Let’s consider the upsides and downsides of welcoming dogs to your holiday home. In a recent survey we undertook, roughly 50% of the respondees accepted pets, but 50% of those said they did it to see more bookings, which highlights some of the misconceptions about allowing dogs into your holiday home, especially if income is […]
Let's consider the upsides and downsides of welcoming dogs to your holiday home. In a recent survey we undertook, roughly 50% of the respondees accepted pets, but 50% of those said they did it to see more bookings, which highlights some of the misconceptions about allowing dogs into your holiday home, especially if income is a key priority. "We tick the pet-friendly box" was the underlying sentiment for these owners.
The statistics are very clear, and the benefits are substantial. In 2020, Booking.com, which knows a few things about their guests, published the coming demands of their customers and makes interesting reading.
Pets in the priority lane
With 55% of global pet owners saying that their pet is as important to them as their child/ren, it’s no surprise that 2020 looks set to herald a new era in pet-centric vacations. Travellers will put the needs of their pets before their own when it comes to selecting where to go, where to stay and what to do. In the coming year, 42% of global pet owners agree they would choose holiday destinations based on whether they can take their pets and 49% would be willing to pay more to stay at a pet-friendly accommodation.
The UK and the United States are the two biggest markets, as shown by Google's graph below based on the number of searches.
Now add in Covid.
Covid meant that both domestic travel increased, and this was predominantly by car. We also know Covid accelerated the adoption of pets.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, a total of 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic. The association says that the country now has 17 million pet-owning homes. Young people are the main drivers of this trend, with more than half of new owners aged 16 to 34, the PFMA says. More than 23 million American households — nearly 1 in 5 nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). There are undoubtedly some major issues with the adoption rate, owners' issues, and lack of familiarity with pet ownership. The net effect, however, is that more dogs and people wish to travel with them.
Apart from the fact people often can't be parted from their dogs and, to a great degree, are considered family members and often just below children in the pecking order of importance. Now add in cost, something we are all concerned about right now, and the argument to offer dogs a welcome makes such sense. In April 2022, the average weekly kennel cost was just over £300, ranging from mid-£200 to over £400. Dog walkers, sitters and extended stays are not much better and can have other issues. Adding a small nightly fee per dog can help your income and increase the opportunity to see bookings, especially in an economic downturn.
When it comes to travelling with pets, what do self-caterers look for? In the same way, they may choose a holiday rental or any accommodation type; dog owners want to be sure their pets are comfortable. Typically pet owners begin their search for a holiday rental by looking for pet-friendly activities such as dog-friendly beaches, bars, walks etc. In addition, pet-friendly amenities or real considerations from owners can make a big difference.
Consider providing your guests with water and food bowls, chew toys, waste bags, and even a pet bed. Doing so will increase guest satisfaction and reduce the possibility of damage or pet waste. You may go the extra mile for children, so why not dogs?
Hard-wearing fabrics and throws are not just for dogs!
Many people use durable fabrics throughout their rental to avoid replacing scratched and stained couch covers, or like many new to pet-friendly rentals, they use throws. These are easily washable and removable. Its always good however in a rental to consider durability. Children are often worse than pets when it comes to leaving issues and if you accept children their is an even greater liability issue if you have stair gates, open fires, areas of free flowing or pool water etc.
Establish a pet-friendly policy
First, check with your insurance provider to ensure that you have the right coverage for a pet-friendly rental, which is generally OK anyway.
Ensure your listing explains the house rules on the use of furniture, the rooms in the house that may not be used, and cleaning up the garden after dogs have been out. Washing down dogs who may have been on the beach or have muddy paws always helps and offering an outside tap is a good move. Most dog owners are very careful and respectful of others however and how often would you hose children down after a day on the beach?
Ask your guests to fill out a pet application. You could ensure all pets in your home are vaccinated, tagged, and have proper ownership documentation which shows responsibility. You can also stipulate no long haired of large dogs, and numbers. However the few places that takes more than 3 dogs are rarely empty!
Allergies, the age old argument
First ask yourself, are you actually a real dog lover. It transpires that many people who don't like or care for dogs, let alone any type of pet are less likely to rent a dog friendly cottage to guests. One argument that is used is "allergies" for subsequent guests. While an estimated 10 percent of people (in the USA) are allergic to household pets, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which means the number of people travelling with dogs outnumbers those with allergies.
According to statistics, there are about 79.74 million dogs and 86.11 million cats in the United States. and nine million dogs in at least a quarter of households across the UK. When looking at how many pets people have, dogs are more popular than cats; 36.59% of households own a dog, while only 30.39% own cats. Cats are easier to look after and comes and go as they please, but dogs are more dependent and hence follow their owners on trips.
It seems from all the evidence that not taking dogs increasingly reduces chances of getting a booking or maximising income.