Travel firm that lets you holiday with your pet

Aug 16, 2015, 06:47 IST | Anju Maskeri

New digital service CollarFolk will help you plan a vacation with your fuzzy half

Most dog owners will vouch for the fact that leaving their furry companion behind while on a holiday is the second most difficult thing to do. The most difficult thing is taking them along.

CollarFolk has listed 120 destinations across the country that will welcome your pet, and 30 around the city. PICS/ Vipurva Parikh

“Ninety per cent of Indian pet owners have never travelled with their pets. Not because they are a handful to manage, but because there aren’t enough pet-friendly destinations in India,” says Delhi-based entrepreneur Rukmini Vaish, who has a solution at hand. The 31-year-old will launch a service called CollarFolk, which helps you plan a holiday with your pet.

While the website will launch in a fortnight, the CollarFolk Facebook page is already flooded with enquiries from eager pet owners. In its current form, the page recommends holiday destinations that are pet-friendly. The site will provide details about outdoor activities that a particular resort has to offer for your pet — trails, boat rides, camping sites and a lake to swim in. “The most basic demand from pet parents is need for open space where their dog can run around. They also want the pet to be allowed inside the room,” says Vaish, who is parent to Kiki, a four-month-old golden retriever.

While demand for pet-friendly destinations is overwhelming, supply isn’t readily available. “We approached 50 properties, of which only 10 showed interest in allowing pets. They were worried about the pets causing damage to property and hygiene issues,” reveals Vaish, who worked as brand manager with a multinational firm but quit her job in January to turn entrepreneur. “Pet parents do not like to visit destinations in peak seasons due to crowds. So, if resort owners are open to the idea of allowing pets, it’s a win-win for both,” she says. The fee for boarding and lodging with your pet is an additional 15 to 20 per cent. There is a strict pet policy — for instance, not leaving the pet unattended during activities like swimming and ensuring it has a life jacket on. “We are tying to get resort owners to arrange for pet keepers, so that when owners go sight seeing, there is somebody to look after the pet,” she says.

Instructions for pet parents include not leaving him/her unattended during activities like swimming and ensuring the pooch has a life jacket on

Vaish’s first session of research involved properties in Nainital, Mussoorie and Hrishikesh. Next, she visited resorts around Delhi. “Many owners prefer starting off with two-hour journeys, because they have never been on a holiday with their pets,” she says. CollarFolk has hired two interns in Mumbai to list destinations around the city. Goa, they found, is one of the most pet friendly destinations in India. As of now, the service has 120 resorts on board, 30 of them near Mumbai.

The facility, Vaish says, is not restricted to dogs. “However cats aren’t great travellers; they prefer the comfort of their homes. So, by default, we end up with dogs.” “Funnily, we had somebody who was enquiring if he could travel with his monitor lizard. We had to politely turn him down for now,” she laughs.

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