Dog and person

How to make your property pet-friendly

A Booking.com partner shares their advice on appealing to pet-owners and creating a unique experience for these special guests

In the US alone, it’s estimated that 84.9 million households own a pet, and 45% of dog owners would take their canine companion on their travels when travelling by car according to the American Pet Products Association. We spoke with our partner Liz Lamport, Owner of Bulleigh Barton Manor - a pet-friendly country house B&B in rural Devon, to find out her top tips for attracting four-legged guests.

Pet appeal

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Liz Lamport, owner Bulleigh Barton Manor
Liz Lamport, Owner, Bulleigh Barton Manor

According to Lamport, appealing to guests with pets can help extend the season as the dog-walking crowd often prefer to travel in the spring or autumn, when the weather is cooler and they can make the most of the surrounding countryside.

Key to Bulleigh Barton Manor’s pet-friendly appeal is Lamport and her husband being dog lovers - and owners - themselves, and making sure this comes across to their guests: “A lot of people are very attached to their pets and don’t want to leave them behind,” says Lamport. “Bear in mind, pets are much-loved - that’s why people take them away. If guests feel the pets are welcome then they feel welcome to return.”

Extend the welcome to four-legged guests

Welcome treats go a long way for all guests, and dogs are no different. Bulleigh Barton Manor’s dog hamper is gifted on arrival, laden with thoughtful touches including Devon-produced dog food, homemade treats, practical items like a towel for after walks, a blanket and even an ID tag with the property’s contact details in case the dog gets disorientated in unfamiliar surroundings.

“We provide an information folder for the dog’s perspective,” adds Lamport, “pubs and restaurants that are welcoming, good walks nearby, doggy-friendly Devon beaches and moors - this always gets really positive reaction as we have made the effort to consider their needs.

“If the guest phones ahead we ask about the breed and gender of the dog - this gives us an idea of size to help prepare the welcome pack and can help if there will be other pets there. It creates an environment where the pet is a valued party.”

Hungry hounds can also tuck into a special “A la Bark” breakfast menu, full of locally-sourced ingredients with provenance being a big consideration for Lamport. “During March and April we really encourage dog walkers and so we offer free brekkie and donate the pet tariff to the local animal rescue centre, and for the rest of the year the breakfast is available in exchange for a donation, she says. “People are incredibly generous - the menu isn’t hugely expensive to provide but it means a lot to guests.”

Minimal mishaps

With furry friends, it’s worth being prepared for related wear and tear, but in Lamport’s experience the impact has been minimal - and often more at the hands of human guests. “Accidents happen - but we’ve never had a dog spill red wine on a chair! We have three rules: keep them on a lead in the house to minimise effect on other guests; don’t allow them on furniture and don’t leave them unaccompanied in the room.”

When it comes to other guests, always be upfront about accepting dogs. Bulleigh Barton Manor has only ever had two tricky situations - one resulting in cancellation - as a result of setting these expectations. “They were outweighed by the many dog owners we have had coming. Dogs are welcome in our two best rooms as they are the biggest, and as a result the guests are very loyal and really respect that they can be in a great room with their pets.

“We do have to think about noise - being built in the 14th century, noise insulation was not top of the agenda in those days. But we’re quite lucky in that there are only two rooms that are adjacent so we put in an acoustic wall between the two; it helps mitigate against dog noise - and the TV being too loud!”

Lamport’s final tip? “Only do it if you like dogs and don’t be afraid of big dogs. The behaviour of the dog tends to be inversely proportionate to size - we’ve had huge dogs who have been beautifully behaved, it tends to be the little ones who cause the most trouble.”

 

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Takeaway
  • 45% of dog owners would take their pet with them on their travels
  • Welcome packs with locally sourced pet food, care essentials like blankets and guides to nearby pet-friendly amenities help guests feel settled
  • Going the extra mile to provide the likes of pet breakfasts or offering larger rooms is popular with guests
  • Be up-front with other guests to avoid any unexpected surprises and make clear rules to help set boundaries