Dog-friendly holiday accommodation

Did you know that in Australia, there are more pets than people?

Pets are very important to people in today’s society. Among other things, they provide companionship and positively influence the lives of their owners and families.

When it comes to dogs, Australians love their canine friends. In fact, 39% of households across the nation own a dog.

Dog on beachAbout 20% of dog owners take their pets with them on holidays, and this percentage is on the rise. If people take their dogs to parks, the beach, or on day trips, why not for overnight stays away from home? It also means there is no need to use pet-minding services or expensive boarding facilities when pet owners want to go away.

One of the issues when going on holidays with a pet is finding suitable dog-friendly accommodation. Properties that advertise themselves as being dog-friendly can actually be quite varied in the facilities provided and the rules that apply to pets staying with their owners.

It is important to keep in mind that accommodation that is specified as being dog-friendly doesn’t automatically permit dog to come inside and snuggle up in bed with their owners. Not everyone sleeps with their pets, and some don’t even let their pets inside the family home, so accommodation that has strict conditions may actually be perfectly suitable for some holidaymakers.

OUTSIDE ONLY DOGS

Outside dogAround 24% of pet dogs are exclusively kept outside the family home. Therefore accommodation which permits dogs, but only if they are kept outside, can offer a very suitable place to stay for a significant number of dog owners. These properties may provide pets with a kennel in a sheltered outdoor area and a securely fenced area for dogs to run around within.

INSIDE & OUTSIDE DOGS

65% of pet dogs spend time both inside and outside the family home. Some of those dogs may be permitted inside the home only under supervision and may actually still sleep outside. There are a significant number of holiday properties that welcome pets inside, but only in designated areas, such as within rooms that have hard floors. They may also have restrictions with regards to dogs sleeping on soft furnishings or on beds. For a dog that spends time both inside and outside, these restrictions may be quite suitable.

INSIDE ONLY DOGS

Inside dogAbout 11% of pet dogs are always kept indoors. In such cases, it is important to find dog-friendly accommodation that not only allows pets to come inside, but also to sleep inside. Such accommodation may either provide a designated area inside where the dog can sleep, a dog bed, or even allow dogs to sleep on human beds with their owners.

CARAVAN PARKS

Caravan ParksA number of caravan parks or holiday parks are dog-friendly. However, restrictions can vary significantly. Managers need to balance the needs and comfort of those guests with pets and those without, particularly due to the size of some of those parks and the large number of guests. Some parks may only permit dogs with site bookings, so guests would need to keep their pet on a leash within the area around their caravan or tent. A few parks have dedicated dog-friendly cabins which not only permit pets inside, but also provide a private fenced area around the cabin for dogs to run around in.

HOTELS & MOTELS

Hotels & motelsIt can be challenging to find a  hotel or motel that allows you to bring your dog inside with you, however some managers have set aside rooms which are dedicated for those with pets. If you are happy for your canine companion to stay outside, a number of motels can cater for pets, with sheltered and secure outdoor areas, although owners may need to bring their own pet bedding.

BED & BREAKFASTS

Bed & breakfastsBed & breakfasts can be quite welcoming of people travelling with dogs as often their managers have pets of their own living on the property with them. As most dogs are fairly social, it might be quite a treat for your pet to have a new companion to interact with during their stay. While you may develop a friendship with your B&B host, your pet may end up bonding closely with the resident canines.

HOLIDAY HOUSES, UNITS & COTTAGES

Holiday houses & cottagesSelf-contained accommodation, such as holiday homes and cottages, usually have plenty of room inside and outside, making them an ideal choice for those travelling with dogs. Many holiday homes are welcoming of those with pets, and usually they have a securely fenced yard so your pet can wander around the garden safely. Some properties also allow pets inside, however you should always confirm if there are any out of bounds areas or rules that need to be adhered to.

WHAT DOG-FRIENDLY MEANS

Keep in mind that dog-friendly doesn’t always mean dogs can come inside, sleep on furniture, or be provided with complimentary bedding and treats. There may be a number of conditions that a property owner puts in place for the comfort and benefit of current and future guests, as well as other people in the vicinity.

Different dogs and their owners have different needs, so not every property listed as being dog-friendly is suitable for you and your pet. That’s why it is important to contact accommodation managers prior to booking to discuss you and your pet’s specific requirements.

Statistics related to pets in this posting are relevant to Australia only, and have been taken from the Animal Health Alliance (Australia) report which uses a number of resources, including Galaxy Research and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Increasing business exposure through Facebook

With the high proliferation of social media usage these days, any business that wishes to increase their market share needs a visible social media presence.

