Pretty much nothing makes pet parents happier then when other people show love for their furry sidekicks. Which is why finding a business that’s not just tolerant of their pets, but friendly to them is such a win. Even if it’s a tad pricier or a little out of their way, they’re willing to show their loyalty to those folks who are welcoming to their pets.
Pet-Friendly Brand Loyalty
In a 2023 survey conducted by TripsWithPets, pet parents were asked if they would be loyal to a hotel brand/chain because it was pet-friendly. Specifically, would they be more inclined to book with a pet-friendly chain even when they were not traveling with their pet? With over 2,000 pet parents responding, a whopping 96% said that they were more likely to show loyalty to a hotel brand that was pet friendly – whether they were actually traveling with their pets or not. Further, respondents indicated that their brand loyalty carries over to other businesses that welcome pets.
There are a lot of pet parents out there. Nearly 70% percent of American households have at least one pet. More businesses would do well to consider a more pet-welcoming environment. Pet parents want to bring their furry kids along with them to shop at their favorite stores, hang out with them as they wait to get their oil changed, pop in to the local coffee shop, or visit their local banker. Any business that shows pets some love can win big with this demographic.
How Pets Enhance Brand Perception
Businesses who open their doors to pets can benefit in more ways than gaining a new source of loyal clients. Being pet friendly builds a positive, caring brand perception. It creates a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Further, it can bring new revenue opportunities in the form of pet-friendly products and services. According to the American Pet Product Association’s yearly report, pet parents spent $143.6 billion on their furry kids in 2023. That’s up from $136 billion in 2022, and $123 billion in 2021. So, the potential for continuously growing added profit is certainly there.
Business owners who bring their own pets to the workplace can benefit too. Pets are the ultimate welcome mat – it would be hard to find many animal lovers who could resist getting a closer peek at a little furry, friendly face they see in a shop window. Beyond inviting people in, pets are an ice-breaker. They inspire friendly conversation, help build connections between business owners and patrons, and make an establishment truly memorable within the community.
How Businesses are “Doing” Pet Friendly
In general, the hotel industry has been one of the most eager to embrace pet-friendly practices. Pet-friendly hotels are increasing in numbers, with some even offering luxury amenities like massages, grooming spas, gift baskets and pet taxis.
Restaurants have jumped on the bandwagon too. An increasing number of eateries welcome dogs in their outdoor dining areas, with many offering water bowls, dog treats, or even entire separate menus for dogs. And of course, breweries are the "hot spot" (no pun intended) for dogs and their people to gather, mix, and mingle.
Many non-hospitality businesses have found ways to welcome four-legged friends as well, doing everything from offering water bowls and treats, to providing pet-oriented services and products, to setting aside spaces for pets.
TripsWithPets CEO Kim Salerno knows first-hand how a business’s choice to be pet friendly can influence a pet parent’s decisions. “When I lived in Maine, I went to an amazing pet-friendly day spa called Salon Freeport. They welcomed my dog Tucker with open arms.” she notes. “It was a great bonding time for us – Tucker lounged and relaxed with me while I got a facial. They made him feel special and loved. And they made me a loyal customer.”
Florida Bank of Commerce CEO Dana Kilborne is a firm believer that being pet friendly is an extension of being a family and community-oriented business. “We’re here to serve our community, which is made up of families,” she explains. “We don’t see ourselves as bankers. We’re mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who happen to practice banking. We welcome all well-behaved family members through our doors, and that includes pets.”
Kilborne believes that, while they may not always be overt, the benefits of being a pet-friendly business are very real, both for clients and their pets. “We find that our pet-friendly practices help to humanize the otherwise institutional feel of the financial services industry,” she notes. “Our personal bankers don’t just know our clients by name. They know their pets by name as well. And we’ve had clients tell us that their pets recognize when they’re going to the bank, and look forward to the trip even more than they do!”
Even colleges and universities are seeing the benefits of accommodating pets. Pets can provide comfort and companionship for students who may be far from home, giving them a more positive college experience. Pet-friendly policies can also be selling points for students with beloved pets who are on the fence about where they should go.
Whether a college, a hotel, or a bank, the bottom line is this: if a business welcomes pets, the people who love them won’t be far behind, and that’s a good thing for everyone.