It's Not a Good Idea to Put Dolphins in a Hotel

By Sarah Lucas CEO & Founder, Action for Dolphins | October 22, 2017

A decade ago it might have been socially acceptable to swim with dolphins in a hotel pool. But those days are gone. Now posting a holiday pic posing with Flipper is hugely controversial. Just ask reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who found herself in hot water after swimming with dolphins in Mexico. Or Real Housewives’ Bethany Frankel, who copped a wave of social media criticism for visiting Atlantis Paradise Island’s Dolphin Cay in August.

Ever since the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove exposed the cruel dolphin hunts in Japan and the 2013 documentary Blackfish exposed the mistreatment of orcas to a mass audience, the dolphin captivity industry has been fighting a losing battle. SeaWorld’s attendance rates plummeted in the wake of the second film, and the world’s largest marine theme park company’s profits fell 84%.

Hotels are not immune to the flow on effect of this social change. Those that offer dolphin experiences are increasingly becoming the target of organised demonstrations and animal welfare campaigns. Dolphin Quest in Hawaii, for example, is the frontline of regular protests from local animal welfare groups, who line up in front of the hotel for hours with signs sporting slogans such as “Captivity is cruel” and “Thanks, but no tanks”.

alt text
A 2017 Protest at Kahala Resort, Hawaii. Photo: Phil Waller, Empty the Tanks Hawaii

It’s easy to try and discredit activists and animal welfare groups by labelling them ‘extremists’ (a ‘framing’ tactic the dolphin entertainment industry has been using for years). But their concerns don’t just come from a place of compassion. They are backed up with science and well-respected marine mammal experts.

Studies show captive dolphins regularly exhibit some degree of abnormal or stereotypic behaviour. This can range from self-inflicting trauma by banging their heads on concrete walls to biting the sides of their pools, floating motionless for long periods (called ‘logging’), or ‘pacing’ around and around in circles.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.