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Travel Trends Impacting Pet Resort Businesses

Updated Monthly

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel industry has been far-reaching and rapidly evolving. Additional economic and geopolitical issues are also influencing people’s travel decisions. And since pet resorts and the travel industry are inextricably linked, it’s important now more than ever to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

In an effort to track and interpret current trends in the travel industry, free from political or media bias, we have compiled a collection of reliable data sources that provide an overview of travel patterns and transit methods. These sources include:

  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Data for Air Travel
  • Energy Information Agency (EIA) data for Gasoline Retail Supply
  • U.S. Hotel Occupancy Rates

This information will be updated monthly for the foreseeable future. Links to recent news articles are also included below for additional insights into the travel landscape as it evolves.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Data for Air Travel

As we finish Labor Day and summer comes to an end, we’ve encountered  a pleasant surprise. We finally met the TSA Passenger Throughput from 2019!  Apparently,  a lot of people held off on traveling and then finally took the plunge during August. Reduced gas prices helped and even with the continued airline woes of bad weather, short staffing, and higher prices, travelers went all in. Covid seems to be relegated to the back of our minds, even with the CDC announcing new booster shots that are supposed to ward off Omicron variants. News coverage still appears minimal with politics and the midterm elections taking over the news.  Consumer confidence is wavering and inflation continues to be a challenge, but it looks like everyone said, “Enough is enough, we are going!” International travel is still behind pre-pandemic levels mainly to Asia, and China continues to lock down millions of people. For Labor Day weekend, we averaged 4.2% over 2019 levels, probably because Labor Day was 3 days later this year. For all of August we were 2.3% behind 2019 levels.   As Fall begins, and schools and universities are back in session, we expect travel to begin to continue to drop for a few weeks and start picking back up toward mid-October, before another lull, and then the rise and fall that come with Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.  The reality of finally hitting 2019 levels probably won’t last long, and we expect air travel to continue around 10% behind 2019 levels for the rest of the year, unless another Covid surge occurs.

Additional information - U.S. Labor Day holiday air passengers exceed 2019 levels

Updated through 9/5/2022

US Hotel Occupancy Rates

US Hotel Occupancy continues to mirror 2019 levels very closely but has closed the gap to around 4% behind 2019 levels.  As we approached the Labor Day weekend, hotel occupancy approached 2.5% below 2019 levels for the last week of August. Hotel Occupancy dropped to 65% the week ending 8/27/22 (last available data), vs. about 67% in 2019.  This puts us at 97.5% of 2019 levels, which is great, but still not reaching or exceeding 2019 occupancy levels.  We think hotel occupancy will continue to mimic 2019 trends but stay a little off 2019 levels. This should indicate continued demand for boarding and daycare services from pet resorts, especially with the significant increase in pet ownership, but realize we are now in the slow season and will experience a drop in demand until the end of September, when it will start picking back up.

Updated through 8/27/2022

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Pet Resort Google Search Trends

Our Google Trends review continues to show search interest is strong in the areas of Dog Boarding and Dog Training, reaching 2021 search interest levels. Dog Daycare and  Dog Grooming both continue to track behind 2021 levels.  Dog Daycare demand has started flattening out and will continue a slow decline the rest of the year.  Dog Training continues to be steady but will also be declining until the end of the year.  Since summer is over, plan to see slowing demand until late Fall and the beginning of the winter holidays.

Updated through 9/4/2022

Year Over Year Pet Resort Search Trends

Click the images to enlarge.

Dog Boarding 2019 vs 2020 vs 2021 vs 2022

Dog Daycare 2019 vs 2020 vs 2021 vs 2022

This is also supported by US Google Trends for the various services. The search interest in Dog Boarding continues to be strong, but continues to track between 2019 and 2021 search interests, reaching 2021 levels the first week in September.  August has run about 6.5% behind 2021 levels and about 29.6% above 2019 levels.  Since we have passed the peak of travel, we predict a continued decline until pet owners start planning for the winter holidays and start searching for dog boarding at the beginning of November. The gap between 2022 and 2021 has closed, but we expect it to track at or just below 2021 levels for the rest of the year. Plan on seeing a continued decrease in dog boarding inquiries until the beginning of November.

Dog daycare interest is running much closer to 2019 levels than 2021 levels. We saw the gap get closer to 2021 during August.  Search interest saw a surge during July similar to what we saw in 2019, and ran 18.0% above 2019 levels. Search interest vs. 2021 ran about 13.6% behind. This could be due to rising inflation and the significant heat waves across much of the country. Non-essentials like Dog Daycare will be one of the areas that will suffer from high inflation pressures driving down demand. We expect demand will start to trend down until the holidays in November and December, and stay about 10% above 2019 levels and 5-10% behind 2021 levels of demand for Dog Daycare.

Updated through 9/4/2022

Updated through 9/4/2022

Dog Training 2019 vs 2020 vs 2021 vs 2022

Dog Grooming 2019 vs 2020 vs 2021 vs 2022

Dog Training demand continues to pick up relative to 2021 and actually matched it during August.  But the trend from 2019 and 2021 shows a continued downward direction for the rest of the year until Christmas holidays. July was up 1% overall vs. 2021, improving from being down 4.7% in July. Dog Training search interest ran about 14.6% above 2019 levels which shows the increase in dog ownership during the pandemic has really helped the dog training segment of the industry. Seasonal trends indicate there will be a continued decline in search interest relative to dog training for the rest of the year, and we expect dog training demand to be closer to 2021 levels while running between 2020 and 2021 levels.

Dog Grooming continues to show the most significant gap between 2021 levels and demand this year. Demand followed season levels more closely to 2019, running about 25.9% above 2019 levels and 14.5% below 2021 search interest levels. Grooming continued to see lower search interest during August, and we expect that to continue until mid-November. Inflation and tight budgets may be playing a significant part in this as pet owners delay grooming visits or find more inexpensive alternatives. We expect demand to continue to outpace 2019 levels by about 10 to 15%, but don’t see any surge in grooming demand until the start of the winter holidays.

Updated through 9/4/2022

Updated through 9/4/2022

In Summary

If your pet resort business is having challenges retaining or acquiring new customers for services like dog boarding, dog daycare, pet grooming and dog training, please reach out to us so we can make sure pet owners can easily find your business online.  We continue to see strong competition in 2022, with stronger demand in most service areas than what we saw in 2021. Most pet resorts are working to maintain the recovery levels they saw in 2021. We expect 2023 to become much more competitive as more individuals enter the pet services industry and demand becomes more stabilized. While we know that many pet resorts are at capacity due to a combination of strong demand and decreased staffing, we recommend continuing to invest in branding and engagement campaigns to maintain brand visibility. When the market begins to soften in the fall and early next year, this investment will help you to attract new customers and support your existing clientele.