Have you ever wondered what quick changes you could make in your Airbnb that would make a massive difference in bookings and increase views on your listing? We have. And as an Airbnb host, allowing pets in your rental can often be a challenging decision.
On one hand, you have to contend with noisy and unruly pets potentially making a mess of the unit and distressing your cleaning crew. On the other hand, Airbnb suggests that owners who allow pets are often rewarded with increased search visibility, leading to higher occupancy rates. This back and forth has caused us to wonder, will allowing pets actually affect your Airbnb listing in search?
To test whether Airbnb was telling the truth or not, we recently conducted an experiment involving 15 Airbnb properties to examine whether adding the “pets allowed” feature would lead to an increase in search visibility by measuring their average impression count before allowing pets, and comparing it to after allowing pets.
The results were remarkable: compared to properties that forbade pets, those that allowed them experienced an astonishing 132% boost in their search volume. In other words, hosts who are willing to accommodate furry friends can benefit from significantly better Airbnb visibility and therefore gain more bookings!
With such overwhelming evidence of the positive effects of allowing pets, it’s worth considering if it could be right for you as well.
Why It Worked
This shows that by allowing guests to bring their pets, you’re opening up your listing to a much larger audience. People who would otherwise have been unable to rent your property due to pet restrictions now have access, resulting in increased visibility for your listing.
Additionally, the fact that people are searching specifically for pet-friendly rentals means that you are likely targeting a highly engaged audience who may be more likely to book than those simply browsing listings at random.
Making The Decision
1. Consider the Pros
- Unique Value Proposition: Less than 4% of listings in any given area offer pet-friendly amenities, meaning less competition for you (IGMS)
- Higher Revenue: You can charge a premium of 20% to 30% above the average rent in your area for being pet-friendly. Alternatively, you can add a pet fee to your nightly price.
- Increased Occupancy and Longer Stays: People often travel with their pets for extended stays, leading to higher occupancy and longer bookings.
- Loyalty and Positive Reviews: Targeting this niche traveler segment can lead to positive reviews and repeat bookings.
2. Be Aware of the Cons
- Unexpected Damages: Accidents can happen, leading to damages like scratched upholstery or stains.
- Higher Cleaning Costs: You’ll likely incur additional costs for cleaning and laundry.
- Noise Complaints: Ensure you have the necessary approvals from neighbors to avoid complaints about unruly pets.
- Potential to Deter Non-Pet Owners: Some guests might be put off by a pet-friendly listing, fearing wear and tear.
3. Set Up a Pet-Friendly Space
If you decide to allow pets, consider providing:
- Bowls for food and water
- Pet-friendly furniture covers
- Designated towels for wiping paws
- Scratching post and litter box
- Update your listing to highlight pet-friendly features, such as a fenced-in yard or private patio.
5. Update Your House Rules
Clearly specify the number of pets allowed, types of pets you accept, areas where pets aren’t allowed, and other related rules.
6. Plan for Damages
Airbnb offers Host damage protection as part of AirCover for Hosts, which can cover unexpected costs caused by pets. Ensure you document any damage with photos and request reimbursement when necessary.
7. Understand the Policy on Service Animals
Service animals are not considered pets and must be allowed on your property. You cannot charge a pet fee for service animals, and they have different regulations compared to regular pets.
8. Stay Updated
Airbnb’s policies and guest preferences can change over time. Stay updated with the platform’s guidelines and community feedback to ensure you’re making the best decisions for your listing.
Deciding whether to allow pets in your Airbnb listing is a personal choice that should be based on your comfort level, the potential for increased revenue, and the ability to manage the associated challenges. By weighing the pros and cons and setting clear guidelines, you can create a welcoming environment for both two-legged and four-legged guests.
Hungry for More Insights?
If you’re a host or property manager who wants to optimize your listings on Airbnb, then you might want to know about IntelliHost’s 30-day free trial (no credit card required). With IntelliHost you get all the needed metrics and data for improving your listings, and making educated changes that actually improve your revenue.