Pets Welcome: Considerations for Accepting Four-legged Guests

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.

Rules

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.

Requirements

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.

Other Considerations

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.

 

Ancillary Sales: Maximizing Total Hotel Revenue

While the rooms department is the dominant revenue driver in most hotels, and selling more rooms is central to growing hotel revenue, many lodging operators are now taking a more holistic approach to revenue management.

Today, a hotel stay is much more than a clean room and a comfortable bed. In such a competitive space as the hospitality industry, offering unique and personalized experiences is key to a healthy bottom line. Part and parcel of a complete stay experience, ancillary products and services — like F&B, retail and activities — can be strong revenue drivers.

With increased focus on maximizing business from existing customers, hotels are shifting toward a total revenue management culture that embraces the potential of ancillary services to generate revenue, personalize the guest experience and help a property stand out.

Here are some ideas for making the most of ancillary revenue opportunities as part of your own total revenue management strategy.

Create Packages

Packaging your property’s ancillary services and products with stays is an effective way to boost ancillary revenue.

Additional services such as breakfast, restaurant meals, in-room extras (like champagne and chocolates), spa treatments, attraction tickets and activities can be bundled with stays to create themed packages such as romance, adventure or family packages or to simply offer guests more value for money. If your property doesn’t have an onsite restaurant or spa or run its own activities, consider partnering with local providers that complement your brand.

Hotel management software that provides flexible rate and package management functionality, including the ability to sell packages online and to track package components to different revenue accounts, is key to a successful total revenue strategy.

Offer Extras

Ancillary products and services can also be offered on demand, i.e. sold separately from the room. Many guests like having the option of purchasing extras spontaneously during their stay, or choosing from a selection of add-ons during booking.

Premium Internet, early check-in / late check-out, meeting spaces and equipment, tours and activities, grab-and-go food and beverages, and in-room extras like yoga kits, cots, and wine and chocolates are examples of ancillary products and services that guests can purchase at any time.

Make sure your PMS offers point-of-sale functionality and the ability to sell add-ons during the booking process (with direct online bookings too).

Welcome Pets

If you don’t already, consider allowing pets at your property to tap into a growing revenue opportunity. Pets are part of the family in approximately 65 percent of homes in the U.S. and more and more pet owners are traveling with their four-legged companions.

In addition to charging nightly pet fees and/or a pet room-cleaning fee, pet-friendly properties can profit from providing ancillary products and services especially for precious pooches. Pet-specific extras such as dog biscuits and treats, toys, bedding and pet-sitting services are much appreciated by pet-pampering travelers and can be provided on demand or included in pet-friendly stay packages.

Make the Most of Extra Space

There are many ways underused spaces can be transformed into revenue-generating spaces — both indoors and out.

Think about your main customer segments and how spaces can be used to best serve their needs and preferences. Does a “storage” room offer potential as a meeting room that can be rented by the hour to business guests? Or perhaps it could be transformed into a meditation or yoga room that could be rented to local instructors (who could hold drop-in classes open to your guests)? Could that spacious, well-lit corner be used for displaying local arts and crafts that your guests would love to purchase as a souvenir of their travels? Expansive outdoor areas might be well-suited for hosting events like summer parties, weddings and craft fairs.

Think creatively (yet relevantly) about how extra space on your property can be used more profitably.

Target the Right Customers

The key to maximizing total revenue lies in targeting — selling the right products and services to the right customers at the right time — and successful targeting depends on having access to the right customer data.

Guest profiles are crucial to effective targeting strategies. When a property management system is integrated with other core hotel systems, including POS, CRM and RMS, deep insights into customer spend, preferences and booking trends are gained and can be used to target guests with highly customized offers and services.

Supported by modern, integrated systems and good training, hotel staff can become sale makers rather than order takers, mining guest information that can be used to enhance the customer experience and maximize customer spend through the delivery of personalized service and skillful upselling.

 

With a strong understanding of their customers and their property, lodging operators can take advantage of ancillary sales to drive significant streams of income as part of their total revenue strategy — all while enhancing the guest experience.

 

Ponderosa Motel

The Ponderosa Motel is a family-owned-and-operated property located in Goldendale, Washington, just minutes from the Columbia River Gorge. This 45-room motel offers a variety of room types including standard guest rooms and suites with fully-equipped kitchens. Amenities include complimentary continental breakfast and free WiFi. The Ponderosa Motel has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their day-to-day operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated Web reservations software to take online bookings!

