Why Pricing Shouldn’t Be Your #1 Criteria for a Property Automation System

As a vacation rental or hotel manager, you know that access control is a critical part of running your business. 

As the first thing that guests encounter when they arrive and the difference between them being able to open the door or not, it’s not a “nice-to-have”: it’s non-negotiable.

Nowadays, guests expect automated, digital keyless entry for rental properties. This means that they receive a keycode before check-in, and can access the property at whatever time they like without needing to interact with someone in person.

Seamless, contactless check-in for vacation rentals and hotels gives a great impression, sets a positive tone for their entire stay, and drives excellent reviews. A bad one does the exact opposite. 

That’s why choosing the right access system for your business is so important (check out our comparison of Operto vs Lynx to read more on critical features you need). 

A real access control solution is about so much more than retrofitting the cheapest and simplest smart locks you can find, and simply opening and closing doors.

Connect your operations

Choose the complete solution. Operto’s access control system doesn’t just open doors: it transforms your entire business.

It's not about price

04_A smart lock checking in with smartphone

A property automation system goes far beyond locking and unlocking doors

Hardware and price are only one part of it. Access control, guest experience, and security are so crucial to your business that going for the cheapest, flimsiest option will always be a false economy.

Beyond the simple lock, you also need robust software and super-responsive, super-capable customer service to ensure everything works seamlessly, whenever needed. A high-performing access system—emphasis on system, not just a lock—will save you and your team money, time, and stress. It’ll also boost customer satisfaction and security tenfold.

That’s why price should never be your number one criteria when it comes to something so key (pun intended). Price is a factor, of course: but it’s not the most important.

“Do not make price your number one consideration. It should be in your top five buying criteria, but it should be at number four or five. It’s your whole operating system that truly counts.”


Operto CEO


Ultimately, it’s not about price. It’s about value. 

The right system can completely transform your entire operation, making it tech-first and super-connected, offering guests and staff a seamless, digital, smart experience from start to finish.

How much is that worth to your business?

Smart locks are only the start

The phrase “access system” suggests that it’s only about “access”, via digital, connected smart locks. But smart locks are only the start. 

Installing keyless entry in your rental or hotel is only one part of transforming your business into a tech-first, super-connected system.

Getting an access control system is like car shopping. If you only buy the smart lock, it’s like you only bought the steering wheel—but not the rest of the car that actually makes it work properly.

Truly valuable access systems go beyond the simple locks, and actually connect everything together. Focusing purely on cost per lock or the cost of the system does a disservice to the transformational effect a great system will have on your business.

The positive impact that great automated access control systems can have on guest experience should not be underestimated.

Our research (explained in more detail in our whitepaper on The State and Future of Tech-Enabled Stays) found that 43.5% of hospitality professionals said that their guests “appreciate” digital technology and automation even if they don’t yet “expect it”.

02_State and Future of Tech Stays White Paper screenshot

Our whitepaper on The State and Future of Tech-Enabled Stays explains guests’ growing expectations of smart technology in more detail

In addition, more than a third (35.3%) of our respondents said that guests are coming to “expect” automated and keyless check-in, and almost two in five (17.6%) even said that such systems were “completely essential”.

But access control is not only about guest experience: it’s also about ensuring that the doors only open to the right people at the right time, every time.

Using a great digital automation access system instantly eliminates the problems that come with old-fashioned methods, including the risks of lost or stolen keys, or rickety, insecure lockboxes. 

Even using “dumb” (as opposed to smart) keypads carries security risks if you can’t change the access code with each new guest, or give different people their own unique number. For improved security, smart systems can change the code remotely and automatically with each new guest, and let you know who’s on the property at any given time. 

In Covid times, offering a robust and failsafe access system that doesn’t need any physical involvement from people is even more valuable. Guests and staff feel safer when they can access a property without needless face-to-face interaction.

The right system is also adaptable in favor of the guest: if your guests are delayed when traveling, or their plans change, they can still check in whenever they arrive. There’s no stress or waiting around for them or your team, and control is firmly in guests’ hands.

The stress, time, and costs saved are undeniable.

Know what you’re paying for

Ultimately, buying an access control property automation system is not about unlocking and locking doors. It’s a way to manage your entire operation remotely, and skyrocket guest satisfaction before and after their stay.

When buying a system, it’s important to make sure that you’re not just buying a smart lock and app.

