What do consumers want most when visiting a pet-friendly restaurant and how can a restaurant become pet-friendly without alienating customers who only want to eat with humans?
Published: October 20, 2022
Two-thirds (66%) of today’s consumers call themselves dogs, while a third (34%) mostly call their cat friends, according to dataMid-year trend report. While this may seem like a silly statistic to mention when talking about the restaurant industry, it is important when it comes to pet-friendly restaurants—consumers feel that their furry friends are a complete part of the family, and when the family goes out to eat, many feel that it should They are able to share this experience with their pets.
Thus, the restaurant industry is facing increasing calls to make its facilities pet-friendly. But how does a restaurant become more pet-friendly without alienating customers who only want to eat with humans? And what rules should be enforced once the doors are opened to four-legged clients? And once a restaurant opens its doors to pets, what kind of atmosphere, activities, and food will consumers crave?
According to Datassential’s Pet-Friendly Food Services Venues report, one-third of consumers have visited a pet-friendly restaurant, and two out of five are interested in checking out one. Generation Z, the youngest consumers in adulthood, and millennials have higher visitation and interest rates than older consumers.
And there is no doubt that customers tend to be happier, and rate the restaurant visit higher, when they can bring their pets with them. More than half of consumers (52%) believe that pets make a food service more pleasant and welcoming.
What do consumers want most when visiting a pet-friendly place? Well, some good stuff certainly doesn’t hurt. And no bowls of water. These are two important additions that may greatly improve consumer satisfaction without the operator having to spend a lot of extra money. Do you have a little extra space? The play area is also greatly appreciated by consumers who choose to bring their pets to restaurants, and as a bonus – it allows animals to expend energy so they will behave better when their beloved human is sitting at a table, and also offers space to separate two well-behaved pets that might cause Problems if they bark or fight with each other.
And this brings up an important point – it’s just as important to have a code of conduct for pets as you actually do for humans. Maybe more. While pet-friendly spaces can bring a great deal of satisfaction to both pet owners and customers who just want to interact with animals without the responsibility of owning one themselves, they can also lead to difficult situations if misbehaving puppies get loose. Or the operators did not. Don’t properly cater to customers who choose not to dine with pets.
In fact, many consumers agree that when it comes to visiting pet-friendly restaurants, there should be some ground rules. More than 80% of consumers believe that pet-friendly restaurants should set at least some rules and restrictions, such as leash or muzzle requirements. And nearly half (47%) of consumers—even pet lovers—want to at least restrain pets when eating in them.
Even pet owners admit that letting dogs and cats roam restaurants can turn into chaos: nearly half are concerned that pets might cause disruption or make the environment unhealthy.
Other than critical safety considerations, what else do consumers want from pet-friendly restaurants? After a few dog toys, water bowls and play areas, more than half of consumers (57%) would enjoy a few cookies or other treats to take home and 55% of consumers surveyed want pet-safe menu items that owners can share with their animals Pets (Hint: Leave out the onions, garlic, raisins, and any pungent spices.) And 48% of consumers also want pet-safe menus for takeout or delivery to enjoy at home.
If operators are wondering exactly how far they lean toward making their place safe, comfortable, and pet-friendly, it seems most consumers would welcome a restaurant or watering hole. More than half (53%) of consumers say they want a pet-exclusive menu or menu items, such as homemade treats or “pup-uccino” drinks for dogs. And nearly a third of consumers (27%) want an organization to go the extra mile and create special programs for pet parents, such as play dates or other events, such as “Happy Hours.”
In fact, if the venue is looking to welcome more of a younger clientele, specialty events where clients can bring their dogs and socialize may be the ticket.
Nearly half of Gen Z and millennials say they also look to pet-friendly restaurants as an opportunity to meet new friends who own pets or connect with old ones. At the same time, many consumers who do not have pets would like to visit these unique places to play with animals without having to own one at home.
Samantha Des Jardins is a writer at Datassential.
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