Dog owners no longer have to find a place to keep their pets when staying at a Disney World resort. Disney (NYSE:DIS) will designate four of its Florida resorts as dog-friendly starting on Monday. Disney's Art of Animation, Port Orleans Riverside, Yacht Club, and the cabins at Fort Wilderness will allow guests to bring as many as two dogs for their overnight stays.
The rooms will be near outdoor pet walkways and green spaces. Guests will also receive Pluto's Welcome Kit at check-in, providing them with mats, bowls, disposable dog-waste bags, and other essentials. Door hangers will also be available so housekeeping knows there is a pet or two inside the room.
Canine fans will argue that the move is long overdue, but there are also risks involved with the new offering. Guests concerned about barking or otherwise disruptive dogs may choose to stay away from the four resorts, as may young families with safety concerns. That's fine, though, since Disney has a lot of resort options. This is a smart move by Disney.
Let's go over the reasons the House of Mouse is making a push for dog owners.
1. There's incremental money to make
Dogs will be welcome guests at Disney World starting next week, but they won't be freeloaders. Disney is charging guests with dogs $75 a night at Yacht Club, and $50 a night at the other three hotels. Pet-friendly hotels tend to charge extra for dog-accompanied customers, though typically not as much as Disney is charging.
Guests are getting the welcome kit, but the provided swag obviously costs Disney a lot less than a single night's fee. This move will therefore give Disney the ability to milk more revenue out of these rooms, and anyone in the hospitality industry can tell you about the importance of RevPAR, or revenue per available room.
2. We're taking our dogs with us when we travel
Between dedicated dog parks and the rising use of therapy dogs, we're seeing folks no longer keeping their pets at home all the time. An American Pet Products Association report two years ago found that 37% of pet owners take their animals on the road, up from just 19% a decade earlier.
Disney has had a kennel at its central theme-park hub for ages, but it has flinched in the past when it came to offering four-legged guests a place to stay at one of its hotels overnight. The trends are changing, so Disney's changing.
3. Disney needs the bookings
The theme-park giant has hit a rough patch. Attendance at its parks has been stagnant for the past two years, and it experienced fewer occupied room nights in its latest quarter. It's easier to open up vacancies to dog owners than to deal with empty or discounted rooms.
Accepting dogs at four of its more than two dozen resorts may not move the needle much, but at a time when Disney is paying the price for raising its ticket prices too high and failing to upgrade its theme parks accordingly, it's one of the many steps Disney is taking to get things back on track. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, after all, and Disney needs to keep pace.