By Claire Ballentine The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Named "Best Pet Travel Site" by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com now also provides a solid list of dog-friendly breweries.
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
The only thing better than a cold beer on a warm day is drinking it accompanied by your best four-legged friend.
Now, a Wake Forest, N.C., business is making that easier to do.
TripsWithPets.com recently unveiled its list of dog-friendly breweries. It joins the website's list of dog-friendly restaurants, beaches and other attractions.
Named "Best Pet Travel Site" by Consumer Reports, the site provides pet-friendly travel guides and allows users to make reservations at more than 30,000 accommodations across the United States and Canada that allow animals.
"We want to be the one-stop shop when people are looking to do things with their pets, and we want people to be able to do things with their pets wherever they are," said Kim Salerno, TripsWithPets.com's president and founder.
Salerno began the website out of her basement in 2003, while she was living in Maine. After working as an online marketing director for Delta and Continental Airlines, she wanted to branch out on her own and decided to turn her love for animals into a business.
Initially, the company focused on regional bed-and-breakfasts but then expanded into offering accommodations all across the United States and Canada.
"I started it because of my passion, and they say do what you love and the rest will follow, so I went with it," Salerno said.
She moved to North Carolina in 2013 because of its business-friendly environment and moderate seasons, where she can spend more time outside with her rescue pups Tucker, Charlie and Brownie. The company has 10 employees working virtually with the help of Skype and online apps.
TripsWithPets.com also partnered with travel site Expedia, which provides the business with access to some of its pet-friendly lodging. When users book accommodations through TripsWithPets.com, the company receives a portion of the profit. It also generates revenue through advertising on its site.
Its offerings are primarily hotels but also some bed-and-breakfasts and vacation rentals, Salerno explained. People use the site when planning vacations and moving.
"When you're driving without a pet, you can just drive until you get tired, but it's not as easy when you have a pet because not all hotels are pet friendly," she said.
A growing number of people also utilize the site's features when they move to a new area and need a temporary place to stay while waiting to move into their permanent home. Real estate sites like homes.com and forrent.com have partnered with TripsWithPets.com to help their clients.
The site's other features, like restaurants, breweries, parks and attractions (you can take your pooch on a ghost hunting tour in Asheville, N.C.), are also useful for those looking for activities they can do with their pets.
Salerno said she hopes the other features on the website, like airline and car rental policies for pets and pet-friendly vacation activities, will help pet owners make good decisions on when to bring their furry companions along with them. She noted that there are a surprising number of pet-friendly activities now, including whale watching, mining for gems, wine tasting and apple picking.
About 85 percent of the site's users are dog owners, Salerno said, although she also gets tons of inquiries from people with cats who have trouble taking them in the car, but need to transport them when moving to a new home.
In the future, Salerno said, TripsWithPets.com wants to expand its listings of vacation rentals and increase its charitable efforts. She started hosting "yappy hour" fundraising events at the end of last year to benefit local rescue shelters. The last one, which benefited FurBaby Rescue of North Carolina, raffled off donations like a three-night beach trip and had more than 250 people attend.
"We want to become more involved in animal welfare endeavors as a company," she said. "It's something that I'm incredibly passionate about."