The Pros and Cons of Accepting Pets at Your Vacation Rental

    accepting pets at your vacation rentalWhen faced with the decision of whether to accept pets at your vacation rental, some owners see dollar signs...others see pet hair. Before you decide whether or not to accept pets, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons. You should first take into account what suits your own family, but should also consider the potential effects on your vacation rental business before ruling it out entirely or checking that “pet-friendly” box on your listings.

    The Pros

    In some dog-eat-dog vacation rental markets, accepting pets might be just what you need to get a leg up on the competition. Here are some of the potential benefits of making your rental  pet-friendly:

    Expand your traveler base. Consider the sheer number of people in the U.S. that own a pet. And perhaps more importantly, many of them love their pets so much that they bring them along on family vacations. According to the American Pet Products Association, 37% of pet owners take their animals on the road with them, up from 19 percent just 10 year ago. That's millions and millions of travelers you could be catering to!

    Increase bookings. When demand exceeds supply, you have a promising business opportunity. Less than half of the properties on accept pets. Furthermore, most of these properties only allow dogs, and even fewer allow big dogs. When you consider the demand for pet-friendly accommodations compared to the number of rentals available, your decision might just be a bit easier. Yes, it's true that not all pet-owning travelers are concerned with bringing a pet along, but those that are will apply the pet-friendly filter!

    Fill off-season openings. When it comes to those dog days of…fall, young couples, empty-nesters and retirees are more likely to travel than families with children who are restricted by school calendars. And just because these travelers won't have children in tow doesn't mean they won't have their other “babies” to bring along. If you're on the fence about accepting pets, give it a try in your off-season to help fill the weekends in your slower months.

    Earn extra income. When you allow guests to bring pets to your vacation rental, it is completely reasonable to charge a fee. Just think, if your guests couldn't bring their pet along, they'd have to pay to board it anyway. We recommend charging $25 to $50 per night. You should also compare your pet fees with other rentals in your area to make sure they are competitive.

    The Cons

    For some, accepting pets isn't all puppy love. However, most owners that accept pets are quick to tout the benefits and quickly dismiss the potential negatives. That being said, you should still consider the potential downsides of accepting pets. Running a pet-friendly vacation rental could potentially:

    Create additional wear and tear on your home. The risk of damage to your property is slightly greater when you allow animals in your home. However, most people that travel with their pets are confident in their pets' behavior – if they weren't, do you think they'd want to bring the pets along for vacation? Either way, some owners charge a pet deposit in addition to the pet fee in case of damage. You may also want to set some restrictions when it comes to the age of the animals. A puppy is probably more likely to cause damage than an older dog that has been trained, so be sure to communicate to your guests any age minimums you have set for the animals.

    Alienate allergy-sensitive travelers. If you choose to start accepting pets, you might be concerned about pushing away potential bookings from travelers with allergies. This is a valid concern, but you have to weigh what makes sense for your family and your business. According to the Humane Society of the United States, about 15% of the population is allergic to dogs or cats. Some might still be willing to rent your home even if you have allowed pets; just be sure to disclose this at the time of booking and include a clause in your rental agreement. (Otherwise, you could find yourself in the doghouse.)

    Increase your expenses. Allowing pets in your vacation home might increase some cleaning and maintenance expenses for your vacation rental business. You will likely have to book pest control appointments and clean your carpets more frequently (homes with other types of flooring are more ideal for accepting pets.) Nevertheless, you will probably be able to recoup these expenses with one or two additional bookings.

    Create more work for your housekeeper. Remember that accepting pets will probably increase the amount of cleaning needed between guests. Be sure to have clear communication with your housekeeper if you start allowing pets in your rental, and make sure to allow enough time between guests checking out and checking in. You will probably also need to compensate him/her for the extra cleaning time.

    If you're still a bit unsure about whether or not to accept pets, you might be able to test the waters by accepting pets only in your off-season. If you find that it's causing more wear and tear than you'd hoped for, maybe it's not right for your home. But if you notice that it helps to increase bookings, you might extend your pet-friendly season year-round.
    *Last Updated April 11, 2018

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