Dear Hotel Managers: Summer is the time when Petswelcome gets the most calls from people who want to know about specific information that is not stated in your pet policy. And so we’ve compiled a Travelers Wish List for Pet Policy Information so that you can be ahead of the curve. Needless to say, we are thrilled that you welcome pets and are proud to list you as pet friendly. But many times, the information does not always cover the basic facts that people need to know. An incomplete policy can lead to frustration, hesitation, and a decision not to make a reservation because they are unsure whether their animal meets your guidelines. This is not a satisfactory outcome for either the traveler or the lodging but it is one that can be easily avoided.
Being pet friendly is a huge asset that sets you apart from other lodgings, one that says a lot about who you are. It says that you are openminded and family oriented and willing to go the extra distance to satisfy customers. So why not capitalize on the good will and make a great thing even better by offering specific pet policies that answer all the basic questions a pet owner might have?
At Petswelcome, we spend a lot of our time calling pet friendly hotels to find out the specifics that are not stated in most policies so that our customers have the most complete and updated information. We’re happy to do it. But, inevitably, with tens of thousands of pet friendly hotels in the US alone, there will be some gaps and, therefore, phone calls from pet owners rightfully angry that they were turned away even though they met all the criteria of the stated policy.
So, having heard from so many pet owners, we have come up with a travelers wish list for pet policy information. This wish list doesn’t make qualitative judgements or recommend how much the pet fee should be, or what type or size of pets you should allow. That is your decision. What it does recommend is the information you should cover in your policy, details that answer the most of the common questions pet owners have. This is information that, if stated from the outset, would increase bookings (and smiles), decrease frustration, and be hugely beneficial to all involved.
Pet Fee Specifics
Almost all pet policies state the amount of the pet fee, but many do not detail what that fee covers. Is it a one-time fee? Is it a nightly fee? Is it per pet? For example, if the pet fee is $20, does this mean that if you stay 3 nights, it’s $60? And if you bring 2 pets it bounces up to $120? By detailing what exactly the fee is for (one-time, nightly, per pet), there are no unhappy surprises at check-in or check-out.
What is the maximum weight limit for pets?
Many pet policies include this information but, surprisingly, many don’t. Why a hotel wouldn’t accept a large loveable dog is beyond us (hey, we’re not here to judge…) but if you don’t, it’s absolutely critical to state the size limit. Just listing a pet fee and not a size restrictions suggests that there isn’t one. And pet owners, being a largely optimistic demographic, might not think to ask. The last thing you want is to have to turn away a big ol’ sweet Bernese Mountain Dog, so be sure to state your size limit.
Do You Allow Other Animals Besides Dogs?
One of the most common pieces of missing information is whether or not cats and/or other domestic pets are allowed. Most pet policies use the word “pet” but never specify what kind of pet. Obviously, this oversight mostly affects cat owners who are the second largest group of pet travelers. One of the most common snafus in pet travel is cat owners being turned away because the policy did not say “dogs only” or that cats were not allowed.
How Many Pets Do You Allow?
A large percentage of pet policies neglect to mention the maximum number of pets allowed in a room. Many people own, and therefore travel, with more than one pet so including that information is critical to their decision.
We hope you don’t restrict breeds based on misinformed stereotypes. But if you have a good reason for not allowing a breed, definitely state the restriction in the pet policy.
Do You Have a Limited Number of Pet Friendly Rooms?
Many pet friendly hotels have plenty of rooms in which pets are allowed. Some, however, set aside a very limited number of rooms for pets. If this is the case, it is important to let pet owners know that they should contact the hotel directly to let them know they’re bringing a pet before they book on-line.
Do You Offer Any Pet Amenities?
Pet policies are not just about restrictions, they are also about what pro-active amenities you offer pets. Do you have treats? Food and water bowls? Pet beds? Walking areas? Or do you have a concierge that can recommend nearby pet-friendly cafes, beaches and parks? We’re always dumbfounded as to why most lodgings do not include this information in their pet policies. It might be one of the most effective ways of insuring that your hotel gets picked over the competition.
In short, the more comprehensive your pet policy, the more you let the huge niche market of traveling pet owners know that you want their business. Of all the things you can do to attract them, answering all their questions ahead of time should be at the top of your list.