Ardent pet lovers Deepak Chawla and wife Jaanwi have brought pet owners in India a whole new way of pampering their furry buddies- a sumptuous, expansive and opulent Dog Hotel in Gurgaon. ‘Critterati’ is a first of its kind pet destination in India and is claimed to be the first luxury dog hotel in the South-Asian region.
But Mr. Deepak Chawla Founder & CEO Critterati does not simply wish to provide boarding facilities to his customers. Read on to find out more about his extensive vision behind creating Critterati.
What can one expect from the Critterati hotel?
It’s a 5 Star hotel where everything for cats and dogs is available under one roof. It’s a six floor luxury hotel with individual air-conditioned rooms for pets with televisions, velvet beds and cameras so the parents can watch the puppies while they’re away on their mobile phones. There is a restaurant, vet centre, salon, spa, swimming pool and accessories boutique for pets. We have a huge play area for them divided into three sections for dogs of different sizes. We also have a TV lounge for them for when they are tired and everything here is done according to a set routine that we have prepared especially for them and is included in the overnight boarding services.
What inspired you to start such a unique project?
It started from my own family- I had a dog named Blackie and whenever we had to be away from him all the available boarding facilities were substandard. So that’s where I started my research- I travelled all over the world, hired consultants, got training myself. It took me three and a half years of research and then practical implementation to reach this place.
Which are the biggest hurdles you face in your business?
The main thing is that we are dealing with lives here, that too ones that cannot express themselves. So making their life better is the priority. Often dogs in our country are aggressive- they jump or attack other dogs and people too. So people aren’t always dog friendly either, which is not the case abroad. That’s what we want to change, which is also our tagline- redefining the pet culture. We have special socialising packages here so that the temperament of dogs can be improved by getting them to interact with others. It makes them more docile and friendly. We have an entire floor here reserved just for socialising. We also organise parent training sessions on how to keep pets at home, their needs, how to feed them etc. And parents love to be trained too. We organise monthly classes for parents and they are completely free of charge.
How has your journey been so far? Are your expectations fulfilled?
Yes, especially after the feedback that we have received from customers. We have been covered all over the world and the response is much better than what I expected. Initially people would scoff at the idea of such facilities for dogs but now that it’s physically here we have garnered a lot of compliments and excellent reviews.
What’s the market like in India for luxury pet services?
In any case people spend time and money to groom, vaccinate and occasionally pamper their pets all year round. We provide all these services and are not even that expensive. Despite being a ‘luxury’ hotel we charge less than other countries and anybody associated with the Critterati club has access to our special packages for all our services along with customisation which is also our signature feature. Nobody else provides customised packages like we do.
Please tell us more about the Critterati club.
The idea here is not to earn big amounts but to create a lasting relationship with recurring customers. We wish to encourage people to become a part of the club and come back to us repeatedly so that we can educate them and help improve the social behaviour and temperament of their pets; Which is why all our membership costs are very low- generally speaking we charge only rupees 2999-3999 annually for a dog and give him facilities worth rupees 70,000.
What are the advantages and the drawbacks that you face given your distinctive clientele?
Lots of advantages- while travelling abroad people need a safe, friendly place for their dogs and we provide them that. For regular customers it’s like a second home here; dogs can be heard barking from half a kilometre away when they realise they’re near this building again. This also makes the owners very happy; they even say that they wish to be born as dogs in the next life! Also, if the owners just want to go out to dinner or a movie for a few hours our customisation packages let them enjoy some time away from their pets without feeling guilty. We don’t have any drawbacks as such; the only challenge is to regularly train new staff according to my methods to follow our routine and standards here. Also, nearly 50-60% of the products in our boutique are not available in India so we are required to import them; then we also have to educate people about these products since they’ve never heard of them before. But now with increased awareness there is better understanding and with higher demand we might even outsource these products.
What are your future plans for Critterati?
We’ll soon be opening up an operation theatre here. We also have plans for new hotels- I feel there should be such a facility of international standards for training and pampering pets in every city. I also have plans for cat boarding.
As an entrepreneur, would you like to give any advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I think people should focus more on facilities not available in our country that people enjoy abroad. Obviously first timers face advantages and disadvantage, but they should accept the challenges and create better facilities here instead of going with tried and tested models.
So that is Mr. Deepak Chawla, a visionary hotelier on a mission to change the lives of pets and pet owners through his innovative techniques and we can’t help but wish such a project all the success.Click here for reuse options!
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