Uptown Network Releases its App that Creates a Network of Brands and Concierge Expertise on iPads

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‘Personal Sommelier’ has far reaching impact for hospitality and retail venues. Release of more powerful iPads, possibly iPad 3 or iPad HD accelerates new category of mobile software.

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It offers an elegant, engaging and easy way for our guests to choose the right wine reflecting their unique tastes that also complements their meal. -- Dave Shula, President, Shula’s Steak Houses

Uptown Network(previously named Hospitality Social) today announced a new consumer focused app to drive sales of mid and high tier brands. Uptown’s patent pending technology ushers in the beginning of a new type of mobile software, where an app is actually a network of brands. Also, curated content as opposed to ‘tags’ brings mobile search expertise to a new level.

With over 2 billion apps downloaded a month, leading brands have recognized that investments in mobile apps return better than web site investments. iPads are particularly of interest as they generally target affluence.

Initial Project

Started as a project under the name Hospitality Social that included about 20 restaurants, it quickly evolved into a group of leading brands that launched the possibility of ‘The Network Effect’. Over 100,000 users have experienced the app to select wine and food pairings.

“It offers an elegant, engaging and easy way for our guests to choose the right wine reflecting their unique tastes that also complements their meal.” explains Dave Shula, President, Shula’s Steak Houses, LLLP.

In the initial project, a Personal Sommelier was delivered on an iPad that can help consumers expertly explore wine and food pairings even before they dine at a restaurant. The results were positive for large brands and independent operators alike.

“As a 70 seat restaurant, I was amazed by the impact of the app,” said Manuel Verney-Carron, Owner, Manuel’s Bread Café. “Our wine sales went up more that 20% immediately, but more importantly we are selling wines which we never sold before and this definitely is increasing the guest experience.”

Evolution and Future

With the advent of more powerful iPads, possibly the iPad 3 or iPad HD this week, this 2-year project promises to usher in a new category of mobile software. Offering real time branding and on-the-fly product availability driving major revenue increases to brands that participate in the network.

“This is truly a new category of mobile software”, explained Phil Turner, Vice President of Research and Development at Uptown Network. “Just as PCs became local area networks and then the Internet, apps are at the very beginning of that journey. The proliferation of apps is quickly becoming a problem. Our patent pending app brings brand value to a new level while delighting consumers.”

In addition to technology breakthroughs, Uptown has also developed a proprietary system to create high quality, curated content in a very inexpensive and scalable way.

Specifics and New Features

In addition to network capabilities this app adds these new features:

  •     In-venue and consumer behaviors – a singular code base can sense a consumer iPad and in-venue iPads. Consumer iPads are immediately connected to social media such Facebook and Twitter, venue web sites and GPS.
  •     Promotion through the Apple App Store – over 2 billion apps are downloaded every month, making a mobile app strategy more important than an Internet advertising strategy. Uptown gives mid and high tier brands superior access to this exploding distribution channel.
  •     Cloud based back-end which enables world-wide seamless updates of new brands and content.
  •     Specialties. Cocktails, cigars, appetizers, desserts and more are easily promoted with compelling pictures, prices and descriptions.
  •     Fast Venue Switching – the singular code base can swiftly change between brands and in-stock products under a brand based on location or GPS.
  •     Data Tracking/Live Feed - Real-time click stream data allows participating venues to understand WHY a product was selected, not just a rear view mirror of WHAT products were selected. It is WHY and HOW as opposed to WHAT and WHEN.
  •     More than 50 other new features making Uptown Network the clear leader in mobile concierge networks.

Empowerment to Gen X-Y-Z Labor Force

Hospitality Venues and retailers face similar and significant challenges. The expertise in today’s workforce is declining while the economy is forcing pay reductions. Tech savvy Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z know how to use an app, but may not have any experience in fine wine, cigars, culinary arts, and more. This solution turns app pros into domain experts, unlocking a key human resource in today’s society.

"We sell both wine and cigars,” said Dana Rice, Owner of Havana Nights Jazz and Cigar Club in Virginia Beach, VA. “Even if our staff member is not an expert about wine or cigars, they are perceived as an expert because they know how to use the app. Our customers regularly tell us how much they enjoy the iPad experience.”

The end result is increased revenue and much better customer satisfaction. Early brands have seen a 27-54% increase in sales with the Uptown app.

“Wine is such a rich experience and it is enhanced by knowledge,” explains Robert Bath, a master sommelier and professor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. “I do not like to see inaccurate or misspelled information on wine lists. This app helps to automate the sharing of a rich description and thereby ensures knowledge and accuracy.”

Impact on Mobile Search

Browsers on mobile devices are antiquated. The lack of context and personalization relegate browsers to more of a librarian value proposition as opposed to a concierge value proposition. Tablets and smart phones offer a significantly greater opportunity. Uptown believes that mobile concierge networks are the new solution to mobile search. Social graphs and Pinterest type capabilities put the browser in the rear view mirror.

Localeze, 15 Miles and comScore released findings from their 5th Local Search Study. The survey of 4,000 US adults (together with behavioral data) documents how consumers search for and find local business information across digital platforms. Currently, 49 percent of smartphone and tablet owners are using apps to find local information.

Cascading Effect for many Venues and Market Segments

“It is no secret that the future success of private clubs demands that as members get older, they are replaced by younger members,” says Hopi Stradling, Managing Partner of the private 100 Club in Portsmouth, NH. “Uptown Network has helped us modernize our experience and delivered a valuable amenity to affluent and tech savvy members.”

In addition to private clubs, Mobile Concierge Networks will impact cruise lines, hotels and many retail segments.

About Uptown Network
Uptown Network, formerly Hospitality Social, is a new company that debuted on May 21st at the NRA Restaurant Show. Every day, billions of dollars are spent in the hospitality industry based on social networking. However, the explosion of mobile and the Apple App store is changing the landscape and spending habits of consumers. Mobile Concierge Networks are emerging as the winning solution and Uptown Network plans to be the leading company in the new category.

Contacts: For Uptown Network: Kristin Simmons Kristin(at)UptownNetwork(dot)com : 239-514-0236


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