85 million US families own a pet. 37% of those families bring their pets on at least one vacation a year. That means over 3 million people annually are traveling with pets, and they are looking for accommodation. Many different factions of the travel industry are responding – airports are including pet relief areas, and trains are allowing pets on board.
Many of the world’s famous hotel brands are allowing pets to stay with their owners. Some higher end suites are even catering to your fur babies with pet massages and branded treats, for an extra fee of course. What does this mean for Airbnb hosts?
It means that there is money to be made off of allowing pets!
The first and biggest advantage to having a pet friendly Airbnb is that it dramatically lowers your competition.
Check out this search I did for Austin, Texas. The search parameters were: no specific dates, entire home, superhost filter, and instant book.
That’s 23 Airbnb Plus homes, and over 300 regular listings.
When I add the “Pets Allowed” filter, it goes from 300+ to…
0 Airbnb Plus properties, and only 107 other listings.
Your chances of getting booked triple. Occupancy goes up, you get moved higher in the search ranking, more guests book, and you can increase your rates. A wonderful cycle!
6 Myths about Pet Friendly Airbnbs
Many of my clients have concerns about allowing pets into their listings. However, most of these concerns are unfounded, especially when it comes to single family homes dedicated solely to Airbnb.
1. Pets cause medical issues in hosts or other guests with allergies
If you are a home share host that rents out private rooms, then sure, you have to consider other potential guests as well as your own family. But if you are renting out a single family home, this argument doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like the pets are living there…they are just staying for a couple days. If you have genuine concerns about this, you can limit stays with pets to under a week.
2. Guests with allergies won’t book pet friendly Airbnbs
Airbnbs are required to take assistance animals (unless you meet the exceptions of severe allergies or other pets on the property), so nobody can guarantee that their properties are 100% pet free.
3. Pets cause excess damage
In my experience, kids do way more damage than pets. We have been hosting multiple properties for over 3 years, with thousands of guests passing through our homes. We have always allowed pets, and not once have we had an issue.
If we ever did have an issue with pets causing damage, it would be covered under the Airbnb host guarantee just like any other damage claims.
***Some other hosts have pointed out that the language in Airbnb’s host guarantee does not cover pets, only assistance animals. However, I have made several claims of extra cleaning fees due to pet hair, and Airbnb has covered me even when the guests refuse to pay. And since we aren’t allowed to ask if an animal is an assistance animal, technically couldn’t all pets be called emotional support?
***You should have adequate short term rental insurance that would cover pet damage. We use CBIZ for our whole home rentals, which will cover us in the event Airbnb doesn’t.
4. Pets incur extra cleaning costs
In general, I have found KIDS to be much messier than animals! However, animal hair can be a headache to remove properly from fabric surfaces such as furniture and bedding. You can help prevent this by explicitly stating your expectations and the consequences in the house rules. But we pass this risk and cost straight on to the guest with a pet fee.
We actually make a premium from pet bookings by charging this pet convenience fee. Airbnb doesn’t have a specific line to add pet fees, but you can send a special offer before the guest books or go through the resolution center after the guest has checked in. Guests are more than happy to pay the additional $15/night per pet, and very rarely do we have to use it – 95% of it is pure profit. It’s a win-win!
5. Barking will bother your neighbors
This would be a valid concern if you rent out private rooms or apartments in a shared building. But think about the likelihood of a guest’s dog barking long enough to actually legitimately bother a neighbor. Most of the “problem pets” in our neighborhood become problems after weeks of incessant barking. As long as they aren’t long term guests, even some barking won’t cause an issue.
That’s like saying you won’t allow cars because the guests might park in your neighbor’s spot.
Either way, the neighbors should already have your contact information to get ahold of you in the event of a parking or barking emergency.
6. Pets are a liability
Everything is a liability. You need to make sure that you have adequate coverage for short term rentals. Our short term rental insurance covers pet liabilities (although they won’t replace a pet if one dies on the property), and we also have an umbrella policy to cover if our insurance does run out.
Besides the extra cash in you pocket, there is one more big worry taken out of your life…the guests with the “service animal”! When you allow pets, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a service animal or not. So instead of having to figure out if it’s an assistance animal or pet, you can just relax and say, “Sure!”
Ways to alleviate common animal concerns.
Include rules in your listing specific to pets. You might consider adding: dogs have to be kenneled up when alone, clean up after your pets, no animals allowed on the bed, no excessive barking, clean out litter boxes appropriately, do not allow cats to destroy furniture, etc.
To help people follow these rules, invest in some pet friendly amenities such as: a pooper scooper, kennel, leashes, cat trees, and dog beds.
Cover your bases! It’s a small thing, but dedicate a line of your listing to specifically outline who will be responsible for the animals. Add something like, “Guests will be held liable for the actions of any animals brought onto the property during their stay. Booking guest agrees to pay for all additional fees related to any additional cleanings, damage, or excessive wear and tear caused by the pets. The guest brings the animal onto the property at their own risk.”
Feeling inspired to increase your revenue by becoming pet friendly? Check out 5 Marketing Strategies for Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals
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