Guests are demanding, and it is their prerogative to be demanding, as they are the ones that pay for a service that should deliver. As the industry evolves, so do guests' expectations when it comes to what hotels should offer to enhance the travel experience.
Many travelers are pet owners and enjoy traveling with their beloved companions. Often, finding pet-friendly hotels is a frustrating challenge, but, in end effect, the guest will find appropriate accommodation. However, for the hotel that does not offer pet-friendly facilities, a pet owner who wants to book a pet-friendly room is a lost guest.
And pet-friendly hotels are on the rise, as it’s the demand. According to Hotels.com, one-third of the hotels listed on their site welcome people with pets. PetsPyjamas features over 1,500 truly pet-welcoming hotels, cottages, country houses and B&Bs around the UK and Europe, while Bring Fido has a directory of over 25,000 worldwide.
A 2013-2014 survey by American Pet Products Association (APPA) revealed pet ownership in the United States at a record high, with 68% among all U.S. households in 2012, and overall spending in the pet industry for 2015 measured a record $60.28 billion revealed in a more recent survey from March 2016. The future looks bright for hotels that offer guests the opportunity to bring their pets along.
Stanford Court San Francisco launched a new Happy Dog program last month, to attract more pet owners to vacation in their hotel. The package features a wealth of perks, including a complimentary map of the city’s dog-friendly parks, pet toys, pet grooming products, and a souvenir bag. Other items, like dog beds and leashes, can be borrowed or purchased on site.
In contrast, El Portal Sedona Hotel, designed as a pet-friendly hotel from the start, charges no pet fees and offers personalized concierge services for guests and their pets. They even welcomed kangaroos among their pet guests and apparently animals often behave better than their humans.
These two hotel examples are not singular. There is a clear trend in a more pet-friendly geared hospitality industry, following many industry studies, which have shown that people tend to cut their holidays short to return to their pets. In Britain, statistics show that becoming pet-friendly could increase hotels' revenues by 30 % a year. The pros go on.
“Be pet-friendly. Pet parents, many of them millennials, want to bring their dogs with them everywhere they go and vacationing is no different,” says Travis Reynolds Director, Media Relations & Content Marketing at Hartville Pet Insurance Group. “Allowing dogs to stay at your hotel is the first step, but to attract travelers and repeat customers, go that extra mile. Offer dog beds. Have an on-site dog park. Provide grooming services. Stock your gift shop with dog food, treats, and toys. And don’t forget to promote your pet-friendliness in marketing material and social media. This can really make you stand out from the crowd.”
Travelers themselves seem to appreciate more and more hotels that cater to such special needs.
“Hotels that accommodate domestic animals are creating an inclusive and nurturing environment for their guests,” told us Dr. Ginny A. Baro. “I anticipate potential terms and agreements that guests must sign in the event of damage to carpets etc. they may also consider pet travel insurance, akin to what we do for our travel insurance, to cover the cost of damages if they occur!”
Another important factor to consider is the age of the guests: “If they want to take advantage of the huge number of Baby Boomers who are now retired and traveling all over, and who hate the idea of boarding their pets, they should certainly be inspired to do so (offer pet-friendly accommodation),” says freelance writer and editor Barb Parcells.
However, travelers have mixed feelings concerning the issue, some expressing no preference for pet-friendly hotels, while others still prefer to travel alone, to enjoy privacy and peace. Ideally, hotels should meet both needs of guests who travel with pets and those of travelers who enjoy privacy, quiet, and comfort.
“We have never had a dog until a year ago, and although we love him dearly, we appreciate being able to put him in doggy camp when we travel. He loves it, and we get alone time, “ told us wellness coach Nadia Shana Krauss.
The pros seem to outweigh the cons in this debate, as pet-ownership sees significant growth every year. There’s a clear need for pet-friendly businesses, which extends beyond the need of accommodation. Adding pet-friendly services has been proven to improve the bottom line for many hotels – this is an industry fact. The obvious conclusion is that hotels that don’t offer pet-friendly packages have a lot to gain from considering adding them to their roster of services in the future.