11 years ago in 2008, a little company called Airbed and Breakfast which we have now lovingly come to know as Airbnb started offering beds, then rooms and whole homes as an alternative to inns, motels and hotels. Little did anyone expect it to be a worldwide sensation, changing where people stay during their vacation en-masse. That feeling of spending the night at a place that feels like a home, that feeling of familiarity, and comfort, as well as that local experience, is the primary driver that attracts bookings. Cost is another major influencing factor for these bookings as these places typically offer much more for less.
Fast forward to today, a new buzzword is emerging, this time for man's best friends, and furry (or slippery) pals. Coined as Pet BnB or homestay pet boarding, it is the Bnb for dogs, cats, and pretty much any kind of pet. Very much like Airbnb, homestay pet boarding provides an alternative to pet hotels or kennels, where pets stay in the home of a pet sitter, giving pets a sense of familiarity, comfort, attention and safety that pet hotels and kennels would struggle to match. While homestay pet boarding for dogs and homestay pet boarding for cats have the biggest market share of homestay pet boarding, homestay boarding for any pets like rabbits, sugar gliders, snakes and more exists, as long as there is a pet sitter who is willing to take it in.
Where Pet BnB and homestay pet boarding shines, is that the pet sitter is usually a pet lover rather than a commercial entity out to make a profit thus the pet gets a lot more care and love. Pets get to run and roam free around the pet sitter's home, in contrast to being caged in a pet hotel. It is depressing to be in a cage or a glass box for an extended duration of time and if you won't like that, neither will your pet. As your pet stays with the pet sitter, it gets unrivaled 24 hours attention. Pet hotels typically have staffers working standard work hours, leaving your pet alone in a cage over night. Some pet sitters even let your pet snuggle in with them in their bed for the night.
Another standout feature is that a host typically accepts no more than a couple of pets at any one time compared to a pet hotel where rows and rows of cages line the walls. Pet hotels usually have a very high ratio of dogs or cats to staff, which is understandable as they have to turn a profit. The issue with one small area housing so many dogs or cats at the same time, is that it increases the chances of ticks, infection or disease spreading from one animal to all the other animals. As pet hotels are unable to guarantee their guest pets are 100% tick or infection free adds on to that risk.
Another perk to having a pet sitter who takes care of a max of 2 or 3 pets at a time is the amount of attention and play time your pet will get. A typical complaint of pet owners who leave their dog or cat in a pet hotel is that they come back depressed, as they have to spend long hours caged up with nothing to do. With a pet sitter, they get to play with the pet sitters other pets or simply explore their new temporary home. Occasionally they are even brought out on activities like walks in the park or pet cafes when the pet sitter brings their own pets out.
Some pet bnb or homestay pet boarding platforms even offer technological perks not available to traditional pet hotels. For example real time dog walk monitoring with their mobile apps. As is, pet hotels do not usually take dogs out for long walks, and in bigger hotels or kennels, dogs are typically only let out to run around in an enclosed area. Dog walks are an important daily activity for dogs and with real time dog walk monitoring, you get to see where your dog has gone for a run in real time, instead of trusting that your dog has really gone for walks just because the sitter says so.
The ability to communicate with the pet sitter one on one through mobile app chat features also enables personalized features like daily reports, where pet sitters send photos or videos of your pet having their meals, playing or having walks to you giving you a much greater peace of mind.
There is also the big question of what happens if your pet is injured during their stay. Accidents happen and sometimes it could not have been prevented, even with all the best precautions being taken. Pet hotels require you to sign an indemnity form, releasing them of all responsibility if your pet is injured, regardless of whether or not they were negligent or not. However, some pet bnb and homestay pet boarding platforms offer insurance that ensures your pet gets the best treatment in the event something unfortunate happens. This would be a great relief knowing your pet is well taken care of when you are hundreds or thousands of kilometers away.
Look also for pet bnb or homestay pet boarding platforms that provide a money back performance guarantee, where should you be dissatisfied with the service provided, your money is returned to you. That is a far cry from pet hotels, where happy or not, you pay upfront for their services with no hope of any monetary relief in the event they have provided less than they have promised.
Trust is a primary question that has and will always be raised in gig economy platforms, even on Airbnb. Trust fears can be alleviated by considering reviews left by previous customers or the number of verification like ID or social media verification they have on the platform. In fact pet hotels are not exempt from such fears either, and reviews about them on social media also plays a part in the decision making process. Most pet bnb and homestay pet boarding platforms encourage a meet and greet prior to sending your pet over to the pet sitter to ensure your pet is comfortable with the pet sitter and their place.
Although cost may not be a major factor to where your beloved pets stay, pet bnb and home stay pet boarding usually costs less than that of pet hotels, driven in part by the fact that many pet sitters do it out of love for pets rather than to turn a profit compared to pet hotel establishments. There are even pet sitters known to donate all their earnings from their pet sitting to pet charities just because the love pets so much.
The next time your pet needs dog boarding, cat boarding or just a place to call home for awhile when you are not available to take care of it or are away, consider a pet bnb or home stay platform for your pets instead of a pet hotel. You might be pleasantly surprised your pet is reluctant to go home!