People love their pets, and now more than ever pets are being treated like they’re members of the family. Pet owners go to great lengths to make their pets happy, purchasing special foods and toys, enrolling them in fancy “doggy day cares,” and even dressing them up in designer clothes (though I’m not sure how much pets actually enjoy this). To adapt to this trend in pet pampering, businesses in the tourism industry have learned to cater to pet-owners and their furry friends in order to capture the ever-increasing pet tourism market.
In recent years, the pet industry has evolved from a niche market into a mainstream industry, remaining relatively unaffected by the poor economy. According to APPMA’s 2010-2011 National Pet Owners Survey, spending on pets has consistently risen by $2 billion per year since 2007, with $48.4 billion being spent in 2010 and $50.8 billion estimated to be spent in 2011. This means that accommodating furry travellers can mean big bucks for you and your travel-related business.
Marketing to Pet Owners
Based on APPMA’s study, 62 percent of households in the United States own a pet. That’s approximately 73 million homes, which represents a huge market for your business, and you can reach this market in a number of ways. Chances are there are at least a few pet clubs or pet-related organizations in your area, and contacting them can be a great start for building a local customer base. There are also a number of pet magazines that allow for outside advertisements, pet-oriented websites and forums can provide plenty of valuable ways to advertise to new customers. Always remember that most pet-owners are very fond of their pets, so it’s important to refer to their furry friends as if they are people.
Catering to Pets
In the past, pets were mostly forbidden from hotels and tourist attractions due to risk of allergies, diseases, disturbances to guests, damage to furniture, sanitation and safety issues. Some places permitted pets, but usually required a hefty pet fee or at the very least a security deposit. Nowadays, hotels and attractions around the country are catering to pets in a variety of ways, and those who don’t are seeing their customers migrate to their more pet-friendly competitors.
If you’d like to revamp your business for the pet tourism market, there is a multitude of ways you can pamper your pet guests and make loyal customers out of your pet-owners guests. Aside from offering simple kennel services and pet-friendly accommodations, you can offer such amenities as dog-walking, pet-sitting, easy access to local veterinarian information, reward programs, and possibly even grooming services. Some hotels even go as far as doggie massages, manicures, and even specially designed doggie beds for their canine guests.
The pet tourism industry is growing fast, and those businesses in the travel and tourism industry who don’t take advantage of this are going to be left in the dust. By properly marketing and catering to pet owners and their miniature companions, you can capture this emergent market and enhance your business in ways you may have never thought possible.