How and why make your AirBnb pet friendly?

Live Swell Puka and Live Swell hat
Will the dog eat my furniture? What if they bring pack of wolves, will they ruin my dream vacation home? What if a guests dog bites the neighbor's kid? And don’t dogs shed a lot of hair? Questions and concerns like these run though all our minds when considering to make an AirBnb pet friendly. In the end we are glad we did! Read on.

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Whether or not a person lists their property as a pet or dog friendly AirBnb is personal choice. We will never tell a person what to do we’ll only showcase what we do and let them choose whats right for them. At Live Swell we do believe in listing our places as pet friendly, in this article we will discuss both how and why to make a property listing Airbnb pet friendly along with how to address the major concerns when our guests bring “fido.”

Did you know "Pet Friendly" ranks as the 3rd top searched vacation rental amenity?

https://community.homeaway.com/docs/DOC-1131
Maria and I struggled with an Airbnb pet friendly debate for much longer than we should have. Initially, we were apprehensive as we both created images in our heads of Pit Bulls tearing up our places unsupervised. Later we had other visions of an untrained dog darting across the street not at a bird but at a neighbor child. We tried it at some homes but not others and had initially had no consistency to our AirBnb pet friendly policy. What these inconsistent tests did reveal is that guests who brought a dog, in our experience, were very respectful of our places. After hosting thousands of guests and hundreds of dogs in our homes we have NOT had to make ANY claims to the guests damage deposit! This means there has been no significant damage incident from our dog friendly Airbnb's.

Why we list our vacation rental listings and AirBnb pet friendly?


It is important to note that we do list ALL our properties as AirBnb pet friendly, this does not mean that we are open to hosting all pet types. We have had requests to host cats but simply made the decision that we are only going to focus on dog owners. We like them, we love them we may even want to squeeze them but we only position our listings as dog friendly Airbnb’s. So you will need to choose what pet types you are open to hosting.

Top 3 reasons we list Airbnb Pet friendly?


Adds Value to the Guest Experience: If you are a dog owner, would you prefer to take the dog with you? Have them run on the beach with the kids? Or leave them home? In most cases guests view their dog as “part of the family.” Maria and I recently became parents to a beautiful black Labrador named Puka, we consider her part of our family and were better able to empathize with the guest requesting to “bring Fido.” We now exclusively looks for a dog friendly AirBnb when we travel. Our feeling is that most of our guests would miss this unique furry family member if they were not there and it can be difficult to find an dog friendly Airbnb as we have learned. In our continual effort to serve our guests we took the perspective of listing pet friendly as a mutually beneficial opportunity to add value to their experience so we did! Is a guests visit more special and memorable with their dog or not? We believe it is!

According to TripAdvsior, "Pet-friendly accommodations are most important to dog owners, 64 percent, compared to 38 percent of cat owners. Thirty-seven percent of respondents with pets would pay more to stay at accommodations that are pet-friendly-this jumps to 50 percent for dog owners."  Which leads us to the next point ADR!


Increases Average Daily Rate (ADR):  Most of us got into the vacation rental business to create another stream of income, have more options and get paid!  When we open our doors to pets we have an opportunity to collect additional revenue outside of our nightly rental rate.  In the book we recently published about the Live Swell Proven Process called, Vacation Rental Confidential, we discuss the concept of “thinking outside the gross potential rents,” basically how can we drive more revenue besides the rental rate?  There are many ways, making your Airbnb pet friendly is one of the easiest ways to do this.  We have collected thousands of dollars of additional revenue per property by listing as pet friendly.  Per dog it increases our ADR $25 per night and averages  in the range of $100 additional revenue per stay.


