Amtrak “all aboard” pet humanization trend

Amtrak “all aboard” pet humanization trend

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Feb. 22 - Have pet, will travel. The U.S. travel, tourism and hospitality industry is becoming increasingly more accommodating to pet owners seeking to bring their fur babies along on family vacations. According to Packaged Facts in the report U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2015-2016, pet humanization has been a driving force in market growth for the pet industry and as a result other U.S. market segments are eager to capitalize on the humanization trend’s momentum.

Every year, pet products manufacturers and retailers attribute the humanization trend with driving their business. The love people have for their pets means they want their pets to have the best whether that’s human-quality foods, medicines, or even travel options and accommodations.

Domesticated pet travel on commercial planes has been a standard for decades for most airlines. Now American passenger railroad service Amtrak is getting onboard with allowing pets on most of its trains, effective immediately. The recent announcement came after a four-month pilot program along the Northeast Corridor revealed that-surprise, surprise-passengers wanted to travel with their pets. The primary caveat, besides additional traveling fees, is that only small dogs and cats (i.e., 20 pounds or less including the weight of the carrier) are permitted. Additional weekend-only restrictions apply for travel on Amtrak’s high-speed rail service, the Acela Express.

On a related note, recent years have also seen luxury and budget hotels alike actively courting pet owners through a variety of pet-oriented amenities. An estimated 60% of U.S. hotels now accept pets, and that number jumps to 80% among luxury hotels, according to a 2014 survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Who will be the next big company in the travel and hospitality sector to make room for pets? It’s hard to say for certain, but it’s clear that where pet owners go, their pets are more than likely to follow thanks to increased embracing of pet humanization.

Humanization is a natural expression of the “pets as family” trend, whereby pet owners treat their pets like children and are highly receptive to products similar to the ones they use for themselves. Not coincidentally, many of the services and products entering the market today are directly reminiscent of human fare, no doubt appealing to the pet owner as much as the pet. Examples include veterinary procedures like chemotherapy, MRIs, and hip replacements; pet supplements like glucosamine and omega 3s; human-grade pet foods containing superfruits or touted as gluten free; designer pet supplies; and luxury services including boarding options more like hotel rooms.

-- Daniel Granderson