How to get “the keys” is often the first question guests ask after booking, and the first hurdle they encounter when they arrive.
But truly modern vacation rentals are now going beyond traditional keys. They're opting for the advantages offered by the new, cool kid on the block: keyless entry systems.
Anyone who’s run a vacation rental for any stretch of time knows that having only physical keys to your place can be a real source of stress.
They can be lost, stolen, copied, or locked inside the room. Disaster.
You can hide them (“super-secure” flower pots or welcome mats, anyone?), forcing your guests to scramble around trying to understand your “clear” instructions.
You can shove them inside rickety lockboxes, which are notoriously fallible and tricky to use, and themselves present a security risk if they’re ripped off the wall, pried open, or visible from the street.
If your rental is in a building with more than one room or unit, such as an apartment block, lost and stolen keys can also put the entire block at risk.
Traditional locks can also be tough to open and even need a “special knack” to get in (we’ve all been there).
Not only are these security risks a huge weight on your mind as a vacation rental owner, but such problems at check-in will likely cause a guest to feel frustrated and annoyed even before they’re inside your space.
This creates the worst-possible first impression and starts their stay on a decidedly-bitter note.
The problems with traditional keys go on and on. But the good news is that vacation rental owners no longer have to rely on keys!
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More and more successful businesses are now turning away from using keys, and instead installing “smart locks” that allow entry without keys, known—surprisingly-enough—as “keyless entry”.
Setting up a keyless entry system and door lock means you can get away from all the issues with traditional keys, and allow easy and streamlined access to guests, even if you’re not on-site to check them in. Here’s how.
What is keyless entry?
Keyless entry is a system that allows access to your vacation rental without a traditional key.
It uses digital tools such as a smartphone app, a magnetic key card, or a code typed into a smart lock keypad.
A keyless entry system typically uses a motorized “smart lock”, which is connected to a digital network via Bluetooth or the Internet.
It can open, close, and monitor the door from an app or centralized system hands-free, rather than using a physical key and lock that you have to be present in-person to use.
Keyless entry can enable contactless check-in so no-one has to be there to let guests in, meaning you can save money on staff, limiting non-essential human contact in a post-Covid world.
Guests can also usually check-in or out at any time, without staff needing to be on-hand.
Keyless entry also enables everything to be digitally connected via a single management platform—such as Operto Connect™. This allows you to authorize access and keep track remotely through a central portal.
You can change access codes if relevant, address security concerns instantly, and keep track of guests, housekeeping, and the condition of your space—from wherever you are.
Guests and housekeeping staff can also access everything on their phone in one place, from entry code to WiFi password to room service. This makes their stay, or job, simple and streamlined at a glance, from check-in to check-out.
It can even be used for remote, off-grid locations, as some keyless entry options work even without WiFi or Bluetooth.
How much does keyless entry installation cost?
This can depend on the locks you choose, and the service you need.
For example, one of our major partners, the security giant Yale, offers smart locks that enable keyless entry from as low as $149, plus professional installation from $99.99.
But with many similar locks able to be installed on a normal door with little more than a screwdriver, both investment and installation stress can be kept low.
While replacing your locks is always an investment, it doesn’t have to cost as much as you might think. “Smart” technology is no longer the preserve of the super-advanced.
Most smart locks today will use your existing devices, such as smartphones and apps—plus existing WiFi and Bluetooth networks so they don’t need any extra installation, expensive systems, complicated wiring, or awkward hardware to work.
Many smart locks for keyless entry can also be installed on your existing doors. In some cases, they can be installed over your existing deadlocks, meaning the changes made are minimal in terms of work, and in cost.
The investment of installing keyless entry smart locks is definitely more upfront than simply sticking with traditional “dumb” locks.
But when you count how much they can save you—through less staff, fewer security issues, the annual cost of replacing lost or stolen keys, and happy guests who are pleasantly surprised by how easy check-in was—it’s 100% worth it in the long-run.
What kinds of key entry locks exist for vacation rentals?
There are a huge variety of smart locks for keyless entry on the marketplace, depending on your budget, design, and needs.
From the sleek, modern styles of the Yale Assure Series; to the bold and compact design of the August lock; to the more traditional and customizable units of the Salto XS4 range, keyless entry doesn’t have to mean bulky or boring.
Again, many—even the super modern ones such as the Nuki smart lock—can be fitted directly over your existing doors, to keep installation hassle way down.
Depending on your guests’ needs and expectations, you can choose keyless entry that requires a keypad with a code, a smartphone, a magnetic keycard or small keychain card, or a fob. Many locks, such as the Yale Assure range, pair with their own apps or other app leaders such as SmartThings.
These in turn integrate with dedicated platforms such as our Operto Connect™, adding extra control and ease for guests and vacation rental owners alike.
Some locks even incorporate biometrics such as iris or fingerprint recognition (but we admit that this may be going a little too far for vacation rental owners looking to prioritize convenience!).
And while most keyless entry smart locks are super-connected via Wifi and Bluetooth, some brands such as Igloohome pride themselves on offering keyless entry solutions that work even without a connection, using its algoPIN™ technology. Perfect for vacation rentals in remote locations.
