By Cassandra Dowell
The latest innovation in cannabis tourism and travel is carving out a niche among vacation and travel accommodation rental websites by offering access to cannabis-friendly lodging worldwide.
The demand for cannabis-friendly accommodations is growing as an increasing number of people visit states and countries where it is legal to partake. For example, in Colorado, more people have been visiting the state since legalization than ever before. And while it is unclear how much of that spike in tourism is related to cannabis, as of December 2014, Denver-based cannabis tour company My 420 Tours has provided tours to between 4,000 and 5,000 customers since recreational cannabis sales began January 1, 2014, as reported in The Denver Post.
Cannabis-friendly accommodations help visitors enjoy the “full experience,” said Bud and Breakfast co-founder and CEO Sean Roby, noting that such accommodations are all the more appealing in legal states where cannabis smoking is banned in public places.
Bud and Breakfast began accepting listings from bud-friendly residences a little more than a month ago, and since then has more than 50 listings spanning Alaska to Uruguay. “We’re following legislation,” Roby said of the company’s efforts to grow the site’s offerings of private accommodations, including homes, lofts and apartments. “When Alaska’s legislation passed we did a lot of marketing there.”
People interested in listing accommodations can sign up through April 20 for a one-year, no-cost agreement. After that date, accommodation owners will be able to choose among varying membership levels to join the site’s listings, ranging from “Sativa” to “Platinum Kush,” and priced accordingly. At the most basic level Bud and Breakfast charges accommodation owners a 3% service fee. That service fee is waived with higher-level memberships, which also include advertising opportunities on the website.
Accommodation owners set their price, and renters using Bud and Breakfast are charged an 8% guest service fee. “People are willing to pay more to visit and stay in places where cannabis is allowed,” Roby said, adding that cannabis tourism is a year-round industry. “They’re thinking, ‘Wow. I can go to this place and be carefree.’”
Unlike some lodging sites in which listings “are more of a number,” Bud and Breakfast diligently promotes listings at cannabis expos and conventions, Roby said.
While Bud and Breakfast currently has most of its listings in Colorado, 10 are in Uruguay. Listings in South America, as well as Holland, are also underway. Since going live on Twitter three weeks ago, the company has more than 1,500 followers to date. “This business is gaining traction quick,” Roby said. “We’re already getting calls from investors.”
Those listing on Bud and Breakfast can note in their property’s profile whether they are ok with consuming inside or outside only, and essentially to what degree they will interact with guests. “Some provide strains, and some are legitimate bud and breakfasts that provide a wake and bake service,” Roby said. “Others are only ok with smoking on the deck or outside. Others might just be ok with using a vaporizer indoors.”
And like Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) that features a traveling bear icon on certain hot spots, Bud and Breakfast will soon include an image of a skunk on locations that have been highly rated by Bud and Breakfast staff.
“We vet places and stay there,” Roby said, noting that the skunk stamp of approval gives “another level of assurance to the renter.” In addition, Roby is working on creating features such as local dispensaries, functions, maps and events that will appear alongside an accommodation’s posting. If certain strains or “house specials” are available at the accommodation, they will be listed as well.
Roby’s background includes working in the travel industry for more than 25 years, and incorporating information about activities to do and places to visit just makes sense, he said. “People go to Napa Valley for wine,” he said. “They want to stay in a place they can drink wine in, has wineries and will guide them to tours and different events.”
As cannabis tourism continues to rise in states where legal, easy-to-access, cannabis-friendly accommodations are likely to become an essential part of vacation planning.