Numbers don’t lie. It’s estimated that six in ten Americans have pets, and upwards of 45% of Americans own dogs. That makes for a pet-services market determined to be worth $11 billion to $50 billion USD.
How do you convert to a pet-friendly vacation rental? It’s easier than you think, and welcoming Fido opens the door to a huge, untapped slice of the market.
1) Check your insurance policy
Many policies have standard breed restrictions that won’t cover certain types of dogs or animals. Make sure that you abide by these guidelines so that your policy holds up in the rare instance that man’s best friend gets feisty.
2) Decide: Cats, dogs, or both? How many?
Some vacation rentals allow cats, and some put a weight restriction on dogs. Some guests might want to bring a zoo. Think about the impact of each type of animal (noise, dander, smell), decide on your restrictions, and make them clear up front.
3) Inform your house cleaner
Discuss the possibility of allowing pets in your property with the company or person responsible for cleaning the premises. Determine how that will affect the cleaning costs and cleaning time.
4) Revisit your rates
It’s okay to charge for pets. Whether it’s a deposit that will be returned upon checkout or a non-refundable fee charged weekly or daily for the addition of a pet, it’s perfectly acceptable (and even expected) to charge a little something extra.
5) Require that pets are up-to-date on shots and vaccinations
All pets that come to your property should be fully vaccinated. Think about whether you want to allow unneutered and unspayed pets on the premises, since they can be prone to marking their territory, etc. Depending on the type of pests in your area, you may consider requesting that pets receive flea and tick treatments before arrival.
6) Consider leash and off-leash options
For the safety of visiting pets and the other animals in the neighborhood, it’s a good idea to require guests to keep their animals on-leash when not inside, especially if you have an unfenced yard or live near a high-traffic road. It also depends on the culture of your area.
7) Local laws, HOA policies, and noise ordinances
Before you decide to change the rules regarding pet-guests on your property, make sure you are in line with the rules of your homeowner’s association or local municipality. Inform guests of any noise ordinances that may affect their stay.
8) Offer pet-friendly amenities
Here are a few suggestions that will make both owners and their animals feel welcome in your property—and encourage repeat visits.
- Info-sheet: Prepare a sheet of recommendations and contact information for emergency vets in the area, grocery stores with pet food, dog parks and pet stores.
- Pet dishes: Remember to provide clean pet dishes for food and water in an obvious place—or prepare for the fact that your chinaware may be used by animals.
- Stock waste bags and/or a litter box: This is the most commonly forgotten category among traveling pet owners. For dogs, keep bags stocked for waste. For cats, prepare an empty litter box with liners and litter, and require the renter to clean after use.
Casey Anderson manages partnerships at Dwellable. He likes long walks on the beach with puppies and would very much like to visit Taiwan. Thinking about listing? Visit Dwellable on Facebook, Twitter and Dwellable.com or say hi: Casey[at]dwellable.com.
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