Whether your rental is a high-end city apartment or a rustic forest hideaway, keyless entry can work for you.
What are the pros/advantages of keyless entry for a vacation rental?
Keyless entry solves all the problems of traditional keys in one swoop, offering major advantages for you and your staff, and your guests too.
Remote control wherever you are. If you use Operto with your keyless entry, you can connect everything through your PMS.
All the guest information in one, digital place, for easy access upon arrival. No more fumbling with rickety lockboxes or cumbersome keys.
No security issues as only authorized people can access—and if a security problem comes up, you can change the code instantly, remotely.
Connectivity through a central system such as our Operto ConnectTM platform, allowing
No need for staff or you to wait around to supply key cards, or have a full-time reception team on-hand “just in case” of problems.
Works 24/7, no need for guests to meet staff in person, or arrive at a set time.
Fewer staff = more safety and peace of mind post-Covid.
Fewer staff = lower costs and more profit. (Don’t just take our word for it, check out this post explaining how The Breakfast Hotel in Japan used keyless entry technology to boost operational efficiency and employ just one staff member to manage 60 properties!)
Keyless entry alone is pretty powerful.
But when connected with centralized operating systems such as Operto ConnectTM, keyless entry is just the first step in the much larger process of managing your vacation rental from start to finish.
When keyless entry smart locks are integrated with a wider management platform, key codes can be used and changed not only for guests but also for or by housekeeping staff and maintenance. This means you can allow access to different people at different times, and keep track of when a room is occupied, empty, being cleaned, or ready for check-in.
Setting up keyless entry plus a central operating platform also opens up the possibility of offering extra perks for your guests; for example, early check-in, if you notice that housekeeping has finished with a room earlier than planned. With a touch of a button, you could confirm with your housekeeper, and give access to your newly-happy guests—who will now have a great impression of you before they’ve even arrived.
Linking your keyless entry smart locks with a platform such as Operto ConnectTM also allows guests to move in instantly and check their access details in advance—for added peace of mind.
Immediately after guests book, they receive an email link to their online portal.
They can set up access and entry in advance to avoid any travel day stress, and have at-a-glance access to all the must-know information about their stay. They also key in their payment details and data—so you can contact people personally.
Using an operating system for your guest access provides added value to both you and your guests. After arrival, guests can get online with the WiFi password listed, request housekeeping support such as extra towels if available, or see what’s good in the local area. They can even use the same system to adjust their room temperature, as Operto ConnectTM also integrates your smart devices such as the Tado thermostat.
Keyless entry and exit—using motorized smart locks, linked to a wider management platform—makes this possible.
Meanwhile, you can keep track of bookings, cleaning, check-in, and check-out, and know exactly what’s going on, whether you have one vacation rental or an entire block. Zero fuss, zero stress.
And it all starts with keyless entry.
What are the cons/disadvantages of keyless entry for a vacation rental?
It’s important to make sure that keyless entry will work for your business, and know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge and invest.
Here are some things to bear in mind when getting keyless entry for your vacation rental.
If you’re using a mobile key, your guests’ phones may die or older generations might not want to use it. A keypad is the most surefire way to ensure guest adherence.
Some keyless entry systems can run out of battery and require a 9V battery or other power sources to unlock if power fails (although they give a lot of warning before this happens, including giving you notifications, showing a light, or flashing, so it’s unlikely to be missed).
Smart locks are also more expensive upfront than a traditional lock (but far less expensive than paying staff to handle check-ins).
We should also say that even though keyless entry allows you to monitor and change access from afar, it still requires some input from you. It also needs at least minimal maintenance to ensure it keeps working and stays connected.
Luckily, most locks are intended to be as easy to use as possible, with almost no extra work from you once installed. And, with Operto Connect™, the experience is designed to be as simple and straightforward to navigate for everyone, from property managers to housekeepers to guests.
Keyless entry for vacation rentals: Is it right for you?
We’ve summarised the pros and cons in a handy table, so you can figure out what’s best at a glance.
You have control remotely.
╳ Some guests may need more help and education to use keyless entry the first time, especially if it’s a mobile key.
You can keep track via one digital portal.
╳ More expensive upfront than a traditional key system.
Guests receive information instantly.
╳ Requires batteries that need changing infrequently, and can run low.
Only authorized people have access.
╳ Most require WiFi or Bluetooth.
Change codes remotely and instantly in case of a security risk.
╳ Requires some input and upkeep.
Different key codes for guests, housekeeping, and maintenance.
Allows tracking from check-in to check-out, and housekeeping
Guest control of temperature, plus access to WiFi code and housekeeping.
Integrates with other smart tools.
No need to pay staff “just in case” or for check-in.
Fewer staff = more safety post-Covid.
Fewer staff = lower costs, more profit.
What should I look for when choosing keyless entry for rental properties?
Consider your business size and needs, and guest requirements.
What will your guests prefer?
How do you communicate with them, and what/how/when do they need access to your place?
