If you are a pet owner (or know one), then you understand how attached people are to their furry friends. Dogs and cats (and a myriad of other critters!) are important members of 68% of American families. That’s a pretty significant portion of the population that has to factor their pets into all sorts of decision-making—including trip-planning. And considering more and more people are choosing to travel with their animal companions, it’s something you might want to factor into your decision-making as an hotelier.
Pet-friendly accommodation is a growing trend in the hospitality industry. Bring Fido lists over 25 000 pet-welcoming properties worldwide, and sites like Expedia allow users to limit results to only those hotels that accommodate their four-legged friends. Policies catering to those traveling with pets are offered by properties ranging from budget accommodation to B&Bs to luxury hotels (which top the list at 80%). It’s a bandwagon you should consider jumping on.
If you do decide that opening your doors to guests with pets is right for your property, be sure to address rules, requirements, and possible extra amenities, when designing your pet policy.
Before you start billing your business as pet-friendly, it is essential to create a concrete set of rules. What types of pets do you allow? How many pets are permitted in each room? Are there rules about leaving pets unattended? Should they be leashed in public spaces? These are all questions you should have answered before they become more than a theoretical scenario. And not all lodging operators answer them in the same way. To provide a peaceful environment for all guests, many hotels do not allow pets to be left in rooms unattended, while others simply require the animal to be kenneled. Whatever rules you decide are right for your business, make sure to post them on your website, and be clear when taking bookings.
While inviting pets to your property can be great for you (so many dogs to pet!) and business, the change definitely comes with its own set of concerns. It is common practice to draw up a waiver in order to keep all your guests (human and otherwise) safe, as well as account for potential property damage. These documents typically require assurance that the animal in question is non-aggressive, clean, up-to-date on vaccinations, and does not have fleas. By signing the form, pet-owners also agree to take responsibility for their animals and any potential damage. Many (but certainly not all) properties require a pet-fee.
When planning to welcome pets, there are a few other logistical considerations to entertain. You may want to designate specific rooms as pet-friendly (just as properties might have smoking and non-smoking rooms) in case you have guests with severe allergies. It’s a good idea to designate ground-level units for this purpose, which will afford pet owners easy access to the outdoors.
Above and Beyond
Now that you’ve outlined your pet-policy, you can begin thinking about creative ways to appeal (and upsell) to your pet-owning guests. This is the fun part!
Possible services and amenities you could adopt range from the simple to the luxurious. Many hotels provide dog beds, food bowls and treats. When checking in at Vancouver Opus Hotel, owners receive a copy of Modern Dog Magazine, and their furry counterparts get a complimentary toy. Fairmont Banff Springs has dog-sitting services available and donates a portion of the mandatory pet fee to a local animal shelter. Stanford Court San Francisco includes a puppy swag bag (filled with poop bags, treats, toys and a lint roller) in their pet fee, and has cool pet tech (GoPro dog harnesses, an automatic ball launcher, and a pet monitoring system) available for loan from the concierge. Now that’s going above and beyond!
Whether it’s a simple act like providing pet-owners with information on nearby dog parks and amenities, or as novel as offering dog surfing lessons, any gesture showing you care about your guests’ beloved pets will be appreciated and remembered.
For most of us, pets are a part of the family. That makes them especially hard to leave behind when going on vacation. Consider welcoming these furry companions at your property to win bookings and nurture guest loyalty.