We’ve seen a rising wave of professionalization sweep across the vacation rental industry in recent months as property managers and owners have responded to traveler demand for heightened operational standards. The pandemic has undoubtedly pushed the notion of smart tech even further up the short-term rental management agenda, resulting in accelerated levels of technology adoption.
Innovative developments in smart property automation, revenue management, CRM systems, PMS programs, and property operations can help property managers function more efficiently and effectively.
Now is undoubtedly a good time to tech up your properties, get up to speed operationally, and impress your guests with smart home features.
Smart home tech benefits
Smart tech has a broad range of applications for the vacation rental market, from keyless access and leak detection to noise monitoring, thermostat controls, and operational tasks such as knowing when cleaners enter and exit a home. According to Phocuswright’s 2020 report, 46 percent of property managers have integrated some type of smart technology into their properties.
Applied correctly, smart tech can be an effective traveler experience differentiator. Today’s guests are digitally connected and demand a higher level of digital functionality throughout their booking journeys and stays. Direct-to-home check-in, keyless entry, and controlled thermostats are features expected by modern travelers, and they’re willing to pay for them.
Furthermore, tech can help address heightened guest safety concerns that have emerged during the pandemic and will continue to resonate as travel reopens. Automated and verified cleaning processes and contactless stays can go a long way toward reassuring guests that everything is being done to create safe, hygienic environments.
Adoption of appropriate tech solutions also means greater operational efficiency. Savings of up to 23 percent on heating and cooling are achievable with the appropriate systems in place. Considering the asset protection that tech affords in terms of monitoring and reporting HVAC overuse, water damage, and protection of the property during the off-season, the benefits of teching up become clear.
Standing out from the crowd
This past year has been plagued with travel restrictions and has been challenging for all property managers. Many drive-to destinations have experienced solid demand, but operators were hesitant to (or couldn’t) bring back full staff. Interestingly, tech has come into its own in this situation because managers have been able to run operations remotely and still meet (and often exceed) their guests’ needs. Operators with fewer than 25 properties have needed tech even more than before because they typically don’t have big support staffs.
What does this tell us? Enterprising property managers can use exactly the same smart tech stack that larger, multi-destination companies use to great effect. Size, in this instance, is irrelevant. In fact, tech can give you the edge as an operator whether you have 20 properties or 20,000. Your guests are demanding a contactless experience regardless (e.g., for check-in or grocery deliveries).
How to build the perfect tech stack
As with any purchase, it’s always wise to do your homework. Choosing the right tech can seem bewildering at first, but here is a shopping list to consider:
Keyless front door locks: Direct-to-home check-ins save time and money and improve safety.
Connected thermostats: Smart thermostats make properties comfortable for guests’ arrivals and save owners money.
Nice to haves:
Pool control: Run the pool and spa heating system only when there is a paying guest in the property.
Water sensors: Devices can prevent costly flooding.
Noise monitors: Receiving noise alerts can help keep community relations friendly.
Monitored life safety sensors: Sensors protect the property and guests from burglary, smoke, and carbon monoxide threats.
Garage door controller: Remotes ensure guests can access the garage easily.
Lighting control: A connected porch light can add a nice welcome when a guest shows up after dark.
Voice assistant/connected speakers: Connected tech will delight digitally savvy guests.
New operating standards
As managers of all sizes start building their own tech stacks, the bar for operational standards in the sector continues to rise. This can only be a positive development. The past year has shown that tech has the potential to improve your bottom line as well as your guest reviews—whether you have a small, growing portfolio or a bigger business. Tech is a great leveler in this respect; anyone can jump on board and reap the benefits.