After months of hype, Apple's (www.apple.com) highly anticipated iPad finally hit shelves on April 3, 2010, selling approximately 300,000 units in the United States on its first day alone. Of its many features, the iPad lets users browse the Web, manage e-mail, and listen to music through a multi-touch user interface. As of press time, the App Store supports more than one thousand iPad-designed apps and claims that just about all of the 150,000 iPhone and iPod touch apps are compatible with the iPad. Although only time will tell how successful the iPad will be in penetrating the consumer market, hospitality organizations are already lining up to ensure their place in the iPad frenzy.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (www.ichotelsgroup.com) recently announced that it will be equipping its concierge teams with Apple iPads as part of a global pilot. The New York Barclay, Buckhead Atlanta, London Park Lane and Hong Kong properties will tap the iPad to offer guests enhanced local destination advice. Interactive maps and directions, video recommendations on local hot spots and activities, and instant booking confirmations for restaurants, attractions and more are among the key service features.
"We have an amazing team of concierges worldwide, and our concierges are already engaging with our guests with useful information such as pre-stay e-mails, destination-specific concierge websites, interactive maps, and concierge videos," says Simon Scoot, vice president of global brand management for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. "We are also preparing to pilot state-of-the-art Google Maps technology as well as other enhancements, and the Apple iPad will be a revolutionary way of showcasing some of these features."
From the vendor community, Intelity (www.intelitycorp.com) timed the launch of the iPad tablet with the launch of the latest incarnation of its virtual-concierge application, the Interactive Customer Experience (ICE). Much like its ICE Touch, which serves as an in-room solution and back-end monitoring system that organizes, tracks and measures all hotel activity at the touch of a screen, ICE Canvas for iPad will have all the same capabilities. Hotel guests will be able to arrange for room service, spa appointments, car rentals and more, instantly via a touch screen.
On the foodservice side, the restaurant guide publisher Zagat (www.zagat.com) has already released its own iPad app, Zagat To Go. Developed in conjunction with Handmark (www.handmark.com), the app offers access to Zagat's restaurant ratings and reviews to help diners make quick dining decisions based on the collective opinions of thousands of restaurant goers. Users can add restaurants to their favorites list, make online reservations, or save business details to their contacts.
Zagat Launches Restaurant App for iPad