B-to-B Case Study: How to Stand Out at a Crowded Industry Event

Agilysys Debuted New Software with 'Hollywood Premiere' Campaign

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To debut the launch of rGuest, a cloud-based property management system, software company Agilysys created a "Hollywood Premiere" campaign at the hospitality industry's largest event this summer.

The campaign debuted at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) in Los Angeles in June, and was designed to help Agilysys stand out among its competitors. It took a Hollywood-themed approach, complete with a movie trailer and a red-carpet presence at the event.

"This is the first time we've ever done anything like this, so it's really moving the needle for us in what we're trying to accomplish from a marketing and awareness standpoint," said Michael Buckham-White, senior VP-sales and marketing at Agilysys.

To help create the campaign, Agilysys turned to its agency partner PJA Advertising + Marketing, Cambridge, Mass.

"We were going into a crowded field at a very crowded event," said Ronan Doyle, associate creative director at PJA, noting that more than 7,000 hospitality industry executives attended the event.

"The people who go to the HITEC conference are decision-makers, or are advising technology decisions very closely," he said. "We knew we had a captive audience, so we had to create something in this sea of sameness that would be memorable."

Mr. Doyle said the biggest marketing challenge for Agilysys is that it provides a "parity product," with very little differentiation from its competitors who also offer property management solutions.

"There are hundreds of vendors at HITEC, and everyone is offering the same types of things. Agilysys can't say it is the only cloud-based system or only scalable system. We had to look at all the tools at our disposal to really stand out," Mr. Doyle said. "We had two things to claim -- the location of the venue, just south of Hollywood, and the fact that this was the premiere of a new product."

So PJA came up with the "Hollywood Premiere" theme to introduce the new product, including a movie trailer teasing the product launch; a microsite that housed the trailer; an email campaign; social media outreach and heavy event presence.

At the event, Agilysys used digital billboards, in-taxi videos, brand ambassadors distributing "premiere" tickets, movie posters and mobile alerts to drive attendees to its booth.

The booth featured a red carpet with a rope line, popcorn machine, movie posters and digital screens that played the movie trailer. Agilysys also hosted a customer gala with a "paparazzi room" where guests could have their picture taken in front of an rGuest-branded backdrop. Those pictures could be instantly uploaded to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The "Hollywood Premiere" campaign was successful in driving online traffic and social engagement at the event.

Mobile ads sent during the event drove nearly 1,000 visits to the Agilysys microsite, with two-thirds of all site visits coming from mobile devices.

The morning after the "gala," images from the Agilysys photo booth were trending at the top of the #hitec2014 social posts.

Here are some marketing lessons from the campaign:

1. Use the venue as a marketing tool. "We used the venue itself as one of the tools available to us," Mr. Doyle said. "Especially for people who don't live in LA, all that glitz and glamour of Hollywood gives them something exciting and made the campaign stand out."

2. Be willing to take risks. "With an event like this, you have to shake off any fear you have about being different or breaking through convention," Mr. Doyle said. "Agilysys did something different with this movie premiere that was like nothing else at the event."

3. Tie in a cause-related effort. "We continued our premiere theme by handing out tickets to the event, and for each one turned in, we donated real movie tickets to Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an organization that we're passionate about," said Mr. Buckham-White.

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