Dog friendly holiday cottages are very popular with guests. They take the hassle of taking their four legged friends abroad away. They also eliminate the need to house them in kennels. On average a pet friendly cottage will have two more bookings per year. During the off season this rises to 18% more bookings. But those owner’s who go the extra mile and offer a truly well thought out pet friendly experience can corner this large and expanding market. Dorset Cottage Holidays enable guests to search by holiday type and ‘pet friendly’ is year on year the biggest search enquiry.
The RSPCA estimates there to be 9 million dogs in the UK. Around a third of these will go on some kind of holiday with their owners. A market you should not ignore.
So what does it take to make a holiday cottage successfully pet friendly? Explore our top tips.
1. Help guests follow your pets welcome rules.
Generally holiday cottage owners of pet friendly accommodation ask guests to make sure pets are not allowed upstairs or on furniture. To help owners stick to these rules always provide a moveable stair gate, which are always helpful for two legged explorers as well. Blankets for sofas are also helpful.
Do we get a lot of damage from pets? Office Manager Blake Langhorn says “Absolutely not, most pet owners are very responsible and will go the extra mile to make sure that they look after their accommodation. I actually cant remember the last report of damage we received as a result of a dog visiting”
2. Make Pets Feel Welcome
Our model ‘Lucy’ with welcome treats provided at Forest Edge
Pets are part of the family too! If you are a pet friendly property, its ideal to be actively pets welcome rather than to just accept them. Creating an environment that makes guests with pets want to return is very important.
Consider adding a few items to your welcome pack, perhaps some doggie treats. We recommend treats provided in a lovely welcome box from www.pawfecttrading.co.uk as pictured. It is a great idea to leave bio-degradable poo bags (which encourages guests to also clear the garden).
Its a great idea to provide two sets of blankets to help protect your sofas and even a washable doggie bed. We also recommend a place to hang leads. Have a look at how many bookings you get from parties with pets and consider if they are coming back? If not, have a chat with your Property Manager.
3. Pet Friendly Flooring
Hardwood floors certainly look beautiful but they are not pet or child friendly. When the inevitable muddy paws / dropped drinks happen a laminate or tiled floor is easier to clean. Your housekeeper will also appreciate a tiled floor which is easier to clean. If you must have a hardwood floor, go for mahogany or oak.
4. Pet Friendly Dishes
Consider providing a water bowl and feed dish, the metal variety with a rubber bottom are the best and wont get damaged. Guests have a lot of items to pack on a self catering holiday and will appreciate one less item to bring.
5. Pet friendly Cleaning.
If you have carpeted areas that dogs can access, provide a hoover with a brush, Miele hoovers are recommended. A pet fabric spray should also be on hand as they are excellent at removing doggie odours. Consider charging a small fee for pets to help cover any cleaning costs, but make sure that they are very welcome in return.
6. Pet Friendly Gardens
Nothing is worse for pet owners than a holiday home with an unsecure garden. One of the key questions we are always being asked is ‘Is the garden secure’? Make sure that fencing / gates are completely secure for the smallest dog and check regularly. Also make sure that fences are high enough to stop an exuberant dog from jumping out. This is especially important for homes that are near a busy road. Also remember never to use slug pellets and to make sure that garden sheds that contain these items are securely locked. Also consider how your perimeter changes in the Autumn when foliage dies back.
7. Provide Useful Information
Ensure that your welcome information folder includes the telephone number of local vets. Remember a holiday that you went on and felt that the owner went the extra mile. The more effort you make, the more special your pet owning guests feel.
8. Recommend Other Dog Friendly Facilities
Dorset is a very dog friendly County and you can easily provide information for pet owners. Recommended dog friendly places to eat, dog walks, dog friendly beaches and attractions that allow pets. One of our house rules is that dogs must not be left unattended so make sure owners have plenty of information to make this easy to achieve.
9. Pet Safety
If you want to encourage return visits consider if your property is safe for pets. Many dogs will come from a home with a wood-burner, but some inquisitive dogs may get a little close. If you have an open fire you must provide a box guard for both toddlers and pets. Also make sure blind cords can not be chewed and safely stored out of reach of toddlers as well.
10. Practical Dog Friendly Furnishings
Pet owners want to come back to cottages that are relaxing. Generally pet owners find a good cottage and they will return year on year. The general recommended rules for furnishing a holiday home apply equally to a pet friendly as to a pet free home. Pristine, white sofas and rugs should be avoided and darker hard wearing types are recommended. A cheap, washable throw that can be washed in a washing machine also creates a useful barrier for naughty pooches.
Ensuring that owners of pets are made to feel special, valued and welcome is a no brainer for any pet friendly cottage wanting to secure a good booking rate and to bag excellent reviews.
Property Manager Domi was asked to conduct a pet friendly audit for Forest Edge near Wareham. When Forest Edge was constructed they approached us for advice about how to make the holiday home as successful as possible. We recommended tiled floors in the high traffic areas such as the kitchen and lounge. They also opted for darker sofas with throws available to keep the sofas in tip top condition.
The garden was already fully secure for pets with a high wooden fence around. A small pond in the garden was removed during the construction phase.
Forest Edge was already pet friendly but we recommended the following to help encourage more bookings from pet owners:
Guests are now provided with poo bags near the exit with a friendly notice asking them to clear the garden on departure. The owners have commented that this change has eradicated the problem of gardens not being cleared.
Guests are now provided with a water bowl and doggie treats in the welcome pack. They have already received several positive comments in the visitor book and mentioned in reviews.
The owners purchased a stair gate. Although the access to the carpeted area does have a door, we recommended that a stair gate was a better option. This prevented dogs scratching the door and was a good provision for toddlers.
The owners also reviewed the information they provided for pet owners and started a pet friendly information folder. They included pet friendly local walks, recommended places to eat and information on local attractions that welcome pets. This has received really positive feedback. One guest commented that they felt the accommodation actively sought to encourage families with pets rather than an attitude of toleration. They have booked for the forthcoming year.