Across the UK, the appearance of dogs in bars, cafes and restaurants is increasing significantly in the recent years, to the point that establishments have begun to host dog birthday parties in their bars. There is also dedicated cafes for dogs and cats, despite the stubborn traditionalists who are against it.
Together, with The Kingslodge, a dog friendly pub in Durham, we explore how the impact that our canine friends have on the UK’s hospitality sector.
A couple of years ago, you may have travelled abroad to other European countries such as Spain and France and realised that it’s quite common to see dogs in cafés and bars, compared with the UK, not many business owners allowed furry friends through their doors.
It’s more of a culture issue, rather than a legal one. There is no law that states dogs can’t enter premises, as long as they don’t enter places where food is being prepared and cooked. It is more a business / franchise policy that has been enforced. As of 2017/18, 26 percent of the UK’s population have a dog in their household, which is approximately 8.2m, followed by cats at 18 percent, so just over one in four families own a dog which is a massive chunk of money to gain from a business perspective.
A recent survey was conducted by The Kennel Club and it’s found that 97 percent of all dog friendly business states that allowing canine companions into their business has added value directly or indirectly.
Hidden Benefits of Dogs
Dogs don’t just benefit businesses from a financial perspective, is also known that dogs can improve the atmosphere of a place and help reduce stress levels of staff. Dogs also act as a lighthearted conversation starter between workers and customers which creates a community atmosphere especially in places that require face-to-face customer service, and this is essential in a pub atmosphere as a meeting place for social interactions, so the inclusion of a dog is bound to go hand in hand.
It’s scientifically proven that stroking a dog can elevate production and released serotonin, dopamine, otherwise known as happy hormones, which can lower blood pressure allowing a more calming output.
Tool for Marketing
For a passersby, seeing dogs in a café, bar or restaurant can give a sign of openness and friendliness. Marketing can go a long way in attracting potential customers to walk through the front door. Placing quirky, dog-friendly signs outside could also be a useful technique to attracting a family that would’ve otherwise carried on walking.
As mentioned earlier, Sottish Brewery Brewdog, had taken the combination of dogs and marketing to a new level. Not only are all 36 of their bars in this country and internationally dog friendly, last year they launched a ‘bespoke party service for our four-legged friends’, even launching a beer made for dogs, by boiling down carrots and bananas into a brew fresh on site.
What to Consider
With allowing dogs into your business, it’s also an obvious consideration to make for your customers, as not everyone loves and appreciates dogs as much as others!
It’s also common to implement ground rules on where dogs can wander, one idea could be an eating area that’s solely for restaurant purposes and doesn’t allow dogs which would keep hygiene as clean as possible.
If you’re a franchise or chain, than it would be to check your insurance policy, as having dogs present could invalidate your insurance policy.
Naturally some customers may be allergic to dogs because of their oily skin. Providing plenty of signs are situated within the premises that warn customers, businesses can’t be liable for any reactions and you should be fully equipped for animals and customers to integrate as they please!