Pets No Longer Miss Out On Family Trips with Grand Strand Vacations

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Travel accommodations allowing pets is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

We just want to give people a home away from home. Our pets are a major part of creating that feeling.

Grand Strand Vacations, a property rental firm in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., recently put out the welcome mat for pets. The agency, which oversees more than 350 coastal getaways, announced the move in response to a growing number of travelers calling for their four-legged friends to join them on trips.

Experts in the travel industry note that bringing pets along, even a few years ago, was not an option. However, as more and more people started opting for critters over kids; as family canines became “one of us” and so forth, the market demanded a change in policy.

"This is something a little different that you don't find every day – animals being able to enjoy the same luxuries as their owners when on vacation," said Nancy Seddinger, owner of Grand Strand Vacations. "Particularly in our industry, no pet policies have kind of ruled the day. But as a dog owner myself, I know how it feels to have no other choice but to leave him behind when I go on vacation. So we're rewriting the rules."

It only makes sense for accommodation providers to take notice of this tourist segment and throw them a bone or two. Pet travel statistics from BringYourPet.com show it pays off – 63 percent of pet owners surveyed said they would lengthen their stay if given the opportunity to travel with their pets.

A recent TripAdvisor survey of more than 1,100 participants corroborates these findings. The survey found that 35 percent of pet owners take shorter trips – and 25 percent travel less – because they don’t want to leave behind their furry family members.

Several major hotel chains have taken the label “pet-friendly” beyond merely placing a plastic fire hydrant by the front door. Still, Grand Strand Vacation’s move seems a bit more unusual, as animals now have access to high-end homes.

Overall, catering to traveling pets seems to be a whole new facet of the service industry. Available pet amenities at some establishments include yappy hour, dog walkers, special bedding and personally-prepared food.

As for Grand Strand Vacations, the tail appeal comes in a more subtle form.

“We just want to give people a home away from home,” Seddinger said. “Our pets are a major part of creating that feeling. Here, there are no puppy spas or kitty massages – just a place for them to relax by the couch or on the porch.”

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Stephen Bon

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