June 1, 2015

A Growing Trend

The number of pet-friendly travelers is going up. According to last year’s annual Summer Pet Travel Survey conducted by GoPetFriendly.com (GPF), a free pet travel website that houses a database of 60,000 pet-friendly listings across the country, a whopping 51 percent of respondents said they “always” take their pets on vacation.

It’s becoming more common for dog owners to include their furry family members in their travel plans and product innovations have emerged following that trend. For example, Kurgo’s new bench seat cover is waterproof, stain resistant and machine washable and it has both front and rear attachments.

The GPF survey also found that 78 percent of pet owners who travel with their pets drive and close to half use some sort of buckled-in system. That number should increase soon. Many states are enacting distracted-driving laws that include prohibiting pets on laps, which is dangerous for both the driver and the pet. Kurgo’s new Booster Seat allows owners to buckle their dogs in safely while also letting them look out the window.

Safe Travels

In addition to safety seats, harnesses secure pets safely in moving vehicles, like Petmate’s Ultimate Travel Harness.

“At Petmate, we are constantly researching the current trends and needs of pet parents,” said corporate communications manager Emilye Schmale. “Consumers are spending more and more on their pets each year when it comes to travel items to ensure their pet is not only safe but happy while on the go. We continuously excel at providing top solutions with our premium travel products. Our patented, innovative features address the safety and comfort of the pet as well as convenience for the pet parent.”

According to Schmale, the harness is “a top-selling product that provides premium protection for pets during car travel. The step-in harness features adjustable straps and comfortable chest padding. The straps are made of durable nylon, with reflective stitching, that can fit many sizes of dogs. The metal seat belt clip fits most seat belt buckles. In addition, the adjustable loop can be used as a seat belt tether or as a temporary leash when on the go.” The brand’s other best-selling travel products include the See & Extend Carrier.

Another popular carrier option is Gen7Pets’ Carry-Me Pet Carrier, which can be buckled into a vehicle and is designed to slip over a luggage handle for plane travel.

Bark n Bag offers an array of travel-ready carriers, including the innovative Organic Denim Carrier, the first organic carrier introduced to the market. Made from pesticide-free organic cotton, bamboo rafters and an organic cotton liner, the carrier is available in a range of sizes for plane and car travel.

Stress-Free Adventures

For dog owners concerned about their pet’s stress level, ThunderWorks products can help troubleshoot issues.

“ThunderShirt is a terrific solution for travel with your dog any time of year,” said Phil Blizzard, ThunderWorks’ founder and CEO. “ThunderShirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a calming effect for most dogs—over an 80-percent success rate—believed to work similarly to swaddling an infant. [They’re] very easy to put on and when fitted properly, ThunderShirts are very comfortable and most dogs seem to love wearing them, even for extended periods.” He recommends ThunderShirt for any mode of transportation and it is comfortable enough to allow dogs to curl up in their carrier while wearing it.

Calming sprays and supplements are also available from ThunderWorks, Bach (Rescue Remedy), Ark Naturals and Pet Naturals of Vermont. These useful products take up less shelf space than carriers and other equipment and can be stocked on an end cap near a travel display. Plus, as you choose products to take up valuable shelf space, include unexpected selections like PowerBark meal bars—a perfect impulse item.

Pet owners who travel often—and GPF’s survey found that 22 percent planned to take more than five trips a year with their dog—require special equipment and gear, like pop-up bowls, food storage containers and bedding. Those who are going on adventure travel, like hiking and camping trips, need to head to the outdoor gear aisle for their travel purchases.

Because travel possibilities are so broad and can include everything from a sightseeing day trip to an epic road journey to a flight abroad, evaluate your customer base to determine which items are the best fit for your store shelves. Focus on variety and provide a few small add-ons to round out your travel offerings

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