With this increase, combined with specific driving and TSA regulations, customers are demanding specific product solutions to their travel requirements.
“The top concern for any family when traveling with pets is safety as more pet families are choosing to bring their pets along for both car day trips and air travel across country,” said Emilye Schmale, manager of corporate communications for Petmate. “About 70 percent of pets travel with their families at least once a year, in addition to vet visits or around-town errands. Pets and their people benefit when travel is safe, comfortable and convenient. More pet families are seeking innovative solutions to travel issues, and safe, reliable travel accessories are the cornerstone for many pets on the go.”
According to Stone Newman, founder and president of Art + Science International, the trend will only grow.
“Travel with pets is becoming easier and easier as more attention is paid to this area,” said Newman, whose company licenses Celessence Technology to Who-Rae, which produces a line of pet auto accessories. “Pet products that make travel easier will eliminate the decision of whether Fido should come or not. Of course he should.”
Carriers provide customers with the ability to transport small dogs, or cats, conveniently by plane or car. Popular options include those from Gen7Pets, Bark N Bag and Marchioro. While function is critical with these items, many customers choose carriers for their small animals based on style, as well.
Regulations rule car and plane travel, for both people and pets. TSA regulations govern what accessories can accompany your pet by plane. And many states are adopting laws that require pets to be restrained in the car. For example, New Jersey requires pets to be properly restrained, which includes keeping them from poking their heads out the window.
Steep fines accompany tickets for violating these distracted driver laws. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to be able to guide customers to the appropriate seat belts, harnesses, crates and carriers.
“As of today, several states have passed legislation requiring pet owners to restrain their pets in automobiles,” said Richard J. Casey, president of 4×4 North America, Inc. “This legislation will soon expand to other states as well. Awareness driven by this legislation will expand the market for reliable, high-quality pet travel and safety products.”
His brand’s most popular items are their Crash Tested Products: the Variocage, Variogate and the Original AllSafe Harness.
“We know that according to the AAA/Kurgo Pet Travel Survey only 16 percent of people restrain their dog while driving while 86 percent of people acknowledge it can be unsafe to drive with an unrestrained dog,” said Gordie Spater, president of Kurgo Products. “The Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Dog Harness – 3055 series has gone through extensive crash-testing and tensile testing. It’s our most popular harness because it’s safe, simple to use and comfortable enough to be your regular walking harness, too.”
Products Customers Want
With the increase in pet travel, customers are purchasing more travel accessories.
“Petmate has found that these products remain so popular because of widespread distribution, their innovative features, and because the items offer solutions to the most common pet travel concerns,” said Schmale.
Petmate manufactures several customer favorites, including the See & Extend and Wetnoz carriers, and the Soft-Sided Kennel Cab, which is approved by most airlines. They also recently launched new products, including a Booster Seat, which is available in two sizes and allows pets to be secure while still being able to see out the window. The Portable Pop-Up Den, also in two sizes, provides a safe and shady shelter with fleece padding.
At Solvit Products, President Patrick Hoffman said he’s seen success not only in harnesses and booster seats, but also in seat covers.
“Harnesses provide safety to pets and passengers and prevent driver distraction, plus Solvit’s have been crash tested to the highest standards available,” he said. “Seat covers make it more convenient to keep your car clean; and booster seats give pets a cozy place to ride and still see out the window.”
He suggested that retailers focus on the education component of these products. Emphasizing the safety and convenience will encourage customers to purchase more travel accessories like harnesses and seat covers.
“Raising a dog no longer has to mean you have to have a car with destroyed seats,” said Spater. “As people continue to bring their pets along more often, they continue to look for ways to reduce the hair, mud, and wet that comes along with an active dog. The basic Kurgo Bench Seat Cover is popular, particularly in black and gray, but our seasonal patterns like the muted floral and the color splash attract a more stylish audience and encourage consumers to buy more than one seat cover.”
Likewise, the Petmate Seat and Cargo Covers are machine-washable covers that offer pets comfort during road trips while preventing vehicle messes and scratch marks.
“Our best-selling pet items are the rear seat pet cover and blanket,” said Newman. “We believe this is due to the increase in family car travel over the years coupled with the increased attention placed on pets and pet products. Pet odor is one of the largest issues with pets. This eliminates that concern and makes traveling with pets an option where it may not have been a consideration in the past.”