Upgrade Guests:  We can’t rent to everyone, nor do we want to.  Only one lucky family can rent a property each night or week.  Why not try to select for one that is willing to pay more?  That reason is a good one, but there is another one, ease of guest.  We do a really good job in our listing of signaling who our places for and who they are not for along with managing expectations.  Some guests can be a real pain in the ass, they are rare but they are out there.  Most dog owners, allow them to kiss or slobber all over their face (hopefully not after it sniffed a butt), sleep with them and have a strong emotional relationship.  Typically, these types of people share a worldview of increased tolerance to the dirty and the icky.  Why?  Dogs can be dirty and icky so they grow more tolerant of it, in most cases not all.  This is not to say our places are “dirty” or “icky” in any way, in fact, we are real sticklers for cleanliness, especially after hosting a dog.  This simply means our management team is more likely to host an “easy guest,” one that is more tolerant to a quirk, mishap or imperfection.  By hosting more easy guests and increasing the ADR we can upgrade our guests.

How to make your AirBnb Pet Friendly?


Update Listing to Pet Friendly: There are two step here, first, we will want to ensure the property is listed as “pet friendly” so that it appears in the search queries of those looking for a pet friendly place. Second, we will update our listing copy in the “other things to note” section to disclose a little more information about our pet friendly place, like the price and type of dog owners we are open to hosting:


How to make an Airbnb Pet Friendly Live Swell
Prepare Home to be Pet Friendly: 
Maria and I come from a background in renovating properties.  All our vacation rental were purchased as investments, we look for the ugly properties, the ones that need a lot of work so that we could have control of the look and feel.  Not everyone will have this opportunity or budget.   Initially, we were not open to listing as pet friendly, but we wanted to make sure our places were easy to clean (and difficult to destroy) for our housekeepers and our guests.  So an unintended but beneficial consequence, of this decision was that our places are also easier to clean when a dog is hosted.


Top Tips to Prepare a Vacation Home for Pets


Install Easy to Clean Surfaces: Floors are where most animals, especially dogs, will spend the majority of their time. Avoid carpets that can absorb liquids, dirt or stain easy. This can be a nightmare for your housekeepers and future guest may not be happy either. Imaging walking into your pet friendly vacation rental and being grossed out by a few brown stains in the pink carpet? We feel that hard surfaced floors like tile, vinyl and laminate are some of the best choices. Tile will be more expensive and time consuming to install and is not the ideal application for all rooms. Laminates may not sound sexy, however, there has been a ton of advancement in these products and many of them look and perform excellent when installed properly. Take a look at the listing photos of the Chill Surf Bungalow OBX, you will see a mix of laminate and tile floors. If you like this property tap the “heart” in the upper right!


Pet Friendly Fabrics: The second most frequented locations for pets are couches. We kindly ask all guest to keep pets off beds and couches but we know that most won’t, that is OK, we understand, they are on vacation. At the end of 2018, we noticed more wear on our couches, maybe a dog scratching or trying to dig a hole in the couch? I’m still not 100% yet, either way it is our responsibility to find the right solution that best serves our guests. We now have developed a relationship with a custom couch manufacturer, Home Reserve, that specializes in modular sofa’s, these couches fit small spaces have storage in the seats and best of all we were able to select a fabric that resists moisture, stains and is easy to clean. Worst case, if a dog does go ham we could reorder another seat cover and not lose the entire couch!


Mattress Protector or Pillow Top for Beds: Dog on the bed oh-my! It’s going to happen, if you can’t deal with it, don’t list your place AirBnb pet friendly. Mattress protectors or pillow toppers work for humans and they works for pets to.


Extra Linen Inventory:  We carry extra inventory of duvet covers, sheets and linens if there is an accident by man or man’s best friend it gets replaced immediately.


Pet Friendly Amenities:  Pet friendly amenities can help you win the heart of the dog owner, win the heart of the dog owner and you’ll have a killer review and raving fan!  Many places are listed as pet friendly but don’t really offer any additional value.  Its the little things that make the guest experience easier that they notice and value:
  1. Exterior Dog Gates:  On porches and decks give dog owners peace of mind that they dog won’t bolt
  2. Exterior Fence
  3. Interior Gates:  Collapsable style so the guest can choose what entrances they may want to block, like the stairs or kitchen
  4. Dog Treats
  5. Dog Bowls
  6. Tether (Interior) or spiral ground stake (exterior)
  7. Extra dog crate

Pet Friendly Activity List: How cool would it be to drive with your dog on the beach? Many dog owners would love that opportunity but most would simply be happy to know when and where they can take their dog for a walk on the beach. Maybe they would like to know where the local dog run is, if there are nearby trail or some other interesting activity.


