip budgets is they allow you to forecast how much a business trip is going to cost before it happens, making it easier to decide whether or not the cost of the trip is justified by the return on that investment.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is a relatively small airport with one main terminal. Other than a few budget airlines flying into the south terminal, all other airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, arrive and depart from this main terminal.
When you land at AUS, the easiest way to get into town is to head downstairs, past baggage claim, and call a car with your preferred rideshare app. Austin has a few of its own, such as Ride Austin, but Lyft and Uber have also re-entered the Austin market.
Demand for rides increases heavily during SXSW so expect surge pricing and the occasional long wait. Another option is to download the car2go car sharing app so you can access short-term rental Smart cars and Mercedes-Benz sedans on-demand.
Where to Stay
Most business travelers are going to want to stay close to downtown Austin. While the usual hotel chains are positioned within short walking distance of the downtown attractions, Austin has quite a few other neighborhoods worth considering.
If a more local and boutique feel is what you’re after, check out an Airbnb, the South Congress Hotel, Hotel San Jose, or Hotel Saint Cecilia in the lively South Congress neighborhood. South Congress is lined with a number of delicious food options, shops, and bars so you’ll never be bored between meetings. Another great neighborhood for booking an Airbnb is the quaint and quiet Hyde Park. You’ll feel like you’ve integrated into local life with the Austinites.
Good Cheap Eats
Austin has loads of food options, and our advice is to try them all! From the typical breakfast tacos (eat those every day!) and barbecue, to the more surprising options like a Vietnamese French cafe in South Congress, there’s no reason to discriminate.
Actually, our one exception to this rule is 6th street where you’ll find the typical overcrowded and overpriced mediocre restaurants native to any touristy area. Otherwise, this city takes pride in it’s food, and they’ll take care of you. For a roundup of our favorite spots, read Where to Eat in Austin (During SXSW). Take your business meetings over lunch so you can try them all!
Where to Work
Sometimes working out of a coffee shop just won’t do. Enter the flexible coworking space. Austin has a wide selection of hip spaces for the working-from-wherever crowd.
What to See & Do
If you have time between meetings or SXSW conference events, there’s plenty to enjoy around Austin. You could take a self-guided tour of the many famous murals around town, starting with the Greetings from Austin mural in South Congress.
The state capitol building is always free to enter and puts Texas history on display. If you stop by, go inside and climb upstairs to see the rotunda from above.
There’s no such thing as too much live music in Austin, and while we don’t recommend sitting down for dinner on 6th Street, the music scene is always lively. There are also a number of venues, like The Mohawk, with scheduled performances.
Another view of @bartonspringspool fed by underground springs and once used for purification rituals by the Native American tribe that inhabited the area. ☀💦 I shared 11 other things to do in Austin in my weekend travel guide on 👉 togethertraveler.com today. ✨ P.S. did you know @Lyft and @Uber are back in Austin?? 🚙💨 (This is going to make getting around a lot easier!)
If you visit when the weather is nice, opting outdoors is a must. You can bike, run, or paddle board along Lady Bird Lake, which is actually a reservoir on the Colorado River. And then jump into Barton Springs, when the temperatures soar and you need to refresh yourself.