How DogVacay Successfully Emphasizes Trustworthiness As A Cornerstone Of Its Brand
Elisabeth Brier and Aaron Hirschhorn

Though most businesses demand a certain level of trust from their customers in order to survive and scale, for DogVacay the stakes are much higher.

As a company that provides “cozy homes” for pets with “loving sitters,” establishing deep trust is sine qua non.

As nearly all pet owners view their furry friends as members of the family, DogVacay must go that extra mile in both marketing and PR tactics to emphasize their reliability and trustworthiness.

Though not necessarily an easy feat, the company has succeeded in perpetuating this dependability to consumers with relative ease.

DogVacay’s CEO, Aaron Hirschhorn sat down with TechDay to discuss the efforts behind this, and give insight into what other brands can do to foster their own trustworthiness.

To what extent do you engage with the sort of quirky, social discourse surrounding dogs in structuring DogVacay's brand voice?

Our business is about making life better for pets and people, and we want that passion to come across in our brand voice. Our content team does a great job of adding fun, useful posts to our blog and social media accounts to engage with all types of pet owners. We try to provide helpful content, whether it’s DIY pet toys, foods you should avoid feeding your pets during the holidays or even just cute dog photoshoots. We run a serious business, but at the same time, we try to highlight how much fun it is to own a pet.

What are the key values you attempt to get across in your branding to garner user engagement?

Trust, quality, support and the love of animals are just some of our main values that we work to get across. We want our guests to know that we will treat their pets just like members of our own family.

On the flip side, what values do you present to those considering being the dog sitters?

We look for people who have a genuine love for pets and are doing this just as much for the feel-good experience as they are for generating extra income. We want our pet sitters to feel supported and like they can lean on us for anything they need. By using DogVacay, our hosts have access to a system that includes scheduling, payments, insurance, marketing and even someone to just ask pet-related questions to 24/7. We take care of all the business operations while they get to focus on the best part: taking care of pets!

What sort of marketing strategies do you utilize to demonstrate DogVacay's reliability and trustworthiness as with a company catered to man's best friend this must be inordinately important?

Our best marketing tool is word of mouth. When you provide a safe, fun and caring environment for a man’s best friend, the owner will naturally tell their friends. This creates a trusted virality among different networks that is incomparable to paid advertising tactics.

We’ve also invested heavily in PR since launch, to get the word out about our business and what we believe in to target a variety of audiences. Pet owners’ first instincts are to pay for an expensive kennel or beg a family member or friend to watch their furry friend, but most people aren’t fully equipped to take care of a pet. We want to educate consumers that we’re a trusted, easy and reliable source for pet owners to provide their pets with the very best care they’re busy or traveling.

What general advice would you offer entrepreneurs in regards to forming a solid brand and creating a voice that encourages growth?

For our business to work, we needed to be both trustworthy and passionate about what we do. We’re convincing pet owners to leave a member of their family in our care. It’s a huge responsibility, and we need to convey very early on that we’re a trusted service and thrilled to be watching their pup.

When building your brand, think about how consumers need to see you for your business to work, and make sure your brand conveys that through and through.

Anything exciting we can expect from DogVacay soon?

We have a lot planned for 2017! While I can’t talk about most of it just yet, one of the things we are working on is improving many features across our online and mobile applications to make the booking process more streamlined for hosts and guests.