Airbnb is a powerful tool that will catapult you into financial independence, if you know the most effective strategies to use it. To receive the highest return on your investment, my clients focus on increasing both their occupancy and their nightly rate. One of the most effective ways to do this is by strategically targeting niche audiences, and build up a loyal customer base.
It’s a well-known fact that you can’t please everyone. By narrowing your demographic to a few strategically selected groups of people, you can focus on providing high-quality amenities and services that will be far superior to any other vacation rental in your area.
One target demographic often overlooked is pet owners. Although a lot of Airbnb hosts are scared of hosting pets, this article will outline 7 reasons why it’s a smart idea to allow our animal friends.
To attract pet owners, you have to visibly elevate your listings above other pet friendly vacation rentals. Luckily, you don’t have that much competition, as currently less than 1/3 of all Airbnb listings are considered animal friendly. To stand out from the crowd, you need to impress upon potential guests that you are not pet friendly – but you are pet welcoming. But future guests aren’t going to figure this out on their own, which is where marketing comes in. As you sharpen your marketing tactics, a higher percentage of your target audience (in this case, pet owners) will book your space, building a customer base.
Today we will be discussing 5 marketing strategies, and how to use them to attract pet owners.
- Enhance SEO in your Airbnb listing’s title, description, and picture captions
- Include specific pictures in your listing
- Effectively utilize social media
- Increase your potential audience
- Leverage upcoming events
1. Enhance SEO by using specific phrases in title, listing description, and picture captions
Before a potential guest can see how pet welcoming you are, they need to know that you exist – so put yourself out there!
If a potential guest searches for, “Pet friendly Airbnb in (your city)”, your goal is to come up at or near the top of the list. The best way to do this is through SEO (search engine optimization). The easiest way to up your SEO game is to utilize the phrase “pet friendly Airbnb in (your city)” as often as possible throughout your listing. This includes your title, listing descriptions, and picture captions.
**If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at your Airbnb title, go back and check out the post: 2 Steps to Writing the Perfect Airbnb Title.
You have worked hard and invested your time and money into appealing to pet owners, so put it in the title! Here are some examples: The Tiny Cottage – pets welcome + big yard. Lover’s Lane – romantic getaway + pet friendly. Zoo Paradise – pet and family friendly + parking. You get the idea.
Having these descriptions in your title immediately lets people know that you are pet friendly. This will encourage more of your target audience to click on the listing to learn more.
After guests learn that you welcome pets, you need to show them how your pet friendly listing is better than the others. Use your description and picture captions to write about how you welcome pet owners.
Here are some examples of wording to use in your descriptions and captions:
“As one of the few pet friendly Airbnbs in Omaha, we provide….”
“Our guests love that we are a pet friendly Airbnb in Omaha! Here is what Macy had to say..”
“We strive to be the best pet friendly Airbnb in Omaha by offering…”
“Your family will love staying at our pet friendly Airbnb in Omaha because…”
One trick is to quote previous guest reviews that mention how perfect your home was for their pets.
2. Include pictures of pets and your pet friendly amenities in your airbnb listing
Having pet friendly language in your listing will help you win over potential guests, but it is true what they say – pictures are worth a thousand words! Use these thousand words to your advantage.
Specifically take pictures of your pet friendly amenities, and stage them like you would any human amenity. For example, if you offer food and water bowls with some dog food, fill them up and take a picture. Take this one step further and get some actual pets in the shot to pose for you. It’s one thing to say you have a big yard for your dogs to run around in, and it’s another to see a dog have room to run and catch a frisbee.
3. Effectively utilize your social media
If you don’t already have a social media for your vacation rental, stop and read this article about Social Media for your Vacation Rental.
Once you have created your basic profiles, you can harness the magic of social media and market directly to your target audience.
What to post
***The most powerful posts are guest-generated. Encourage guests to tag you on social media, or to send you pictures of their pets enjoying your listing and city. You could even run a discount or giveaway for guests who specifically post their pet pics to encourage this.
Your pet-friendly amenities and decor
Start by simply reusing the pictures you have already taken for your official listing.
Next, spice it up with some variations. This could be as easy as using a different angle, filter, or set up. For example, you can also pile all of your amenities together to create a single snapshot of all the extra perks you offer for pet-owners. You could stage dog toys out in the yard, or even a lint roller removing fur.
