Are Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals Taking Over?

April 4, 2023
Table of Contents

The packing lists of many short-term rental guests include a bed, food, treats, toys… and their three-year-old COVID puppy. As pet ownership grew during 2020, people with high incomes who worked remotely were more likely to adopt a dog. This same demographic helped drive demand for vacation rentals.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as of 2022 45% of United States households have at least one dog, and may want to bring their furry friends along with them on their vacations. Let’s take a look at whether demand for pet-friendly rentals is high enough to increase their revenue, the supply and characteristics of short-term rental properties in the U.S., and the best (and worst) markets for pet-friendly properties.

Do Pet-Friendly Properties Earn More Money?

At a national level, yes. Pet-friendly rentals command higher prices, have higher occupancy rates, and generate more revenue than rentals that don’t allow pets.

pet friendly rentals

Occupancy Rate

During 2022, pet-friendly vacation rentals had an adjusted paid occupancy rate of 54%, considerably higher than 48% for rentals that don’t allow pets. The gap in occupancy rates was the highest during 2020 when pet-friendly destinations like beaches, mountains, lakes, and rivers were booming and everyone wanted to travel with their pets. From 2021 to 2022, the occupancy rate for pet-friendly rentals saw a larger decrease as compared to other properties (-7% vs. -3%, respectively), reflecting a return to more typical travel dynamics. For example, urban travel recovered and urban destinations are generally less popular for travel with pets. 

Average Daily Rate

Because demand for pet-friendly short-term rentals is strong enough to increase occupancy rates, they can also command higher prices. In 2022, the average daily rate for pet-friendly rentals in the U.S. was 9% higher than non-pet-friendly rentals at $379, compared to $346. This price differential has grown since 2020, with pet-friendly average daily rates 7% higher during 2020 and 2021. Similarly, the pet-friendly average daily rate increased by 12% from 2021 to 2022, slightly higher than the 9% increase for non-pet-friendly rentals. 

Adjusted RevPAR

Thanks to higher occupancy and daily rates, pet-friendly rentals made an average of $204 every available night, which is 24% higher than the $165 that the average non-pet-friendly rental made. The revenue gap has decreased from its high point of 43% during 2020 but is still substantial. Interestingly, this varies throughout the year and by market. 

In general, rates and occupancy are not higher for pet-friendly rentals during the winter season - people don’t seem to bring their dogs along for ski vacations as frequently as other trips due to the nature of a day on the slopes. However, in beach destinations with a strong winter season, pet-friendly rentals continue to generate more revenue than non-pet-friendly rentals during the winter.

The Tradeoffs

Is the extra revenue generated by allowing pets worth it? That depends. Rental properties are more expensive to clean if a pet has stayed, although pet fees can help to cover the cost. Additionally, some homeowner associations for condos may restrict pets, so allowing pets is not an option in those communities. If you do decide to allow pets, be very clear about the rules; if dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture or can’t be left alone, let the guests know before and once they arrive. It’s important to note that the rules are different for service animals. The ADA is your best point of contact for clarity on those situations.

How Many Short-Term Rentals Allow Pets?

In our property management partner inventory, 22% of all U.S. vacation rentals allow pets. On VRBO, 17,900 active listings are pet-friendly, representing 25% of their U.S. inventory.  Airbnb listings are slightly more likely to be pet-friendly, with 27% of active properties allowing pets. 

Pet-friendly rentals have almost the same average bedroom size as non-pet-friendly listings. On VRBO, for example, the average size of a non-pet-friendly property is 2.7 bedrooms, compared to 2.8 for pet-friendly. Single-family properties are more likely to allow pets than condos or apartments. On Airbnb, 46% of all listings are houses but 59% of pet-friendly listings are houses. Furthermore, 16% of all Airbnb listings are condos but 6% of pet-friendly listings are condos. In other words, pet-friendly rentals are more likely to be houses and less likely to be condos than Airbnb inventory overall. These trends are similar for VRBO and our professionally-managed properties.

