Accommodating Travellers with Pets: Is Auckland Ready?
This dissertation explored the pet tourism market from a New Zealand accommodation operators’ perspective and their key considerations when deciding whether to offer pet friendly services. In recent years, the literature has discovered that a pet’s role has become increasingly important within families in modern society. Many pet owners now regard their animal companions as family members and desire to travel with them. The pet tourism market has grown significantly in developed countries, especially in North-western Europe and America. New Zealand is a pet loving country with 64 percent of households owning at least one pet, however there are few pet friendly accommodations available.
Existing literature has focused on pet tourists instead of accommodation operators. There is a gap in finding out how accommodation operators perceive the pet tourism market and considerations to accommodate pets. Recognising pet tourism as a social science, an exploratory research was conducted to gather Auckland accommodation operators’ experiences, emotions and perceptions through nine in-depth interviews with 10 participants. Qualitative data obtained were coded and categorised through a thematic analysis method, deriving global themes that assisted in answering the research objectives.
The findings discovered that Auckland’s pet tourism market is in its infancy, both in terms of supply and demand. There are pet tourists desiring to travel with pets, however the demand and revenue are minimal, thus operators were not motivated to grow their operations. Pet friendly operators treated accommodating pets as an additional service and did not advertise to attract more pet tourists. Non-pet friendly operators were reluctant to adopt a pet friendly model due to perceived risks and investments outweighing the benefits. Meanwhile, their pet friendly counterparts stated that investment was not necessary, and incidents were rare. This dissertation concludes with theoretical and practical implications to improve Auckland’s readiness for catering to more pet tourists.