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Traveling with pets: designing hospitality services for pet owners/parents and hotel guests

Dimitrios Buhalis (Business School, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK and School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)
Janelle Chan (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 17 March 2023

Issue publication date: 8 November 2023




Pet-friendly hotels are growing rapidly. The prevalence of pet adoption has largely resulted from the loneliness due to social distancing that happened during the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Many hotels around the world aim to become pet-friendly to satisfy the growing demand. Hoteliers believe that the popularity of pet-friendly hotels will continue, as pet owners often treat pets as their kids. This study aims to investigate how pet-friendly hotels need to design and manage pet-friendly services and policies.


Using grounded theory methodology, this research conducts interviews with 25 pet-friendly hotel managers from Hong Kong (HK). The study includes hotels from different hotel categories and classifications. It examines the conceptualization of pet-friendly service design, drawing on a service blueprint.


Building on the service marketing and service blueprint literature, this research provides a synthesis that reflects how pet-friendly hotels can serve both guests with and without pets. The findings reveal that pet-owner’s service expectations are formed on anthropomorphism, that is, an inclination of attributing human features to nonhuman entity. Hotel managers, and particular those who have pets personally understand better how pet-friendly service can be adapted to meet the expectations and requirements of pet owners while accommodating guests without pets. The market of pet-friendly hospitality is growing, with high profit potential from pet owners who are willing to spend generously.

Research limitations/implications

Data were collected from selected pet-friendly hotels in HK through interviews with pet-friendly service providers. The research is qualitative and exploratory in nature. It aims to explore and examine the multilevel pet-friendly hospitality service design from a managerial perspective. This research enriches the literature on anthropomorphism theory, the design of pet-friendly services and the application of service blueprint.

Practical implications

The research offers explicit suggestions for the design of pet-friendly hospitality services. A pet-friendly hotel service blueprint is developed. This can help managers to develop essential pet-friendly policies and service collaborations between internal departments and with external specialist organizations, maximizing the value for all stakeholders.


The study explores a rapidly emerging market and scrutinizes its specific design requirements. It extends theoretical insights by enriching the anthropomorphism theory and broadening the conceptualizations of service blueprint based on anthropomorphism theory.



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr Tasos Kousloglou, CEO of Hotel Division, Sun Hung Kai Properties, in the conceptualization and execution of this research.


Buhalis, D. and Chan, J. (2023), "Traveling with pets: designing hospitality services for pet owners/parents and hotel guests", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 35 No. 12, pp. 4217-4237.



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