DogTrekker connects dog–friendly businesses and destination marketing organizations with their potential customers. We introduce readers of our newsletter and website to the lodging properties, restaurants, wineries, activities and attractions that will welcome them and their furry friends. This explosively growing market is waiting to hear from you.
With more than 200 years of combined experience traveling with dogs under the leash, the DogTrekker staff has some recommendations to not only make your property dog-friendly, but dog-passionate:
The basics of being dog-friendly:
- Be very clear on your website, and make sure reservation agents and those first-greeters at the front desk are trained to provide accurate answers are provided to these questions: What are the pet fees, if any? Are the fees per dog? Per night? Per stay? How many dogs are allowed? Any special restrictions on weight, breed, size, etc.? Many a "dog-friendly" property becomes "dog-tolerant" or even "dog-unfriendly" in the customer's view by not disclosing restrictions upfront. DogTrekker recommends as few restrictions as possible, given that it's usually not the dog that's the problem; it's the humans who are responsible for their pup's behavior.
- Create a set of standards and rules for visitors with dogs. Clearly spell out these rules on both your website and on a hand out distributed at check-in. Most dog owners understand that they can't have aggressive dogs, unclean dogs, dogs with fleas, etc., but be sure to let owners know about access areas, restrictions on leaving dogs alone in the room, whether they are allowed on beds and furniture, etc.
- Once these rules and guidelines have been established, be sure that all members of your team understand and can articulate them so there is no confusion upon check-in or during the guest's stay. Many a weary traveler has arrived at a "pet-friendly" destination only to be turned away because their dog to is too large, or of the 'wrong' breed. This invites bad will that could rapidly spread through the vast and fast network of social media and review websites and could lead to unnecessary litigation.
- As an example of the need for consistent communications with your staff, DogTrekker has already encountered one property in a major national chain that claimed to be dog-friendly, but provided four different answers to our four inquiries about weight restrictions. The General Manager said dogs of all sizes are welcome, Central Reservations said there was a 60-pound limit, a late night desk clerk said the hotel had a 30-pound limit, and the front desk manager said, 'It depends, but if your 70-pound Lab is calm and well-behaved, I'll sneak her in." In our book, that falls somewhere between "dog-tolerant" and "dog-unfriendly". This hotel is not listed on DogTrekker.com.
The basics of being dog-passionate™:
- In addition to the above practices, provide a decent selection of quality dog-friendly rooms. Some lodging properties boast of their "dog-friendly" status yet allow dogs only in smoking rooms or rooms on the paths less taken. This is a major complaint of guests, especially after paying an often substantial pet deposit and pet-guest fee. Pets have sensitive noses and allergies, as do their owners, and properties that engage in this practice fall into the "dog-unfriendly" category and are not listed on our site.
- Dog amenities such as treats and pick-up-bags are expected at dog-friendly properties. Cheerful, welcoming front desk personnel have a big influence in moving the needle toward dog-passionate. Additional amenities - gifts, emergency food, leashes, kennels, carriers, pet beds, sheets for the bed and furniture - make a hotel even more pet-passionate. Suggestions on pet-friendly things to do and places to go in the area, along with lists of local pet services, grooming, walking, sitting and vet care push the property over the top on our pet-passionate gauge. Remember, www.dogtrekker.com is your canine concierge, and a great reference for your front desk or concierge staff.
- Finally, DogTrekker suggests that you support for your local rescue organizations and shelters by giving your staff time off to volunteer, hosting adopt-a-pet events, and encouraging guests to take up the cause as well.
Where does your property rank on the pet-passionate scale?