Many of us now see pets as part of the family, and it seems that’s increasingly extending to all parts of family life – including holidays.
Gracia Amico, the chief executive of PetsPyjamas, has claimed that focusing on increasing the numbers of pet-friendly businesses in the UK could do wonders for the hospitality industry. Referring to Euromonitor International’s World Travel Market global trends report, Amico told the Telegraph that British hotels could “increase revenues by 30 per cent per year”, if bans on travellers bringing along their pets were rethought.
Two thirds of animal owners say their pets are part of the family, and more than half of the respondents of a recent Euromonitor survey said they would like to take their pets on holiday too.
Further research from Matalan looking into the changing perception of what constitutes as family life, found that from a list of options, respondents picked pets as those they’d consider to be “close family members”, compared to 21 per cent for parents in law.
Amico suggested that capitalising on this could be a way to reenergise some hotels, and a smart way to add revenue. “It’s known as the ‘hound pound’. It could be a whole new lease of life for struggling hotels and we’re about to see more jump on board,” she said.
The chief executive launched PetsPyjamas last year, after noticing just how many people liked to splurge on their pets. She had previously been a marketing manager at Burberry. Pet travel is now the biggest growth sector of Amico’s business – making up a third of its revenue, with the company predicting to grow that this year.
While Euromonitor has predicted destination services, personalisation, mobile bookings and peer-to-peer to be the main disruptive forces in the travel industry over the next five years, Amico believes a focus pet-friendly hotels and hostels could be a way to enhance domestic tourism.
UK spending on pets is set to surpass £4.6bn ($7bn) for the first time later this year, which would mean an increase of 25 per cent since 2010. Euromonitor projected that global spending will surpass the £66bn ($100bn) mark by 2019.
Amico has seen firsthand the lengths some people will go to for their furry friends – PetsPyjamas offers dog-lovers the chance to buy a Fit Fur Life treadmill on its site for a princely £2,460. You can also pick up an antique dog bed for £1,433, or a Mulberry Doggy Kagool for £150 for when the weather’s looking a bit bleak. The website has won fans in high places – chancellor George Osborne wrote a note of thanks to PetsPyjamas in late 2013, when he was gifted with a hamper for his bichon frise Lola.
The opportunities for interlinking travel and people’s loyalty to their pets are significant – one in ten pet owners has cut a holiday short to get back more quickly to their pet, according to animal charity Blue Cross. “Travel has only just started. There’s such a big way to go still,” Amico added.
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PetsPyjamas has recently launched pet travel awards on the site, exploring the best pet-friendly hotels – with the Old Swan and Minster Mill in the Cotswolds being crowned as the overall best pet-friendly hotel. It offers a special table for meal times – allowing owners to sit with their dogs at dinner.
There are numerous commercial opportunities to take advantage of, though businesses will need to develop their reliability and quality to ensure credibility among this demographic.
Those hotels that do make the transition may also want to check out just what’s already on offer for the discerning dog. The Devonshire Arms in the Yorkshire Dales for example, has a lounge especially for pets, so they can get some precious alone time if the mood strikes. The William Cecil at Stamford meanwhile, provides a room service menu with organic chicken breast, pork sausages and sirloin steak all on offer.
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