U.S. markets with the highest percentage of OTA listings that are pet-friendly are:

  • Paradise Valley, Arizona: 65%
  • Cape San Blas, Florida: 63%
  • Rockaway Beach, Oregon: 61%
  • Joshua Tree, California: 60%
  • Amarillo, Texas: 60%

U.S. markets with the lowest percentage of OTA listings that are pet-friendly are:

  • Orange Beach, Alabama: 3%
  • Keystone, Colorado: 3%
  • Panama City Beach, Florida: 5%
  • Park City, Utah: 5%
  • North Kona, Hawaii: 5%

Where Do Pet-Friendly Rentals Have the Biggest Revenue Advantage?

Just as the revenue premium for allowing pets can vary by month, it also varies by destination. Drive-to markets in the mountains or on the coast tend to be the most favorable. To provide an apples-to-apples comparison, and to make sure outliers weren’t skewing the data, we analyzed 2-5 bedroom properties on Airbnb and Vrbo which are in the middle 50% of revenue earners. 2022 annual data is reported.

pet friendly vacation rentals

  1. Siesta Key, Florida is a barrier island on the Gulf Coast. Its white-sand beaches seem to attract dog lovers who are willing to pay extra to bring their pets along. In 2022, the average daily rate for pet-friendly rentals was $638, more than double the average rate for non-pet-friendly rentals ($302). The guest occupancy rate was 42% for units that allowed pets compared to 37% for other properties. The large rate premium, as well as the higher occupancy rate, meant that pet-friendly rentals had a nightly RevPAR that was 2.4 times higher than properties that don’t allow pets ($270 for pet-friendly and $112 for other properties). 

  1. Indio, California is located in the Coachella Valley and is home to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In 2022, the average daily rate was $579 for pet-friendly rentals, compared to $520 for other properties. The pet-friendly occupancy rate was 34%, 15% higher than non-pet-friendly rentals, and the nightly RevPAR for pet-friendly vacation rentals was $196, nearly two times higher than $99 for non-pet-friendly properties.

  1. Dennis, Massachusetts located on Cape Cod, has beaches on Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound that are off-limits to dogs during the summer, but not during the off-season. Despite this, dog-friendly rentals still perform better on an annual basis, with a 2022 average daily rate of $428, 20% higher than non-pet-friendly rentals. Occupancy was 29%, 11% higher than other properties, and RevPAR was nearly double at $124 per night compared to $64 for properties that don’t allow pets.

  1. Honolulu, Hawaii is a surprising entrant on the top five list because it is primarily a fly-to destination. Nevertheless, locals or people who do bring their dogs are willing to pay a large premium, and the average daily rate for pet-friendly properties was nearly double that of non-pet-friendly rentals at $1,030 vs. $523. The occupancy rate was slightly lower, however, at 40% for properties that allow pets compared to 43% for properties that don’t. The substantial rate premium more than offset the slightly lower occupancy, and RevPAR for pet-friendly properties was $411 in 2022, much higher than $226 for rentals that don’t allow pets.

  1. Cherry Grove, South Carolina is a beach town in the North Myrtle Beach area. In 2022, the average daily rate was $350 for pet-friendly rentals, $105 more per night than units that don’t allow pets. Similarly, at 41%, their occupancy rate was 7% higher. Because of the higher rates and occupancy, RevPAR was 69% higher for pet-friendly properties, with units that allowed pets making an average of $142 per night, compared to $84 for units that didn’t.

Where Does Allowing Pets Not Create a Revenue Advantage?

Not every location benefits from offering pet-friendly vacation rentals. In fact, some locations see lower rates. 

rentals pet friendly

  1. South Bend, Indiana is home to the University of Notre Dame and is not a destination in which pet-friendly rentals can charge a premium. In 2022, the average daily rate for rentals that allow pets was $296, considerably lower than $477 for other properties. The paid occupancy rate was slightly higher at 24% compared to 21%. However, this was not enough to close the nightly rate gap, and RevPAR was $72 for pet-friendly rentals, 25% lower than the average RevPAR of $98 for non-pet-friendly properties.

