Becoming Dog Friendly

Claire Doyle who owns Doggy Devon, a directory based website which features dog friendly places to eat, drink, stay and play in Devon, writes about the business benefits of going dog friendly and how to be dog friendly too. Why go dog friendly? As a nation of dog lovers, it seems that more and more dog owners are seeking good quality accommodation providers that also welcome their faithful four-legged friends when searching for a UK based holiday. Recent research conducted by The Kennel Club revealed that "72 per cent of dog owners would take more holidays in the UK if there was a better attitude towards dogs, and this figure rises to 77 per cent when looking at the UK's biggest earners (those with salaries of £40,000 or more)." Tourism businesses that attract the so called 'hound pound' may find themselves in a strong position throughout the year compared to their 'no dogs allowed' neighbouring competitors, as The Kennel Club research also suggests that if "2.9m dog owners were to swap their overseas plans for a dog friendly UK option, British tourism could benefit from an extra £5.8bn annually." There are also other benefits of going dog friendly including:
  • Dogs encourage increased social interaction between staff and customers, and also between fellow customers
  • A more relaxed atmosphere – a 2008 KC survey revealed that “96 percent of people said that the atmosphere of a place was improved when dogs are present”
  • Increase your customer base by ‘going dog friendly’ and maximising this opportunity through the quieter booking months
And, whilst we now all have the most modern, technologically advanced and sophisticated marketing systems at our fingertips (I’m a freelance marketing consultant who works with tourism businesses in particularly those that are dog friendly), the power of ‘word of mouth’ and recommendations still reigns supreme! Weekly I receive posts, emails and tweets from dog owners saying “Claire, I stayed at so and so recently and they are so dog friendly”, or "great to hear they are dog friendly" or "excellent, a new place to stay" – all potential new customers, all wanting to spend their hard earned ‘hound pound’ at businesses that promote themselves as dog friendly. How to go dog friendly It’s important to ensure that should a business choose to ‘go dog friendly’ that they are not simply being ‘dog tolerant’ and begrudgingly welcoming dog owners purely for that lucrative ‘hound pound’. There’s lots of low cost ways that you can embrace ‘going dog friendly’ including:
  • Providing a ‘doggy’ bag complete with poo bags, treats, a towel (white normally isn’t a great idea!) and a info sheet with local dog walks and dog friendly places to visit in and around your area, a contact number for the local vet is always a good idea too (just in case)
  • Dog owners are more often than not (of course, there is always a minority that ruins it for us all) are respectful of staying in a property that is dog friendly and will likely travel with their dog’s own bed/bedding/crate for overnight stays, but if not having a washable bedding and/or blanket/throw will be appreciated
  • In self catering accommodation ensure that a ‘soggy doggy’ clean up kit (mop, bucket, hoover) is provided, and if dogs are not allowed in certain areas (upstairs for example) that a stair gate is provided
  • Be clear with your dog owner guests of the ‘house rules’ – if dogs aren’t allowed upstairs make this clear; if dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture make this clear or consider supplying some old throws (charity shops are great for these) so that at least the furniture can be covered over
It’s always worth remembering that a happy dog makes for a happy customer – make your four-legged guests welcome and your two-legged guests can’t help but be impressed! Claire Doyle Owner of Take The Lead Marketing and Doggy Devon, a directory based website which features dog friendly places to eat, drink, stay and play in Devon www.doggydevon.co.uk If you’re serious about accepting pets and their owners have a look at our Pets Welcome Scheme. This can be assessed at the same time as your normal assessment and is great value at £27 + VAT. Take a look at the criteria on our website to see if you’re ready to Welcome Pets!
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