On the Road Again
Stock these important travel accessories for pets.
According to the Travel Industry Association of America, more than 30 million Americans travel with their pets annually, taking them away for weekends as well as on both local and international vacations. This has caused a boom in the number of pet travel related items being manufactured and prompted some retailers to designate a travel section in store.
“I created a travel section about a year ago and it’s proved to be a great success,” says Scott Rinehart owner of Wiskers Beastro in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, Calif. “It’s all about convenience for the pet owner and can be set up in any part of the store. I have worked it around my carriers and pet luggage but it can also be set up next to the food and treat section because all these items are necessary for a trip away from home.”
In order to assist retailers in creating a travel section, here is a list of travel essentials highlighting some of the latest innovative products to make it easy to pack for pets.
SPA AND GROOMING PRODUCTS
Many manufacturers of grooming products have started producing travel kits with an array of products such as an oatmeal shampoo for dry and itchy skin, a fur butter conditioner, a calming aromatherapy spritzer which doubles as a detangling leave-in conditioner and an aromatic spa mist.
“Travel sets are great sellers year round,” confirms Rinehart. “They make great gift items too.”
“No dog should leave home without grooming products and a bathrobe,” agrees Carol Perkins CEO of Harry Barker in Charleston, North Carolina. “When traveling, they need to smell good at all times because they are traveling in such close quarters with you A bathrobe is useful to dry off a dog after a bath or a day at the beach. It can double up as an extra item of clothing too.”
“Consumers are attracted to fragrances they personally like such as peppermint and lavender,” says Lorna Paxton one of the founders of the Los Angeles based Happytails Canine Spa Company. These fragrances work well on pets too especially because of their therapeutic aromatherapy qualities.”
FUR FIGHTERS – SEAT COVERS AND DISPOSABLE PETWEAR
“It’s a good idea for retailers to also stock multi-purpose convenience items such as washable seat covers,” adds Perkins. “Apart from protecting vehicle upholstery, they double up as an impromptu bed pet.”
Disposable pet wear and throw away booties are other ways of ensuring that a vehicle’s interior remains clean and mud free. Garments made from a non-woven fabric with elasticized leg, tail and neck openings for comfort can be reused several times before being tossed in the trash.
FIRST AID KITS
First aid kits are another travel essential and there’s a wide variety available catering specifically for different pets including horses and birds. The standard pet kits come in a convenient hard-shell case and include everything from antiseptic towelettes to an oral feeding syringes and plastic forceps. There are even special kits for sporting dogs in special packs that fit onto a belt.
“Travel accessories such as first aid kits for pets are all about providing peace of mind for you and your best friend when you’re away from home,” says Don Knutson of Creative Pet Products in Spring Valley, WO. “They are an essential piece of luggage for today’s active pet owner.”
According to the Automobile Association of America, pets are the third worst driving distraction; their diversion tactics even rank ahead of cell phones. In a crash or sudden stop situation, an unrestrained pet is like a moving projectile; the impact can not only kill a furry family member but also injure anyone in their path.
Further, statistics published by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, shows that only 14 per cent of pet owners restrain their pets in cars. Retailers can play an important role in promoting pet safety in moving vehicles by stressing the importance of pet restrainers for use on all pets, irrespective or size or species.
Fortunately there’s a large variety available from restraints that resemble a standard pet harness and attach to the shoulder safety belt or lap strap in a vehicle, to a selection of car seats and booster seats for smaller pets that allow them to be well secured and still have a view of the passing parade.
“I always recommend pet owners buy specific collars and leashes for travel that focus on safety and security,” says Richard Shiu of Best in Show, in San Francisco, California. The new Quick Control collars and harnesses that have built-in leashes offer pet parents the extra security of being able to take control of their pet without strangling them. And these items work in connection with special leashes that slot into universal seat belt connectors converting into doggy seatbelts.”
Other restraining devices gaining popularity are protective barriers that fit between the front and back seat of the vehicle and are designed for containing the mobility of larger pets.
“It’s always a good idea to separate small children or delicate cargo from dogs moving side to side in the back seat,” explains Gordon Spader of Kurgo Products in Newburyport, MA the manufacturers of a new product called the Backseat Barrier.
“With an increasing number of pet parents opting to travel with their dogs and cats, there is a huge market for safe and innovative pet travel products,” says Amy Osete, VP of Marketing for Bamboo Pet Products in North Hills, California. “Apart from restraining devices there is numerous other safety items currently being manufactured that mirror products created to protect children such as sun block shades that have built-in detectors to alert owners when their car’s interior reach dangerous temperatures.
“It’s important to ask customers if they are looking for an actual travel bag, for possible airline use or a general tote-around bag before making suggestions,” advises Rinehart. This all adds up to making the right choice.”
“Fortunately a lot of carriers have place for the pet owners’ items too, which is a nice added extra.”
When it comes to bowls, retailers should consider stocking everything from collapsible bowls to special fold-up travel packs as well as a new line of disposable bowls called Feed and Toss line from Bamboo Pet Products that eliminate the need for hand-washing, leaving your pet’s temporary dining area free of bacteria and germs.
Items such as the new The Hydro-Go™ Portable Pet Canteen are geared for pet lovers who enjoy hiking, walking and camping outings. The bottle holds 36 ounces of fluid and folds out to form a water bowl with a second detachable bowl for food.
Other practical pack and go products include pre-packaged purified drinking water in resealable bowls. They are available in flavors too.
OTHER TRAVEL GEAR
Depending on space, there is a myriad of other products that retailers can consider displaying in an in-store travel section from portable kitty litter to items such as pet beds, roll-up sleeping bags, pet umbrellas, hot and cold gel pads that keep pets cool or warm depending on the weather. Also there are fun pet luggage tags that look like driver’s licenses, CD’s of soothing music for long road trips and of course travel books that outline travel regulations and highlight pet- friendly places.
- •Plan an in store pet travel promotion and invited customers to come and check out your latest travel products.
- •Invite a pet expert to talk on traveling with pets and give customers practical hints and tips.
- •Prepare special checklists based on this article to hand out to customers so that they can see your store in a one-stop travel stop for their pet.
- •Stock small items like luggage tags at the register for last minute impulse purchases.
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