In a world where the term 'pet-parent' is used more commonly than ever before, the hospitality industry is catching up with an ever growing trend – dog-friendly accommodations. More than just a niche offering, welcoming four-legged guests has become a hallmark of customer-oriented service and inclusive hospitality. Let’s take a look at the reasons why your hotel should definitely be considering rolling out the welcome mat for pups, and how it could lead to a positive boost in your hotel's reputation, audience, and overall guest loyalty.
As a veteran with a dog traveler, and a seasoned hotel reviewer, I've seen the industry evolve to accommodate the needs of diverse travelers, and dog owners are no exception. Traveling with dogs can be problematic, so when a hotel goes out of its way to accommodate dogs, it sends a strong message of genuine consideration. This is not just about providing a pet bed or a complimentary chew toy; it's about creating an environment where your guests, and their dogs, feel at home. This inclusive approach is a significant draw for pet parents who will remember, and almost certainly share their experiences with other dog owners.
Bark for Your Buck: The Economic Benefits
Let's not bury the bone here, the decision to become a dog-friendly hotel is as much a financial move as it is a service-oriented one. Dog owners are a substantial market segment that is willing to spend more to ensure their canine companions are comfortable. By tapping into this demographic, hotels can increase occupancy rates—especially during off-peak seasons when pet owners often travel to avoid the crowds. Upselling opportunities arise in the form of pet services such as doggy daycare, dog walking, dog food, toys and treats, and you are also able to charge an extra fee for dogs, creating additional revenue streams.
I am constantly surprised that dog friendly hotels do not sell dog food, and the amount of times I have had to order some meat of some sort of room service menu to feed my dog and avoid walking the streets looking for food. Most dog friendly hotels are missing out on an easy profit opportunity by keeping a few cans of good wet dog food, and a few bags of decent kibble in their store room. This is is common with dog friendly hotels, they welcome dogs but forget to treat their canine guests like any other guest, a source of potential profit.
Dog walking services are low hanging fruit profit opportunity too, it is super easy to build up a group of local teenagers who will happily take your guests dog for a walk, and even easier to sign your hotel up to a dog walking app and arrange walks for your guests on demand, charging a fee for the service. We dog owners have probably walked our dog four or five times a day for years, when we are on holiday, or traveling, it's a nice luxury to be able to take a break from that routine.
Loyal Like a Labrador: Enhancing Customer Loyalty
Once a dog owner finds a hotel that caters to their furry friend, you can bet your last dog biscuit they will return. In my experience, hotels that have invested in pet-friendly amenities and services enjoy a higher rate of repeat business. It's about building a community around your brand, one where loyalty is as steadfast as a golden retriever's. Offering a pet-friendly stay also positions your hotel as a go-to recommendation in tight-knit dog owner circles, both online and offline.
The fastest way to earn my dogs lifelong friendship and loyalty is to have a treat for her waiting at reception and make a fuss of her before you give it to her, she will never forget you, but it's surprising how many hotels miss this trick.
The Leash We Can Do: Positive Brand Perception
Welcoming dogs doesn't just make good business sense; it's a savvy public relations move. In the age of social media, a single Instagram post of a guest's dog lounging in your hotel lobby can fetch more attention than a conventional ad campaign. It portrays your brand as compassionate, progressive, and in tune with modern travelers' needs, and this can resonate with potential guests on a deeper, more personal level, thereby enhancing your brand perception and appeal.
In Japan and Korea its quite common to see 'dog selfie areas' where you can take awesome pictures of you and your dog with a cute backdrop, or scenery. These hotels know that their guests will take pictures and then share them on social media, and have a great time with their dog while they are doing it, and you simply cannot beat that sort of publicity, or creating those memorable moments.
Barking Good Content: Marketing with a Wag
In the vast playground of hotel marketing, standing out is crucial. Dog-friendly hotels have a unique advantage – they're not just selling rooms; they're selling experiences. Through clever marketing campaigns that feature guests' dogs, hotels can create heartwarming, engaging content that goes viral. It’s not just about attracting dog owners; it’s about captivating anyone who’s a sucker for cute pet content (which, let’s face it, is almost everyone).
