From sessions to experiences to films to music, there’s plenty to check out at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas—and the week can go from stimulating to overstimulating before you know it. That’s why this year, the festival reached out to mediation and self care app Headspace to set up a “Room to Breathe” where festival attendees could find some inner peace.
Dan Kessler, vp business development and partnerships at Headspace, said that SXSW “is intense” and it’s “easy to overload, so while every other brand is trying to engage you, Headspace is trying to disengage you.”
“In the midst of all the hustle and energy, we’ve created an open and inviting space that offers a moment of decompression and focus,” Kessler added. “We want people who visit our ‘Room to Breathe’ to learn a new skill—taking time for you—and hopefully make it a habit.”
Headspace set up a welcoming, cozy space inside the Fairmont Hotel where attendees could come in, find a station and relax. The app was set up on either an iPad or iPhone at each station, along with a set of headphones. Attendees could come and go as they pleased and were able to select a meditation session that runs for three, five, 10 minutes or more. For those not as familiar with meditating, Headspace also led two daily group mediations sessions as well, with one session in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Self-care apps like Headspace are on the rise at the moment—Headspace currently counts 25 million people and counting as users of the app—so it makes sense that the brand would want to attend a major event to find even more potential users.
“The SXSW audience is similarly influential and engaged, so we’re excited to introduce Headspace to people [who are] new to meditation and help them recognize the mental and physical benefits associated with being mindful, then share it with their friends and family,” Kessler explained.
Overall, though, Kessler said Headspace’s main focus isn’t the number of app downloads the brand will see in the coming days from its SXSW presence. It’s the company’s first year at SXSW, so “it’s easy to say we’d like to see a spike in users, but our mission is improving health and happiness around the world.”
“That happens one person at a time, so the metric we care about the most is having someone new to meditation walk away with a new skill that will last them a lifetime,” he added.