Leveraging a Charter Operation’s Untapped Clients: Pets – Part II
This is a post by guest author Carol Martin of Sit ‘n’ Stay Global, LLC. Carol was asked to contribute to our business aviation blog because of her expertise as a flight attendant with a specialization in animal safety and care as it relates to business aircraft operations. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Carol’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
This business aviation blog post continues from Carol’s article last week, titled "Leveraging a Charter Operation’s Untapped Clients – Pets, Part I."
Welcome back as we continue to consider a charter operation’s untapped clients – pets! These clients, who are very important to their human companions (who pay for the flight), have been largely overlooked but are easy to please. This is a natural segment to reach out to with a little extra effort. Pets also open the door to a much coveted market segment that can be difficult to convince of the merits of switching from first class to the private jet. The majority of our clients who travel with pets fall into this category. These are People who would not ordinarily spend the extra money to charter a private jet, but choose to so that their pet (or pets) may travel in the cabin with them. This is purely a quality of life choice for them, and so it makes sense to go the extra mile so their pet has a quality flight. Showing you care will earn you a customer – a human one – for life and differentiate you from the competition. Here are some tips to make the flight itself more enjoyable for all:
1. In-flight entertainment
As mentioned before, traveling with a pet on board is very similar to traveling with a child on board. They will take good long naps, but when they are awake, nothing on board really holds their interest. It is pretty easy to bring along some diversions to help pass the time. Your clients will be forever grateful if you have some things available for their pets:
- Mind games: There are games available for dogs and cats in pet stores that don’t require them to run around but instead engage them mentally. Having one of these on board (just as you might have a game or two on board for kids) can be a real treat for pet parents and their pets.
- Videos: We have numerous videos loaded on our iPads to stream that are pet-friendly, but if you have a video library on board, it might be a good idea to add a few that are pet-worthy. There are some designed specifically for cats or dogs (think watching squirrels and birds for an hour). Most dogs can watch meerkats for hours.
2. In-flight dining
You go to great effort (and expense) to have the perfect catering on each flight. Planning meals for humans begins with learning the client’s preferences and includes creating a beautiful presentation for the food that will make their flight extraordinary. The charm is lost when you just throw a plastic bowl of dog food on the floor and tell Fido to go for it. It takes no more effort to learn the pet’s preferences when you are learning those of the client (including allergies and medical conditions!) and make sure you have those items on board for their pet. Present food on china or have a set of nice pet dishes on board for use that will make the presentation attractive. Keep feeding and snacks light – just enough to satisfy – if it is a long flight. Also, don’t just leave a water bowl out for unmonitored drinking. Present water to pets at regular intervals and allow small amounts to be consumed. It is important to keep the pet hydrated, but you don’t want to make the pet uncomfortable.
3. When it’s time to go
If a pet eats on board, the next consideration is going to the bathroom. Think about this ahead of time, and you’ll be amazed how easy it is. "Not thinking about this" does not mean it won’t happen. If you are going to fly some longer missions with pets, you have to expect that at some point they are going to need some relief. Have a few items on board and a plan, and you’ll be all set.
Designate a suitable area, usually the baggage compartment or lav. Set up your area in advance, since dogs are not big on advance warning. If using the lav, have supplies ready to go nearby. Put down a layer of trash bags as a protective barrier. Next, lay two layers of puppy piddle pads on top, which is soft and inviting for the dog. If you are traveling with a male dog, tape piddle pads up the wall surrounding area for extra protection. Place a WAG BAG®* nearby with a pheromone** spray (a "WAG BAG®" is a camping re-sealable bag with a chemical powder inside that converts waste to an odorless, biodegradable gel. Pheromone spray is a puppy training tool that tells a dog where it’s "ok" to go), and you’re ready. After a dog uses the area, gather up the used piddle pads and put them in the WAG BAG® and seal the bag. The bag may go in the trash, as it is biodegradable waste and odorless.
4. Enjoy the ride
All of these efforts are so small compared to the amazing opportunity that lies before you. The best part is that you will be working with the most gratifying passengers around. What other clients love every little thing you do for them? A dog walking through an FBO lights up the whole building and is instant therapy. Flight crews perk up right away; many getting a much needed snuggle with a pet while they miss theirs at home. Be sure to take time to enjoy the wonder of flight that we all have the privilege of experiencing every day. Seeing the world from FL410 through a dog’s eyes will forever change you.
Resources in this article:
If you have any questions about this article or flying with pets onboard a business aircraft, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.