WAUPACA, Wis. — An overnight getaway at a bed-and-breakfast can be just the thing to relax and unwind. From enjoying the outdoors to relaxing with a warm cup of coffee and homemade breakfast, it’s an ideal travel option for many across Wisconsin and beyond.
However, for some travelers, getting to experience it all with their dogs makes the experience even better. It’s something bed and breakfasts, and other businesses catering to travelers, are taking note of.
Shayna and Paul Cappelle own the Crystal River Inn a few miles south of Waupaca. When they bought the business six years ago, they decided to open it up to people traveling with dogs. Dogs are not allowed inside the main inn, however, they are welcome inside the cabins on the property. Even if guests don’t come with a dog, they get to interact with the couple’s two dogs, Roscoe and Lucy.
“When our guests arrive, they love seeing the dogs. They love the hominess that it brings to them. Our guests that aren’t traveling with dogs they appreciate having a pet in the house,” said Shayna Cappelle.
The Cappelles don’t just allow dogs because they are pet lovers themselves, they also do it because it is good for business. With over 65 million households in the United States owning a dog, many people struggle to figure out what to do with their dogs when they go on vacation. By marketing themselves as pet-friendly, Shayna Cappelle says it is a selling point for many travelers that sets them apart from other hotels and inns in the area.
“I would say about half of our bookings in the cottages are people that are traveling with their dogs. So, they are specifically coming here because they know we have to accommodations for dogs and the space for them to be able to enjoy the area.” Said Cappelle.
Not everyone is a dog person. It is why Shayna Cappelle says they make clear to potential guests that there will be dogs on the property. She also said she ensures that dogs are not allowed in guest rooms where people may not be traveling with pets. Cappelle believes being pet- friendly rarely deters guest from booking at the Crystal River Inn.
Statewide, pet-friendly travel appears to be a growing segment. In fact, several tourism agencies, including Travel Wisconsin, Visit Milwaukee, and others now have pages of their website dedicated to pet-friendly travel.
Craig Trost with Travel Wisconsin said devoting web pages and marketing efforts to pet-friendly travel shows it is an important segment of the traveling public. Trost said as more businesses adopt pet-friendly models, the easier it is to sell those traveling with pets on visiting Wisconsin.
“Hopefully those pet owners will continue to discover more and more that they can make memories right here in Wisconsin,” said Trost.
Back in Waupaca, the Cappelles say they expect to see continued increases in business from guests looking to bring dogs. In addition, as more restaurants nearby offer dog friendly patio seating, it becomes an additional selling point for guests to choose the Waupaca area.