Glenn Polyn//February 1, 2023//
Glenn Polyn //February 1, 2023//
As the number of pet owners across the country spiked during the pandemic, the need of adventure and travel needs to be fit for man and man’s best friend like never before. Our furry friends are a part of the family. We want to take them on all of our family vacations so they can be a part of the fun. The travel industry is ramping up the amenities for guests’ canine companions, offering everything from cushy dog beds and gluten-free meals to massages and even facials.
The surge in pet-related travel amenities appears to be yet another one of those big trends that the pandemic sent. The ASPCA reported last year nearly one in five households acquired a cat or dog since the beginning of the Covid outbreak. And now that lockdowns are over, humans want to show their pets all the iconic sites locally and abroad.
As the lines are becoming more and more blurred between work, home and travel – from staycations to working from hotels -retailers must adapt to this new hybrid lifestyle and start thinking outside of the box.
This presents a new group of customers to be won, retailers and many hotels are racing to offer the friendliest pet accommodations and travel products around. At a basic level, that could look like offering to-go pet treats, beds, bowls, and toys.
But this is pet owners we’re talking about here—so a bustling luxury pet travel market has also sprung up.
Big ticket items like TSA approved Carriers are always a must in your store. While many of the everyday TSA-approved carriers may seem all the same, the luxury pet travel consumer is looking for unique carriers that best suits their need and the need of their posh pup. This can look like a quilted black carrier with a luxurious leather and gold chain strap that matches the customers handbag (Think Chanel-inspired).
By doing your research, retailers can find niche manufacturers who specifically make these unique and gorgeous carriers. While there are no specific weight or breed limitations for pets, they must travel in either a hard-sided or soft-sided carrier that fits under the seat in front of you, and they must be able to stand up and turn around while inside.
Consider these must have fashionable pet travel items for a comfortable and safe trip:
Snow can be rough on dogs’ paws and it is crucial to keep their paws protected. While dog shoes or boots may seem “cute” or even not important, they should not be overlooked. Always prepare in advance. Travelling to a cold climate that is different from what your dog is used to, one must consider the protection of their pet’s paws.
“Temperatures of 32 degrees or less, is painful for dogs, not to mention the snow, but the ice salt used on sidewalks can actually burn the delicate areas in and around the paw. There are many products to make sure your pets’ paws are protected. For those pups who refuse to wear shoes or booties” try using a paw protector wax,” said veterinary technicial Katrina Steele of Western Reserve Veterinary Hospital.
Dogs are creatures of habit. Educate your customers that when taking them on vacation, be sure to have items like blankets and toys that smell like home, so they don’t feel so estranged or anxious.
“My top 5 must have products for my girls when we travel are poop bags, foldable water dish, dog carrier, shampoo and container, a hairbrush and a toothbrush,” said Lisa Umbelina, dog training expert and blogger of the popular blog, Travelling With A Dog. “My favorite, and one thing I never travel without is a supply of hair bows! Also, if people are considering traveling with a dog, I would just say to go ahead and start. Don’t overthink.”
Retailers can build on this travel trend. Jet-setting pet parents know just how heartbreaking it feels to leave a beloved furry friend at home while traveling.
There’s money to be made here – retailers who are expanding their offerings and services in order to accommodate and serve the pet travel consumer, opens up opportunities for businesses to provide a better experience and loyal customer base.
One thing is for sure: these pet parents care deeply about nurturing the bond between them and their dog, which means travel and activities to enjoy together is a high priority. In fact, 79 percent of dog parents agree that pet-friendly activities and pet-friendly travel accessories are their biggest consideration when planning a dog-friendly vacation.
So-called “revenge travel” has many people planning trips to make up for lost travel opportunities due to the pandemic, and pet parents are no exception.
The majority (62 percent) of pet parents are planning to take 2-3 trips with their dog this spring and summer. Of these folks, 53 percent said their primary motivation for traveling this spring and/or summer is “to have fun and enjoy time away from home.”
In conclusion, pet parents are planning to travel—one way or another—this spring and summer. Ensuring that your store provides these pet travel-friendly items is a sure bet your customers will be delighted. Bon Voyage and safe travels!
A successful fashion model for 25 years, Ashley Carestia also is founder/CEO of Bark Fifth Avenue, a luxury retail boutique and brand. She has earned the respect of her colleagues through arduous work and dedication, being awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women of Influence award from Pet Age and Entrepreneur of the Year by Women in The Pet Industry.