How to Attract Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental Bookings

May 30 2022
guest in a pet friendly vacation rental

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

2020 will not only go down in history for being the start of the pandemic but for being the beginning of a massive boom in the pet industry. With people shifting to working from home and social distancing, it became the perfect opportunity to introduce a new puppy to the family or adopt a pet for companionship.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of attracting pet-friendly vacation bookings, and what you can do to attract pet owner guests.

Quick pet stats

In 2021 Airbnb, Vrbo and saw a significant increase in the use of the pet-friendly filter, and here’s why…..

  • The US pet industry grew by 1.5 billion from 2019 to 2020 (APPA)
  • 70% of households have at least one pet (APPA)
  • 32% of Millenials, 27% of Baby Boomers and 24% of Gen X own a pet (Statista)
  • 95% of pet owners consider their pets to be family members

With the surge in people buying “pandemic pets” mixed with the flexibility to work from anywhere, people began googling “vacation rental pet-friendly” more than ever. Even before we go further in this article, it’s safe to say that allowing pets in your vacation rental properties is a quick way to boost revenue.

link to article on increasing income for vacation rentals

The pros and cons of attracting pet-friendly vacation rentals

Vacation rental property managers are beginning to realize that there are real marketing and guest review benefits to offering dog-friendly vacation rentals and pet-friendly accommodations.

The pros

Increase in bookings

In 2020 Vrbo recognized a 50% increase in families travelling with pets meaning if you manage or host a pet-friendly property, you’re increasing your reach and opening up your bookings to a lot more families. Becoming a dog-friendly or pet-friendly short-term rental is a great way to not only give you a competitive edge but increase your occupancy.

Increase in 5-star reviews

It’s no secret that when you cater to your guests’ specific wants and needs, your chances of receiving glowing reviews about your pet-friendly rental will increase. Making sure that you’ve created a space where pets can thrive will make pet owners want to share their experience at your short-term rental with others and lead to more bookings.

Increased cross-promotion opportunities

Offering pet-friendly accommodations can open up a whole new world of possibilities for forging mutually beneficial relationships with small businesses. Pet owners travelling with their furry friends will want your recommendations on where to eat, play and shop for their pet. After speaking with local business owners, you could offer discounts or samples for when your guests arrive. In turn, have your vendors advertise your pet-friendly vacation property to their clientele.

Increases your ability to compete with hotels

Hilton announced last year that by 2022 nearly 1,000 of their properties would be completely pet-friendly and be welcomed not only in the rooms but also in the common areas. They’ve already begun partnering with other businesses and offer everything from dog treats, dog beds and dog-friendly city guides to their guests.

The cons

Additional expenses 

If you choose to make your vacation property “Fido-friendly,” some additional expenses will undoubtedly be incurred. Your cleaning service may charge an additional fee, and there will be the potential for more wear and tear.

However, to offset these additional expenses, you can also charge a pet fee or pet deposit, which would make your nightly rate higher.

Guests with allergies

Another concern that arises from having a dog-friendly vacation rental is how it will affect guests with allergies to pet dander. We recommend speaking to your cleaning service to ensure they have a protocol for cleaning a dog-friendly or pet-friendly vacation property. A couple of other solutions to manage this concern are designating “pet-free” rooms to allow for a space that will be free of dander and investing in an air purification system with a HEPA filter specifically for eliminating pet dander and any odors.

link to article on cleaning tips

Potential for noise complaints

Just like you can’t ever be guaranteed to have well-behaved human guests, there are no guarantees that your pet guests will be well trained. Before choosing to become pet-friendly, it’s vital to consider the location of your property and if it would be bothersome to a neighbour if you had a yippy dog come to stay.

Questions to ask when becoming a pet-friendly vacation rental

Before becoming a property management company or host that welcomes pet owners and their furry friends, we’ve compiled a list of essential questions that will help you create your pet policy.

  • Will you charge a pet deposit, a nightly rate or both?
  • Will you require proof of up-to-date vaccinations for your guest’s pets?
  • What type of pets will be allowed to stay in your pet-friendly vacation property? (Consider weight restrictions, size and number of pets)
  • What do you need to do to pet-proof your property? I.e., vinyl floors, sofa covers
  • How will be being a pet-friendly or dog-friendly vacation rental affect your insurance and HOA fees?

How to market your pet-friendly vacation rental property

Now that we’ve established that there’s a large market of pet owners looking for dog-friendly vacations rentals and the potential for increasing your bookings and nightly rates, how should you go about marketing the property for your homeowners? We have three steps listed below to get you started.

Step 1: Optimize your listing to attract pet owners

  • Make sure you’ve selected the pet-friendly option for your listing on Airbnb, Vrbo, and
  • Use images that show pets, dogs or pet supplies and amenities like dog bowls, dog beds and chew toys
  • Make it clear in your listings if you are a pet-friendly vacation rental or only a dog-friendly vacation rental.
  • Be completely upfront with any specific house rules such as pet-free rooms, the use of sofa covers, and any cleanup routines, so pet owners know what to expect.

Step 2: Advertise on niche sites

  • Network and collaborate with pet bloggers and travel bloggers to showcase your property.
  • List your property on niche sites that speak directly to pet owners. A site like BringFido is a great example: it caters specifically to operators who operate pet friendly vacation rentals. There are many other similar ones out there, so to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of top Airbnb competitors and alternatives.

Step 3: Advertise on your direct booking site

  • Take advantage of the independence your own direct booking site will give you.
  • Create content that pet owners will find valuable when researching how best to travel with their fur babies.
  • Use your site as a way to collaborate with other small businesses and maximize cross-promotion.

link to download paper on direct booking sites

What’s the takeaway?

If you want to run with the big dogs (see what we did there?), you’d be wise to follow the lead of hotel chains like The Hilton and jump into the vacation rental pet-friendly niche. With furry friends becoming more like children, this space will only grow.