Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catie Copley and the Pet-Friendly Fairmont Hotels

Catie Copley, the inspiration for one of our most beloved children's books series, is a very happy Black lab that lives at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel. Catie and the series was recently featured in Advertising Age in a news piece, "Going to the Dogs: Pet-Friendly Hotels Raise the Welcome Sign." For those of you who love to travel with your pets, do take note:

All Fairmont hotels are pet-friendly, but a third have specific services and menus. They range from the Santa Monica Fairmont Hotel's PAW Program, which offers spa services such as "blueberry facials and nail grinding," to the Vancouver Fairmont, which provides a bed, bowl and treat.

"We've seen more and more people that have traveled with pets," said Suzanne Wenz, Fairmont's regional director-public relations. "They're considered, for many people, a part of the family. I think that will increase over time."

As part of its KimptonPets program, the group's hotels accommodate all companion animals (including rabbits, birds and mice) and offer an array of services, including a referral for a pet massage while travelers enjoy their own massage at the hotel spa.

Word-of-mouth and PR appear to be the marketing devices for these services. Neither Fairmont nor Kimpton have dedicated promotional budgets for them, and information is spread through community services and pet-service partnerships.

Though there's still uncertainty about the growth of pet-friendly hotels and the ability of pet travelers to provide meaningful business, Mr. Vetere at APPA said he's hopeful. The improving economy will play the biggest role, he said.

Travelers "want to keep their own active lifestyle while making their pets happy," Mr. Vetere said. "All these services contribute to making that happen." After following these trends, APPA has identified hotels as potential future partners in promoting pet ownership and travel.

What about guests who leave their dog at home or are otherwise "pet-deprived"? Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel offers the Canine Adventure package, built around Catie Copley, the resident black Labrador who plays a role similar to that of Eloise at The Plaza in New York. It includes a stuffed Catie Copley Dog and a copy of children's book Catie Copley's Great Escape.

"A lot of people take Catie for a walk, maybe five walks a day, whether or not they're on the package," said Ms. Wenz.

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