Mobile app developer Fresh Intermedia faced a challenge when it brought its OrderingApps
service to the National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show in May. The 3-year-old company wanted to use the show as a vehicle to push into new markets, attracting restaurant chains with more than 10 locations to the customizable menu app service it launched in January.
But first the company needed to make the service visible to the sea of 1,900 exhibitors who had staked out space across a more than 500,000-sq.-ft. show floor.
“We had a 10-ft. booth, so we weren't going to compete on real estate and signage,” said Richard Doyle, president of Fresh Intermedia. “We had to be innovative.”
The company signed on to become one of 11 companies offering a discount coupon through the b-to-b group-buying service Bizy, which partnered with the NRA show to offer show attendees exclusive discounts throughout the four-day event.
The show marked the first time that group-buying made an appearance at a global b-to-b event like the NRA show, organizers said, and offered insight into how the platform, popular among consumers but relatively unexplored in b-to-b circles, can amplify a company's presence.
Doyle crafted a deal that would lower the cost of developing the app and provide a free testing phase but that would not strip the company of long-term revenue. Individuals who signed on at the show paid $250 for the development of custom ordering apps to support as many as three restaurant locations. That cost represented about one-third of the usual bill. The first two months of service were free, and clients could add locations for an additional fee.
The investment carried little risk, because Bizy received only a portion of revenues. If no companies took advantage of the deal, Fresh Intermedia would not lose money.
NRA organizers announced the campaign in the days leading up to the show, and participants received floor markers that helped increase their visibility. Deals were available for purchase online or at the booth, but attendees had to visit the booth to confirm their registration. OrderingApps built customized demos in the booth.
While it can be challenging for potential customers to make quick decisions, even over the course of a week at a trade show, Doyle said the discount successfully generated new business.
Seven chains signed on, meeting the company's goals without overwhelming its resources. The coupon also has helped generate post-show inquiries and given the company connections to established distributors interested in promoting the service.
“We needed to get credibility and get restaurants on board,” Doyle said. “But we couldn't lose too much money on this. We don't want to undermine our business model.”
Doyle said the company would likely use the deal service again, with modified terms and a page on the website that lays out all of the details it shared in person at the show.