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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 19, 2019 3 months ago

Dogs have their day at chain of boutique hotels

Tampa-based McKibbon Hospitality houses adoptable pooches in the lobbies of its Aloft properties in Florida and the Carolinas.

Tampa-based hotel management firm McKibbon Hospitality has gone to the dogs — but it's for a good cause. To help spur adoptions, the company launched a “foster dog” program at the Aloft chain of boutique hotels it operates in Florida and the Carolinas.

The program is the brainchild of Emma Ledbetter, director of food and beverage at Aloft Asheville, in North Carolina, who came up with the idea about five years ago. Gabriel, the first pooch to participate, was adopted after just three days of living in the hotel.

“Even associates who aren’t really dog people got excited and helped make the program a success,” Ledbetter states in a news release. “And the guests love it. It’s so fun to see business[people] come in, and the first thing they do is greet the dog.”

Dogs that are considered good candidates for adoption are housed in the lobby of Aloft hotels in custom-made doghouses. McKibbon partners with animal rescue groups in four cities that have an Aloft hotel: Asheville; Greenville, S.C.; Orlando; and Tallahassee.

The program has found homes for hundreds of shelter dogs, and McKibbon Hospitality President Randy Hassen says it’s an ideal way for the company to live up to its high standards for corporate responsibility, which call for staff members and teams to undertake projects that will enhance the guest experience, lift employee enthusiasm and do good in the community.

“The foster dog project is a perfect example of how these factors converge,” Hassen states in the release. “It checks all the boxes. And it’s a great example of innovative thinking about how to run a successful hotel.”

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