Vacation Rental Smart Home Tech: Adding Value to Your Business
Use these insights on vacation rental smart home tech to make your properties safer, guests happier, and business more profitable & scalable.
October 25, 2023
The modern guest expects to have a faultless stay at your vacation rental—but even a spotless apartment with impeccable service might not be enough to secure a five-star review. This is because you’re now in direct competition with hotels and other luxury short-term rentals in a saturated market.
Yet a fantastic guest experience is not your only concern. If you’re to continue growing your portfolio, you also need to tighten your operations, minimize unnecessary costs, and implement scalable processes.
Smart home technology for vacation rentals alleviates these pressures by delighting your guests with maximum convenience as you automate manual tasks and improve visibility over your units—in turn helping you protect your properties, manage them remotely, and scale your operations.
In this article, you’ll see how to enhance the guest experience and reduce your workload with smart home devices for the following areas:
Noise monitoring and crowd detection
Cigarette smoke detection
Virtual assistants and smart speakers
Evolving guest expectations and the need for smart vacation rentals
When Airbnb first came into being, the idea was for Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s founders, to rent out their spare room and air mattress. And that’s pretty much what guests expected—a simple, clean, and, above all, convenient place to stay a few nights at a time.
That original concept has now evolved into a much more sophisticated offering, and guest expectations throughout the short-term rental space have evolved along with it.
Vacation rentals now compete with hotels for the same guests, which means your guests expect hotel levels of service. They want immaculate, modern properties with a range of amenities to facilitate frictionless, independent stays.
Not only that, but they expect your vacation rental to match consumer experiences they have elsewhere, which means in-app guest communication, easy access to all the information they need, and integrated smart home technology.
So, by understanding and responding to your guests’ advanced expectations, you can not only improve your efficiency and experience as a host, but also bring in more five-star reviews.
Benefits of smart home technology in vacation rentals
As we’ve said, smart home technology adds to the guest experience and can improve business performance, too. Here’s a closer look at how.
Enhanced safety and security
The risk of parties or prolonged disturbances is a significant (and justified) cause of anxiety for vacation rental owners and managers. By using smart devices to monitor noise levels and occupancy, you can keep your properties safe from crowds and minimize the possibility of neighbor complaints.
You can also use smart home technology for cigarette smoke detection and to protect your properties and automate your security systems. We look at a standalone device that offers all these features in the following section.
Energy consumption is hard to manage even in your own home. For guests, tightly regimented systems can be the cause of a negative review; alternatively, someone forgetting to turn off the heating or AC before checking out is an unnecessary expense.
However, you can integrate smart thermostats with your property management system (PMS) to make sure your vacation rental energy use is always optimized and under control.
Fast and simple check-in
Historically, hotels have managed check-in much more smoothly than vacation rentals—from the guest’s perspective, walking right up to a front desk is much more convenient than having to wait around until someone can hand over physical keys. The last thing guests want is to have their patience tested on arrival or to have to decipher which unit to go to and how to get inside.
Now, though, smart locks and scheduled guest messaging can automate the entire arrival process. Guests are provided with access codes before they get to the property and can then enter independently without you or your team having to be on-site.
If you have any aspirations of growing your rental management business, you need to minimize repetitive manual tasks and automate processes wherever possible. This makes your operations efficient and scalable. Any device or software that improves guest stays while also reducing your workload is key to this.
With smart home technology to simplify how you manage your door locks and the check-in process, energy costs and guest experience, or security systems and party prevention, you can improve your reviews, gain peace of mind, and sustainably expand your portfolio.
Top smart home devices for vacation rentals
The biggest single barrier to improving your vacation rentals with smart tech is the complexity of the solution: If you continue to add smart devices to your units, how can you manage them all in a simple and practical way? If you’re not careful, the solution itself becomes a problem.
To make your job as easy as possible, you need all-in-one devices that integrate with the rest of your tech stack.
That’s why we’ve focused our recommendations on exactly these types of solutions—comprehensive tools that integrate with each other, so you can have a property manager-friendly smart home setup.
Noise monitoring and occupancy monitoring
Your noise monitoring and occupancy monitoring device should bring together a range of home safety and guest experience solutions.
This gives you the visibility you need to protect your properties and means you can add units to your portfolio without adding to your workload.
Minut is a Swedish startup whose monitoring device gives real-time, privacy-safe information on the status of all your units. You’ll be alerted when noise levels exceed your customized thresholds, or if a crowd starts to gather at one of your properties.
What’s so useful to vacation rental property managers, though, is that Minut is an all-in-one solution. As well as other smart tech capabilities and connected devices for your short-term rentals (STRs), which we discuss below, you can use Minut to automate guest communication.
So, if an issue is detected at one of your units, thanks to its Airbnb and PMS integrations, Minut will send a request for your guest to address the problem, whether that’s lowering the noise or asking unauthorized visitors to leave.
Plus, with Minut’s Call Assist and Guard Assist, trained phone operators and responders are available to take care of noise disturbances for you in person or by telephone at any time – day or night. And you can even use Minut to schedule messages to guests throughout their stay.
With the full breadth of Minut’s smart tools and sensors in place, you can enjoy greater peace of mind and the ability to host with confidence across your entire STR business.
