Woofers or no woofers? What about alpacas? A holiday letting quandary

This post is in association with Country Holiday Lets

Visiting Cottage Owners

Woofers or no woofers?  What about alpacas?  A holiday letting quandary is never far away.  Visiting owners the first greeting is often with their cat or dog. Sometimes, an Alpaca or some other animal is also introduced to me. It is one of the great pleasures of this work, not only to see so many beautiful places but to meet so many different people… and the animals that they are so fond of.

DSCF9228This has a strange effect. I was terrified after a dog bit me when small. For some reason, even when sending invoices and other dull necessary things, the thought of the recipient is combined with that of the first creature that welcomed me at their holiday home.

A warmth comes into the business which is not strictly professional but does add to our efforts to do our best by our owners. It came as a shock, leading to this post, that when one of these pets died recently I found myself quite upset. The dog had run out to greet me with a huge, bouncing, joyous, lolloping gait and when the wild barking subsided led me to its owner who showed me around.  Meanwhile the fond brute supervised us, taking time off from this important duty, as and when, happily snuffling at this and that.

It is strange that such a brief encounter should have left such a strong impression. Although not so keen on dogs from youth, they seem to cling to my impression of their owners.

Some owners not used to dogs are, understandably, reticent to accept pets. However, it is common that after a few guests and experiencing pets staying, this falls away. The vast majority of pets come from urban environments and are very likely to be fully aware of the need to behave well inside. 079However, if dogs from the country stay elsewhere, they can be more likely to be upset leading them to be less than the best of guests.

Country dogs tend live more of their lives outside and are often restricted to a few areas downstairs in houses with no access to upstairs or to carpeted rooms. This is not to say that all country dogs are liable to have ‘upsets’, only, that they are slightly more prone to this.

However, as the vast majority of guests to holiday cottages and lets are based in towns or cities, the chance of mishaps are quite low. As a way of generating income, in our area, accepting pets is a huge contributor. Perhaps up to 35%-40% of all visitors double up on holidays by giving their dog, (it is usually a dog, a holiday also.

Modern cleaning equipment and chemicals have come a very long way over the last 20 years reducing the impact of badly behaved pets. The ability to remove pet hairs and the scent of pets is much easier although doing so sufficiently to cater for severe allergies is, still, some way off. Charging extra for pets or rolling the extra costs into a slightly higher rental can cover for their impact. In addition, clear rules are another good plan; some owners request a security deposit.

img2Just as I was surprised at the impact owners dogs made on me, veteran of one nip from a dog over 50 years ago, so owners, after a few visits, nearly always convert from reticence to hospitality towards owners with pets to openly inviting them.

I thought to mention a brief encounter with an Alpaca. For those who have never done this yet, it is highly recommended. They appear to combine the independent air of a cat with some of the more openly fondness of a dog. There is no doubt that they are intelligent and very quickly give strangers ‘the once over’.

We have owners of a cottage complex near Ludlow who keep three or four alpacas. They, like other owners’ pets, pop up in my minds eye, sometimes, when doing dull stuff mentioned above.

All this adds colour and interest to our work. Each holiday let has a particular character. Just as Peacocks are used at some historic houses to provide contrast and interest, as well as an ornament, so even in quite small cottage operations pets / animals can produce a very similar effect. I know this because, even though no guest, it works on me. Failing to take pets in our area where walking is a major draw, in many cases, leads to a loss of significant bookings which can img4donly be partly recovered by offering lower rates.

With the exception where working dogs are near-by or other special reasons, if an owner asks me about taking pets I nearly always answer, “yes.”   The question is Woofers or no woofers?  What about alpacas?  A holiday letting quandary.  Owners benefit from more income and more pleasure is offered to a greater number of people… including us booking agents!