A recent global study has found that over half of people (57%) internationally have at least one pet – a statistic that appears to be gradually tracking upwards over time. Amongst these pet owners, there is also a noticeable shift in the way people care for their furry friends, as owners become increasingly more willing to pamper pets with tailored diets, advanced vet care and specialty services.
In line with this trend, travelling pet owners are increasingly hesitant to leave their beloved companions at home and, as such, are demanding pet-friendly accommodation and facilities. Dale Simpson, Curator of Radisson RED Hotel V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, says that as the market of devoted pet owners continues to expand, the hospitality industry can either evolve to cater to it, or forego a growing number of potential guests as a result.
“Not so long ago, traveling with your pet wasn’t really a viable option – logistically. However, as airlines, cruise ships and doggy-car-seats continue to make it progressively easier to travel with pets, more and more pet-parents are insisting that their fur-children be allowed to vacation too. There is also the growing consensus among this market that bringing their pet along will actually enhance their holiday, as it eradicates the overwhelming guilt that is commonly experienced by having to leave them behind in a kennel.”
Simpson says that while the international hospitality industry has been fairly quick to cater to this growing market, South African establishments don’t appear to be adapting as swiftly. “According to Hotels.com, a booking platform that offers the choice of hundreds of thousands of hotels in more than 60 countries, one-third of the hotels listed on their site now welcome guests with pets. In South Africa, however, options remain fairly limited when looking for pet-friendly accommodation – particularly luxury accommodation.”
This is why Simpson says the soon-to-launch Cape Town Radisson RED hotel maintains a liberal pet policy. “RED’s mascot is a Boston Terrier named Baxter, and Baxter insists that guests’ four-legged friends be invited to the party – so long as they adhere to his pet policy! This policy allows friendly dogs and cats that weigh under 8kg – no more than two per room – to join their parents on vacation, granted they book a pet-friendly room and are kept on a leash or in a carrier when outside the room.”
As a lifestyle select brand that connects with an ageless millennial mindset, Simpson says that Radisson RED caters to the lifestyles of all guests. “We understand that for many people, their pets are part of the family, and we believe they should be treated as such. RED’s pet programme even includes a bandana, bed, food and water dish for our furry guests’ use during their stay. This may not be the norm, but neither are we.”