While most of the economy limps along, the pet industry is thriving. It is estimated that $50.84 billion will be spent on our pets in the U.S. in 2011. America's and the world's love affair with their pets is evidenced by their spending habits. Dog and cat parent's spending is at an all time high ... and much of it is on pet travel expenses. That's right - falling in line right behind pet health and boarding expenses, dog and cat parents are opening up their pocket books to take Fido and Fluffy to pet-friendly hotels and buy them those much-neededpet travel supplies.
We conducted an online survey of pet parents who travel with their dogs and cats to uncover what they look for when sniffing out dog- and cat-friendly hotels and accommodations.
Here are their top five:
1. Pet Fees: Even though pet parents aren't afraid to open up their wallets for their cats and dogs, they still want a deal. When choosing pet-friendly hotels or accommodations, pet parents compare pet fees when determining where to book their stay. Many look negatively on pet-friendly accommodations that charge high pet fees, as they equate high pet fees as "not pet friendly."
2. Pet Amenities: Pet welcome baskets, pet beds and pet bowls are among the little touches that go a long way with pet parents. To most, the way to their hearts is through their pets. Pet-friendly hotels and accommodations that offer these perks to pamper Fido and Fluffy factor into their decision of where to stay. Pet amenities become more of a factor for longer stays or vacation stays. Dog walking, pet sitting and pet concierge services are among the amenities that become more important to pet parents for these types of stays.
3. Location: Pet parents are less apt to drive off the beaten path for accommodations when traveling with their pet. When they are booking overnight stays on their way to their final destination, they will select pet-friendly accommodations closest to their route and are willing to pay a little bit more for it. Cat pet parents, in particular, have a stronger preference to not drive any further than they have to. Generally, cats aren't as seasoned travelers as dogs and aren't as happy traveling. Hence, the less time in the car, the better.
4. Pet Policy: Accommodations and hotels that allow pets, but whose pet policies list numerous restrictions, are perceived as "not pet friendly." Pet parents are less likely to book their stay at accommodations whose pet policy is loaded with restrictions and penalties. They seek out accommodations that welcome their pets and therefore tend to pass on accommodations with overly restrictive pet policies.
5. Loyalty to Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains: A very interesting habit of pet parents is that, once they find a pet-friendly hotel chain that takes care of their dog or cat to their liking, they will tend to book at that pet-friendly hotel chain even at times when they are not traveling with their pet. As mentioned before, the way to their hearts is through their pets!
As the world's love affair with their pets grows, pet parents will continue to flex their financial muscle, raising the bar for pet-friendly hotels and pet travel.
TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.
Author Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels.