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Are pet-friendly hotels still a trend?

A few years back, I asked students doing assignments on hospitality trends to avoid the topic of pet-friendly hotels. At the time, I felt it was overhyped in the marketplace and not a true trend. Today I would rephrase the exercise and ask them to analyze how a pet program differentiates a property or is in keeping with the hotel’s market position and brand.

What caused my revision? I have stayed with my spouse and pet at numerous hotels over the past two years. We found some hotels were pet-friendly and others were just pet-accommodating. There is the dedicated officialpethotels.com booking channel; each of the major OTAs has a pet-friendly filter; and there is a community-based club called The Dogtravel Company to serve the segment.

One of the first hotel programs I remember being rolled out was Loews Hotels’ Loews Loves Pets. Kimpton Hotels and Affinia Hotels also have pet programs we have enjoyed.

Recently I had the good fortune to stay at the Four Seasons Washington, DC with my spouse and Pisa the Puppy. Here she is on her bed next to her doggie toy, puppy treat, bottled water, ceramic bowls and menu of doggie-delicious items that could be ordered by us for her all compliments of the hotel. The total pet service was consistent with the other delights that have made the company one of the leaders in luxury. It just reinforced everything you might imagine the Four Seasons to be. 

However, it is sometimes really difficult in larger companies to know which of the hotels or brands are dog-friendly or not. For instance, not all Courtyard by Marriott properties are pet-friendly; some in Manhattan are (our friends stayed at an Uptown Courtyard with their pooch) and some are not — such as the one in my neighborhood. Walking with Pisa one evening, I entered the lobby of a neighborhood Courtyard only to be abruptly escorted out by security as I was informed tersely the hotel was “strictly off-limits to dogs.” Oops.

In the retail mall Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley in Pennsylvania, stores have this logo in each window if they allow dogs inside, and the destination has a readily identifiable listing on its website of the same. This makes a difference to us in feeling comfortable about visiting there with Pisa. 

Could hotels do a better job labeling their acceptance of pets both digitally and on property? Please share your pet-friendly travel favorites.

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