Dogbnbs Let The Dogs Out: DogVacay and Rover Bring Down PetSmart
We love dogs and are happy to report that so do you! Summer is finally here, the sun is back, summer break has started and so has the summer vacation season. We know what we do with our dogs when we travel, but we might not be your average group: we bring our dogs to the office a lot and one of us even flew her dog across the globe. We were wondering what most people do with their four-legged friends during the summer travel season.
We set out to investigate dog-friendly trends in the travel and hospitality industries, expecting to see correlating traffic trends between a variety of pet services. What we actually discovered was that Dogbnbs are bringing down dog kennels, and we love it!
Dogs Break Free of Kennels with Dogbnbs
$6 billion is spent on pet sitting services every year. Pet-centric services and startups have been popping up everywhere for the last couple of years, giving pets and their owners more options. As a result, there are a variety of pet travel and hospitality services, spanning from dog sitting marketplaces (aka Dogbnbs) to dog-friendly travel services and dog kennels. Pet owners can now choose between taking their pets with them and sending them on their own vacation.
Dogbnbs, which are typically peer-to-peer marketplaces, have been gaining popularity fast due to their competitive rates (averaged at half the rate of kennels) and customer focused experience. Rover, one of the leading Dogbnb services in the states with 40,000 hosts in 10,000 cities, recently reported a 2700% YOY growth rate for their leading service. DogVacay, another extremely popular Dogbnb service with 20,000 hosts in 3,000 cities, reports over a million nights booked.
Dogbnbs’ main competition are the old-fashioned dog kennels. PetSmart, the leading dog national kennel network in the US, has more than 200 locations across the country. We are very happy to report that PetSmart’s kennels have been losing their market share to Dogbnbs and dog-friendly travel services, such as BringFido.
A Jumpshot Competitive Analysis report indicates that while Rover, DogVacay and BringFido display an averaged upward traffic trend of 120% since the beginning of the year, PetSmart lost nearly 10% of their traffic.
Step 1: Follow the Data
We started out by comparing the leading dog travel and hospitality websites’ web traffic to assess trends, focusing on Rover, DogVacay and BringFido. PetSmart’s website was not included because its traffic is too different for a valid comparison to take place (only 2-3% of their traffic is interested in their kennels). The Competitive Analysis report indicates two things: These dog-friendly services have been gaining popularity since the beginning of the year, and there is another factor that is affecting these service’s growth and market share.
BringFido is a dog-friendly travel service, helping people find and book dog-friendly airlines, accommodations and attractions. BringFido may be of different nature than the Dogbnbs, but it overlaps with Rover traffic-wise. This is what brought us to speculate that another factor is coming into play and affecting these service’s popularity and growth.
Step 2: Rover Vs. DogVacay Vs. BringFido
Rover and DogVacay have been competing for market share and funding since 2012, and while both verify hosts and provide a similar consumer centric experience Rover has consistently enjoyed more traffic than DogVacay. We wanted to understand why.
The answer was not in the data, meaning that it has to do with the experience. We visited the three sites and the difference between them became evidently clear: DogVacay imposes a login wall while Rover and BringFido push visitors to search their site and experience their offering. Login walls have been found to stop users on their tracks, especially if invoked in the user’s initial experience.
Our Competitive Analysis report reveals that DogVacay is the most engaging service among the three, generating 50% more page views per person and 40% more sessions than Rover. These findings indicate that once the login wall is overcome, DogVacay is a compelling service with engaged and loyal users. This also strengthens our initial conclusion that the login wall is to blame for DogVacay’s limited growth compared to Rover.
To confirm our conclusion we took a look at Holidog, the leading pet-sitting service in Europe, which does not require a visitor to register in order to search and experience it. Being that the login wall is the main differentiator between these three Dogbnb services, we can deduce that if we find another difference in traffic to DogVacay’s disadvantage the login wall is at fault. A global Competitive Analysis report quickly confirms our conclusion, indicating that the non-gated services have consistently higher traffic.
Bottom line: Dog-friendly travel and hospitality is a rising trend. More people are looking into traveling with their dogs or sending them on their own vacation than sending them off to a kennel. But just because your company is in a hot market doesn’t mean you can lay back and wait for customers. Allowing people to try out and experience your service, product or offering is absolutely essential to achieve optimal growth.
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