In 2017, Jo Crossley started the 1st Dog Dog Friendly Tours Food Tours in the UK and Ireland. With a love of locally produced and sourced food and a career in hospitality and tourism for the majority of her working life, Jo wanted to create a sociable, fun experience, and developed the tours with her own dog Georgie the Lhasa Apso in mind. Through her role as Director of Sales and Marketing for Park Inn by Radisson in Belfast she became acquainted with Heidi McAlpin, Managing Editor of Belfast In Your Pocket Guides. Like Jo, Heidi and her family made the decision to welcome Dachshund Minnie into the family circle, and following an ‘In Your Pocket’ feature on Dog Friendly Belfast in early 2018, Jo and Heidi got together and collaborated on the 1stDog Friendly Map of Northern Ireland.
Until 2017, NI was very behind the times in terms of being Dog Friendly, in fact there was only a handful of premises available unlike the rest of the UK. Since the start of the tours, the increase in dog friendly venues has increased so it’s time to let everyone know that NI is open for dogs! .
Heidi’s career summary
Heidi has worked in local and national TV and radio production since completing the NCTJ Journalism course in 1991. Her love of travel, and passion to promote NI as a tourist destination, inspired her to launch Belfast & NI In Your Pocket visitor guide in 2005. The magazine is printed four times per year and has an accompanying website and social media presence. Welcoming Minnie the long-haired dachshund to the family in 2016 made joining up with Jo to produce the 1stDog Friendly Map of NI a natural progression. Not only does Heidi get to explore all these fabulous dog friendly venues with her family, it also allows her, with Jo, to further promote NI as a must-see, dog friendly visitor destination.
Jo’s career summary
Following graduation from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Jo was selected for a Management Development programme with Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the USA. Jo returned to Northern Ireland and began a Hospitality Management career in Belfast, in the roles of Events Manager at the Hastings Europa Hotel, Sales Manager for Radisson, interim Conference Manager for Belfast Waterfront and Director of Sales and Marketing for Park Inn by Radisson. Jo has also gained several qualifications during her career:-
- BA in Hospitality and Tourism Management
- CIM post grad in marketing exams
- NVQ Level 4 in Management
- Diploma in Management Practice
- Certificate in social enterprise
- CMI Level 5 in Leadership and Management
- Level 2 in Tour Guiding
- Level 2 Food Hygiene
Jo’s enterprising spirit in order to create the 1st Dog Friendly Tours is testament to her drive, commitment and enthusiasm for her product and her love of dogs. Jo is passionate about Northern Ireland, and a real ambassador for the country. Striving to increase awareness of dog friendly businesses in line with European countries, and in general create a positive and welcoming environment for humans and their dogs. Jo’s work/life mantra:-
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”
In 2018, Jo approached Heidi about creating a Dog Friendly Map. Before long the concept was in place, and with Heidi’s experience in this field, the joint collaboration was a great success with a map copy of 30,000 and distribution across NI and the Republic of Ireland. As a result of its success and to enhance the map further, Jo developed the website dogfriendlyni.co.uk, along with social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in late 2018. Jo’s expertise in growing and using social media, has encouraged her to develop plans to roll out social media awareness for Dog Friendly businesses via these platforms in the next few months, along with a dog business registration programme. #DogFriendlyNI
We were delighted to have so many businesses coming on board our first dog friendly map, and as our clients/members we are now issuing each business with a bright window sticker and registered venue certificate, clearly identifying them as Dog Friendly.
To meet the demand from other businesses that missed out on the map opportunity, Jo will be providing a support and advice consultancy to businesses that wish to welcome dogs. It’s more than a bowl of water left at the door!
Subsequently, utilising her vast experience in the hospitality industry and applicable qualifications, Jo will provide a wide variety of support to businesses once they register with Dog Friendly NI :-
- Dog Friendly business audit
- Recommendations and audit report
- Customised dog Friendly Policy
- DFNI window sticker
- DFNI business certificate
- Website listing
- Social media promotion
- Business collaboration
- Business advice and support
- Dog Friendly Map and other publications
- Dog Business registration programme.
The social media platforms are growing on a daily basis, with Instagram seeing high viewing ratio’s via Instastory, and providing a great marketing/promotional platform for your business.
To find out more, give Jo a call on 07983 543434 or drop her an email on email@example.com