Cigarette smoke detection
Even without direct or lasting damage to your property contents, cigarette smoke can be an enormous source of frustration for guests, who may very well notice the smell of smoke from a previous stay. Then you’re left having to pay out of pocket for extra cleaning with no hard evidence of anyone having broken your house rules.
With smart technology, though, you get instant alerts of cigarette smoke activity in any of your units so you can take early action.
As well as noise monitoring, crowd detection, and smart lighting, Minut’s Gen 3 sensor uses AI machine learning to identify cigarette smoke in your properties. As soon as cigarette smoke is detected, you’ll be notified, while the guest will receive an automated message to inform them of the issue.
However, just the very fact of having a cigarette smoke detector acts as a strong deterrent to guests who would smoke in your properties. That’s why we recommend informing them of your property’s smart home technology as part of your standard guest messaging—which you can also automate and schedule using Minut.
The modern guest expects a hassle-free stay, which means no delays in being able to access a vacation rental once they’ve arrived.
But implementing keyless entry in your units isn’t the complete solution—for your operations to be scalable, you also need a way to automate the sharing of unique access codes for each stay.
Both of the following systems for self check-in integrate with Minut, allowing you to completely automate how you share access credentials with your guests.
You can manually create unique pin codes for different users (for example, your cleaners), while its system for property management, iglooconnect, automatically generates unique codes for every stay.
igloohome’s smart locks don’t rely on Wi-Fi to operate, you can revoke access remotely, and you can use the activity log to see who accessed which unit and when.
Nuki’s smart hosting system lets you share digital keys with your guests, making self check-in part of a fully automated process that only requires 15 minutes of initial installation and setup time.
The locks are fitted to the inside of your vacation rental property’s door, and once you begin using them, you can manage them remotely via their Wi-Fi integration. Nuki’s Power Pack battery holds charge for up to six months, and you can easily recharge it by connecting to a power source via USB-C cable.
Also, with the Nuki Keypad, you can set up PIN code entry, meaning no smartphone or app is required for guests to access your properties.
Smart thermostats, climate control, and mold risk analysis
Smart technology offers the dual benefit of improving the guest experience (no more arriving to a freezing unit or stepping into an oven) while allowing you to reduce your energy bills.
Also, a sensor that monitors for mold risk, especially in damp climates, protects your homeowners from structural damage and unsightly build-up of mold on walls, ceilings, and furnishings.
Minut’s integration with tado° works for Smart AC Control and Smart Thermostat to automate energy savings as soon as your guests check out.
The automation can also help prevent freezing pipes by maintaining a base temperature in your units between stays and automating a temperature rise in the lead-up to a check-in.
In addition to its other host and guest experience features, Minut monitors temperature, humidity, and mold risk. This helps you ensure a safe, comfortable stay for guests, even if you’re managing the property remotely.
Alongside your other smart tools and automated processes, you’ll be able to build a scalable business model so you can impress prospective property owners and continue to grow your STR portfolio.
Want your properties to stand out against the competition? Provide your guests with voice-activated controls over smart home functions like climate control and lighting to add an extra level of convenience.
Other benefits of a virtual assistant include on-demand home entertainment in the form of music and podcasts, plus local recommendations on events and where to eat. All of this further enhances the guest experience and projects the image of a contemporary, luxury vacation rental brand.
Popular voice assistants include:
Other smart home devices your guests will love
Here are some more smart devices that are easy to set up and may get a special mention in your guest reviews:
Smart coffee machine: Great for families and remote workers alike, smart coffee makers like Atomi, Hamilton Beach, Nespresso Vertuo Next Deluxe, and Keurig K-Supreme Plus are convenient and high-quality.
Wireless multiroom speakers: Smart speakers for streaming services and connected home theater products give your guests a luxury stay, with Sonos being the industry leader.
Smart blinds and curtains: You can add smart window coverings to an already feature-rich vacation rental, integrating them with your virtual assistant. Top brands include Lutron Serena Shades, Yoolax Roller Shades, and Ikea Fyrtur.
Make smart home technology a hallmark of your STR service
Smart home technology has the power to distinguish your services from the other luxury vacation rentals and hotels operating in your area, helping your business thrive in spite of the intense competition that currently runs through the STR market.
To get the most out of your in-home technology, find solutions that simplify your job as a host and property manager. That’s why you need to consolidate your tech stack with all-in-one devices and integrated smart solutions.
With Minut’s standalone device for home protection, party prevention, and guest messaging, you can offer guests a fantastic, privacy-safe stay that reflects your STR brand. On top of impressed guessed and glowing reviews, you maintain 360-degree visibility across your portfolio as you scale.
Frequently asked questions about smart home technology for vacation rentals
What are the must-have smart devices for vacation rentals
An all-in-one short-term rental protection device like Minut is a must-have smart device for vacation rentals. It helps you guard against parties and property damage, enhances the guest experience, and automates manual processes like guest messaging.
How can I ensure the privacy and security of guests when using smart technology?
Not all smart devices provide the same level of guest privacy. That’s why you need to use a solution like Minut, which only provides relevant information to the property manager without ever recording conversations or sharing private guest data.
Are there any potential downsides to using smart technology in vacation rentals?
The only downside to using smart technology in short-term rentals is overcomplicating your home setup and operational processes. But with all-in-one solutions and integrated technology like Minut, you can ensure your tech stack is simple to manage and scalable.