According to the 2012 US Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, 62% of US households own a pet – that equates to over 70 million dogs and 63% of those owners consider their pet to be a member of the family.
What does that mean to us as vacation rental owners? Well, quite a lot if you consider that one reason for this choice of accommodation is the potential for guests to bring their pet/pets with them on vacation. We also need to be aware that what used to be the competitive edge for holiday rentals has been eroded by many hotels adopting pet friendly policies.
When you look at some of the hotel chains that now include everything from oversized pet pillows, turn-down treats and temporary ID tags, to generous check-in packages with pet toys and a bone, we’ve got a way to go. Hotels are rapidly catching up with what savvy owners have known for a long time, that this sector of the market is growing and we need to keep up and deliver great service to pet owners.
The argument against accepting pets has often been one of damage and hygiene issues, but as this owner commented on a forum post:
“I have 3 dogs and a near 2 year old and I can safely say that the dogs do not write on the walls, stairs, TV or furniture with felt pen, make fingerprints all over the windows or hide the TV remote control (or anything else small) somewhere obscure and take the card out of the satellite box. And dogs are generally much cleaner when they eat, food tends to stay in a bowl, whereas that of a toddler ends up anywhere within a 360° 2m radius of the plate.”
I fully agree with this sentiment having accepted dogs at my cottages for the past ten years. We never charge a fee or issue dire warnings of consequences if there is a pet hair or two at checkout. After all, there’s going to be a thorough clean regardless of the condition in which the property is left.
Each pet receives a welcome basket with natural treats, a tennis ball and a chew, and there is a page in our Welcome Book that offers helpful suggestions on local dog walks, prevention of porcupine encounters and a recipe to combat skunk attacks. 95% of our guests have a dog and the comments in the guest book testify to the pet friendliness of the property contributed to the overall enjoyments.
Having said this, there is also a demand for pet-free places for allergy sufferers so if you are adamant you don’t want to accept dogs (and have never had a pet in the property), there is a marketing advantage in that niche sector.
In the pursuit of pleasing our guests it’s worth remembering the saying immortalised by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the medieval French monk who died in 1153, and now known in its modernised form. “Love me, love my dog”
For me, as a dog lover, that says it all. Do you think a vacation home is better if it allows pets?