Facebook is currently the world’s largest social network, having been first launched in 2004. For most businesses, Facebook should be at the top of the list when looking to increase exposure through social media.

A business page on Facebook prominently displays the number of “likes” by people visiting the actual page or its embedded feed on other websites.

Some business owners treat the number of Facebook likes as a status symbol whereby a large figure is a clear statement that not only is the business well-known, but that it is also much loved by the public. They also believe that an increasingly large number of likes will create snow-ball effect in terms of popularity, as visitors to the Facebook page will be impressed by the significant number of likes and feel that they too must join the masses and also like the page.

In order to increase the number of like on a business Facebook page, business owners may employ a number of methods. In terms of gaining popularity through use of the internet, owners can:

  1. Include links to their Facebook page on their own website, thus providing an easy way for website visitors to also add to the tally of Facebook likes. This method is particularly effective for websites that receive a good number and diverse range of visitors.
  2. Highlight their Facebook page through email postings, blog postings, or comments by their Facebook page on other Facebook pages.
  3. Promote their Facebook page through Facebook’s promotional services. If provided with a daily advertising budget, Facebook can target Facebook users whom it thinks might find a business page interesting, as well as allowing the business owner to restrict the promotion to a certain demographic. A “suggested page” box promoting the page will appear on Facebook for designated people, encouraging them to view and/or like that page.
  4. Buy Facebook likes. There is a whole industry that is devoted to selling businesses Facebook “likes” in bulk for an insanely small amount of money. For example, one such service we came across promises to deliver 10,000 page likes for just $200. Using Facebook’s official promotional services could typically cost 20 times that amount, or $4,000.

While buying Facebook likes from third parties may seem to be a great cost-effective solution to build up a business profile, it can either be a waste of money or cause a business credibility issues. This is because those bulk bought likes usually come from a massive pool of fake Facebook profiles that promoters have at their disposal. The actions of these fake Facebook accounts look even more dodgy when many are of a completely different demographic that would typically like a particular page. Would you really expect that a 70 year old grandmother from Iceland is going to like the Facebook page of a skateboard shop in Mildura?

The consequences for businesses buying artificial likes are:

  • It can put genuine people off liking that page. Since all these profiles are fake, there will be no further interaction on that business’s page other than the initial like. Interested people visiting a Facebook page may be very suspicious of liking it if they see it has something like a staggering 50,000 likes with virtually no one liking or interacting with specific posts.
  • It does nothing for brand exposure. After all, exposing a business to tens of thousands of people who don’t exist is pointless. They can’t even tell their Facebook friends about it as they are fake too!
  • It won’t generate any engagement with a target audience. A business may have some amazing photos or information to share on Facebook, but with no genuine people listening, what’s the point?
  • No generation of leads or sales. Fake people don’t buy things nor do they visit websites linked within Facebook postings. So if the ultimate aim of the business is to generate income, then marketing to fake people is not going to generate any return.
  • Many likes that were paid for may disappear overnight. Facebook regularly runs checks to weed out and remove likes by what it deems to be fake people. Businesses may be wasting money buying what ends up being very short term likes.

You can easily identify a business Facebook page that has built up most of its likes by purchasing likes in bulk from people that don’t really exist.

Compare these two examples of Australian travel Facebook pages, illustrated below. They are business pages with a similar number of likes and regular daily postings. The big difference between those pages is the “people talking about this” figure which refers to the number of people actually engaged with that page and its postings.

In general, a page with a good level of engagement gets a figure of between 5% to 10% of the total number of likes. Anything beyond 10% is outstanding. In this first example, the engagement figure is 9.5% which is quite good. It appears to be a Facebook page which has been built up from a genuine and real user base with an ongoing interest, so the number of likes is a good representation of its popularity. In the second example, the ratio of engagements to likes is an appalling 0.2%.  You can be almost guaranteed that most of those likes are generated from fake profiles which have no interaction with the page other than the initial like.

Facebook business page
A Facebook business page with likes by real people that interact with the page.

 

Facebook business page
A Facebook business page which appears to have most of its likes bought in bulk using fake Facebook profiles that obviously don’t interact with the page.

 

For businesses who want to increase their exposure on Facebook, don’t bother with fake people and likes – after all, they cannot buy anything, they won’t interact, nor can they spread the word to their friends. Facebook pages that are mainly made up with fake likes can be easily identified and may create a negative impression of that business. Businesses who want to build up a good Facebook profile should therefore only seek real likes by real people.