Industry News | May 5, 2011

NRA Show, Groupon Competitor?

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The National Restaurant Association announced that it will offer a unique trade show–based group buying program for exhibiting manufacturers and attendees at its 2011 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show this month. NRA Show 2011 is the first global trade show to offer this type of forward-thinking service, which allows buyers to purchase a deeply discounted deal online and fulfill it face-to-face at the event, held May 21–24 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The NRA Show Daily Deals program will be powered by Bizy, a Chicago-based business-to-business deal company whose online commerce platform helps sellers introduce their products and services to large numbers of aggregated buyers, generating both awareness and sales that ideally lead to long-term business relationships. 

“The NRA Show Daily Deals program harnesses the power of Internet group coupon sites to create demand, while simultaneously creating one-on-one interactions that match sellers with new buyers,” says Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president of Convention, National Restaurant Association. “Unlike traditional at-Show discounts or other online offers that are only transacted in a faceless online environment, NRA Show Daily Deals are first purchased online at a deep discount and then fulfilled in-person at the NRA Show.”

The NRA Show Daily Deals program serves as a springboard to bring buyers and sellers closer together in an age of social media and group couponing. The program adds a face-to-face component to business-to-business online group couponing, while also allowing buyer and seller to fulfill orders and discuss future opportunities for engagement. 

The interaction is mutually beneficial for show attendees and exhibitors. Attendees benefit from opportunities to purchase deeply discounted products and services in areas such as equipment, services, and technology, to try out new products that otherwise might have been cost-prohibitive. Exhibitors gain new brand visibility and the opportunity to identify buyers who might not have otherwise considered them.

Group buying power is of particular importance for the restaurant industry, which is comprised largely of small businesses. According to National Restaurant Association research, 93 percent of restaurants are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The introduction of NRA Show Daily Deals is another example of the NRA Show’s cutting-edge use of social media to enhance the trade show experience for both exhibitors and attendees.

Before, during and after the NRA Show and the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB), exhibitors and attendees can stay connected and up-to-date through the events’ social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, You Tube, and Floored!, the official blog of the NRA Show and IWSB. In addition, eventSocial—an online social media tool—allows exhibitors and attendees to log into their social networks and e-mail accounts, identify fellow registrants already in their networks, connect with them, and post Show-related updates to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

NRA Show attendees also have the opportunity to interact with companies like Facebook, Google, Groupon, LivingSocial, Social Grub, TravelZoo, Where, and Yelp on the exhibit floor to explore how their services can help restaurants create more online buzz, grow business, and build customer loyalty. In addition, a series of social media-focused education sessions highlight best-in-class strategies and implementation, featuring both social media companies and restaurant operators. Attendees will learn about group buying, integrating social media and geo-social applications with POS systems, using social media channels in human resources, and more.

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest and most comprehensive global gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals. The event attracts tens of thousands of attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100-plus countries, and showcases more products, services, innovative ideas, and other growth opportunities than any other industry event.