March 2011


Mixed reaction as caravan chain rethinks canine policy

New welcome mat for dogs

BIG4 relaxes 32-year stance on pets

By Dennis Amor
  Have your say

A DECISION by the BIG4 chain of holiday and caravan parks to relax its longstanding no-dogs policy has received a mixed reaction from caravanners.

In a statement, the chain said it had undertaken an "in-depth review" of the rule which barred canines from its 180-plus parks throughout Australia.

"After detailed research and analysis, BIG4 has decided to take the step of allowing its member parks the option of accepting dogs," it said.

The policy change will take effect from 1 July.

BIG4 Holiday Parks chief executive Ray Schleibs said the decision had not been made lightly because the chain had enforced the no-dogs rule for 32 years.

"The decision has been made due to recognition that society's attitude towards travelling with dogs has changed," he explained.

"More dogs are travelling and holidaying with couples and families, with many seeing dogs as substitute children or loyal companions. As industry leaders, BIG4 is committed to evolving and adapting to suit the needs of all travellers by offering our member parks the option of welcoming dogs."

Mr Schleibs said that before dogs were accepted, parks would be required to go through a qualification process to ensure a dog-specific infrastructure was in place and met BIG4's high quality standards.

The policy decision would not affect the day-to-day operations of member parks which still preferred to ban dogs, he added.

Members of the online Caravanners Forum were both for and against the new policy.

"Personally I think it's a smart move by BIG4 management as they have had quite a lot of flack from park owners and shareholders over the past few years on a variety of issues," wrote former caravan park owner and caravan consultant 'Ozjohn'.

"This move will go some way to appease a few park owners that have pushed for a more relaxed policy. I can't, however, see more than around 25-30 percent of their parks moving to become dog friendly as most are more than happy with their present arrangements."

But contributor 'Karl' stressed that allowing dogs into the chain's parks would be a negative to him. "They will gain some and lose some in this change, in my humble opinion," he wrote.

'Ranger' suggested that "input from us as a user group" was finally filtering up to BIG4's policymakers.

"They have realised the potential source of income and the slice of the market they are depriving themselves of, and that may actually be a contributing factor as to the policy change," he wrote.

"I guess when you advertise yourself as a 'family' park, you need to keep in mind that families also have pets, and then you need to weigh up the pros, the cons and the legalities of a potential policy change."

Meanwhile, contributor 'Mike' thought it would be "interesting" to see whether BIG4 would relax the no-dog policy or remove it entirely.

"No doubt each individual BIG4 park could have their own rules on this ... I agree that some will still not allow dogs in their peak times.

"A jam-packed park with a large number of families with young children and a large number of dogs has the potential to be problematic.

"For any park owner, I could imagine the decision-making process would be quite a complex one when liability issues, families with young children wanting to avoid dogs, people with dogs wanting to avoid young children and so on. No decision is going to suit every potential customer.

"I'm sure our pooch would love to come away with us over Xmas holidays too!"



Sign Guestbook Guestbook by GuestWorld View Guestbook

 No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without
the prior written permission of Dennis Amor.

Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
All Rights Reserved