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 The Sheraton, Westin and W Hotel Brands Drop Restrictions
for Dogs; Starwood Survey Convinces Chain to Include
Market Niche of 62 million U.S. Dog Owners
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Aug. 18, 2003 -- While we've all seen Spot and Barney Bush bounding toward Air Force One to accompany the President and the First Lady on their travels, most dog owners don't find it quite so easy to bring Fido along on the road, which can lead to depressed dogs and guilty owners.
According to "Dogs and Travel: An Attitudinal Study of Dog Owners by Starwood Hotels & Resorts"* a survey of 400 dog owners, 43% say their dog definitely seems sad when they travel; 23% said their pooch gets mad at them when they leave; and nearly half (43%) feel guilty leaving their dog behind. And out of sight does not mean out of mind. Ninety-four percent of dog owners said they ask how their dog is doing when they phone home; nearly half (49%) think about their dog "very often" when they're away; 65% have brought a gift home for their dog; and 26% of owners who call home actually talk to their dog on the phone.
Luckily, absence does make the heart grow fonder. "Dogs and Travel," conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide, found that 97% of owners said their dog gets excited when they return home; 87% said their dog is the first one who greets them when they return, before their kids and spouse; and 78% said their dog is more excited to see them than their spouse (6%) or kids (5%). Only 9% said their dog gives them the cold shoulder after a long trip.
So with all this love and loyalty, why leave the pooch at home? Nearly half the owners surveyed don't. Forty-seven percent have traveled on overnight trips with their dog in the past year and of these owners, 40% said their dog has stayed overnight with them at a hotel or motel.
Dog Discrimination on the Road?
According to owners though, there isn't always room at the inn for canine guests. Eighty-two percent said they are under the impression that most upscale hotels don't accept dogs, and, if they do, 48% said it is reluctantly. Sixteen percent of dog owners have even admitted to smuggling their pet into hotels that ban dogs.
Starwood Lets Sleeping Dogs Lie - In New Dog Beds Brand wide
All that's about to change. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its Sheraton, Westin and W hotel brands are rolling out the red carpet for dogs. Not only will dogs be welcome brand wide, each brand will also offer special amenities and luxurious custom-designed beds for pooches - and good thing about those dog beds since 62% of dog owners said they had to share their bed with the pooch when they traveled.
Why the focus on dogs? With 62 million dog owners in the U.S. and 29 million who hit the road with their dogs in tow according to the Travel Industry Association of America, dogs and their owners are a market niche that's been underserved by the travel industry. And Starwood's own survey of dog owners found that 37% would definitely take their dogs on more trips if they knew more hotels accepted dogs, and 76% said they would be more loyal to a hotel chain that accepted dogs, even when they weren't traveling with their pet.
Dogs on Vacation
When they do get to join the family on vacation - and 78% of dog owners do consider their dog an "equal member" of their family - dogs enjoy the holiday as much as their people. Consider:
  • When asked what dogs enjoy most on vacation 21% of owners said car rides; 9% swimming; 3% sleeping more; 8% playing more; and 58% said being with the family.
  • When dogs are on vacation, 33% of owners said pooches take on a different personality; 18% said they sleep later than at home; 12% said they eat more and 40% said their dogs get more activity than at home.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 740 properties in 80 countries and 105,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.
(*) This study conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide is a nationwide survey of dog owners who travel. Dog owners were screened from a randomly selected telephone listing of households compiled by a nationally known listing source. In order for respondents to qualify, they had to be dog owners at least 18 years old, who had either traveled in the past year and left their dogs behind, and/or taken their dogs with them on at least one overnight trip. 400 interviews were conducted. The telephone interview took on average about 15 minutes to complete. Results have a margin of error on totals of plus or minus four to six percentage points. The margin of error for subgroups is higher. Interviewing was conducted between June 27th and July 9th 2003.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
K.C. Kavanagh
Also See: Starwood Hotels Study Finds 43% of Execs Say Some of Their Biggest Deals Have Been Done on the Golf Course; And Not Surprising - 82% Admit to Cheating on the Golf Course / June 2002
Starwood's New Cribs to Set Safety Standard in Hotel Industry / Aug 2001

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