Household pets have always been a part of the family, but in recent years there has been a surge in popularity, with new so called ‘designer breeds’ in high demand. During the 2020 lockdown many households brought new pets into the family and this has only continued to soar with the continued delay of ‘getting back to normal’. So pets are here to stay as part of family life in the UK and with family life comes family holidays.
So why should your attraction be dog friendly?
Did you know that over 89% of dog owners when surveyed said feel guilty about leaving their dog behind when going on holiday? That means where possible many families will take their pets on holiday with them. When planning a staycation many families will research the area they are going to, surrounding attractions or visitor spots and places to stop along the route. Having a pet friendly attractions could mean you welcome more passing trade and increase footfall especially over the typical summer holiday period. With the weather being too hot to leave the pups in the car, families will often only go where their pets can go to. Most of us plan ahead, in fact 67% of British holiday makers plan their entire trip around their pets, searching out pet friendly lodgings, pet friendly restaurants and of course pet friendly attractions.
So how does your visitor attraction become more dog friendly?
If you allow dogs then shout about it. As mentioned above so many dog owners plan their trip around their pets because they are not only part of the family, but there’s nothing worse than travelling somewhere to find out they don’t allow pets to come in too. So not every attraction can allow dogs, for example, theme parks where they pose a danger or threat and inside historical buildings such as castles where preserved artefacts could get ruined, so it’s not suitable for every attraction. If you’re thinking about allowing dogs then you should make it clear on social media channels, website and leaflets that your attraction welcomes the whole family – paws included. If you are pet friendly and people don’t know, you may run the risk of loosing out on great footfall as families will choose to visit another place. Maybe join pet holiday websites or doggy days out to help become a recommended hot spot for the dog owning community.
There are a few points to consider:
- Who’s welcome? Make sure you set out what type of breed/size dogs you will allow into your attraction. Can these dogs be off the lead or must they remain on the lead? Are you going to set a limit of pets per owner?
- Doggy free zones – so you’ve let dogs into your attraction but they might not be allowed everywhere. Make sure that you make this known ahead of time so that visitors can plan their trip knowing where they can and cant go.
- Clean up after yourself – make sure the message is clear, you allow responsible dog owners only. You expect owners to clean up after their pets otherwise they may be asked to leave. Help out by providing dog litter bins or waste bags if you are able?
- Fresh drinking water – setting up a few doggy drinking bowls around your site is a great touch especially on warm sunny days. If you can place bowls of fresh water in shaded areas, this will help keep your four-legged visitors happy and healthy.
- Make more money – some attractions do charge a small entry fee for pets to come inside too, this could help cover the costs of doggy litter bins, staff training that may be required and every some treats. At your entrance or gift shop you could even sell doggy treats – I’m sure many dog owners would love the opportunity to spoil their furry friends on a day out too!
All sounds good right? We asked our doggy mad Marketing Manager, Rachel, what she hopes for when visiting attractions and how she plans doggy days out when she takes her beautiful pups on UK staycations with her.
“For me it’s a little harder to plan a UK break because wherever we decide to visit, we need to be able to take our 2 dogs with us. Not many holiday lets or cottages (even if they are dog friendly) will allow you to leave the pups behind whilst you go out for the day, and we wouldn’t want to do that anyway. Last year we were planning a staycation that took us from the Lake District to Northumberland. Whilst in the Lake District we found a great dog friendly hotel that not only was located on Lake Windermere, but had a double Rosette restaurant that allowed dogs to sit with us in a special area of the restaurant whilst we ate. This made a huge difference to our night as we were able to indulge in 5 courses and have a few drinks without worrying the dogs had teared the hotel room apart! The following day we planned to go on a dog-friendly trip that included a train ride and boat ride across the lake. Both the train and the boat were dog friendly – something we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise!”