Animal ambassadors are boosting the brands – and Instagram followers – of many hotels.
These hotels are going to the dogs. And cats. And even ducks.
Yes, resorts are hiring animal ambassadors to greet and entertain guests, and it’s a real trip.
Australia’s Park Hyatt in Melbourne recently introduced Mr. Walker, a 13-year-old guide dog, whose official duties as its first canine ambassador include “greeting guests at the lobby, attending very important client meetings, and advocating for the Guide Dogs Victoria cause,” according to the hotel website. Guests will also soon be able to walk him around the grounds.
The friendly blond Labrador Retriever has also become a fixture on the company’s social media pages. His Instagram pix score hundreds of likes, and the comments beneath the snaps suggest he’s fetching potential customers.
“I started looking for rooms the minute I saw this,” posted one.
“We cannot wait to take Mr. Walker out,” wrote another.
One of its sister hotels, the Park Hyatt in Chicago, adopted a 5-year-old special needs pug last year that’s also become a social media star. One-eyed Parker amuses guests by napping at the front desk or sunning himself in the garden. Comments also flooded the Instagram posts featuring Parker with promises to stay at the establishment.
We are thrilled to introduce the newest member of our Park Hyatt family, Parker! A five-year-old pug with special needs adopted from our partners at @PAWSChicago, Parker now resides at 800 North Michigan Avenue as a permanent member of the family. Parker enjoys a luxurious life of sleeping behind the front desk, basking in the sun in NoMI Garden and bringing joy to visitors and colleagues alike. We invite you to visit Parker and share your own pictures using #BarkHyattChicago! #BarkHyatt
“Good for you! When I visit Chicago, I’ll check in for at least one night in order to support your pet friendly policy,” posted one reader.
Considering Americans pamper their fur babies as much as their human babies – the total market for pet food, supplies and services in 2017 is expected to hit $70.6 billion, according to Mintel – savvy hotels would appeal to pet owners (or anyone who loves animals) by adopting animal ambassadors. After all, 44% of Americans say they have taken a trip with their pet in the past year, and 47% say they plan to take one in the coming year, according to TripAdvisor.
Here are a few more furry (and even feathered) friends hired to be the purrfect hosts at hotels.
The Mandarin Oriental, Boston has two golden retrievers, Bonnie and Tara, who make the hotel feel like a home away from home. “I meet so many guests through Bonnie & Tara,” general manager Philipp Knuepfer told Moneyish. “They provide such a warm welcome for our guests, exuding a fun personality and endearing energy that naturally brightens the lobby surroundings. I enjoy sharing them with our visitors, clients and friends.”
A stray cat that once haunted the Oyster Box for scraps has become a purr-manent resident at the five-star South African hotel, and is even included with the staff on the company’s “Meet The Team” page. Now Skabenga (which means “hooligan” or “vagabond” in Zulu) has lived there for 10 years, and he even has a favorite couch and chair in the lobby where he naps when he’s not making “inspections” of the hotel. He’s featured on hotel merch and holiday cards. And when the tabby went missing in 2015, it made national news.
Feline excited for the weekend! . . . #Skabenga #SkabengaOysterBox #OysterBoxCat #Catstagram #Catsofinstagram #Champagne #Fridayfeeing #WeekendReady #Friyay #Umhlanga #OysterBox #RedCarnationHotels #UmhlangaRocks #Durban #MeetSouthAfrica #LHWTraveler #UncommonTravel #luxurytravel #luxuryhotel #travelgram #hotelgram #hotels #hotellife #hotelcat #southafrica #thisissouthafrica
The Peabody in Memphis is famous for the Peabody Ducks, which have been a hotel staple since 1933, when live ducks were put in the lobby fountain as a practical joke. Now every day at 11 a.m., the ducks waddle from their rooftop Royal Duck Palace and along a red carpet to the marble fountain at the center of the grand lobby, to the tune of John Philip Sousa’s “King Cotton March.” They splash in the fountain until 5 p.m., when they parade back up to bed. Guests line up to watch the web-footed march, and the ducks figure prominently in the hotel’s logo and marketing materials.
“Visitors come from as far away as Japan and New Zealand come to see the ducks. They are among the Top 3 visitor attractions in Memphis. Locals love them, too!” Kelly B. Earnest, the Peabody’s director of marketing and communications, told Moneyish. She notes that anything featuring the ducks that they post on social media outperforms all other posts. “The Duck March may be free to the public, but the ducks are priceless!”
Fairmont Hotels feature almost a dozen canine ambassadors at several locations in the U.S. and Canada, including Carly, a black labrador following in the pawsteps of the late Catie at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Hotel. Catie served for 12 years before Carly inherited the leash, and the lovable rescue can be seen riding on the hotel’s bell carts, greeting guests in the lobby and participating in community events.
And of course there’s Lord Monticello – or “Monti” for short – a rescued beagle named the Executive Canine Officer (ECO) at the luxe Jefferson hotel in Washington, D.C. The dog-friendly hotel dishes dog beds, bowls and treats to visiting four-legged friends, and the staff has maps of nearby dog-walking routes.
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