Fitzwilliam Hotel part of new gay-friendly cooperative


MARKETING:A MARKETING initiative aimed at the gay travel market has been launched for gay-friendly hotels in the 600-plus worldwide Preferred hotel chain.

All those participating in the “Preferred Pride” cooperative must offer personalised experiences for gay travellers and promote equality in employment policies and services. The initiative is the brainchild of former Calvin Klein model Rick Stiffler, who says the gay hotel market will be worth €800bn by 2011. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) segment is worth 10 per cent of the US market. Studies also suggest that almost half of all gay travellers return to the same destination within a year, making the LGBT market a loyal one for hotels.

The first hotel in Ireland included in Preferred Pride is the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin. This means the hotel will aim to target and retain LGBT travellers, and offer tailored packages at certain times of the year, including during Dublin Pride from June 17th to 26th.

Bronagh Kelleher, director of sales and marketing at the Fitzwilliam, says the hotel has attracted a sizeable LGBT clientele, and its inclusion in Preferred Pride is an acknowledgement of that. “We’re the first hotel in Ireland to have signed up and already our name is out there globally. This is a great privilege and a chance to market ourselves with global brands.”

The hotel says being LGBT-friendly is subtle in terms of how it conducts business. The hotel trains reception staff, in particular, on how to make sure guests are at ease. “So, if a male couple ask for a king size bed, we want to ensure that is not an issue and our team are well versed in that,” says Kelleher. “Our concierge also is trained to provide information on the newest gay nightclubs and restaurants in the city. There are other simple things we incorporate if it is a male couple, such as two large bathrobes and a welcome note saying which reads ‘dear mr and mr’. We don’t automatically expect that everyone is heterosexual. We always try and be aware of our clientele.”