Pet Friendly Emergency Information:  What if Fido gets sick or hurt?   What veterinarian do you recommend ands a 24 hours dog hospital?


Collect Additional Pet Fees:  The best part!  At the time of this writing AirBnb does not have a great process to collect pet fees, other listing sites like HomeAway and VRBO allow the guest to “add” a pet fee to the booking which is remitted at the time of booking.  Its important to have a process to track which guest are bringing pets and if a pet fee has been collected.  A few days prior to an AirBnb guest check-in the host can request additional fees, which the guest can accept and pay.  Don’t forget to collect pet fee’s! Be sure to "zoom in" on this How to send a Pet Fee though AirBnb Infographic.

Short and Sweet Headlines are Best!


How to send and collect the Airbnb Pet Fee?

How send and collect the Airbnb pet fee

Common Concerns About Listing a Property as Airbnb Pet Friendly


Damage:  When we started this article, I mentioned that we have not ever had to charge a guest for damage due to a dog.  I can’t say that is every owners experience, in hosting hundreds of dog owners with pets this had been our result to date.  We do understand that we may experience pet damage in the future and are confident that we are prepared for this risk.  One way to protect ourselves as owners is to leverage the “damage deposit.”  We set the deposit in the range of $400 per property, this is returned to the guest a few days after check-out only if our housekeepers CDMI report (Cleaning, Damage and Missing Items Report) comes back clear.


Limitations: One dog, two dogs, three dogs or ten? Cats, pig or horse? We have had requests from a guest to accommodate four Great Danes, with four human guests in a 950 square foot bungalow, its not the best fit. Your limitations will depend on your preferences and space available. We limit our guests to bringing 2 dogs. We do not allow other pet types.


Insurance: Does your current insurance policy cover a guest dog biting a neighbor? Imagine this scenario for a moment, your sitting at home, eating dinner and your property managers calls: “Hey Mike, we have a situation here, the guest at your dog friendly Airbnb dog just bit the neighbor next door. They appear to be ok but the neighbor is on the phone with his attorney right now, what would like to do?” In this moment the owner hearts either drops or they have a sense of relief that the neighbor is OK and that their vacation rental insurance policy will cover scenarios like this one. Most vacation rental owners carry HomeOwners Insurance Policy’s which does not cover many of the unique risks of owning a vacation home, like a guest pet that is off the subject property that bites a neighbor. We carry a highly comprehensive policy with business liability coverage that also covers off-site occurrences. For more information, peace of mind and to get a proper vacation rental insurance policy see our Vacation Rental Resources Page “Insurance” section.


Dog Hair:  Dog do shed, if we can’t handle it don’t list your Airbnb pet friendly.  Dog hair management is the key to reducing the likelihood of a cleanliness issue.  It can be done well, it just depends on the approach.
  1. Install easy to clean, hard surfaces
  2. Have the Right Tools (We provide our housekeepers with sticky rollers for linens, extra vacuum filters and extra linens)
  3. Make it an “opportunity” for your housekeepers
We pay our housekeepers well, in fact my feeling is we pay some of the highest rates in the area.  That is OK, because we have a great committed housekeeping staff.  They see this as an opportunity to make more money, sometimes an additional 25% more!  The first $25 of revenue we receive from a a pet fee goes directly to our housekeeper, they like it, it is a bit more work to ensure pet hair is removed but its worth it!

Thanks for taking the time to read though this article we hope our experience helps you. If you like this share it with someone you think can also benefit from it.


Vacation Rental Confidential showcases the proven business model of Live Swell, a boutique brand of top performing and top ranked vacation rentals. In Vacation Rental Confidential the reader will learn a wealth of information designed to provide a higher probability of success, create more options and fast track goals in the hot short term rental space.

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