American Express estimates Americans spend about $1,145 per human for the typical affluent family vacation.
But what about pets?
A cornerstone of this blog is the belief many companies are “under-marketing’ to The 1 Percent. At the top of the top end (where some 200,000 Ultra High Net Worth families control up to $50 trillion in wealth), there is more money to be spent, and it’s better being spent (for the other 99+ percent) to fulfill a perhaps previously unthought of need than sitting in a bank account.
One of my prouder moments was after a column I wrote for Elite Traveler. It was about why a $2 million party by an UHNW was anything but frivolous, and it stirred enough controversy I had a chance to go head-to-head with non-believer Bob Garfield at NPR, which was later covered in The Wall Street Journal by Robert Frank.
The biggest luxury companies, in my opinion, could gain the most from incremental spending by the Super Rich on their products and services, but, the point of my column was UHNW spending often creates many cottage industries for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Meet Carol Martin, founder of Sit ‘N Stay Global who explains a new definition of “Furst Class Travel” below:
By Carol Martin
When people hear what I do for a living they usually just stare at me and finally comment: “you’re making that up!” Well you know what? They are absolutely right. I made my job up.
After flying as a commercial flight attendant I made the switch to flying as a corporate flight attendant on private jets. Then I learned about a high profile survivable accident where the humans survived but the dog on board died and set out to create a safer way for pets to fly on private jets.
After developing pet safety protocols, I saw an unmet need with my clients for the same exquisite service for their pets that they received and to be there for them at destination.
An entire service was created to meet their needs and I am now a corporate flight attendant who specializes in flying with those who fly with their pets. I travel with pet oxygen masks, life jackets and seat restraints. I am trained in pet first aid and CPR, study pet behavior, nutrition and security measures. I even employ the same presentation techniques I have learned at the Cordon Bleu and CIA when presenting my hand prepared pet cuisine. You can only make that up!
I have learned over the years that no matter how much money someone has, there are two things that money cannot buy: genuine caring, and privacy. My service is for a group that values those above all else. They want solutions, not excuses, so no day on board or at destination as a pet nanny is ever the same but that’s what makes it interesting to me. If their pet decides they need to heed the call of nature during flight when they have never needed to do so before, I need to have an answer. I have figured out a system too, so no need goes denied and no cabin goes foul.
Here are three of my typical guests:
Three Paws In A Fountain
After a wonderful flight from the states to Rome, we all got checked into our villas for what was to be a few months in our new home away from home while my client shot a movie and enjoyed having his dog along. My job was to pick up Fido whenever he started shooting and deliver him back when he was done. I love to send texts back to let their person know how our day is going. On one particularly warm day we stopped for a Gelato and then went to sit by the Trevi Fountain to enjoy it. I quickly learned about Fido’s passion to fetch things when some tourists threw the traditional coins in the fountain and he went right in after them and pulled me in with him. Let’s just say that is one picture I did not text back to his person.
The Stew Who Stares At Goats
One question I get asked a lot is if I always fly with dogs. Actually, no, I fly with whatever animals folks bring with them. I love them all. I have one client in Dubai who flies me down there to fly with him whenever he travels on a lengthy mission. This gentleman has a substantial private jet and has a distinct preference for fresh goat milk. He always travels with his own goat that has a pen in the back of the jet. There is a complete crew, and I am there to tend to the goat. Yes, I am the goat wrangler. The nice thing is we always have a plentiful supply and don’t have to worry about storage.
Air Bud, Frequent Flyer
The goal on every flight is to make sure the pets have a comfortable, relaxed and pampered experience. This allows their people to relax and not be at attention the entire time worrying about how their furry one is doing. After a thorough safety briefing, a few treats and an introduction to their own bed, most pets are truly relaxed. If we do hit a little turbulence, we make sure that the pets are seated safely right away and secured. Sometimes the pets select their own seats, and this can be awkward, but we always work it out (see photo above).
After many years in aviation, this is the most satisfying work I have done. It changes every day and it takes enormous creativity to anticipate a client’s needs and satisfy those discretely and completely. This service will typically add $500-$700 per day plus expenses to the bottom line of a trip for a client. Swimming with your pet in the Trevi fountain? No extra charge!