Travel Products for Pets Prioritize Safety
The most significant trend in the pet travel products category is a move toward comfort and safety for pets on the go, according to manufacturers and pet specialty retailers. A push for convenience and quality design is also coming from pet owners who like to take their dogs and cats along on trips, and whether they are stocking carriers, strollers, car harnesses, travel beds or other items to accessorize traveling pets, retailers that keep these preferences in mind will be most successful in the pet travel space.
“Pet parents are seeking convenience and versatility in the products they use for pet travel,” said Eric Abbey, president and founder of Loving Pets in Cranbury, N.J. “They want to make caring for the needs of their pet-on-the-go easy and stress free.”
Sarah Stone, director of marketing for Worldwise in Novato, Calif., maker of Sherpa products, sees a trend in pet owners looking for the same levels of safety and security they want for themselves and their children.
“Fashion and trendy designs alone just don’t cut it anymore, so more than ever before, all new solutions for traveling with your pet need to be addressing convenience, comfort and safety,” she said.
A huge trend in the pet travel category right now is the fact that people are planning their vacations in a way that allows them to bring their pets along, said Dallas Dunn, senior buyer and merchandiser for Healthy Spot, which has stores in California.
“For us, this means more attention to products that will get their pets from point A to point B safely and comfortably,” he said. “And as people continue to keep their pets with them more often, they are paying more attention to their pets’ fashion and overall looks.”
Designed with Safety and Comfort in Mind
Manufacturers are responding to the needs of owners who want to travel with their pets by releasing new products designed to make taking pets along both safe and convenient.
Worldwise recently expanded its Sherpa brand of travel products to include Sherpa FormaFrame Crash-Tested Carriers, Sherpa Seat Belt Crash-Tested Harnesses, the Sherpa Collar with Built-In Leash and the Sherpa Harness with Built-In Leash.
“Crash-tested carriers are definitely something pet parents are looking for,” said Sarah Stone, director of marketing for the Novato, Calif.-based company. “In addition to wanting more protection, more and more U.S. states now require pets to be restrained in the car—to protect those in the car, to protect the pet and to protect anyone else on the road. These requirements are only going to increase over time, so it was very important to Sherpa to ensure our new carriers are crash tested.”
Pasadena, Calif.-based Sleepypod, also a maker of crash-tested carriers, recently released the Assisi Loop Lounge, available for the Sleepypod Air pet carrier and the Sleepypod Atom pet carrier. The product is the result of collaboration between Sleepypod and Assisi Animal Health in Santa Fe, N.M.
The Assisi Loop Lounge nestles in the bedding of the Air and Atom carriers. It incorporate a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared, rechargeable pulsed electromagnetic field device that delivers a micro-current, which targets the body’s natural anti-inflammatory process, said Michael Leung, lead product designer and co-founder. The Assisi Loop Lounge is designed to accelerate healing, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in small animals.
Last year, Loving Pets introduced Bella Roma Travel Bowls and Bella Roma Travel Double Diners to make traveling with pets more convenient.
“These are the ultimate bowls for pets and pet parents on the go,” said Eric Abbey, president and founder of the Cranbury, N.J.-based company. “Patent-pending designs feature integrated locking lids to store food and built-in legs to support the bowl or diner, which prevents unwanted collapses while your pet is feeding or drinking.”
When collapsed down, the bowls are flat, making them easy to put in a bag or purse. They can pack flat or be hung from a backpack, purse, belt loop or leash with the included carabiner.
When it comes to displays, it is important to help pet owners visualize how they can use travel-related products for their own pets.
Norm Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash On Life in Albuquerque, N.M., frequently uses dog and cat mannequins inside crates or carriers and on booster chairs to capture the attention of customers.
“Using demos like this helps customers visualize their own pets in those situations,” he said. “We also found that colorful posters using a combination of products, humor and function are great at closing sales.”
Sarah Stone, director of marketing for Worldwise in Novato, Calif., maker of Sherpa products, recommends displaying products both out of packaging and assembled, and in packaging whenever possible.
“This allows pet parents to touch and feel the products, measure their pet and measure the product, making sure they are purchasing the best fit for their unique travel needs,” she said.
Worldwise provides signage for its travel products to help consumers find the right product in the correct size for their pet, she added.
Help Them on Their Journey
Helping pet owners understand the best way to use products is crucial in the pet travel category, according to pet specialty retailers and manufacturers.
Retailers will find lots of opportunities for add-on sales if they take the time to talk with shoppers about what to expect when travelling with a dog and situations that can come as a surprise, said Connie Roller, manager of The Feed Bag Pet Supply in Mequon, Wis.
“Make the customer aware that even a simple harness that a seat belt can pass through can be a lifesaver,” Roller said. “Not just in the impact of a crash, but when car doors fly open or are opened by emergency personnel. So many dogs get lost far from home in a car accident. That is a heartbreak that does not need to happen.”
Norm Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash On Life in Albuquerque, N.M., pointed out that the majority of the pet travel products he sells emphasize safety.
“That is how we educate our pet parent customers,” he said. “Many of them are surprised by our hydration or calming suggestions as they would not have considered those for pet travel. We also fill customers in about securing pets inside of vehicles, and how any pet in the open bed of a pickup truck is unsafe.”
Earth Animal, a store in Westport, Conn., sells travel products targeted toward naturally helping support the emotions of a dog or cat during travel. According to owner Merritt Goldstein, Earth Animal’s customer education extends to helping pet owners with different aspects of their trip.
“We provide information such as pet-friendly hotels in the area and high-quality carriers that are allowed in the airplane cabin,” he said. “We also offer carriers for the car that will keep the dog or cat safe at all times, and have product literature, signage and testimonials for all of our natural remedies that help during travel.”