TUSTIN, CA—Guests believe their pets are people, too. In response, hotels are going all out with products and amenities for travelers with four-legged guests. Amenity Services’ Pawsitively Pet-Friendly division helps hoteliers put a program in place.
“Hotels were initially challenged by the need to go pet-friendly, but often weren’t prepared, from designating outdoor relief areas to stocking the housekeeping necessities or front desk handouts,” said Sherri Scheck-Merrill, VP of product development at Amenity Services. “The tried-and-true necessities include multiple bed and bowl sizes, protective items such as waste bags and dog bowl mats to protect the carpeting, anxiety toys, door hangers to alert housekeepers about a pet occupant, organic treats (keeping in mind many pets have allergies), stain and odor solutions and items guests may have forgotten, such as spare leashes or collars.”
According to Scheck-Merrill, the most sought after inquiries are for a “flushed-out program” where products were tested and approved by pet owners, property management and strategic sourcing departments at chain headquarters.
“Hotels have tried to function from ground zero by following the footsteps of retail, which is a channel hotels should not be mirroring,” she said. “Preparing a hotel for a pet-friendly status exceeds the stocking of products on shelves. In fact, it’s why the Pawsitively Pet-Friendly Program launched first with a tutorial checklist consisting of discussion points and tips for management to conduct comprehensive meetings before taking the leap of faith required to act fluidly and safely as a pet-friendly hotel.”
Scheck-Merrill noted that for pet consistencies throughout properties, Tru by Hilton, Canopy, Wyndham and Best Western have curated pet menus with Amenity Services for their properties. “The chains determined the program boundaries, including designating pet relations directors, cleaning fees, designated rooms, number of pets per stay, weight limitations, waivers and whether cats are included, and a menu of curated products, many of which are branded or selected to mirror their corporate branding,” she said.
Scheck-Merrill shared a few creative ways hotels are incorporating pet-friendly amenities and programming:
- In 2018, the Fontainebleau launched Bleau Adopts, a pet adoption program connecting team members to animals in need. The program aims to introduce adoption options to families.
- Red Roof Inn takes pet-friendly travel to a new level. Guests receive a 10% discount for bringing their pet along.
- At the Benjamin NYC hotel, part of the pet-friendly Affinia chain, dogs receive plush bathrobes as part of the Dream Dogs program.
- The Peninsula Beverly Hills distributes monogrammed towels.
- Virgin Hotels’ pet policy includes dogs and cats without breed or weight restrictions, size or weight limitations and no additional fees. One of its popular perks includes complimentary pet bandanas for each canine guest.
- The Curtis Hotel in Denver will take a photo of the dog-guest to hang on the Pet Club Board in the lobby.
- The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, WA, offers a choice of three dog beds: a simple pillow model, a heated bed, or an organic bed—for dogs with allergies.
- Loews Hotels offers dogs a room-service menu and welcome package including treats, a personalized bowl and bed. A number of services are also provided, including walks and in-room pet sitting.
- Mandarin Oriental properties in DC, Miami, Atlanta and Paris offer their own unique services, but all have in-room dining for dogs. In DC, your pooch will be pampered by the Puppy Love package, which includes a welcome bag for the pup and exclusive parking for the human, while in Miami, dogs receive a personalized golden collar tag.
- Many hotels are also offering spa services, which range from grooming to massages.
“Human guests typically expect their traveling pets to be treated like family, which is why Amenity Services launched the sWAG Bag for distribution at check-in, a guaranteed surprise and delight for pet-owner guests and a great way to distribute the necessities,” she said. “The bags can be curated to the hotels’ desire, including tennis balls with a paw print logo, organic treats, waste bags, pet cleaning wipes, a map to local dog parks and beaches, and more.”
Today, pet-friendly products and services are no longer an exception, noted Scheck-Merrill, but rather the rule. “Have your sWAG Bag and tip sheets ready and keep a camera at the front desk to capture four-legged guest check-ins for social media,” she said. “Soon, you will love your likes.”