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10 Ways Smart Home Technology Transforms Rental Operations

By August 19, 2021November 18th, 2021vacation rentals
smart home technology for vacation rentals

Consumers today expect things to be ‘smart’. Whether they’re ordering their groceries online or streaming music and TV on-demand, they expect life to happen easily and quickly via their smartphone.

So why should their vacation rental stay be any different? Answer: It shouldn’t.

Luckily, using smart home technology for vacation rentals doesn’t just please the guest, it helps property managers like you too, helping to save time and money on operations, and making processes seamless and stress-free.

In today’s super-connected world, leveraging smart home technology and connecting all of your smart devices through a platform such as Operto can completely transform your business.

How? Read on to discover:

  • Why smart home technology is here to stay (and how to make sure your business doesn’t miss out)

  • How connecting all your smart devices to a central hub gives you optimum control and data insights

  • The must-have smart devices to transform your vacation rentals

  • The answers to your most-asked questions about smart tech

Connect your operations

Connect your smart devices. Operto integrates with your PMS and smart devices to create streamlined operations.

Smart home technology for vacation rentals: Fad or future?

In this post-Covid world, it might be easy to assume that contactless, smart technology is a passing fad that will disappear once the days of physical distancing and hand sanitizer are over.

Not so. Smart technology was already on the up before the pandemic, and the health crisis has only accelerated its arrival.

01_Smart home technology works best when it_s all connected. A hand opening a smart lock with a phone

Smart home technology is the future. It enables you to: 

  • Increase ease of operations, with less waiting around and fewer needless face-to-face interactions (keyless entry for rental properties means guests can head straight to their room and start settling in).
  • Offer contactless check-in for vacation rentals (especially helpful in times of Covid).
  • Personalize guest communication (with tailored welcome and confirmation messages, in-browser chats, and more).
  • Give guests a high level of personal control over their room and stay (such as enabling them to change the AC, heat, or lights at the touch of a button).
  • Offer guests the easy, smartphone-connected experience they expect.
  • Provide a more secure space, with fewer security concerns (e.g. using smart locks instead of rickety lockboxes or old-fashioned “dumb” keys).
  • Save energy and turn lights and heat on, off, or down when the room is not occupied (using occupancy monitoring and your remote, connected dashboard).
  • Streamline property management, housekeeping, and maintenance, so you can worry less about security systems and logistics, and focus on giving guests a great stay instead.

Operto Connect: a central hub for all your smart home devices

Your smart devices are only as smart as the system they’re connected to. That’s why it’s important to have a central platform such as Operto ConnectTM, which is specially designed for hospitality and vacation rentals.

02_Your smart home technology needs to be connected to a central hub. Screenshot of smart lock and Operto phone screen

Operto ConnectTM acts as the “one-stop” hospitality hub that links your devices, guests, and management together. Via a single platform and several dashboards, you can monitor your entire operation remotely from your connected device. 

You can also gather insights on a range of data, enabling you to understand your business better and make more informed decisions. This might include finding new ways to boost your in-house cleaning team’s efficiency, understand potential guests’ booking patterns, or enable you to respond more quickly to issues that impact your rental’s security, saving you time, money, and stress.

5 smart home devices to transform your vacation rental operations

With so many smart home devices to choose from, it can be daunting to know which will make the best and biggest difference to your business. We recommend the following.

1. Smart locks 

Smart locks, such as Yale, Schlage, or August, are digital locks, connected to your wider smart automation platform. They enable guests to arrive and check-in using a keypad and keycode sent in advance. You can monitor their use to see when guests arrive and leave, ensure that only the right people have access at the right time, and revoke access when needed. 

03_Smart locks are a major part of smart home technology. Three locks that integrate with Operto.

2. Smart thermostats

Devices such as Ecobee and Tado are central to a smart vacation rental. They offer your guests unparalleled and easy control over their thermostat, AC, and heat. Guests can program their own thermostat schedules and feel just as comfortable as if they were at home. 

Smart energy devices can also save you up to 30% in energy cost per year, as you can turn down (or off) heat (and, if connected, lights too) when your space is not occupied.

04_There are a range of smart home technology devices for vacation rentals

3. Noise monitoring devices

Vacation rental noise monitoring devices, such as NoiseAware, have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and are a completely privacy-safe way to keep tabs on what’s going on at your property, without you needing to be on-site or nearby.

They’re recommended by OTAs such as Airbnb and VRBO to help you avoid destructive parties and complaints from neighbors or your local authority. They do not record or “listen in” to audio or dialogue or notice quick sounds such as a door slamming accidentally, but can register any sustained change in volume over consecutive minutes, such as loud music.


4. Occupancy monitoring devices

These devicesㅡsuch as Netatmo, which also integrates with Opertoㅡare essentially air quality monitors. They can keep track of how much carbon dioxide is in your vacation rental, and can therefore monitor how many people are in the property (because everyone breathes out CO2). 

This means that you can ensure only people who booked are in the space. It also allows you to monitor how healthy the air in the property is too, and allow your health-conscious guests to do the same.

06_Occupancy monitoring is easy with smart home technology for your vacation rental. An image of a Netatmo air monitor.

Photo: Netatmo.com 

5. Voice-activated virtual assistants 

Smart devices don’t get much smarter than tech that responds to guests’ voice commands just as if they were at home. Enabling voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home means that guests have an even higher level of control, and their experience is even easier.

