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Gilt and Wine.com have created such apps, and they're already paying off. Given the explosive growth of iPads, and tablets in general, apps dedicated to those devices may become a necessity for retailers targeting the well-heeled consumer.
Bringing a hotel home
Usually a traveler has to be in a hotel to experience that hotel's brand. Not anymore at InterContinental Hotels Group. The hotel group has created an iPad app based on its cookbook, which includes recipes from its top chefs from hotels around the world. So when a traveler enjoys a great meal at an InterContinental restaurant, she can download the InterContinental Kitchen App and cook that meal at home.
"Having an app was a natural extension of the brand and a great way to connect the guest with a brand experience when they were not in the hotel but back home trying to recollect the memories and emotional connections," says Andrew Hairetis, director, brand innovations.
InterContinental cooked up the app in September 2011, working with digital marketing firm Engauge. Since then travelers have downloaded the app 10,000 times and users have logged 30,000 sessions.
An app user can elect on the home screen to search by Location or Recipe, or press Inspire Me to be whisked around a globe and wind up on a hotel where that hotel's chef's special recipes are displayed. Recipes provide step-by-step instructions and timers, and users can add ingredients to a grocery shopping list.
"The food and beverage experience is an inspirational, art-oriented discipline; it creates an inspiration when you have these great dishes," Hairetis says. "The app walks you through a recipe at the right pace that the chef would walk you through. The app takes you from the grocer to the kitchen to the dining room table."