We encourage all vacation rental businesses to research and explore potential niche market opportunities. Many have found sweet-spots identifying as farm-stays, glamping stays, by focusing on accessibility for guests with mobility challenges, etc. Going dog-friendly with your properties is one sure-fire way to expand your audience to a whole new realm of potential guests that may have not even considered renting your properties before. While this niche is not for everyone, and not all properties are suitable for accepting dog guests, if you are at all inclined we encourage you to dive in. Perhaps you have furry family members of your own that you bring with you on vacation at your properties. If so, this could make it a natural fit for you.
Some VR owners/managers report that they receive approximately 50% more bookings on their properties that are dog-friendly! And now, even more households than ever have dogs due to the steep increase in adoption rates during the lock-downs. Before the pandemic it was estimated that 50% of households had at least one dog family member. With the potential benefits of catering to this niche there are other logistics to ponder before you “Go to the dogs”:
Things to consider
Appropriateness of your locale for guests with dogs: Are the beaches, trails and local businesses dog-friendly or not?
Appropriateness of your property for guests with dogs: Are your properties luxury scale with irreplaceable/lavish/expensive furnishings and floor coverings or are surfaces and furnishings easy to clean and durable?
Additional cleaning needs: Will your staff be able to easily accommodate additional cleaning needs if there are dirty paw prints, dog hair or dog smell after guests check-out?
Additional pet fees or deposits: Will you charge a fixed or per pet fee for guests with dogs or just a damage deposit? Many owners do not find they need additional fees but if you do charge for dog guests consider donating a portion to the local shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center as part of a way to “Give Back” to your community.
Number of dogs you will allow and weight limitations: Is the size of your property a good fit for 2 or 3 big dogs or 1 or 2 small dogs? Keep in mind that many vacation rentals DO limit by size and even breed so consider starting out with more liberal guidelines since many potential guests with larger breed dogs may find it challenging to find rentals. Of course, there may be restrictions you cannot control imposed by your community or HOA so check there first.
House rules for guests with dogs: Clear house rules are a must when inviting guests with dogs into your properties. Examples are: Dogs may not be left alone on the property, guests must clean up after their dogs, dogs must be kept on leash when in unfenced outdoor areas, no excessive barking.
Make it easy for your guests with dogs
Help your guests with dogs keep the property clean by providing washable throws and blankets for furniture/beds, cleaning sprays and tools for furniture or floors and even doggie and human spray off station to wash the sand & dirt off after trips to the beach or trails. Provide washable towels for dirty paws and place them in the mudroom. Dog water and food bowls and poo bags are also must-have supplies.
Capitalize on your niche by creating useful website content
Maximize your rankings in search for potential guests looking for dog-friendly accommodations by creating curated content with useful information for your niche and locale. Start with pages for guests that curate your own preferred businesses for local emergency veterinary care, pet food and supplies, dog parks, and dog-friendly businesses. Expand on that with blog posts/articles featuring your curated picks for specific hikes, best beaches and parks and even highlighting local trainers and artisans who create handmade dog accessories (handmade dog sweaters, for instance). If you choose to donate some of your dog fee proceeds to a local animal shelter or wildlife rehab consider blogging about this and featuring predominantly on your website!
Two examples of dog friendly VR properties:
Find more places to list your property
Dog friendly listing sites like Bring Fido and Pets Welcome can help bring you more targeted web traffic since these sites rank high on Google. Also be sure to list as dog friendly on your existing VRBO, HA & AirBNB listings since those sites have special portals that cater to this niche.
Need Help Defining Your Niche Market?
RedSpiralHand is happy to help by researching your locale & properties to target some great potential niches.