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Recently, I was in an airport when I passed a guy strolling through the terminal with a cocker spaniel on a leash. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry — he looked like he could have been in his own neighborhood taking a leisurely walk with his dog. The scene struck me as oddly out of place. A few days later, however, I met with a hotelier who told me about how traveling with pets has become a major trend in the hospitality industry.
This hotelier had previously worked at a Palm Springs, Calif., resort where the hotel won over a significant slice of business just by welcoming their guests’ pets. He said that when people want to get away for a long weekend, they naturally prefer to bring their pets with them, and the hotel developed a loyal following of customers who appreciated the resort’s pet policy. The property gained an edge on the competition just by identifying their clientele’s needs and seizing the opportunity.
There’s no question that our pets often become cherished members of our families. In the last year, my family and I have found ourselves to be the owners of two cats. While we are not planning on bringing them along on trips (thank heavens), I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that my wife and kids text me photos of the cats while I’m traveling. I’m not exactly sure how I got to this point, but it’s clear that our pets hold a special place in our hearts.
As you can read in this issue’s cover story, “Traveling With Pets” (page 8), in order to truly serve all clients, agents should familiarize themselves with the intricacies of arranging pet travel. There are many considerations when bringing a pet on a trip, and the process can get complicated. By highlighting their expertise, travel agents have an opportunity to win over clients who don’t want to deal with the hassles. Understanding pet travel can be a way to further distinguish yourself from the competition.
Plus, just like with family travel, an agent who shows that he or she cares about a client’s loved ones — even the furry family members — may earn that customer’s loyalty for future business.