You can also connect voice-activated assistants to a concierge service, giving your guests even more personalized, better service. Just make sure guests know how to turn off the microphone if they’re uncomfortable having it on.

07_Adding voice-activated smart devices makes your smart home technology for vacation rentals even better. A Google Home smart assistant

5 more benefits of smart home technology for vacation rentals

1. Improves the guest experience

Smart technology is all about giving the guest a better experience: more streamlined, easier, and more convenient. For instance, a Smart TV that allows people to log in to their own streaming accounts is preferable to subscribing to expensive cable packages.

Guest convenience is increased by easy check-in using smart locks, digital communication, and having all the important info sent to them digitally in advance (such as access code, house rules, contact details, local know-how, and Wi-Fi codes). 

In tandem with other smart technology, such as in-room control of thermostats and lights, this means your vacation guests have everything they need for a great stay above and beyond that offered by the traditional rental.

This has the added benefit of increasing the likelihood of getting a glowing, five-star review from your guests at the end of their stay.

2. Save on staff costs

Smart, remote devices mean you can save serious money on hiring staff (or time you would otherwise spend yourself) to meet and greet guests and hand over the keys. You no longer need to hire people to stay close “just in case” of problems, and everything is done remotely. 

Plus, your vacation rental cleaning and maintenance staff can be connected to the same system, meaning they only show up at the right times. You can also use smart tech to keep track of your cleaning materials and other maintenance needs, so you only buy what you need and nothing is wasted.

08_Operto_s platform enables multiple staff to check in remotely. A screenshot of Operto_s Connect system

3. Reduce potentially costly damage and unauthorized parties

Used together, noise and occupancy monitoring smart devices enable you to significantly reduce the chance of guests holding unauthorized, destructive parties at your property, by monitoring noise and CO2 levels. This ensures your guests are respectful, saves you money in potential damage, and keeps your property on the right side of neighbors and authorities. 

4. Promote sustainability

The eco-friendly credentials of allowing guests and managers to turn off or dial down smart lighting, AC, and heat when they’re not needed speak for themselves. You can see cost savings of up to 30% per year on energy alone. With eco-awareness becoming ever more popular among travelers, this energy reduction is also likely to please your guests.

5. Improves security

Enabling smart door locks and remote access codes also improves security. No more stolen, lost, or copied keys; no more boxes that break or get stolen. Changing your keycodes with each new guest or staff member means only authorized people can access the property at the right times, and you can change the codes after guests leave for added safety.

Smart home technology for vacation rentals: The future

With so many benefits from smart devices in your vacation rental property, it’s clear that smart tech isn’t just a fad or a short-term result of Covid. With the ability to streamline and simplify your operations, significantly improve guest experience, save costs and energy, and improve security, the potential of smart devices goes much further than a passing fad. 

It’s transformative, and it’s here to stay. The question is: when will your vacation rental go smart?

06_The Wyman beds with lights

Credit: TheWyman.com

Frequently asked questions about smart home technology for vacation rentals

Is it worth investing in smart home technology for vacation rentals?

Absolutely. It’s more than a passing fad. Connecting smart home technology to a central guest communication and management platform such as Operto helps you save money and energy, simplify and manage your operations remotely, improve security, pleases guests, and improves your reviews.

What is the most useful smart home device for a vacation rental?

It depends on your goal, but most smart home systems include a smart lock on the front door, with all other smart devices and processes working from there. We recommend that you have a great smart lock and software platform that connects it all together and enables you to communicate with staff and guests remotely on the same system. From there, you can add smart devices such as thermostats, lights, and even voice-activated concierge.

Are smart home devices reliable for vacation rentals?

Yes, as they only need Wi-Fi to work, and some (such as Igloohome smart locks) don’t even need that. True contactless check-in doesn’t need someone on-site at a front desk ‘just in case’, and they all have a backup in case of loss of power. They are also super-reliable in that they improve security and can be set up remotely and safely in advance.

Do guests even want smart home devices in vacation rentals?

Yes. Our research found that almost half (48.2%) of hospitality professionals said guests currently welcome contactless check-in, and a significant 35.3% said it was “expected”. Close to one in five (17.6%) even said that their guests believe keyless technology and automation are “completely essential”.

This is backed up by our survey of 1,000 consumers which found that 81% liked the idea of self-check-in, with strong showings from guests of both vacation rentals and hotels.

Do smart home devices make vacation rentals feel too technological and clinical?

No. Installing smart tech doesn’t replace hospitality, it improves it. You can worry less about logistics and more about delivering excellent guest service, even remotely. 

As Steve Furhman, owner of The Wyman in Colorado, a hotel that has fully embraced smart operations without losing its old-school charm, explains: “Guests that arrive at 10 pm or later intentionally get the same stress-free check-in experience as those that arrive at 1 pm.”

Are smart home devices only for super-modern, urban hotels, or vacation rentals for young people?

No. They can suit all types of space and customers, from digital nomads at an urban crash pad to a young family at a remote country cabin. They are especially useful in remote locations due to contactless check-in, extra security, and the ability of some to work without Wi-Fi. Smart devices are easy to install and use, and are intuitive for anyone who can use a smartphone.

Connect your operations

Connect your smart devices. Operto integrates with your PMS and smart devices to create streamlined operations.