Dogs Welcome! How Pet-Friendly Became The Perfect Formula
Pet-friendly accommodation has become relatively common; not all hotels and B&B’s welcome pets, but it’s equally not hard to come-by somewhere that does. But what led to this surge in people traveling with their canine companions? And when did the pet-friendly service go from ‘all welcome’ to ‘pets are the VIPs’?
Guests are looking for guilt-free travel…
Going back to where it all began the concept is simple. People love their pets, and sending them to the kennels at the expense of their weekend away didn’t sit well. A treat trip away was tainted with a feeling of guilt and it would put guests off from leaving their home.
Plus, when it comes to dogs, there are many destinations that suit pooches perfectly, with scenic walking routes and outdoor activities dominating some of the UK’s most visited areas, so why should they be left at home?
When hotels and B&B’s began to open their doors to people and their pets, they soon saw occupancy and loyalty increase as they catered to their guests in a whole new way. Most dog owners are happy to accept a small cleaning surcharge for pets and are usually willing to pay more for a room with easy outdoor access. With this in mind, it can open up additional revenue opportunities for your B&B or Guest House business.
It started as a niche and became the norm
Gone are the days of hiding your pet in your handbag at check-in…a study showed that 16% of people admitted to doing just that before pet-friendly properties were popular!
But, our four-legged friends are now roaming the halls of some of the UK’s most swish venues.
A recent figure from hotels.com stated that a quarter of their 325,000 properties are now pet-friendly, whilst the US has reported a significant increase in pet-friendly accommodation since the late 90s.
This evolution in hospitality has meant that hotels and B&B’s are even more accessible, and as a result people are more inclined to travel. After all, they are a luxury home-away-from-home so why shouldn’t that extend to the whole family…the canine-kind included!
It turns out that it’s one thing to offer a fantastic guest experience, but pamper their pet too and you’re on to a winner.
VIPs…Very Important Pets
In 2016, there was reportedly a 25% increase in spending on pets in the UK seeing pets become seriously pampered. Pet salons began to pop-up across the country and hotels and B&B’s soon followed suit.
Understandably, you might not wish to offer your guests some of the more extreme services listed below, but believe it or not, you’ll not have to travel far in the UK to find these on hand for your furry friends:
- Organic treats on arrival
- Comfortable beds and personalised water bowls
- Dog sitters
- Dog concierge
- Chef’s canine menu
- Four-legged fashion collection
- Designer pet accessories on loan
- Doggy spa
- Pet members club
Should you wish to keep things simple, check out these dog hospitality packs. Most dog owners usually expect to have to take their own gear but will be pleasantly surprised if they find you’ve supplied a dog bed, bowls, towel and a few free biscuits. Happy guests all round!
Although pet-friendly often refers to dogs it can also apply to cats, birds and even reptiles…so it is worth being specific if you’re thinking of opening your doors to guests of the animal variety too!
Thinking of becoming pet friendly?
If you’re wondering whether this would work for your property here are some things to consider:
- Pet policy: Make sure you specify which pets are welcome. You may define by animal, size or weight and even age…after all un-trained puppies may well affect other guest’s experience of your property. All facilities, any restrictions and associated costs should be outlined in this policy.
- Cleaning: You must factor in added cleaning resource required. Not all guests will be pet-people so it’s important to them that their stay is in a fur-free zone!
- Access: Is your property suitable for animals? Consider your room sizes – they need to be big enough to accommodate an extra guest on the floor. You may even want to allocate ground floor rooms as pet-friendly for ease of access and cleaning.
- Amenities: From beds and bowls to sitters and spas! You’ll need to decide how straight forward this service will be and clearly outline this in your policy.
- Costs and deposit: Calculate all additional costs and weigh up whether this is likely to become a valuable revenue stream for you. You can then put a price on your pet stays. It is also recommended to charge a deposit in these cases to cover any potential damage to the room.
- Booking information: Make sure you find out all you need to know about your guests when they book. Use the criteria in your pet policy to ensure the pets are suitable guests.
If you do go pet-friendly don’t forget to use this in your marketing. It’s a key-message for your business, and the search term people used by many to find suitable accommodation.
Now there’s only one more decision to be made…is a resident pet required to bring this service to life and give guests an extra special welcome!