Does it need to be totally remote, 24/7, contact-free, or are you happy to have some input and staff on-hand?
Will your guests likely be familiar with and own smartphones, apps, and signing in to portals, or will they need a little more support? What will help them to feel most at ease, safe, and happy?
And then there are the practical considerations.
What’s your budget?
Does your place have WiFi or is it super-remote and off-grid?
Do you want to connect the lock to the rest of your smart rental, or is that not needed right now?
What kind of doors do you have? Do you want to change everything completely, or install smart locks onto your existing opening deadbolt lock?
What style are you looking for?
These are all great questions to ask to determine the best kind of smart lock for you and your vacation rental.
Our 5 favorite keyless entry systems for vacation rentals
This lock might be the most traditional and trustworthy-looking option on this list, with its bold design and lever handle plus keypad. It can be installed on most existing doors, and can always be opened from the inside (which it calls a “panic option”), great for peace of mind.
Salto’s MyLock tool allows you to customize its design too, so you can get it perfect for your space. It can also work with a contactless key card as well as a keycode, and also has an optional mechanical override for backup.Available in six different finishes, from silver to black. Prices at request through the Salto website. Integrates with the Operto ConnectTM platform.
A compact little keypad option from the trusted Yale company, with easy-to-use and easy-to-see backlit buttons, and no extra fuss. It offers 4-8-digit keycodes, and you can create different ones to avoid security issues or overlap.
It is fully integrated into smart home automation systems. Also has extra features such as the Auto Relock so you can always make sure the door is secured after guests leave.Available in silver or black. Key access for backup if needed as a last resort, and is a good value option, starting at just $129. Integrates with the Operto ConnectTM platform.
A super-discreet lock in three sleek colors, whose compact size belies its power. This lock keeps things simple and can be installed over your existing deadbolt. The outside lock stays the same, and you can even keep your old keys as a backup.
Operated by app—and even works with Apple Watch. When linked to the Operto ConnectTM platform, your guests can keep everything they need for their stay within their own devices—perfect for Millennial travelers who expect just that. You can even limit access by time or identity.Available in Silver, Dark Gray, or Satin nickel color. Starts at $199.99 for the Smart Lock and Connect bridge or $149.99 for the lock alone. Integrates with the Operto ConnectTM platform.
The big daddy of locks on this list, this manages to be super-strong and secure, without making a fuss or adding bulk. Igloohome describes it as “jam-packed with smart features so you can unlock your time for the more important things in life”, and we can't help but agree.
As well as a keypad, it also offers fingerprint unlocking and tamper-proof technology. But maybe the best thing about this lock is that it works even without WiFi, using the company’s algoPIN™ technology, making it perfect for remote hideaways or digital detox retreats.Starting at $499, it’s a more expensive, but arguably-more solid, option for your remote rental. Integrates with the Operto ConnectTM platform.
Specially designed for commercial properties, this keypad lock is light on size but heavy on security, and won’t wear out with repeated use. The company says it “redefines access management”, and can be used with PIN codes, Bluetooth keys, or even keys as a final backup. Its slim design is easy to see and use, but small enough to keep things discreet and shows just how simple keyless access can be.Available in black. Contact Iglooworks directly for prices, trials, and demos. Integrates with the Operto ConnectTM platform.
Too long; didn't read?
Keyless entry systems that use motorized locks connected to a centralized management portal such as Operto ConnectTM can revolutionize your vacation rental business. They make check-in automated and easier, allow guests and property owners to customize room temperature and monitor noise, and enable you to keep track and coordinate every stage of your vacation rental business. They can be more expensive to install than traditional locks, but they will save you money in the long-run, not to mention giving you priceless peace of mind.
Keyless entry: Super-connected and streamlined
These are only a small taste of the huge variety of smart locks out there that can help you make keyless entry part of your vacation rental business.
At Operto, we can help you select a lock that will work for you while staying stylish, affordable, and easy for guests and housekeepers to use—and stress-free for you to manage.
All of the lock companies above offer a range of smart lock options that integrate with Operto Connect™, so you can link your keyless entry system to the rest of your business operations with ease.
Guests get their own code, as do housekeepers and maintenance workers and anyone else who needs access to the property, so you can keep track of who is coming and going, and when rooms are ready for check-in or check-out at a single glance.
Not only does this make everything easier to coordinate and automate—without someone needing to be there in person—it also offers improved security and peace of mind, as well as offering a much better, easy, fuss-free, streamlined, and safe experience for your guests.
“I expect you will see more property management companies move towards automating the majority of the entire short-term rental process by using technology more and relying less on face-to-face interactions.”
GUESTY PRESIDENT & COO
Today’s post-Covid world will prioritize online systems with less human contact, reduced staff, and more contactless options.
As a result, using keyless entry and smart locks connected to a centralized system such as Operto Connect™ could be the perfect next step if your vacation rental is to survive and thrive in years to come.
Connect your operations
Operto provides vacation rental property owners with peace of mind while giving guests a memorable experience. Want to see how it would work with your rental?