Fluffy and Fido's Fabulous Summer Vacation

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I recently saw a news story on TV about how pets are replacing children in modern families. Instead of going through the pain and expense of raising traditional children, couples are opting for substituting a cat, dog, bird or even pot-bellied pig on the family tree. Pets have long been considered “part of the family,” but these pets enjoy the benefits of full-fledged family status, carted around in strollers, dressed up in the latest fashions, dining in restaurants with the rest of the family with their own menu and seat at the table. And, instead of being left behind in some cold and lonely kennel, they are going on vacation as well.

The hospitality industry has embraced this new family dimension and many have declared their hotels “pet friendly.” One hotel may merely tolerate the animal in the room so long as they are in a crate and calmed down so they don’t make a sound, while others pamper them with their own doggie bed, dish, gourmet foods and treats, and dog walking areas, complete with a hotel “dog walker for hire.”

The transition to a pet friendly status isn’t only in the designation or in equipping the hotel to handle the four-legged guests. It is a transition for the hotel staff as well. Just about every staff person will have some interaction with the pet or their aftermath, and can have an impact on many of the properties processes and policies.

1. Recruiting – There are some people who are extremely allergic to cats, dogs or other animals. The way you recruit employees may need to change to ensure that candidates understand that pets will be welcome guests and they will need to meet their needs when necessary just as they would with their owners. Some individuals may opt out for this very reason.
2. Transitioning existing staff. You may already have some staff that cannot tolerate or aren’t comfortable around pets. From the person who had a bad experience with an animal (I was attacked by a large dog when I was six) to a person who has allergies, a property may lose some valuable employees.
3. Training. Interacting with pets, especially those you don’t know, can require some special training. Some training on how to approach animals, safety issues, and how to deal with those that are unruly or aggressive can improve the comfort level of the staff and help reduced incidents.
4. Problem solving. Pets come with owners. Cleaning up after Fido’s unfortunate “accident” is one thing. Having to address a guest who insists that Fido loves the swimming pool at home and should be able to frolic with the guests in the hotel pool requires some additional skills and tact. Problem resolution training will help put employees and guests at east.
5. Sanitation and materials. Once Fluffy leaves, staff will need the proper equipment and cleaning supplies to get the room ready for the next guest. Staff will need special training and instruction on cleaning and disposing of waste materials, bedding and other items in the room.

Remember Jinxy the cat in the movie, “Meet the Parents.” The cat may have used the facilities as well. Making sure everyone is trained and comfortable will ensure that Fido, Fluffy and their owners have a great vacation.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Hospitalityjobsite.com. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients discover what they love and spend their life on it. You can read more of her blogs at hospitalityjobsiteblog.com and view additional job postings on Nexxt.

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