[button color=”#ffffff” background=”#ff8000″ size=”medium” target=”_blank” src=”http://www.ponderosamotelgoldendale.com/main_page.html”]Visit Website[/button]

Pawsitively Pet-Friendly Packages to Boost Bookings

Jet-setting pets looking for a place to rest their paws for the night can find all the pampering they need and then some with the Pooch Package from the Loden Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Many hotels welcome dogs, but the Loden made it into the news by leveraging their pet-friendly policy and kicking it up a notch. In keeping with their luxury branding, the Pooch Package includes doggie day-spa services, premium dog food and water bowl, private car service, dog-walking map, peanut butter bacon biscuits and much more for the dog who has everything.

But what’s really smart is that the Loden has committed to donating C$20 from every booking to the local pet shelter, making them stand out as socially responsible and leaving a pawsitive impression on guests, as well as nurturing an emotional connection with their animal-loving customers – and you definitely love your pets if you are booking this $449 package! What’s more is that it made the Loden newsworthy as a human interest story on local television. There’s nothing like free advertising.

For Pet’s Sake

It’s no question that pet-friendly accommodations are in demand. A TripAdvisor survey on traveling with pets from July of this year queried more than 1,110 travelers (and over 700 pet owners) about their vacation habits and 53 percent said they traveled with their pets. Forty-eight percent of all travelers polled felt that hotels should be more pet friendly.

Due to ratings on their site, TripAdvisor further asserts that pet owners are more discerning when choosing a place to stay (more for their animals than for themselves), with bed and breakfasts dominating their top pet-friendly accommodation choices with their ability to cater to “…the most finicky pet owners.” In previous blog posts, we have also noted that smaller properties have the greatest agility when it comes to their ability to offer personalized services and that applies here too.

Best in Show

When it comes to attracting pets and their owners, be the best in show; look at what your competitors are offering and go one step further. Then be sure to promote your special treats on your website, social media channels, blog, press release, and travel directory profiles. Social media listening tools can really be useful in this area.

Many pet-friendly accommodations charge a fee for Fido’s stay. That’s fine. But if you offer other pet services that guests are likely to spend their money on, consider welcoming pets for free…accompanied by their paying owners of course. This can help you stand out from the pack. You can also offer pet packages, like the Loden Hotel does, which include many perks that are incorporated into the price.

If you are already pet friendly, here are some ideas to ramp up interest, such as offering special services and features – that you can charge for!

Bone Appetite

Do you offer room service for your guests? Don’t forget the pets. Along with high-quality kibbles, consider hamburgers, tuna tartar or foie gras for Fido. The Raffles L’ermitage Beverly Hills purportedly offers Osetra caviar with hard-poached eggs for US$98. Look into treats from local pet bakeries who specialize in biscuits, treats and sometimes cakes!

Pawsome Packages

People need pampering too, so consider combining packages, such as offering dog and human massage appointments. The Muse Kimpton in New York offers a Hers and Furs package for in-room pedicures for dog and owner. Creating value-added packages are especially easy if your property management system offers flexible package setup options like WebRezPro does.

Petsonalization

We’ve blogged before about offering personalized guest services for retaining and attracting guests and this goes for pets too. Of course dogs aren’t going to notice if their name is framed beside their hotel dog dish, but the owner will! Inexpensive little touches like this go a long way for creating an emotional bond with your guest through their pet. Keep track of your guests and their pets using WebRezPro’s guest folio feature that allows you to collect and store information about your customers.

Pet Treats

Carrying pet items in your gift shop gives your guests one more place to spend their money. Leashes, treats and toys are always popular pet purchases. Being on holiday and in the mood to buy, pet owners are also willing to spend on novelty items that are not readily available from regular pet stores.

Paws for Thought

There are many services that are easy to outsource to local businesses that can come to your hotel:

>> dog walking

>> doggie daycares

>> dog washing

>> pet massages

>> pet psychic readings

But do make sure providers are reputable by being BBB certified and bondable.

Surrogate Pets

Animal lovers pining for their pet hamster left at home may appreciate a surrogate pet while on vacation. Have a resident dog available for dog walks and general canine ambassador duties, such as cuddles. Animals in residence are great for guest relations and might just put a smile on the most stern-faced guests.