For businesses, the way to the heart of many Americans just may be through their pets. With pet parenting on the rise, and people spending even more time, affection, and money on their pets, pleasing pet parents is a solid way for businesses to gain an edge. Pet parents love businesses who love their furry kids, and they’re willing to spend a little more and go a little further out of their way to show their appreciation. That means there are a number of different ways businesses can win with this large and growing demographic.
In a recent TripsWithPets survey, out of 500 pet parents who were asked, 82 percent said they were more likely to choose a hotel brand that they knew was pet friendly – whether they were traveling with their furkids or alone.
Pet-centric brand loyalty is no small thing. In 2020, 63.4 percent of American households had at least one dog and 42.7 percent had at least one cat. This means there are millions of people out there who would love the ability to bring their pets along with them to their favorite stores, restaurants, and salons, or to keep them company while they run errands, like stopping in at the bank or waiting for oil to be changed. Any business that makes an effort to accommodate the wishes of pet parents to take their furkids wherever they go will win their hearts - and their loyalty.
Wagging tails enhance brand perception
Being pet friendly isn’t just about chasing the loyalty of pet parents. Going the extra mile for pets helps businesses build a positive, caring brand perception, and shows that they are fun, warm, and welcoming places to visit.
Business owners who let their own pets tag along with them to work can benefit from positive brand perception, too. Pets are living “welcome” signs – few animal lovers can resist getting a closer look at a pet's friendly face they spot in a store window. Beyond drawing people into a store or shop, pets act as social catalysts. They spark conversations, create immediate connections, and make businesses unique and memorable.
Pet friendliness can even create new revenue opportunities by way of innovative products and services. According to the American Pet Product Association’s yearly report, pet parents spent a whopping $103.6 billion on their furry kids in 2020. That’s up from $97.1 billion in 2019, and $90.5 billion in 2018. For 2021, it is estimated that $109.6 billion will be spent on pets in the U.S. So, there is certainly potential for business owners to tap into this lucrative and ever-growing market.
How businesses are “doing” pet friendly
Overall, the hospitality industry has been the most prominent, eager, and successful when it comes to adopting pet-friendly practices. Pet-friendly accommodations - including chains; independent accommodations like inns and bed-and-breakfasts; and boutique hotels - are quickly increasing in number, and in the pet-friendly amenities they offer. Some even go as far as providing luxury options like pet massages and doggie room service menus.
An increasing number of restaurants also welcome pets to their outdoor seating areas, with many offering pet-specific perks like doggie menus, doggie desserts, and doggie hydration stations. And of course, many breweries across the country are welcoming dogs both inside and outdoors.
Even non-hospitality businesses have found ways to roll out the welcome wagon for four-legged patrons, from simple gestures like keeping water bowls or dishes of treats handy, to providing specific pet-oriented services and products for pooches.
TripsWithPets CEO and Founder, Kim Salerno, is well aware of how a business’s decision to accommodate pets can influence a pet parent’s buying decisions.
“When I lived in Maine, I’d go to an incredibly pet-friendly day spa, Salon Freeport, where they don't just allow pets - they welcome them with open arms. I’d bring my dog Tucker,” she notes. “It was a great bonding time for us – a day of beauty with Mom, where he got to lounge and relax on the same table with me while I got a facial. Needless to say, I was a very loyal customer.”
Even learning institutions are seeing the benefits of pet-friendly practices. Having pets on campus and in dorms can offer comfort and companionship for students away from home for the first time, ensuring a more positive college experience.
Pet-friendly policies can also make the difference when it comes to where a student with a beloved pet chooses to study. Most colleges permit fish in living quarters, and many allow smaller, quieter animals like reptiles and rodents. Some colleges overtly permit students to have dogs and/or cats, while others will sometimes negotiate with students to try and accommodate a furry, four-legged roommate if requested.
Whether a school, a restaurant, or a spa, there’s one takeaway from all of this: a business that works to accommodate pets will earn the affection and loyalty of human pet parents, and that’s win-win for everyone.
TripsWithPets has been helping pet parents find pet-friendly accommodations since 2003. TripsWithPets provides online reservations at over 35,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. You'll find thousands of pet-friendly destinations like Franklin, TN, Boston, MA, and Austin, TX. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for all they need to book the perfect place to stay with their pet -- including detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. Enjoy exclusive deals, get travel tips and news @ #jointheroadtrip.