Upgrade older pictures by using a program like Canva to add icons and/or words
Anytime you purchase a new pet amenity, take a few pictures of it specifically for social media.
Actual pets in your listing
This takes a little bit of time to set up and organize, but the most effective marketing is when a potential customer can visualize themselves using your product. In this case, your potential customer is a traveling pet owners, and your product is your listing. So, snap some pics of animals in your listing!
(Make sure you’re not breaking your own house rules, like don’t take pics of dogs on the furniture if you aren’t going to allow guests to do that)
When you are taking photos for your Airbnb page, take plenty of extra. All the pictures that don’t make the official listing cut, you can repurpose for social media.
Guests traveling with their pets aren’t going to be familiar with the pet friendly local businesses. You’ve already done the hard part researching for your guidebook, so repurpose bits of information and make some simple graphics.
Some ideas for this could be: 5 dog-friendly patios, 5 dog-friendly cafes in a particular section of town, 5 best dog walking trails, where to find local dog parks, best shops for cat lovers (bird lovers, guinea pig lovers, etc), where to find locally made pet treats, top 5 groomers/vets/suppliers
Put those lists into action, and go document the experience for yourselves! This is a great excuse to explore what local pet-friendly businesses have to offer. By taking pictures of your own pets in a different environment, you are emphasizing how pet-friendly your entire city is (even if not true city-wide, at least guests will know where to go to find like-minded people).
If you don’t have any pets, or any that you can bring in public, keep an eye out for others. Ask the animal owner if you can take a picture of their pet for a social media channel that is promoting pet-friendly local businesses. 99% of people won’t have a problem.
Here are some pictures we took with our pupster, exploring local businesses:
This could include large scale events that bring tourists into the area, or smaller events that appeal to a local audience.
A dog show or cat convention will bring in a large crowd from out of town, so post any updates or extra information about that.
Include events in your town even if only locals usually attend. Airbnb guests want an authentic experience, including with their pets. Your guests may be coming into town for an entirely different reason, but they are always looking for fun things to do.
Event posts are especially low maintenance, because you don’t have to create the actual graphic, just share it out! An added bonus is that the local events will appreciate the additional exposure.
Tips on traveling with your pet
A quick google search can bring you lots of content to include for this one. You can focus on different modes of transportation, like animals on road trips, flying with animals, or more general tips about keeping your animals comfortable in new spaces.
Stock pictures of pets
Find pictures online of animals, especially if they are traveling and/or enjoying some of the amenities that you happen to offer.
I love using unsplash.com to find properly licensed, high resolution photos for whatever you need (including social media posts).
Your own pets
If you have your own fur babies, now is their time to shine! My phone is mostly just pictures of my dogs, so if you are anything like me you already have plenty of material to work with. Besides emphasizing that your listing is animal friendly, this is an opportunity to make a connection with your future guests. As a dog owner, I automatically already like other dog owners – and that same general bias will extend to you and your guests.
Here are some pictures we have posted of our own pets on social media:
Almost anything you would usually post about your pets is a potential source of content. If you have the time, add some text via Canva to differentiate these pics from your personal account.
If you spend more than 3 minutes on Instagram, you will notice a variety of hashtags that accompany each Instagram post. Play around to find hashtags that will appeal specifically to your target audience, pet owners who travel. You can use the search function to see how popular a particular hashtag is.
Extra hint: find the hashtag for any large scale pet events coming to town, so people who are coming specifically for that event will be likely to see your listing.
4. Increase your audience
Guests who travel with pets frequently are used to having a more limited selection of accommodations. One way they try to minimize this inconvenience is by widening their search net. Instead of just looking for properties via Airbnb, they will comb the net for other resources so that they will have a wider variety of options.
Contact local tourism board and see if they will add you to their list of pet friendly hotels.
Post on free general online websites such as Craigstlist (link up to your Airbnb listing to avoid questionable guests)
There are websites specifically created for pet-friendly vacation rentals and hotels. We recently listed our properties on Bring Fido.com – just email them for directions on how to submit your vacation rental.
5. Keep a lookout for pet specific and family events coming to your town
If there are bigger events coming into town that are specifically for pet owners, or would attract pet owners (like family events), use this as another opportunity to market to your audience. Try contacting the organizers to see if they will put your listing on their website or recommendation page. You can also take matters into your own hands by posting a message on the event’s Facebook page or group.
Extra hint: find facebook groups of your target market in nearby cities – for example, “dog lovers of Kansas city”