I recall a time prior to 2008 when Discover Boating had a strong national TV campaign and it was airing a commercial with a variety of dogs aboard and the key line “Dogs love boating, too.” Not being a dog owner, I thought the theme was a stretch, at best. Well, I was wrong then and would be even more so today.
First, funding Discover Boating to get seriously back on national TV should be an industry priority. I’m tired of seeing Go RVing TV programs and commercials while we’re nowhere in sight. Then, I say, bring on the dogs, too.
We’re clearly in an age of Americans spoiling and spending big on their pets. Why, dogs now have their own beaches and parks. I see them in nice restaurants having dinner with their owners (often with their own menus). Some pets can sit with their owner on a plane. Forget the old doghouse. How about their own Tempur-Pedic bed, which matches the master bedroom’s décor, of course?
Whether you’re a pet owner or not, the truth is a whopping $60.5 billion is expected to be spent in our country this year for everything from organic gluten-free kibble to diamond-studded collars for pets. In other words, dogs and cats have finally made it to the “humanized” level. I guarantee next month my wife, Kay, will be buying Christmas toys for our kid’s and grandkid’s pets. Oh, does that make them our granddogs?
What really made me think about espousing boating as pet-friendly was a recent announcement by our state’s tourism bureau. Visit Florida launched a social media campaign touting the hashtag #DogsLoveFL. The idea is to promote our pet-friendly beaches, accommodations and activities.
Getting married? “All you need is love . . . and a dog” is the message on FairyTailPlanning’s website, a business in Palm Harbor, Fla., that will handle everything, especially your dog’s role in the ceremony.
Now I’m not suggesting dealers add litter boxes or doggie berths to sweeten boat deals. But maybe that’s not a bad idea. However, to be a pet-friendly firm would obviously be good business these days. That could mean posting “Pets Welcome Here” on the front door. Perhaps ads that say “our boats are pet-friendly” or our “furry friends love our boats.” Maybe hold a “bring your pet” open house day. How about your pet and you get free demo rides? And never be without pet treats at the ready behind the counter.
The end game: Regardless of how you do it, when millions of people (for example, millennials are reportedly big on pets) are shelling out nearly twice the $37 billion being spent annually for boat products and services, it’s time dealers examine creative ways to tap into such a robust audience.