With the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations ramping up, the conventional wisdom has been that people are safe to meet and hold discussions and travel, if required.
Travelling with pets? Now hotels are all set to roll out the red carpet to welcome your furry friends! Yes, the pandemic has seen a shift that is clearly pet-friendly for travellers who love their furry companions and worry about leaving them behind. One cannot help but recall the famous words of avid traveller and author Elizabeth Gilbert, in her best selling book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’: “I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her …..newborn baby….” Pet lovers across the world share similar sentiments about their furry friends.
With the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations ramping up, the conventional wisdom has been that people are safe to meet and hold discussions and travel, if required. However, travelling with pets has also become a part of the new normal.
Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager – South Asia at Booking.com feels that Indian travellers now feel empowered to act on their travel goals as travel restrictions are gradually easing out coupled with successful vaccine roll outs.
In her view, “Over the past year, the pandemic has disrupted people’s schedules and has kept many restricted to the confines of their homes. Pet owners, in particular, have had the chance to spend more time with their pets and strengthen their bonds, while the last year also saw many people joining the ‘pet parents club’. ”
In the hospitality segment, pet adoptions and pet-friendly policies boomed during the pandemic lockdown.
Hyatt Hotels leads the way for ‘pet’ causes
Focusing on safety first and well-being, Hyatt Hotels leads the way forward by reimagining a pet-friendly hotel journey for travellers who are enthusiastic about the cause. Notable steps include collaborating with local pet businesses to offer pampering and perks to pet travellers.
Grand Hyatt Goa has been actively supporting Welfare for Animals, a local NGO that rescues stray street animals in North Goa. Guests, who love animals, are invited to spend a day volunteering to help injured and stray animals under the care of the NGO. Another option for guests is to consider sponsoring an animal for a year so as to ensure their long-term care. The collaboration dates back to 2018 and is continuing through 2021.
Andaz Delhi is working with Touch and Treat Animal Trust to nurture and build a community that respects and values stray animals. In fact, guests are invited to volunteer to help with rescue missions or feed strays.
How hotels are rolling out the red carpet for pets
From welcome amenities such as puppy pads, food bowls to delectable food treats on special request, ibis, a leading global hospitality brand, has decided to roll out unique and innovative options for pet parents in need of a travel getaway. Their offers include a pet-friendly, in-room menu with dishes that appeal to pets.
According to Sylvain Laroche, Director of Operations – ibis & ibis Styles India, “COVID-19 travel restrictions led us to channel our wanderlust into local tours, attractions and of course, staycations. But for pet owners, it can be challenging to leave their furry friends alone at home, even for just one day. At ibis, a smart economy hospitality brand, we aim to provide our guests a memorable experience. ”
So, are most hotels tapping into this ‘pet-friendly’ opportunity?
Sunil Kumar, General Manager at The Westin Hotel, Anjuna, informs Financial Express Online, “We are not a pet-friendly hotel.”
It would be fair to say that not all hotels are welcoming pets to join travellers.
Nikhil Sharma, Regional Director Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, tells Financial Express Online, “A few of our resort hotels at drive through destinations have received requests for pets. We at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are working with franchise partners to cater to this new growing demand under the guidelines of the pet policy depending on the local laws.”
He further adds, “Having said that, a pet security amount may be charged if the hotel allows a pet, other than service animals, to stay in the guest room. We as a brand always value our customers and welcome our guests and their pets to provide safe and memorable experiences.”
With the onset of the pandemic becoming a part of life, travelling with pets is shaping up as a leisurely experience.
Guests should share information prior to arrival
Supriya Malhotra, Area General Manager – Chennai, The Ascott Limited, recommends that information on pets must be shared prior to arrival.
“Pets are welcome at our properties in India. Whether it’s a short staycation or an extended trip, guests are welcome to check-in with their pet for an additional fee. A daily maintenance charge along with a refundable security deposit will be collected during check-in. Deposit amount will vary depending on the duration of stay and the apartment type chosen,” Supriya Malhotra informs Financial Express Online.
Not just at leisure hotels, pets are being welcomed at coffee shops and restaurants. as they gear up to embrace this shift in consumer preferences.
In Visakhapatnam, Brew and Bistro, Glutton’s Garage and Gypsy Resto Cafe extend a warm welcome to furry companions.
Several Goa’s hotels and restaurants are pet-friendly too such as Gunpowder Goa, Babazin’s shack, among others.
As Sylvain Laroche aptly sums up, “Our pet friendly hotels will offer a space that can be enjoyed both by guests and their pets. To make these stays enjoyable for the furry members of the family, a number of welcome amenities are made available. With a host of on-demand services including on-call pet assistance, owners of pets can opt for staycations and weekend getaways with their family.”
As the country slowly charts its journey towards recovery from the pandemic, India’s hospitality segment is faced with a unique and potential business opportunity to transition to refreshed pet-friendly policies, and a will to find revenue streams and increased bookings ahead of the festive months.
Travel Bookings Now Come with Pet Friendly Filter
Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager – South Asia at Booking.com informs Financial Express Online, “We have witnessed a demand for pet-friendly accommodations among Indian travellers in the recent months. In order to meet this demand and make it easier for parents to plan their travel, Booking.com has now introduced a ‘Pet Friendly’ filter.”
With this new feature, people with pets can easily view and select accommodations that are welcoming to pets. These options range from hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses and more. This option is also available on Booking.com’s app.
As we wrap up this discussion on travelling with pets, let’s welcome the new disruption in hospitality and travel segments, and yes, it is unofficially called….the pet parents club!