ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Snakes, Chameleons and Goldfish
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 24th June 2013
Exclusive Feature: What would you do if a guest finds a both big and non domestic animal in his room?

There are issues around the hotel industry which can hardly be discussed openly and starting to talk about them among hoteliers may put you certainly on their bad side. These do include the share of chambermaids with a union card, for example, or the results of the last mystery check. Only one issue is still more sensitive: that one with the animals.

Did you ever have animals in the hotel? Difficult to answer. Already a confession can be that you DO respond, and that is then a fine mess you have made! "Very small" is tricky. "Just a moment, I have to ask my F&B Manager" is also an unwise alternative, because that could offend vegetarians.

The brightest possible answer might be another question: "Which ones?" That sounds reasonable, and has a humorous approach. But be careful: you run the risk that you will kept for a buffoon.

Animals in the hotel is an issue, which reaches far from the microbiology in the domestic animal breeding. And sometimes even further: in a Frankfurt city hotel, a guest from the pines fell a few days ago when he during the night toddled to the bathroom and there met - a snake.

Do not forget you should consider type and format of the reptile: it was a Boa Constrictor of 1.20 metres in length. The constrictor would never attack the guest, because he did not fit with its typical preys. But he apparently did not know this and alerted the fire brigade (although snakes are no arsonists neighter). They did rescue not the guest, but the animal - because the snake was malnourished.

The reaction of the general manager of the "Continental" was exemplary: "We cannot browse the whole room every day", so the man said according to local media, and added (probably correctly): "The snake was brought from the previous guest." (and surprisingly not from any hotel staff) We wonder how his explanation has came out, if there were found an elephant in the room?

Anyway, the general manager could have even responded differently – and in a rather accurate manner for performing perfect crisis management: That this happening is just a normal occurence, so what? A snake in the hotel, in many parts of the world this is more common than a manager on duty who is available. It could become even more useful in regions rich of vermin as a mouse and insect catcher (when purchasing please have an eye on typical preys of the species) .

Actually a court years ago admitted to a tourists, who condemned the presence of a Chameleon in his apartment and later wanted to shorten the room rate due to this unheralded visit, exactly no compensation, since the reptile "in a useful way eats away the also present mosquitoes". How wise judges sometimes decide.

Hotel managers can be wise sometimes, too: The "Happy Guest Hotel lodge" in the United Kingdom recently has done a matchless PR coup. On request not only a bottle mineral water and soap in the room they provide, but besides there is also "Happy". "Happy" is a goldfish.

It does sing no songs, neither will also not run dog-walking and never catches moscitoes or mice – everything which is included in the daily rental of steep 5 pounds, "Happy" does like every goldfish: feeding, wag with the fins and stroll around in the little fish tank. Why should you get to such an animal in the room?

"Many guests travel professionally alone – for those it can be very nice to speak with someone at the end of the day," says the hotel manager Jeff Riley. Probably the measurement was also aimed to relieve the staff of being engaged in talks with such guests. The idea is not entirely new: also in the New Yorker "Soho Grand Hotel" the silent partners are already on offer. We can assume that cats in these properties are not permitted.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info:

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