Beyond cost, ask yourself: 

  • What else are you buying beyond the literal smart lock piece of hardware?

  • What are the operational benefits and extra value in the system?

  • What other devices connect with the ecosystem and how thoughtfully are they integrated?

  • How easy is the software to use, and how does it simplify your life, by allowing you to delegate or share tasks with team members?

  • Does it enable you to operate the system remotely?

  • How reliable and responsive is the support team?

  • Does the company proactively drive customer success to ensure you gain the most value?

  • What backup is there in the rare event that the technology fails?

Some platforms just offer the key app and the smart lock. Platforms such as Operto go far beyond that.

03_A screenshot of the Operto Connect system

Operto’s Connect system connects with a wide range of smart devices as well as locks

With us, you’re buying a partnership with a company that can actually help you transform your business and work alongside you to ensure it’s installed and implemented in the best way.

Operto offers the complete, well-thought-out, well-documented, tried-and-tested car, not just the steering wheel.

Tying all the various things together into our ecosystem is actually the value—that’s why we are a more expensive solution. We are, in effect, a self-driving car.

Fewer and fewer customers use us for just property access. The number of access-only deals is going down. Our customers don’t come to us just to open a door.

What is the true cost of a bad decision?

While price will inevitably be a factor in your decision, it’s important to make sure you’re not making a false economy that will cost you more in the long run. 

This might be because of money wasted on hardware, time and effort wasted on training employees to set up the system, time wasted having to look for a new solution, and even the potential security cost if your existing system doesn’t provide adequate safety and security protection.

That’s how a $3 solution ends up costing you $50 an hour. It’s a really expensive bad decision, even if you only have 5-10 units. You’re much better off choosing the better solution in the first place.

As Shane Furhman, owner of the Wyman Hotel, a smart hotel in Colorado that switched to Operto after experiencing problems with another company first, explains: “The lock system we had on 12 of our rooms [before we switched to Operto] was pretty annoying to use.


“We also didn’t feel that [our previous operator] was helping us. But when we started working with Operto, we brought four more rooms online, and they’ve been great. People have a much easier time with the Operto locks.”

Shane Furhman

Owner of the Wyman Hotel

People who choose the cheaper option usually end up coming back to Operto.

04_The Wyman hotel website screenshot

The Wyman Hotel in Colorado is a smart hotel that switched to Operto. Credit: TheWyman.com

Price vs value: 3 crucial points to consider

So, now we know that value is more important than simple price, what are some things that property and hotel managers need to consider when making a choice? 

As well as the questions above, we recommend these 3 points:

1. Does the solution enable you to manage multiple smart devices and other tools under one login, on a single platform under a single digital umbrella? 

That’s our biggest selling point. We tie everything together and put the guest in the middle (so they leave a 5-star review and they rebook!).

2. Is the solution specifically designed for commercial use, rather than a domestic or residential solution trying to be all things to all people? 

Domestic solutions are 99% of the time not suitable for commercial use. For example, many such options won’t pass fire inspections; and are unlikely to stand up to the heavy, repeated use they must stand up to for commercial guests.

Don’t let a vendor convince you that (cheaper) residential hardware will do just fine. It’s not going to work.

3. Does your solution focus on human beings and empathetic, useful customer support, as well as providing a robust digital platform and purpose-built hardware?  

What would happen in the rare event that something breaks, or doesn’t work? This is unlikely, but possible when using technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is what we call the human element.

“You can only control that through a very well-oiled customer support system. With Operto, there’s always a steady set of hands on the other side to pick up the phone. ”


Operto CEO


This is one of our biggest differentiators; the brain trust of knowledge around the best practices and best ways to do everything. When you work with Operto you get that with it; versus someone trying to sell you a $3 lock solution from a call center. Don’t be lured in.

05_Operto Connect phone shots

The Operto system offers far more than a simple $3 smart lock

Transforming your business: How much is that worth?

Ultimately, choosing the perfect property automation solution and access system is about uniting the best technology with the best support, rather than opting for the cheapest option alone.

Picking technology that just opens a door only solves one piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, we’re talking about reinventing the most crucial part of your guest experience.


“It's not just about opening doors, it's about completely changing your business model. Who do you want to manage that for you?”

Steve Davis

Operto CEO

Connect your operations

Choose the complete solution. Operto’s access control system doesn’t just open doors: it transforms your entire business.