Smart Home Systems in Vacation Rentals
Benefits of Smart Home Systems in Vacation Rentals
By Pat Hagerman
As vacation rental property owners and property managers, one of the most important goals we have is to provide such a fantastic guest experience that people want to come back and stay with us again. The holy grail of repeat guests.
A recent survey shows that guests are looking for, and expecting, a certain level of smart technology in the houses they rent. The benefits of upgrading a rental with smart home technology are proven: studies show 82% of guests are more likely to complete a reservation when they see smart tech listed in the rental description, and 60% of guests will even pay more for smart-home enabled rental properties (August Lock survey 2016).
One of the biggest benefits to the homeowner/manager, of a properly designed smart home system is that it is all managed through a calendar. The homeowner/manager enters the arrival and departure dates and when the system sees a guest arriving it “wakes up” the house and temperature set points are set, lighting schedules are adjusted, pin codes are activated, etc. When the guest is due to checkout it “puts the house back to sleep” and set points change, lighting turns to unoccupied mode, and doors lock. The homeowner and/or property manager can access the system with an IOS/Android/Web app which also provides immediate notifications if conditions in the house change (occupied/unoccupied, water leak, temperature out of range, door lock/unlocked).
Doing this correctly all results in a great guest experience. There is a huge difference between showing up to a house that is a comfortable temperature, lights are on, and there is no fumbling for keys, compared to the alternative of the guest arriving to a house that is way too cold or hot, it’s dark and they have a 3-ring binder to read through to figure out how to get the house comfortable. Unfortunately that is still too often the case with most rental properties. Of course there are other efficiencies that are important as well, such as ensuring lights and the HVAC system are off when the home is unoccupied.
Besides a great guest experience and homeowner piece-of-mind, the system also creates some real efficiencies for property managers. Rather than sending the pre-arrival team in to set the house up for guest arrival on the arrival date, most of the physical work can be done at the time of cleaning and then the time sensitive tasks (thermostat setting, lights on, etc) can be done automatically without visiting the house again.
In addition to all of that, everything can be controlled by voice with an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device. We’re finding that guests love this as they don’t have to understand technology or the nuance of how each house is set up. They just ask Alexa to “turn on the outside lights” or “turn up the heating”. Systems are also now able to do away with the near-impossible task of explaining to guests how to use the myriad of TV remote controls that most homeowners provide. We’ve heard from almost every property management company we’ve spoken to that it’s one of their biggest pain points.
The biggest inhibitor to deploying smart home tech in vacation rentals is the wide range of options available, and the risk of components not working together. Few owners or managers have the time to become smart home experts. There are now smart home kits available that remove this barrier. These kits have everything needed to add smart home devices to a VR.The individual device selection, testing and system integration work is already done. Further, the programming and setup is also completed, so components are ready to go out of the box. All that is neededto do is put the devices where they go, or have an electrician or handyman install them. Installation generally takes two hours or less. The pre-programmed sequence of operations takes care of most of the use cases needed in a vacation rental. The kits include a smart thermostat, light switches, water leak sensors, an optional keyless deadbolt lock, an Alexa Dot or Google Home, and an IOS/Android app. Pre-programmed kits mean you can get advantages of great guest experience, homeowner piece-of-mind, and property management efficiency - without spending a fortune on custom integration.