I have been fairly blessed in that I have traveled the world relentlessly since childhood, first with my family and later on as an adult, staying in countless hotels with my dog along the way. As someone who has travelled with their dogs their whole life I can see the problem quite clearly; there is no universal definition of the term ‘dog friendly’, and the lack of clarity means that expectations are often not met, sometimes resulting in conflict.
When a customer expects something to be a certain way and their expectations are not met, it is because their expectations were not properly managed to begin with. If they were, the customer would know what to expect and can’t complain. By setting their expectations ahead of time you avoid a potential conflict between your employees and customers when a dog owner arrives at your business.
I have often arrived at hotels late at night with my dog, a hotel I had booked and paid for through a major booking site specifically because they had listed themselves as dog friendly, when I arrived they insist they are dog friendly, but tell me they only have one dog-friendly room in the hotel and that it was already booked. This is a common trick by hoteliers wishing to brand themselves as dog friendly without really committing, and it undermines trust in all of the hotels that label themselves as dog friendly, and trust in the booking platforms which have not properly checked to see if any of those listings really are dog friendly.
I have arrived at hotels only to be told my small black labrador is too large and they only accept dogs under ten kilos, in other hotels they make a big deal about being dog friendly and present you with a doggie pack on arrival containing toys and treats, but will not allow your dog in any of their public areas, the gardens or even the bar terrace, ruining the stay for owners who want to be with their pet while they enjoy their holiday. I take all of this personally, it is the reason I founded Roch, out of sheer frustration with the way things were.
Sometimes you arrive and the hotel is super dog friendly and the dog is welcome anywhere, but they treat your dog as an excuse to gouge you with a dog cleaning fee of anywhere between $50 to $250 per stay, and sometimes you pay this charge per night. These hotels might be dog friendly, but you often unexpectedly end up paying a lot more money than you had originally planned to. I have spoken to lots of hotel cleaning ladies about this, they almost universally tell me that it doesnt matter if a dog has been in the room, they clean the room in exactly the same way because their standards are so high, unless of course there is an 'accident', but the same is true for human guests, that is how I know that they are punishing us financially for traveling with our dogs.
What I describe has been a common experience for myelf and every other dog owner I have spoken to, there exists no standard definition of the term dog friendly anywhere, and as a result nobody ever knows what to expect, and very often the information they need is buried in the terms and conditions of the hotel or business somewhere you didn’t notice when you looked for it. Hotels love to tell you “we made this clear in the small print”, but of course, we didn't read it, nobody ever does, and they know this, most dog-friendly hotels hide their policies in the small print for dog owners to unexpectedly step on later.
Even when you do call ahead to check what they think dog-friendly means, you are quite often told two different things by different members of staff depending on who is working when you call and when you arrive. Most hotels often have no single source of truth on the matter, no dedicated page for dog owners, no clearly displayed notices of the canine related charges or restrictions that exist in the establishment. In general, a total lack of clarity, and transparency.
This manner of dealing with the dog-owning public undermines any efforts a business makes to show that they care about dogs, and this problem arises even with the largest hotel chains, ones professionally managed by global groups who talk a lot about their dog friendliness in their marketing, but whose approach to communicating policy varies wildly across the group, and different properties.
The Roch Standard solves this problem by providing the hospitality, leisure and retail industries with a well thought out standard they can adopt, one that helps them provide clarity to their dog-owning customers, helps them manage their expectations, and avoid potential conflicts. The Standard provides a clear dog friendly framework, a robust certification process, a global ranking system that enables businesses to compete against their peers, and co-branded materials that can be leveraged for marketing, communication, and employee training.
We help businesses differentiate in a competitive market, and stand out from the pack when it comes to being the dog friendliest, enabling the members of the Roch Society to find the best dog friendly experiences our planet has to offer.
When we first founded Roch we set out to drive dog friendly clarity, transparency and inclusiveness into the heart of the hospitality and travel industry, I invite you dear reader to join us on this mission, and help us to make the world a friendlier place for our dogs, and an easier place to travel when we are with them.