Noel Josephides' Regular Column

Noel Josephides' Regular Column

I WAS involved in a complicated booking a couple of weeks ago.

Not only was the itinerary difficult to arrange but any flexibility on the clients possible travel dates was also very limited.

Backwards and forwards we went, changing this, substituting that, until it all came down to the clients - who were retired - extending their stay by just one night.

Then the problem emerged. They could not extend by one night because the kennels were fully booked from that date onwards and therefore could not accommodate the pet dog. I groaned inwardly, gritted my teeth and carried on switching and changing until we had it all sorted out.

Have you ever considered what new complexities we are all going to have to face now that clients will be able to take their pets on holiday with them?

So, not only will we have to ask hotels if they take credit cards and wheelchairs, but also if they will accept dogs and cats.

And what will happen if the pet has a bad holiday because its favourite food is not available in the resort?

Will the pet be able to complain and how will it give evidence in the small claims court? Will we have to go into detail as to how safe a particular area is for pets?

For instance, will we have to know how busy the road is outside the hotel?

If, God forbid, the pet is killed on holiday will we, as tour operators, be liable for the unfortunate incident? What if the pet dog is interfered with by a local mongrel? What implications will that have?

People worry far more about their pets than about their children, so just imagine all the questions we will need to have the answers to.

Will the airlines be able to guarantee that your pet dog can sit next to you on the aircraft?

Can a passenger request that he/she is not seated next to a seat occupied by another passengers' pet?

Will we have operators who will be pet specialists and will other operators want to share an aircraft with them when there will be a large proportion of dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters and such like on board?

Can you imagine the call from the captain: "If there is a vet on board please report to one of the cabin staff? "

I can imagine luggage being full of dog and cat food and travellers wanting more baggage allowance.

Clients will have all sorts of questions as to how they will be asked to check-in their pets for a flight.

They'll want to know if they can feed their pets on board, whether they will be able to take their dogs for a walk up and down the aisle and what to do if their pets want a pee or poo.

I have no doubt that airlines will seriously consider pet toilets on aircraft.

We shall all have to load our computers with expressions like 'request dog basket'; 'pets carried at owner's risk'; and 'pets should be supervised'. I also have no doubt that we shall need breakage deposits for pets.

All in all, I am not looking forward to it. Still, we can make it so expensive for clients to take their pets on holiday with them that the local kennels or cattery may just be a better bet, provided you book early enough.

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