A survey conducted this year by the American Pet Products Association found that 68% of all US households have at least one pet. Pets are part of the family! It's stressful - and expensive! - to leave Fido at home with a sitter or in a kennel. Instead, bringing their beloved pet along on vacation for is the perfect solution! But what does that mean for you, the homeowner?
While the percentage of families with pets has risen over the years, finding a pet-friendly vacation rental home can still be a challenge for visitors who want to bring their four-legged friends to the beach.
Choosing to market your home as pet friendly will always give your vacation rental home a competitive advantage.
Allowing pets in your vacation rental home will attract a larger pool of renters and, in turn, increase your rental potential, particularly in the shoulder and off seasons. During those times, young couples, empty nesters, and retirees are more likely to travel than families with children who are restricted by school calendars. These guests like to bring their fur babies along.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Now don't get me wrong - There are legitimate concerns when considering whether or not to be pet friendly.
What kinds of pets should I allow, and how many?
Let's be clear, by pet-friendly we primarily mean dogs. You can specify that with your property manager. Maybe you wouldn't mind a cat, a bird, or an occasional pot belly pig, but for most vacation rental homeowners , when they open their homes to pets, they mean dogs. The number of pets is up to you as well. The usual preferred number is one, maybe two. You certainly don't want a pack. As a vacationing animal lover, no offense, Fido, but I would not want to spend my vacation with more than two dogs.
You can even be specific as to the size you of pet you allow. Insist that your property manager ask a lot of specific questions when booking your guests in regards to the pets they are bringing. Just don't go so crazy with rules that you turn off potential renters.
What extra expenses will I incur?
You will have extra expenses for cleaning, maintenance, pest control, etc., but those could be easily recouped with one or two additional bookings. The risk of damage to your property is slightly higher, but we have found that most people who travel with their pets are confident in their pets' behavior. (If they weren't, do you think they would want to take them on vacation?) In fact, pets are often less trouble and cause less damage or cleaning than most adults and certainly less than most childern. If only we could kennel our children for a week? (Just kidding!)
Will being pet friendly turn away potential bookings from people with allergies?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, about 15% of the population is allergic to dogs or cats. Even so, some may still be willing to rent your home. However, this is very importatant: If you as an owner bring pets to your vacation rental home, it's strongly reccommended that you list your home as pet-friendly so as not to cause any potential conflicts with visitors who are allergic to pets. If you advertise your home as a non-pet home but bring your pets when you visit, you subject yourself to possibly loosing rentals if guests complain about dander, allergies, etc. and have to be moved to another home.
In the end, whether to allow pets or not in your vacation rental home is a personal decision. Consider your home's location, your property management company's policies and procedures for pets, their resourses for cleaning and maintenance, and, most importantly, your comfort level with pets in your home. Here on Hatteras Island, making your home pet friendly will help you maximize your owner income and improve your guests' treasured vacation experience by allowing them to include the four-legged friend they love so much!