By Rachel Chan
FOR the first time at the Natas travel fair this weekend, there is something for everyone, including their pets.
A pet hotel is out to woo travellers who need a boarding place for their furry companions while they are away on vacation.
Petopia, a pet-wellness centre in Seletar Hills Estate that made news recently for offering luxury pet spa services, is pitching tailor-made holiday itineraries, beach outings and scented air-conditioned rooms with piped music for the four-legged.
Owners can even check on Fifi on a mobile webcam service.
“We see a potential market for people who want their pets to check-in at a premium place when they go on holiday,” said Mr Marcus Khoo, 37, executive director of Petopia.
“Some of our patrons have confided that their dogs have come back traumatised, with bad skin conditions, after staying at other boarding places. They don’t mind paying a bit more if their pets are well taken care of,” he added.
Petopia, which already has a mind-boggling array of spa treatments, such as microbubble baths, clay packs and reiki sessions, wants to add a creative activity to its daycare services: A four-hour beach outing for poochie.
“We’re trying to be creative, but we need critical mass to cover costs,” said Mr Khoo.
Not surprisingly, occupancy at the pet hotel peaks during popular travel periods.
Between May and July, occupancy can reach 70 per cent at Petopia’s hotel premises, which can accommodate up to 28 dogs.
The next peak will be from October to February next year, said Mr Khoo. Some patrons have even made bookings for the Chinese New Year period.
“We’ve observed that people don’t just travel during school holidays and long weekends nowadays. They can take the entire week off if a public holiday falls in that week,” noted Mr Khoo.
A night at Petopia ranges from $35 for a 75cm by 75cm tiled enclosure, to $75 for a premium room about the ] size of a bathroom in a Housing Board flat.
Petopia is not the only exhibitor offering something unusual at the fair. Remy Cointreau International will be selling 18 products – including whisky, cognac and tequila – at near-duty- free prices to visitors who have purchased travel packages.
“Many travellers want to buy more alcohol products at duty- free prices but are faced with limitations. We want to reward these customers by extending the offer during the fair,” said Mr Thomas Goh, 31, Remy Cointreau International’s key account manager for Singapore.
Petopia and Remy Cointreau International are two of 1,091 booths – the highest number so far at this biannual travel fair – at the Singapore Expo this weekend.
The organiser, National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), is expecting 67,000 visitors and hopes to achieve at least $70 million in sales.
There were already a record 1,056 booths at its February show.
If Natas achieves its sales target, takings will be 11 per cent more than the $63 million it reaped in February.
The Natas travel fair is on at the Singapore Expo, Halls 3B, 4 and 5 from today until Sunday, 10am to 9.30pm. Entry tickets are valid only on the day of purchase and cost $4 each. Those below 12 years old enter for free.