Pet Tet: Brisk Lunar New Year business for pet services

By Dat Nguyen   January 29, 2019 | 07:26 pm PT
Pet Tet: Brisk Lunar New Year business for pet services
Many Vietnamese bring their pets to pet care facilities for a makeover ahead of Tet holiday. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen
Amidst the Tet bustle nationwide, pets are being prepared to be at their best for Lunar New Year festivities.

In keeping with the Tet tradition of getting new clothes to wear during the holiday, Vu Thu Trang walked out of a shop on Kim Ma street with three new sets of clothes.

But these dresses were not for her. They were for her three poodles.

Trang’s poodles seemed to wagging their tails even more vigorously, their tongues hanging out more after a four-hour makeover. They had been groomed, bathed, massaged and fed in a store where dozens of pets were queuing for the same services.

"Tet is the most important time of the year so I want my pets to look most beautiful. I have spent about a quarter of my income this month on these little buddies, but it’s all worth it," Trang said, petting one of the poodles.

Pet owners like Trang are why pet care companies in Vietnam are reporting a surge in demand for lodging and grooming services as Lunar New Year Festival (Tet), the country’s largest holiday nears.

Pet Mart, one of the largest pet service chains in Vietnam with 12 stores, has seen a large number of bookings for its pet hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

"Our facility in Hanoi can hold 150-200 pets, but every Tet we have to decline many customers as all rooms are booked," Nguyen Duc Quang, a company representative, told VnExpress International.

Pet hotels offer standard and VIP rooms where pets are fed three times a day. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen

Pet hotels offer standard and VIP rooms where pets are fed three times a day. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen

Customers should book at least one month in advance of the Tet holiday, which falls February 2-10 this year, to guarantee a room, he said, adding that securing a room a week before the holiday is very unlikely.

The company offers both standard and VIP rooms priced from VND150,000 ($6.46) to VND500,000 ($21.53) a night. The pets are fed three times a day and are allowed to go out and play with other "residents" at specific hours.

"We have arranged 15 employees to stay with these pets throughout the holiday. They’re going to be very busy with a large number of guests," Quang added.

Pet care companies in Vietnam have been expanding in recent years as people treat pets like family members. Many people, especially millennials, are willing to spend a large amount of money on pet products and services to show their love for the little companions.

While many customers seek a safe refuge for their pet during the holidays, others spend a large amount of money to groom their pets and get them ready for Spring outings.

Nguyen Thuy Linh, owner of two pet grooming stores in Hanoi, said that her monthly revenue often triples during the Tet month because of high demand.

A grooming and cleaning service at Linh’s Kimi Pet, costs VND350,000-1 million ($15-43) depending on pet size, the same amount a woman in Vietnam pays for a new haircut.

"My price is a bit higher than other places, but customers don’t complain, as long as they get the quality they want."

She and her staff usually serve 50 pets a day, but this number doubles in the weeks near Tet. The 10 days before the holiday is the "most intense" period of the year for the grooming service as owners want their pets to look most presentable for holiday trips and photos, Linh said.

"Last year, my 20 pet groomers didn’t have time for a proper lunch. Some of them worked until 2 a.m."

Food is another sought-after commodity near Tet as Vietnamese owners are more particular about their pets’ diets and efforts to make sure they stay fit and healthy.

Owners often buy a large amount of food to store during the holiday. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen

Owners often buy a large amount of food to store during the holiday. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen

Nguyen Hoai Thu, head of marketing at pet care chain PetCity, said that the company’s revenue is expected to increase by 40 percent this Tet with many customers buying pet food.

"There is always a surge in orders near Tet as people want to store pet food for the holiday."

A kilogram of high quality dry or wet pet food costs up to VND150,000 ($6.46). Big dogs such as Huskies, which can weigh as much 40 kilograms (88 pounds), also consume a large amount of meat. Some owners are willing to buy pricey imported food for their pets.

"In the past, owners feed their pets with whatever food was left over, but now they give their pets particular type of foods depending on their age, size and breed. They are not too concerned about prices, as long as their pets receive the most nutritious food," Thu said.

For this reason, pet stores offer a variety of products to meet the wide range of demand from customers, ranging from affordable to luxurious items.

Pet owners are now just a phone call away from having treats, cages, toys and grooming tools delivered to their doorstep.

This Tet, Nguyen Thuy Linh, owner of Kimi Pet, will join her husband and staff in welcoming 50 dogs and cats of all ages and sizes at her hotel. The only reason she didn’t take more guests is because they are short staffed.

She sighed: "I wish I had more employees to take care of more pets."

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