Pet-friendly travel remains an important market niche. Eight out of ten people who bring their dogs along when they travel (dog travelers) find hotel policies and amenities important when selecting accommodations, according to a national study released by Destination Analysts and DogTrekker.com.
The survey of dog travelers was part of a larger study of American leisure travelers conducted in 2011 and is considered to be the latest and most comprehensive on dog travelers, according to Dave Kendrick, co-founder of Dogtrekker, an online guide to dog-friendly travel based in Northern California.
“This survey sends a huge message to the lodging industry. The influence of this significant group of leisure travelers is rising and hoteliers should take note of their concern about expensive hotel pet fees (42.3 percent) and confusion over pet-friendly policies (34 percent),” said Kendrick.
Until the study was conducted, Kendrick said, “Very little research about people who travel with their pets existed. We were able to uncover what dog travelers want and what frustrates them about so-called dog-friendly destinations.”
“What really stood out was not the numbers of those who travel with dogs, but the reasons why leisure travel dog-owners do not travel with their dogs,” Dogtrekker’s Kendrick reported. “Over 40 percent said that finding dog-friendly accommodations was difficult; a third said that their dog’s safety was a concern and over 30 percent said that finding things to with my dog was difficult.”
Of dog travelers, 43.6 percent say there is a poor selection of truly pet-friendly hotels and 17.2 percent said concerns about finding doggie day care kept them from bringing their dog along on trips, says Dogtrekker.com.
Dogtrekker found that 47.3 percent of all leisure travelers own a dog and that 40.7 percent of those that do have traveled with their dog in the past two years. However, 34 percent find there is confusion over pet-friendly policies at hotels and attractions, contributing to why 59.3 percent of leisure travelers who own dogs do not bring their dogs along when traveling.
Pet-friendly policies and amenities were stated as very important by 51.3 percent of people who traveled with their pet in the past two years. While, the greatest reported obstacles to traveling with pets included a poor selection of truly pet-friendly hotels (43.6 percent), expensive hotel pet fees (42.3 percent), confusion over pet policies (34 percent) and finding activities to do with the pet once at the destination (22.4 percent).
Of the resources used by leisure travelers to plan dog-friendly trips, 52.6 percent used internet search engines, 34.6 percent relied on the recommendations of friends and family, 34 percent used dog-friendly websites, 14.7 percent referred to travel guide books, 13.5 percent read books and magazines, 13.5 percent found their information in newspapers, 10.3 percent got guidance from visitors bureaus and state tourism offices, and 7.7 percent used social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
People who travel with dogs tend to explore broadly. The survey found that less than 50 percent (46.8 percent to be exact) of leisure travelers who traveled with their dog chose well-known pet-friendly cities or destinations for their trip.
The survey of dog travelers was included in the July 2011 State of the American Traveler Survey, conducted every six months by Destination Analysts, Inc, a tourism industry research company. The online survey includes a nationally representative sample of adult Americans, screened by their leisure travel behavior.
Dogtrekker.com says only those respondents who had traveled at least once in the past 12 months for purely leisure or personal reasons were interviewed. Their travel had to have been at least 50 miles one-way — the standard distance used in the tourism industry to signify that a “leisure trip” has been taken.
In total, 1,009 leisure travelers completed the survey. With this sample size, the topline data presented is considered to have a reliability of +/- 3.1%.