South by Southwest Interactive event in Austin, Texas? How about giving away free cars and flights around the world? A number of startups in the location tech market appear to be trying to one-up each other with bigger and better give-aways at the event. It's sure to make some people moan "tech bubble!" while other folks will just say "Yipeee! See you in Fiji!"How do you get noticed at the jam-packed tech extravaganza that is this week's
Who's giving away the most fabulous prizes? There will probably be many more contests unveiled over the next few days but here are three we've gotten pitches for already.
Austin's home town favorites Gowalla and AT&T are giving away more than 20 Samsung Captivate phones and Southwest Air is giving away 25 free roundtrip flights at check-in locations around town. (Look for the emblem above.) Gowalla just released a new version of its iPhone app this afternoon and will use SXSW to unveil a new feature called Gowalla Rewards. Location-based social networking competitor Foursquare, which blew up at least year's SXSW, just unveiled a new local deals feature this morning as well.
Short mobile video sharing service SocialCam, featherweight travel service AirBnB and flight search startup Hipmunk are giving away airfare and a week on a private island in Fiji to someone who records themselves doing something silly on SocialCam.
Location check-in service Whrrl is giving away $125k in prizes to people who visit a variety of parties after signing up for its ironically named Austin Underground Society. Prizes will include 50 Las Vegas VIP packages, 20 copies of the Funny Or Die flick "Take This DVD and Shove It", a ticket to and hotel for the Twitter 140conf in New York and two Audis!
Location may be hot and SXSW may be a great place for startups, but it's going to be a very crowded and noisy week. Maybe fabulous give-aways will help some startups stand above the crowd. It might seem a little crass, but you probably wouldn't complain if you found yourself enjoying an island vacation in Fiji or driving a new car.
Team ReadWriteWeb will be in Austin as well. We'll be giving away free heart-felt handshakes to our favorite readers, commenters and friends. Especially any of you who would like to take us to Fiji with you.