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Hospitality Management – Service Animal Etiquette – 15 Tips

There are millions of people worldwide who have disabilities. Many are traveling, conducting business, visiting resorts, applying for jobs, and dining in restaurants with a Service Animal.

Are you ready to receive your guest’s Service Animals? Think of the global spending power. It is important that you are professionally ready to receive BOTH this large and important segment of your guest, client, and vendor population and their Service Animals.

Below are general guidelines, related to Service Animals. You will be able to use these guidelines successfully throughout your career.

  • According to the United States Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a Service Animal performs some of the day-to-day functions and tasks that an individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. The animal does not have to be licensed or certified by the state or local government to meet this standard.
  • Different countries have different laws and cultural views related to Service Animals. You may wish to check the expectations of your country.
  • Be aware that not only dogs, but monkeys and even small horses (and other animals) can be trained as official Service Animals.
  • Some Service Animals will be wearing a vest, collar or harness that alerts you to the fact that it is a working animal. Not all Service Animals wear this vest or harness.
  • Offer your guest a smile and a warm greeting. This will put both your guest and the Service Animal at ease. Use your normal tone of voice.
  • Today, business is often conducted in cubicles. Carefully consider a suitable meeting place that will comfortably accommodate those at the meeting and also the Service Animal.
  • Consider weather conditions if you are escorting your guest and the Service Animal around your property. Review alternatives if it is cold or windy outside, or if you think that it might rain.
  • Please never touch a Service Animal. The animal is working.
  • Never feed a Service Animal.
  • It would be polite to ask the owner if the Service Animal needs water.
  • Do not make any noise (even kind or encouraging sounds) at the Service Animal.
  • Please counsel co-workers prior to the client’s arrival that they must not attempt to distract either the Service Animal or the person it assists.
  • If your client interaction is taking a long time, you may want to advise your guest that there is an area where the Service Animal may be walked.
  • Under United States federal law, you must admit a Service Animal to your property, regardless of health department or other state or local regulations.
  • In the United States, your brand is not permitted to charge a deposit for allowing a Service Animal on your property. You may charge a fee if the animal causes property damages only if this is the brand’s regular practice with the animals of non-disabled guests.

If this is a new situation for you, be patient with yourself. I know that you will display confidence, knowledge and kindness because you are an amazing hospitality professional. You are a member of the world’s most outstanding team.


Excerpts of blog taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, PhD


“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”


 — Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts


  See the book at:   www.HospitalityManners.com


Visit Lyn at:         www.MannersForBusiness.com


Lyn Pont, Ph.D. – World’s Top 30 Hospitality Professionals, 2016 – Global Gurus

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