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Increase Business By Becoming Pet Friendly

[ 0 ] Jul. 11, 2011 | SBO Editor

Being pet-friendly makes sense to thousands of hotels. The “Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook” lists more than 13,000 AAA-approved pet-friendly properties in the U.S. and Canada. A pet friendly hotels website claims a list of 25,000 properties.

Caesar Millan, The Pet Whisperer, is a Best Western spokesperson who touts the chain’s pet-friendly policies

The directory is one way pet owners learn of friendly hotels. Other ways, according to hoteliers, are from websites or when calling for reservations. ““People will just keep calling hotels for reservations until they find one that takes pets,” says Cassie Scrima, area director of marketing at Marcus Hotels & Resorts, owner of 16 properties, including the luxury and pet-friendly Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Pets Are Big Business
Pet lodging is big business, with the paws-ability of getting bigger. Americans own 78 million dogs and 86 million cats, reports the American Pet Products Association. Those pets are owned by more than half—63 percent—of U.S. households. And, nearly half of those consider their pets to be family members, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“Our research shows nearly 30 million people travel every year with their pets, so obviously that’s a huge market that we don’t want to miss,” says Troy Rutman, director of external communications for Best Western. Best Western has more than 1,000 pet-friendly properties in North America and 1,900 globally.

“There’s a tremendous business case to be made,” says Steve Pinetti, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. All of Kimpton’s 51 boutique hotels welcome pets without adding fees to the room rate.

“People with pets are some of our most loyal guests,” he says. “I have hotels, like the Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf [in San Francisco], where we have 15 to 20 rooms with pets every night on a weekend, all year round.”

“More and more business travelers are traveling midweek with pets,” he says. For a guest who doesn’t mind driving or flying with a pet, staying pet-friendly can be cheaper, and more comforting, than leaving them in a kennel.

“Kimpton did it because, at the end of the day, from a business standpoint, it makes great sense,” Pinetti says.

Kelsey Bunker, co-owner of the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, OR agrees. “Being a pet-friendly hotel makes financial sense primarily from capturing a greater room share,” she says. “We’re offering an amenity that more guests are requesting. By allowing pets, making available pet packages and specific pet amenities, guests are choosing to stay at the Jupiter Hotel rather than at competing non-pet friendly hotels.”

The property logged 124 pet stays through May, putting it on track to beat 2010’s 252 pet stays. The Jupiter charges a flat $35 cleaning fee per stay, not per night.

The Pfister Hotel sees about three to five dogs each week. “I think people today are more connected to their family pets,” says Scrima. “People are looking to travel with their entire family. Once people find out you are pet friendly it creates a long-standing relationship with that guest.”

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Category: Features