Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

How to Deal with Pet Issues at Your Pet-friendly Hotel

Welcoming pets to your hotel can create a customer service balancing act.

Being pet-friendly is a great way to attract guests and provide better service. But what happens when you have an issue with a guest and their pet, whether it’s noise, a pet running loose or some other hairy issue?

My husband and I recently stayed at a Louisiana hotel  for a friend’s weekend wedding, bringing along our newly adopted 14-pound chihuahua-corgi mix, Rosco. We didn’t know it at the time, but he barks when left alone. At the hotel, we left him in his crate in the room when we had to meet friends for lunch and then attend the rehearsal dinner. We were blissfully unaware of any issues, as we imagined him snoozing quietly in his bed.

After lunch on the second day of our stay, we returned to the hotel with friends and my husband grabbed a bottle of water from the snack shop and asked to have it charged to our room. “Oh! You’re room 314!” the front desk staff member sternly announced to us, our friends and the entire lobby. “We’ve got a problem with your dog!”

My husband and I were mortified as the staff member described the issue, scolded us, told us the hotel didn’t have our phone number and said they had received guest complaints the previous day and evening. Our friends found it funny, but we were embarrassed as we walked away, scrambling to figure out what we were going to do since we had to go to the wedding in a few hours.

When I received a guest survey a week later, I mentioned I had wished the staff would have addressed the issue with us sooner— and privately. This way, we wouldn’t have felt like we had done something wrong, and we would have had time to find and book a local pet sitter for the wedding. Instead, we ended up taking our dog with us, leaving him in our van since it was a mild evening, and running out to check on him every so often.

Here are five tips for providing excellent customer service to guestLearn effective strategies to handle pet-related issues at your pet-friendly hotel. Ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for both guests&their furry companions.s with pets, and how to avoid or address pet issues without ruffling any fur:

1. Collect pet info on the reservation

The best time to find out a guest is bringing a pet: when they make a reservation. Create a space to fill in the number of people and pets on the reservation form. Provide a space where the guest can offer details about their pet, along with the contact information you can use to reach them if there’s an issue during their stay. This will also allow you to assign the guest a pet-friendly room, if you use this system to avoid tension between pet-loving guests and those who prefer to let sleeping dogs lie—on the other side of the hotel.

2. Be clear on pet policies upfront

Welcoming pets to your hotel can be a fun chance to provide personalized service and go the extra mile to dote on Fluffy or Fido with pet bowls, treats and kind words. But it’s equally good (and important) service to outline expectations and policies upfront. Do you allow guests to leave pets in their room? If so, do the pets need to be crated? Letting guests know these details, along with your pet fee, can help you to avoid potential issues before they happen.

3. Greet guests and their pet

Even when a guest is using a digital key, you can take advantage of their arrival to greet them and their furry family member. Say hello to them and their pet, offer a treat and chat briefly about their pet. Once you’ve made a big deal over Rover or Hershey, you can gently remind the guest of your pet policies and verify their contact phone number. Consider having your pet information printed out on a card or information sheet. Add helpful information such as names of local veterinarians and a list of pet-friendly parks so you can provide the information (and refresh them on your rules) in a friendly and welcoming way.

4. Keep an eye (and ear) out

Train staff to pay attention and be proactive about spotting potential pet issues as quickly as possible. That may include listening for barking or whining when walking the halls of the hotel or checking to make sure poop bag dispensers are full when walking the grounds to look for litter (and pet waste). If you can nip pet issues in the bud, before other guests complain, you can head off many potential service issues.

5. Address pet problems kindly (and privately)

If you do spot an issue or get a complaint about a pet, handle it proactively, kindly and discretely. Talk to the guest about the issue, and stay focused on helping them come up with a solution. You may even want to keep a list of highly rated local pet sitting services onhand in case a guest finds themselves in a dilemma where they need to attend an event without their pet. Let the guests know that their cooperation allows you to remain a pet-friendly hotel.

While welcoming pets to your hotel can be a wonderful way to attract and serve guests, it also requires putting reasonable policies in place, communicating clearly and promptly addressing any pet issues that arise.