BringFido.Com: Pet Travel Extraordinaire

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Traveling with your furry companion this summer?  It’s not always easy bringing your best fur-butted friend along for the ride and finding accommodations can sometimes be a daunting task.

Melissa Halliburton, President and founder of BringFido.com, knew just how much frustration can be obtained from trying to plan a trip with your loved ones. Because of the astounding user-friendly and pet friendly website, we decided to interview Melissa and pick her brain to figure out the inter-workings of the rising hot site.

What is BringFido?

Glad you asked! Well, BringFido is a dog travel directory that provides everything you could ask for when it comes to accommodating your pet. They offer unbiased reviews, detailed pet policy information, and online reservations at more than 25,000 pet friendly hotels through a partnership with Travelocity. They scour the country and outside the country (150 countries to be exact), to provide you with information on thousands of hotels, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds that will gladly take in your furry partner.

And if that wasn’t enough, they can also find out which airlines are pet friendly just in case driving isn’t an option. They work vigorously to provide you with up-to-date hotel policies, so you don’t get there just to be left out in the cold. From more than 10,000 cities around the world, BringFido offers recommendations on dog beaches, off-leash parks, outdoor restaurants, and other animal attractions.

How did such a great company get started?

Melissa got the idea while she was booking a trip to Cape Cod for a friends’ wedding. She was a bridesmaid, so of course she had to be there or deal with the wrath of a furious bride. The only problem is that she had adopted her dog, Rocco, earlier that year and the thought of kenneling him was out of the question. So, what is a girl to do?

Well, Melissa started checking out every hotel in the area. She researched hotels that were mentioned to be considered pet friendly, but to her surprise, a lot of the hotels had either changed their policy or they weren’t friendly from the get go. Call after call sent Melissa into a frustrated tailspin. Lo and behold she finally found one; however, it was an hour away from the church! The rocky start to a great weekend led Melissa to start a company that would offer support, so other pet parents wouldn’t have to go through the same unfortunate experience.

Were there other types of companies out there when BringFido got started?

Sure, there were other styles out there, but none like the in-depth inter-workings of BringFido. Melissa explained, “There were several "phone book" style publications that listed pet friendly hotels, but I found a lot of the information there to be outdated. There were also a few websites that listed hotel names and phone numbers that were reported to be pet friendly, but again, you had to call each hotel to confirm that they were pet friendly, see if they had any rooms available, see what the rate was, and factor in any additional pet fees. BringFido.com was the first pet travel website that allowed dog owners to find pet friendly hotels, check rooms rates and availability, and make a reservation online (without ever having to pick up the phone).”

How does BringFido keep growing?

Since its launch in April 2005, BringFido has grown quite a bit. The website keeps expanding with more hotels starting to recognize the importance of a fuzzy family member. They aren’t just allowing them to stay, but believe it or not, they are treating them like the prince and princesses that they are to us. Some places even have special room service menus and a doggie masseuse on staff (talk about one lucky pooch)!

Melissa noted that the most exciting pet amenity she had witnessed was a “SuRuff Camp” Dog Surfing Package at Loews Coronado Bay in San Diego, CA (note that San Diego was mentioned as one of Fido Friendly’s Magazine Top Ten Fido Friendly Cities). Canine guests can get a one hour surfing lesson, board shorts, and a "Surf and Turf" meal from the canine room service menu (for an additional fee, of course).

Airlines are also becoming more pet-tolerant. Southwest Airlines, among many, is one of the high skies travelers to take on more pet friendly policies.

What is the best perk about running BringFido?

Besides the travel, Melissa takes great pride in one particular perk about owning a company like BringFido. The thank you letters from customers are what drive Melissa and BringFido to keep providing the service they do. Without the motivation and appreciation for the job they do, BringFido wouldn’t have gotten to where it is today.

Melissa stated that the company had celebrated their five year anniversary and they’ve already helped more than 5,000,000 people bring their dog on vacation! Since Melissa founded the company with the idea of creating an easier process for pet travel, she takes great pride in the customer appreciation letters she receives.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to travel with their pets?

Planning a trip is stressful for your family, not to mention accomodations for your pup. Being prepared is essential when mapping out your stay and Melissa pointed out that one of the biggest mistakes that can occur happens when people don’t plan ahead.

While BringFido has over 25,000 pet friendly hotels to choose from on their site, most hotels have a limited number of pet rooms available as do airlines. Most airlines only allow 3-5 pets in the cabin of each plane and many expect a pet health certificate dated within 10-30 days of your departure. Without it, there is a good chance you will be vacationing on your couch instead of on a beach with a drink in your hand.

Why is BringFido the best out there?

There is a ridiculously amount of reasons why they are the best, but Melissa Halliburton was kind enough to break them down for you:

  • "We have confirmed the pet policies at every single hotel listed on our website, so any pet fees, weight limits, and other restrictions are listed upfront."
  • "We re-confirm the pet policies regularly throughout the year, but we also have a "pet fee guarantee" that covers any unexpected pet fees at check-in. If our site lists no fee for a particular hotel, and the hotel asks for $10/night at check-in on a five night reservation, we would send a check for the entire $50 pet fee to the customer."
  • "Since some hotels only set aside a small number of rooms for dog owners, we have a 'canine concierge' on staff who calls the hotel manager after each booking on our site to request a pet friendly room for our customer, and any other special requests (like a ground floor room)."
  • "We have a toll-free number, 877-411-FIDO, that dog owners can call for help finding a pet friendly hotel (or restaurant, park, beach, veterinarian, or anything dog-related) from the road. It is staffed 365 days a year from 9am to midnight EST.'
  • Besides helping dog owners find hotels, we also have information on more than 25,000 pet friendly restaurants, dog parks, beaches, hiking trails, and other great places to "bring Fido" around the world. So, whether someone is looking for a place to play, stay, or eat with their dog, BringFido.com is the place to come.

What additional services does BringFido have to offer?

  • FREE Stuff! - Yes, that's right, Free! BringFido receives free samples from time to time and they are kind enough to pass those goodies on to you. Heck, you even get access to coupons and doggie contests; all you have to do is register.
  • Dog Forum - Got a question in need of an answer? You can post to their dog forum to find answers to your much needed questions or be a good sport and answer a few you might know the answer to. You can also just chit-chat with fellow dog owners or brag about your wonder dog.
  • Dog Events - See what's happening near your town or even where you are going to vacation. Or even better, post an event that you are hosting or an event that you know is occurring and get the word out!
  • Outdoor Restaurants - Find all the hottest joints that will allow Fido to dine by your side. You can even search for vendors like ice cream parlors, pubs, treats, and even bars!
  • Pet Services - So, you're on vacation and a vicious squirrel attacks Fido. No fear, log onto BringFido or call and they can hook you up with your closest vet. They can even find you groomers, pet sitters and walkers, dog trainers, pet stores, and boarding kennels.
  • Dog Friendly Attractions - You're on vacation and so is your pup. You can look up a list of tons and tons of dog friendly activities and attractions. You can even find pet friendly shopping (maybe if Fido knew how much your Jimmy Choo shoes cost, he wouldn't chew on them).
  • Pet Photos - Browse through other traveler's pet photos to see how much fun their dog had on a trip planned through BringFido. After you travel, you can post a picture of your dog for the world to see.

It is a challenging ordeal that can lead to a huge amount of stress and frustration. Melissa Halliburton was brilliant enough to take her experiences and turn them into a positive planning tool for other pet parents. With the easy navigation and ultra-helpful resources, BringFido is a site that would even make Fido give it a round of appaws.

All pictures courtesy of BringFido.com

 

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