It’s no secret that the new profile of travelers appear to have new priorities compared to their predecessors. The entire travel industry looks a little different as it emerges from the latest challenges, and this is equally prevalent in vacation rentals, where increasing numbers of guests are choosing to travel with their pets.
With demand for pet-friendly rentals growing by 40% in just one year – this is something that property managers need to pay attention to if they want to stay competitive and draw the best possible client base. If you’re wondering whether offering pet-friendly vacation rentals is the right choice for your business, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
The pros of offering pet-friendly vacation rentals
There are significant advantages for property managers considering making their vacation rentals pet-friendly. Let’s take a look at a few.
Reach new markets
70% of Americans are pet owners, and Google searches for ‘pet-friendly airbnb’ are at an all time high – there’s clearly demand for taking pets on vacation. If the properties you manage have traditionally been pet-free, opening your doors to guests’ best friends could also open your business up to new markets.
Classifying your properties as ‘pet-friendly’ on your OTAs of choice will mean you appear in more guest searches and are visible to a whole new section of the market. This increases your chances of receiving more bookings.
Increase Your Income
Many vacation rental property managers offset any potential costs associated with allowing pets by adding a surcharge to the property. Guests are usually happy to pay a little extra for the convenience of having their pets with them, and not having to shell out for boarding.
These extra funds can be used in the event that any additional cleaning is necessary, or repairs are required. Much of the time, however, you won’t need to do any extra maintenance and the surcharge can be added to your income for the booking.
Get Longer Bookings
Pet owners know that arranging care for their animals while they’re on vacation can be tricky and costly. If guests don’t need to leave their pets at home, they’re given much more freedom when it comes to their travels.
When guests can eliminate the stress and expense of leaving their pets behind, they’re more likely to feel comfortable spending longer away from home. This can mean longer reservations in your rental properties, meaning higher value bookings for you.
Build Guest Loyalty
Guests love to take the stress out of booking a vacation. If they find the ideal property – suitable for the entire family – they’re much more likely to return year on year. Repeat bookings can also take the usual booking engine commissions out of the equation, with guests able to reserve with you directly.
The cons of offering a pet-friendly rental
While pet-friendly vacation rentals can be a smart business move for vacation rental property managers, there are some potential downsides that are worth considering.
Even if you request ‘well behaved pets only’ on your property listing, when in a different environment, even the best behaved animals can become agitated or excitable – which may lead to more noise than expected. Noisy pets can be the cause of complaints from other guests or neighbors. Not something that any property manager wants to deal with.
This one can be tricky to manage, as everyone has different standards of what they consider acceptable noise levels. This is where smart devices like Roomonitor can step in. These tools register noise over a certain level, and will notify guests of the concern. They can also mediate with guests on your behalf, where necessary.
Vacation Rental Damage
Cats love to explore, and the curious companions will usually attempt to get into all nooks and crannies to see what they can find. If you have shelves with ornaments, consider replacing them with something less valuable, in case they get knocked off. You may also find that any visiting cats sharpen their claws on your furniture or delicate curtains.
Dogs are also capable of causing their fair share of damage, scratching at doors or chewing up parts of the property. With any pets, there’s also the risk of toilet accidents happening in the accommodation. These risks should be factored in when choosing your vacation rental insurance.
Pet owners know that it’s essential to stay on top of treatments to prevent picking up pests. However, even with the best of intentions, animals can carry critters around – which can make their way into your property. To prevent infestations and keep your property pest-free, you may have to conduct specialized deep cleaning.
There’s also the matter of allergies. Even after a thorough cleaning, guests with severe pet allergies may be affected by previous visitors. To avoid any issues, be sure to notify guests that your properties are pet-friendly and may have been previously occupied by animals.
How to make your properties pet-friendly
If you’re planning to open your doors to guests and their furry (feathered, scaly…) friends, there are certain steps you can take to make sure the switch goes smoothly.
Offer Pet Facilities
To help guests and their furry counterparts feel at home in your property, make sure that you’re set up to receive guests of different species. This may be a matter of providing treats, food bowls or pet bedding. You could also include some basic supplies such as spare leashes, toys, or poop bags, in case these have been forgotten at home.
If the rental is in a hot climate, you could set out some cooling mats, or heating pads for cold regions. All of these little touches will help you to offer guests a complete experience and demonstrate that you go the extra mile for their comfort.
Clarify The Rules
So that everyone knows where they stand and to avoid any misunderstandings, it’s important to make sure that the rental rules are clear for your guests. When it comes to animals, this can be a case of clarifying behavioral expectations in shared areas. Stating where animals are permitted to go and any areas which are off limits. You can mention the noise expectations and any systems in place to manage these.
If your rental includes a digital welcome book, you could also mention nearby parks, walks or dog-friendly restaurants, so that guests know where to take their pooches.
Protect Your Furnishings
To prevent any of the aforementioned damage or pest concerns, consider adding additional protective covers to beds, chairs and sofas. These can reduce damage from scratching and also prevent staining.
It’s also an idea to buy practical furniture and fittings made of resilient materials (particularly table legs and door frames), so that they’re less susceptible to damage from claws and teeth.
If you’re planning a complete overhaul of your property, it may be worth investing in scratch and stain proof flooring, as well as easy to clean wall paint or coverings.
Insure For Success
For additional peace of mind, you can ask guests to pay an additional damage deposit, to cover any animal-caused repairs that may be needed. Guests will likely be happy with this arrangement, as it also gives them peace of mind for their stay.
Optimize Your Listings
To reap all of the rewards of going pet-friendly, be sure to optimize your listings accordingly. This means ensuring that all of your OTA listings are updated to reflect that you’re now welcoming animals. With Avantio’s Channel Manager, you can make such updates easily from one platform. Why not add some new photos of pets enjoying your properties, while you’re at it?
Be sure that your own vacation rental website reflects the changes you’ve made to your pet policies, so that visitors can quickly and easily see that you’re now a pet friendly vacation rental.
Welcome your new guests
If you’ve decided to jump into pet friendly vacation rentals with all four feet, then following the steps above will put you in good stead to start welcoming your new guests.
To get the most out of your newly pet-friendly vacation rentals, be sure to use the full toolkit of revenue-boosting tools available through Avantio. Contact us today to find out more.