By Sonya Taylor
Was it the picture of our staff’s adorable dogs that interested you in this article, or was it the punny title? Regardless of your answer to that question, I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you are not pet friendly, you’re missing out on a “Mastiff” opportunity.
Why Should I Have a Pet Friendly Hotel?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a steady increase in hotel guests searching for accommodations for the whole family, including FIDO. Boomers and Millennials finally agreed on something, they want to travel with their beloved fur-babies.
Now that we are in the midst of a pandemic that has pivoted travel towards more drive markets, the search for pet friendly accommodations is still just as high with only a percentage of travelers actually traveling.
Google Trends Data: Dog Friendly Hotels (red) and Pet Friendly Hotels (blue)
For the Ops People that Don’t Want to be a Pet Friendly Hotel
You might be thinking, “It’s not worth the mess that pets leave.” It is, let me explain:
- Take a step back, look at the data, look at your revenue numbers for 2020 and your forecast for 2021. Do you see room for additional revenue? I bet you do. There is always room for additional revenue.
- Brands have shown an increase in interest in offering pet friendly accommodations. Just a few weeks ago one of the major brands came out and said all of their sub-brands now have the opportunity to become pet friendly, where before, only a fraction of the sub-brands could opt in. When brands jump on board, know that their data is telling you something.
- People spend an exuberant amount of money on their pets. In 2020 alone, according to American Pet Products Association (APPA), it estimates the US pet industry reached $99 billion, a $1.5 billion increase from 2019, and this number is expected to reach $358.62 billion by 2027. This number includes food, treats, pet sitting, toys and travel.
- Not only do people spend a lot of money on their pets, but APPA also tells us that more than 67% of American households own at least one pet.
- Welcoming pets inspire brand loyalty. Now that guests know they can bring their pets with them, it increases the likelihood of booking again
Pet Friendly Hotel Considerations
Now that you have figured out you want your hotel pet friendly, you need to figure out what your pet policy will be. You will want to be competitive with other hotels in your area. Take a look at your comp sets pet policy and consider:
- How much should I charge for pets?
- Should I charge per stay or per night?
- Should I charge per pet?
- How many pets should I allow in one room?
- Any other restrictions? I.e extended stay hotels; will you charge less or charge more after a certain amount of days
How to Market Your Pet Friendly Hotel
After you have your Pet Policy decided make sure to update your hotel website, OTAs and local listings, then start the marketing process. The brands and OTAs all have a search filter for pet friendly hotels, not having your website and listings updated can hurt you for those looking for accommodations to include their pets.
Leverage Hotel Brand Opportunities:
First thing is first, make sure you have updated your hotel website content with your pet policy.
Each of the brands have “off-furs” aka pet packages you can create and modify as your own. This is a good place to start as it will help you with exposure. Here is an article we wrote on leveraging hotel packages to help get you started.
- Update your pet policy in PIM. If you have a more complicated pet policy than what you can submit in PIM, you can open a ticket in content gateway to request additional verbiage for your site.
- Some of their sub brands offer a pet program where you can order “swag bags” for your furry guests. Check out the lobby and find out what they offer for your brand.
- Update your pet policy in Epic and submit the taxes and fees for MARSHA through the Service Now Portal
- All Marriott brands have an opportunity to be pet friendly.
- Marriott has its own site that searches for Marriott pet friendly hotels
- Utilize Marriott’s on-page-messaging and add your pet package.
- Submit your pet package in NGOP so it shows up on your offers page.
- Submit pet policy in Concerto
- Create a Limited Time offer on your hotel website with your pet package.
- IHG has a site that searches for IHG pet friendly hotels
Create a package and serve a paid social media ad. Target your drive market and narrow your audience to people that like pet pages on Facebook. Keep in mind, millennials aren’t the only age group traveling with pets.
Pro tip: Use an image of a pet in your hotel.
Next create a post asking your followers to share photos of their pets.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Incorporate “pet friendly” plus your location in your title and meta descriptions and hotel descriptions.
Research both internal and external links. Add links to your hotel website of any local pet friendly restaurants, attractions, kennels etc. Reach out to these businesses as well and ask them to put you on their website.
Check out this list of pet websites we compiled. There are paid and free listings. Choose what works best for your hotel to opt in.
OTA’s (Expedia and Booking.com)
- Update your listings by adding the pet fees and information in the policy portion of both online portals.
- Add a pet image to your listings
- While you’re in your OTA extranets, take a minute to optimize them and make sure they are up to date
Creating a great experience for each guest, including the fluffy ones, inspires pet owners to tell the pet community about their stay, i.e. Bringfido.com. Simply offering pet-friendly accomodations can convince a traveler to book your hotel. Go the extra mile and make them feel welcome.
If your hotel is already pet friendly, share with us something you all do to make guests and their pets feel welcome.