Seniors with Pets – A Growing, yet Underserved Pet Travel Market

Senior Pet ParentsMore and more often, people are choosing to take their furry best friends along as they travel. This fact has not gone unnoticed by businesses. Pet friendly business practices are taking root everywhere, from banks who open their doors to pets, to restaurants with special menus for dogs, to hotels that greet each pooch with a thoughtful canine welcome basket.

When businesses consider the demographics of pet travel, they would do well to keep an important group in mind – seniors.

According to the Federal Census Bureau, in 2012 there were 43 million seniors living in the United States in 2012. That number is expected to double by 2050.

Sixty-two percent of households in the United States had at least one pet in 2012. While it’s unclear how many of those households feature seniors, it’s safe to say that a healthy number of seniors do have one or more pets. 

With no children left to care for at home, seniors often treat their pets as children, lavishing them with attention, caring diligently for them, and bringing them along as pet travel companions.

Because seniors are often in retirement and their children are typically grown and self-sufficient, many do have extra time on their hands. This allows them to take lengthier trips and travel farther than those who are must schedule their vacations around work and school commitments.
With no growing family to support and reduced living expenses, many seniors have extra money to spend on hobbies and other activities, including leisure travel. They’re also willing to spend money pampering their loyal four-legged companions along the way.

When combined, these factors make seniors a significant yet often underserved potential client demographic for pet friendly businesses. It would be wise for these businesses to try to earn the loyalty of senior pet owners, and there are a number of ways to do so, including:

Loyalty Programs
Shops, restaurants and hospitality businesses can create pet-centric loyalty programs that encourage repeat business. Pet stores can offer seniors progressive discounts or reward cards, or enter them in drawings for merchandise or special prizes. Hotels can offer free nights or added amenities for successive visits with their pets. And restaurants can offer free doggie treats for seniors who bring their pets along as dining companions.

Hotels can offer discounts or waived hotel pet fees for seniors who travel with pets. Pet shops can offer senior discounts on pet merchandise, and restaurants can offer meal discounts for seniors who visit restaurants with their pets.

Pet Friendly Partnerships
Reaching out to other pet friendly or pet-centric businesses to form partnerships – a doggie day care partnering with a pet store to create discounts or loyalty program, for example -- can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. Seniors will receive access to more products and services at better prices, while each business in the partnership will receive more exposure and the opportunity to build loyalty, good will and added sales among senior customers.  

With more Baby Boomers achieving senior status all the time, and more people in general hitting the road with their pets, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to gain a foothold with the senior demographic – if they’re willing to get a bit creative.