  1. Indian Point, Missouri near Branson on Table Rock Lake, saw an average daily rate of $227 for pet-friendly units, about $30 more than the average daily rate for units that don’t allow pets. The paid occupancy rate was 30%, slightly below the 34% occupancy rate for non-pet-friendly properties. As such, RevPAR was 20% lower for rentals that allowed pets ($68 vs. $85).

  1. Rancho Mirage, California just up the interstate from Indio in the Coachella Valley, highlights how quickly market dynamics can shift in 15 miles. Unlike Indio, where pet-friendly rentals make much more money, it’s not advantageous to be pet-friendly in Rancho Mirage. In 2022, rentals that allowed pets had an average daily rate of $339, much lower than the $485 average daily rate for rentals that didn’t allow pets. At 23% vs. 20%, the paid occupancy rate was slightly higher for pet-friendly rentals, however, RevPAR was only $79 for pet-friendly properties, compared to $95 for non-pet-friendly properties.

  1. Savannah, Georgia a historic coastal city, is another market where allowing pets may not boost revenue. Pet-friendly rentals had an average daily rate of $287 in 2022, 17% lower than $345 for properties that don’t allow pets. The occupancy rates were similar, at 53% for pet-friendly and 52% for not-pet-friendly. RevPAR was $151 for short-term rentals that allowed pets and $178 for those that did not.

  1. Denver, Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country, but that doesn’t mean that tourists want to bring theirs along. In 2022, the average daily rate for pet-friendly properties was $228, about $30 lower than for not-pet-friendly properties. The paid occupancy rate was 42% for both. At $96, RevPAR was 12% lower for pet-friendly properties.

Which Markets Have the Largest Opportunity for Pet-Friendly Short-Term Rentals?

These five markets have a low percentage of pet-friendly vacation rentals but the current pet-friendly properties earn a lot of money.

dog friendly vacation rentals

  1. Steamboat Springs, Colorado prides itself on being Ski Town, USA, but is also an outdoorsy dream during the summer. Only 6% of short-term rentals in the town allow pets. While dog-friendly rentals don’t earn more during ski season, the rest of the year puts them ahead. In 2022, ADR was $516 compared to $449 for not-pet-friendly properties. Annual occupancy was 36%, 9% higher than for properties that don’t allow pets. As a result, RevPAR was $187 for rentals that allow pets, 50% higher than $122 for rentals that don’t.

  1. Perdido Key, Florida is a beach town on the Florida Panhandle where only 6% of properties allow pets. The average daily rate for those properties was $356 in 2022, compared to $304 for the rest. At 43%, paid occupancy was 6% higher than non-pet-friendly. The average pet-friendly property earned 35% more than non-pet-friendly units with a RevPAR of $153 vs. $113.

  1. Breckenridge, Colorado is another ski town with a hopping summer season. 9% of vacation rentals in the town allow pets, and their average daily rate was $528 in 2022 compared to $481 for the other 91% of properties. Additionally, the paid occupancy rate was 44% for pet-friendly properties, versus 35% for not-pet-friendly properties. Accordingly, RevPAR was 39% higher for properties that allowed pets at $230 compared to $166.

  1. Ocean City, Maryland has attractions for everyone, including the family dog. Only 6% of short-term rentals in Ocean City allow pets, but these properties generate more revenue. The average daily rate was $359 for pet-friendly properties in 2022, about $50 higher than for units that don’t allow pets. The paid occupancy rate was 29% for pet-friendly properties compared to 25% for non-pet-friendly properties. Vacation rentals that allowed pets generated 35% higher revenue, with a RevPAR of $105 compared to $77.

  1. Gulf Shores, Alabama is yet another example of how attractive the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast are to dog lovers. Only 9% of the rentals here allow pets, however, those pet-friendly properties charged an average daily rate of $340 in 2022, which was 22% higher than the $278 charged by non-pet-friendly units. The paid occupancy rate was similar between the two groups at 44% vs. 43%, and RevPAR for pet-friendly properties was $149, 25% higher than $119 for non-pet-friendly properties.

Depending on the market, allowing pets may result in a substantial boost in revenue. It’s a good idea to evaluate your supply and booking patterns to understand if this is an opportunity you should capitalize on. If you need help finding how you compare to your local market, schedule a call with one of the Key Data team members. 

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