, ,

dogsPet-friendly hotels may be old news, but they also are not nearly enough for modern pet “parents.” Today’s offerings instead reflect the increasing belief among consumers that pets—especially lovable, drooling, goofy dogs—are part of the family, with the same rights to luxury, comfort, and enjoyment as any human family member.

The offerings promoted by hotels thus span a range as broad and varied as the different types of dogs they welcome. In many cases, hotels simply state that they allow dogs to stay the night, often for an extra cleaning fee or damage deposit. But particularly at luxury hotels, dogs might be welcomed with a treat bag, containing a toy, water dish, and leash (all emblazoned with the hotel’s logo, of course). Owners can request a Ritz-Carlton–branded dog bed to be put in their rooms, or rent a “puppy purse” to carry around their tiny pets.

Beyond these product comforts, the services options become even more extensive. Dog walkers are available to cover daily bathroom chores for busy travelers. Canine pedicures—or (sorry) “pet-icures”—trim and buff dogs’ many nails. Some hotels even offer pet psychics, including one former marketing executive who switched career paths one night, after waking up to find her dog talking to her.

The range of services is so extensive because people are so passionate about their pets. Marketing research reveals that pet owners seek out offers for their pets that match the offers they prefer for themselves. Thus a weekly visitor to the manicurist is far more likely to seek out someone to take care of her pet’s nails too. Furthermore, rather than limiting their canine companions to leisure trips, increasing numbers of business travelers like to bring along a slobbery piece of home, in the form of their best canine friend. While they take business meetings and interact with clients, they can rest assured that their pooch will be shuttled between the hotel and a doggie daycare location, where it can interact with other dogs, for about $299 a day.

The hotels acknowledge that some of these offers seem like marketing gimmicks—mostly because they are. But they are also marketing gimmicks that appeal to customers and that therefore work as intended. One hotel manager estimates that dogs and their owners make up approximately 10 percent of bookings. Another chain indicates that approximately 100,000 pets (99 percent of them dogs) stay in their hotels each year.

Source: Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Now Checking In: Pampered Pets,” The New York Times, September 18, 2013