A fantastic way to stand out from the crowd of dog friendly hotels in your area is to get your dog friendliness certified and ranked by an independent third party like Roch Dog in order to outcompete your local competition. Part of the problem with the words 'dog friendly' is that they don't really mean much when the difference between a good dog friendly hotel, and a bad dog friendly hotel is so gapingly wide. Getting Ranked By Roch can really help your dog friendly marketing efforts, by enabling you to boast about being the 'dog friendliest hotel in Boca Raton' or wherever your property is located, and use that ranking in your marketing to outcompete other hotels are chasing those same dog owning guests.
Unlike most online travel agents, the Roch dog friendly hotel directory encourages its visitors to book directly with your hotel, meaning that you make much more profit per guest than you would through Booking, or Expedia. We also write about and review dog friendly hotels here at the Roch Society, providing hotels with two excellent resources they would feel comfortable showing their own customers, and in a world where 'dog friendly' means little, independent, third party, validation can help you win the dog friendly game.
The Ultimate Host: Guest Service and Satisfaction
Exceptional service is paramount in the hotel industry, and accommodating canine companions is a testament to a hotel's commitment to guest satisfaction. From my vantage point as a reviewer, I can tell you that the hotels who go the extra mile to ensure comfort for both humans and earn top marks. Offering amenities such as dog-walking maps, a canine room service menu, or even a dedicated dog concierge can make all the difference in creating a memorable stay. I have often been surprised by top notch, or big brand, hotels who pride themselves on their service and hospitality, completely fail to provide any of that service and hospitality to canine guests beyond tolerating their presence for a fee.
If this sounds like you, don't fool yourself into believing you are being friendly to dogs, dog owners know the difference between a hotel which welcomes their dogs, and a hotel who merely tolerates their presence for money.
Paws and Reflect: Attracting Ethical Travelers
The decision to welcome dogs aligns with a broader trend of inclusivity in travel. A dog-friendly policy attracts not just pet owners but also travelers who appreciate diversity and open-mindedness. These guests often seek out establishments that share their values, and by accommodating dogs, allowing them in your garden, bar, and lounges, your hotel signals its commitment to canine inclusivity. By providing biodegradable waste bags or supporting local animal shelters, they can enhance their green credentials and community standing. These practices resonate with ethical, and eco-conscious, travelers, as well as contribute to a positive ecological and social footprint for your hotel.
The Sniff Test: Ensuring Comfort for All Guests
Welcoming pets does come with its challenges, but these can be managed with clear policies and well-thought-out strategies. By designating specific pet-friendly floors or areas, and implementing thorough cleaning procedures, hotels can ensure the comfort of all guests, whether they're pet enthusiasts or not. Whatever you do, don't just make a few of your rooms available to pet owners and call yourself dog friendly, this only causes conflict when dog owners arrive expecting a room and you have to turn them down, causing them a massive inconvenience.
It is a common problem for dog owners, they book a room on Expedia because you say you are dog friendly, they don't call ahead to check because they take you at face value, and then they are denied a room because your dog friendly ones are occupied. This has happened to me multiple times and it's incredibly frustrating, the worst part is when the hotels insisting they are dog friendly while accusing you of not reading their small print. These hotels are deluding themselves.
The trend of traveling with pets shows no signs of slowing down. By embracing it now, hotels can position themselves at the forefront of the trend, capturing a market that will only continue to grow. It's clear that the benefits of becoming a dog-friendly hotel are multifold, from tapping into a lucrative market to building a loyal customer base, and enhancing overall brand perception.
But inviting dogs into your hotel isn't just about chasing the latest trend, it's about recognizing and adapting to the evolving needs of travelers. It's a strategic move that reflects your commitment to customer service, diversity, and adaptability. So, if your hotel is ready to fetch new opportunities and leave paw prints on the hearts of your guests, then it's time to open your doors to dogs.