‘Paw-fect’ petcation anyone?

paw-fect pets in hotels

By Maneesha Ajit

Is our hospitality sector pet ready? In a post Covid environment what measures do we adopt to ensure that our pets are safe and healthy while staying at a hotel or resort? Do we have enough number of trained staff members who can meet the demands of a family travelling with pets?

Make no mistake, the lockdown period has been a testing time for pets too. It’s not just us who are feeling the frustration. Though WHO had refuted claims of animals transmitting the disease a lot of unfortunate incidents have surfaced. But on the bright side, bonds between pets and their `hoomans’ have strengthened during this period.

An entertainer, stress buster, confidante – pets are known to don many roles. With the whole family at home day in and day out, they have lapped up the extra play time and few have turned clingy with separation anxiety too. No wonder they would love a vacation too. They have earned their rightful place in most travel plans, haven’t they?

From guard dogs in our backyards to fur kids, dogs and cats have come a long way. They have become our extended family members. Regular grooming and medical care are diligently followed at home and pet etiquette and obedience training are given utmost importance. Consequently, pets shredding up hotel mattresses, scratching up furniture and soiling carpets are things of the past. Pets are the new travel companions.

In the past, hotels have suffered from lack of pet policies and untrained hotel staff. Callous attitude of fellow holiday goers has also paved way to a dislike for the four-legged guest. But that’s not the case anymore. Pet friendly hotels and resorts are not a new concept. It took us some trying times to understand that we share nature with animals too. The travel and tourism industry has embraced and welcomed the new developments with open arms.

A constant reminder of pets in far-away pet boardings or kennels might dampen the best of travel plans. With pet friendly hotels and resorts, families can now relax when their pets are checked in together with them. Post-Covid, stringent measures are to be followed to check in guests. So, if not in rooms, checking in pets into kennel facilities within the property must be welcomed. Knowing that our pets are within reach itself is a big relief.

Let there be trained staff to handle pet guests. It should start right from the reception counter. Anyone with extra compassion and a twinkle in the eye when they see a fur ball pass by, makes an ideal candidate for this. Basic training in walking a dog, feeding, disposing off pet waste effectively, will be an added benefit. Tie ups with pet groomers or employing private pet boarding staff on demand basis can also be thought of. A red-carpet welcome, complimentary basket of pet treats, food and toys, pet beds, food and water bowls, cushion and litter box for cats, there is no dearth of ways to pamper a pet.

Or just a basic kennel facility within the property with pet handlers, pet sitters and pet concierge services are what the management needs to take up. Be clear. If the guest is required to get the essentials make sure they are informed well in advance and at the time of booking. Nevertheless, stocking up some collars, toys, pet first aid kit, pet wipes, towels, combs, brushes, tick collars and tick sprays will be a great idea. Updated helpline numbers of reliable veterinarians, groomers and pet supplies in the vicinity will also go a long way in ensuring a hassle-free vacation.

Demarcation of pet and non-pet areas is vital. Set rules on whether pets can be left in the room unattended, be clear on where you can take your pet to relieve themselves, whether furniture and beds are off limits, whether or not to keep dogs on a leash, number of pets allowed in a room, the size and kind of pets. Shaggy might be your pet tarantula, but whether it is allowed to check in is a different story. While small breed dogs are generally allowed to check into rooms, when it comes to larger breeds it’s the management’s call.

Our animals are known to take care of themselves and sometimes it’s the humans who need the extra protection. To tone down the inherent fear of animals and ensure sanity of other guests within the property, post-Covid measures for pet guests can be followed too.

Reserve corners or stand-alone rooms for pets. Not only they provide the much needed privacy for the animals in a new environment, but also cuts out the noise or keeps the unwanted barking to a bare minimum. Rooms with wooden or tiled floors compared to carpets for easy cleaning, restricted entry to designated pet-friendly rooms, no entry signs at the restaurant and outdoor eating areas and strict ‘no touching pets’ rules for the restaurant and service staff on duty can be followed. Asking for an update on vaccination status or an ‘fit to travel’ certificate from a veterinarian would be also be reassuring to the other guests.

Eventually, even pets are required to behave. If they are out of control, they could be asked to leave the premises. Always keep pets on a leash, never leave them unattended and clean up after your pet. It’s a two-way street. When hotels and resorts welcome our pets, we follow the rules and be responsible pet parents. Our pets are the ambassadors of their community. Be that ‘good boi’ always.

A pampered pooch is a sure ticket to a satisfied guest. Pet parents have revolutionised the travel industry and `petcations’ are here to stay.