Are Venues Losing Business by Turning Away Four Legged Clients?!

By Becky Baker of K9Nation

Staff and their little friend at the Ship Inn, Sewerby, East Yorkshire

A recently published Mintel report has examined the rise of pet friendly initiatives across a variety of industry sectors. With the study showing that in the UK, 55% of pet owners would take their pet(s) everywhere with them if they could. Does this make pubs and bars feel under pressure to make their establishment dog friendly?!

For those venues in tourist areas it’s important to note that the figures seem to suggest that dog owners are less price sensitive with a third of pet owners now holidaying with their pet and spending an additional £126, on average, to keep their pet by their side. Not only does this present an opportunity for pet-friendly hotels and holiday cottages but also the hospitality industry in those areas.

For those venues choosing to open their doors to the four legged variety of clientele there is now an easier way than ever to let customers know that dogs are welcome thanks to the online dog owner community K9Nation. The community is free to use for dog owners and provides the perfect blend of social networking and dog friendly directory listings.

Available via the website or the smart phone app dog owners can now geographically search for dog friendly venues closest to their immediate location, by postcode or by region. Fellow dog owners can add reviews of businesses and share their experiences of dog friendly venues and services.

In a recent survey conducted by K9Nation of dog owners ‘finding dog friendly places to eat’ came in second on the most wanted list, only to be beaten by finding new places to walk. Brightpearl.com conducted a survey of consumers and found 84% of shoppers now read online reviews and 46% check star ratings – with almost 9 in 10 consumers considering them to be essential to their decision making. The review culture is playing an increasingly important and normalized role in purchasing behavior, and above all else, informs our decisions on where to stay, where to eat and what to buy. K9Nation utilizes this trend allowing dog owners the freedom of choice to make decisions about what is best for them and their dogs.

So what is the answer? Should pubs and bars all conform and start to welcome dogs? Some establishments may be under the illusion that the law prohibits canine customers but in fact the law states that only food preparation areas are out of bounds and other areas, including where food is served, is at the discretion of the manager. Ultimately each venue has to make its own decision but they need to be very wary of not upsetting (non-pet owners) customers in their efforts to cater for dog owners. To ensure venues aren’t missing out on the dog owner market segment, the ideal solution is perhaps creating designated dog-friendly spaces that are separate from other customers who might not share the passion for man’s best friend.

As well as increasing the potential client base, let’s not forget the opportunity for increased revenue from specialty dog products as 21% of pet owners either have used or would be interested in trying venues with special pet menus. With brands like Woof & Brew creating ‘Pawsecco’, ‘CHAMP:PAWS’ and ‘Bottom Sniffer Beer’ there are plenty of items to choose from in the wider market or if you prefer to support your local businesses, why not find a local homemade dog treat supplier and stock their goods.

A dog lover from Bristol, Elaine Brown has recently launched a campaign to encourage more dog-friendly pubs to arrange regular community dog walks. The Pooch and Munch Campaign aims to help ‘Get Britain Talking’ and wants to encourage more pubs to organise walks on a regular basis as well as raising awareness of those already taking place. Elaine believes it’s a great way for pubs to remain a valuable community asset whilst offering something attractive to both local residents and visitors alike.

The Ship Inn in Sewerby was the first pub in the Bridlington area to allow dogs and when the current landlords, The Kilburns, took over the business 14 years ago they decided to continue the tradition. They said, “We welcome dogs into our pub as warmly as children and cater for them similarly with their own special menu. The Cumberland sausage is always a favourite!”. Charlie says the regular large groups, such as the Yorkshire Doodlers, who arrange meet-ups are always a great boost for business.

It’s clear that dog owners, who account for 26% of all UK households, are a prime customer segment for pubs and bars looking to increase their footfall and certainly not one to be sniffed at!

K9Nation is available online at www.k9nation.dog and as an iPhone app.

The Great Dog Walk Together - https://www.greatdogwalktogether.com/

The Ship Inn Sewerby - https://www.shipinnsewerby.co.uk/

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