Did you know that most Brits enjoy four holidays a year – three of which will be staycations in the UK? With a reported 6.7m households owning a dog and 90% of all owners professing to ‘think of their dogs as being part of the family’, the statistics suggest that there are, indeed, an awful lot of people out there looking to book suitable accommodation.
Karen Lindsey is a seasoned venue find agent and corporate event consultant and she also runs Travel With Basil, a dog travel website for the discerning traveller.
Here she shares her top tips on providing a truly dog-friendly experience for both guests and their companions.
No 1: Eat Together Indoors!
Whether popping in for a leisurely lunch or having dinner whilst enjoying an overnight stay, where practicable, dog owners (I personally prefer the term Human Parents or HPs for short) really appreciate the choice of being able to eat with their pup indoors. It’s not a biggy. We’re not expecting fine dining… a nice little table with space for a pet to lie down within a comfy bar or lounge area will do just fine.
(Where dining is concerned; being able to choose from a special Mutt Menu or to order a sausage at breakfast time would be the icing on the cake!)
No 2: Be Happy and have a Great Attitude!
Go ahead and share your property’s ethos with the entire team – we HPs feel right at home when our four-legged-friends are genuinely greeted and by their name at check-in. Receiving warm acknowledgments by the front of house staff, whether this be the offering of a biscuit, some fresh water or a playful scrub to the head only adds to our feeling of well-being.
(Where fresh water bowls are concerned; it’s very helpful to have these readily dotted around the property and for the bowls to always be topped up with fresh, clean water.)
No 3: Please Don’t Take the Mickey!
Thankfully, our furry pals are, indeed, more readily accepted by many venues; no longer strictly confined to the shabbiest bedroom, the provision of which, given on the condition of a signed affidavit that the bearer promises to pay for a steam clean on a level more fitting to oust MRSA from a troubled hospital wing rather than to hoover up a few dog hairs.
Seriously though, most discerning travellers expect to pay a room charge as we do understand that a deeper than usual clean may be ‘best practice’ – we also appreciate that the supplement for this can vary, dependent upon the quality of the property and of its furnishing but, as a rule of thumb, the doggy community expect and are accepting of a reasonable charge of around £15.00 – £20.00 per pooch, per night.
No 4: It’s Called ‘Welcoming’ for a Reason!
Imagine if you opened up a welcome letter from the management telling you that you can’t do this. You can’t do that. You can’t go there! You wouldn’t find that very welcoming would you?
Just by changing the tone, tense and sentiments of the wording… detailing where our animals will be well received still gets the same message across but in a far friendlier manner.
No 5: Helpful Touches
In the bedroom (which, I hasten to add, we hope to be of the same standard as those travelling without a pooch, ideally, not located in the back of beyond) it not only warms the cockles of our heart to find thoughtful little touches awaiting our arrival but, if publicised in advance, saves us precious time and packing space!
Touches such as a bed and/or blanket, quality treats, toy, feeding mat and dog towel along with a Do Not Disturb sign to hang on the door is also beneficial if allowing them to be left alone in the bedroom. It goes without saying how advantageous it is to be provided with water and food bowls along with washbowl facilities and a fork or spoon to help with food preparation.
No 6: Poo Bin
We, responsible HPs, always pick up after our hounds. However, our conscientiousness can go awry when there is nowhere obvious for us to dispose of the offending article.
If you have the facility to provide a poo bin then this is truly a bonus. If not, sharing the location of a bin, hopefully within walking distance, is greatly appreciated.
(Most HPs carry poo bags around with them at all time, but it’s always a bonus to have spares readily available just in case they have been left at home by mistake.)
No 7: Doggy Concierge Service
Just like the rest of us, animals can become poorly. To help lessen the impact of a stressful situation, ensure that your property has information to hand of the closest veterinary practice (including whether it provides a 24 hour service and, if not, the emergency telephone number of the covering practice.)
Additional ‘every day’ information such as dog friendly taxis, sitters and walking services along with the location of a grooming parlour and the closest pet shop can also be most useful.
No 8: Out and About
We are grateful if you have taken the time to research and establish places close by that HPs can take their furry friends ie local cafes, pubs and restaurants along with printed walking maps which include the location of a convenient place for a morning or evening constitutional!
Where feasible, access to a doggy shower along with being able to borrow some wellies, an umbrella (if needs be) and a torch for late night wees can be a godsend.
No 9: Strive to Find the Balance
Most HPs are accepting of the fact that not everyone subscribes to canines being man’s best friend and may prefer not to dine with a pup within close proximity nor to be assigned a bedroom that had been frequented by our furry companions.
It’s important to find that delicate balance where ALL customers feel at ease within an environment. Comfortable, dedicated areas and bedrooms for pooches and their HPs can help to create a harmonious atmosphere and make for a more enjoyable experience for all.
No 10: Whistle from the Rooftops
And finally, if you wish to offer an open arms policy to family members especially of the waggy-tailed kind, don’t forget to tell us! Consider having a dedicated page on your website (written in a similar way to reflect the tone of your in house welcome letter).
Whistle it from the rooftops. I can promise you this, us discerning HPs are highly attuned to such calling and will hear you loud and clear.
There are some who are quite content with a general level of accessibility and service but it’s my belief that we are of a new age where travelling with a pet in comfort and in style is now de rigueur. These growing number of Human Parents expect much, much more… no longer is it acceptable to be just tolerated or to be offered a luke warm reception, they want to receive a big, fat, all inclusive ‘welcome’!
Adopting even a few of these tips may help you to elevate your doggy status and to boost your income generation opportunities. After all, Dog ‘Welcoming’ is the new Dog ‘Friendly’!
Thanks to Travel with Basil