The Urban Butler calms nervous residents with Operto-driven security measures

“Operto makes the entire team’s life better, because it negates potentially any late-night, customer service calls. And having integration of everything through the software just means that it's effortless. We don't need to look at different apps and mess around—it's all just right there.”

The Urban Butler testimonial

the urban butler

Mention Airbnb or short-term rentals to some apartment residents or property managers, and they’ll run a mile.

Upset neighbors, destructive parties or worse, late-night calls to authorities or even the police—and no one wants their property to be the latest “Airbnb nightmare destruction party” splash on tomorrow’s front page. 

That’s why The Urban Butler, a short-term property management company based in New Zealand prioritizes the use of noise and occupancy monitoring in its rentals.

Savvy STR companies know that putting residents’ minds at ease about Airbnb guests—by installing ingenious, intuitive technology such as noise monitoring and automated, digital security measures through Operto—is the key to a successful short-term rental business.

It’s easier than you might think—and you don’t need to be super-techy to do it.

We invited Jon Lawry, founder and managing director of The Urban Butler, to tell us exactly how using Operto’s noise monitoring integration helped it gain residents’ trust in two of its flagship properties. 

He explained how it boosted safety and security in their properties to offer true peace of mind for authorities and residents, and made life better for staff too.

Want to up the security in your operations?

Operto helps you run a completely secure operation with noise monitoring, guest verification, automatically changing door codes and more. 

Urban Butler’s story

But before we get started, let’s look at The Urban Butler’s impressive journey, from a post-holiday dream to the community-driven success story it is today.

Now based in New Zealand, Urban Butler started in 2016 after a holiday in Europe, when founder Jon Lawry really enjoyed “the live like a local” feel of their stays and the high quality of the Airbnbs there—including personalized tapas and coffee recommendations in Barcelona.

Working with estate agents and developers, the company focused on building a community that flies in the face of negative press around Airbnb. Residents feel at ease and comfortable, and the business thrives too. 

Now, Urban Butler operates 30 units in Auckland City, including a penthouse overlooking the Viaduct waterfront, and a minimalist apartment in the heart of the inner city Wynyard Quarter, to name just a couple.

When Urban Butler realized it needed a solution for noise

As a company whose business model hinges on the cooperation of local residents, Urban Butler soon realized that noise was an issue it needed to tackle after some guests had big parties, and one resident complained that he could hear noises through the walls.

“It became an issue to the point that he was writing letters to the building manager, so we needed a solution urgently. We didn't want to lose that property or that client, and we didn’t want to upset people.”

And, when the company looked to take on the tallest residential tower in New Zealand—the luxurious Pacifica—it realized that the risk of future party problems was literally too big to ignore.

“When we started, there was a lot of nervousness from the residents, because they all had just settled into their brand new apartments in this beautiful building,” explains Lawry. “There was a lot of chatter around Airbnb and short-term rentals.”

The Urban Butler didn’t skirt around the issue; they sat down with the Pacifica property manager and agreed a process for vetting guests, and even presented their plans to the new apartment owners, including their plans for using Operto noise monitors to ensure good STR guest behavior.

As it had in its previous property, Urban Butler suggested that it try Operto noise monitors as a solution, and “touch base with the residents in two or three months time”, says Lawry. 

And it worked. 

From nervous residents to business advocates

Now, says Lawry, residents are “really, really comfortable” with the vetting process and noise monitoring systems, and the company has been able to go from strength to strength.

It has even created its own policy to embed good practices as part of the guest culture.

“It’s become a community thing. We try to operate a Good Neighbor policy. We say to guests, you can enjoy yourself as much as you like within this residential building, just don't upset the residents, your neighbors. Act as you would in your own home.

“Now we’ll be upfront about it.” 

The business has also found that using noise monitors hasn’t just improved behavior among guests—it’s also boosted the quality of the guests that book in the first place.

Implementing the Good Neighbor policy starts even before booking, Lawry explains, and the property managers have learned to trust their instincts on that over time.

“You can always tell from the first message if someone’s going to be trouble or not,” explains Lawry.

“Having that extra layer of Operto noise monitoring weeds out any people that may have [negative] intentions for the property. Often those people will just drop away and won’t book. It just works perfectly.”

Jon Lawry

Founder and Managing Director of The Urban Butler

How Operto helped improve his team’s lives

This screening of guests also means a better experience for residents, and for staff, because Noise monitoring for vacation rentals not only protects properties but also ensures you stay within local laws for noise and occupancy.

Ultimately, fewer problems means fewer complaints and fewer late-night staff calls, and the automation of the technology helps too. 

Woman partying in background, mobile phone screen in foreground, and noise alert notifications

Long story short, noise monitoring doesn’t record what’s going on in the room or infringe on privacy. It just notices if decibel levels stay above a certain threshold for an extended period. This means it doesn’t pick up on one-off accidents, such as a slammed door, but will notice loud music or a party.

Operto works with NoiseAware’s platform to send automatic, pre-written alerts to guests if they breach the noise threshold, meaning that even if there’s a problem, staff don’t need to get involved.

Urban Butler has also started using other Operto integrations too, such as the Igloohome smart locks and the Operto Guest platform, which means it can automate processes such as sending access codes to guests in advance, so they can use contactless, self-check-in. 

This helps set boundaries for staff around check-in times and takes that otherwise manual process off the team’s to-do list.


“Operto makes the entire team’s life better,” Lawry says simply. “Because it negates potentially any late-night, customer service calls. We don't need to look at different apps and mess around—it's all just right there.

“I heard a good phrase the other day: ‘We automate the predictable, so that we can humanize the exceptional’. So there you go. Automating all of this stuff so we don't need to look at it anymore, is the key to a better life. It's effortless.”

Using Operto has also made the team’s life easier simply by being intuitive to use, and because they know there’s always great customer service on the other end of a phone.

There’s no more difficult learning curve or months of teething problems as the staff learn the system, as Operto works with Urban Butler—as it does all its clients—as a partner.

“We have found Operto’s sales and customer service people to be very attentive, and keen to help and work alongside us. And yet, nothing ever seems to be a problem in terms of getting things fixed and integrating things.”


Founder and Managing Director of The Urban Butler

How Operto improves guests’ lives

Guests love the new systems too. Sending check-in information ahead of time means that they can plan their trips and have a more satisfying stay.

Previously, Urban Butler had used tablets with detailed house manuals, but having the app-like smartphone experience of using Operto Guest “gives the guest what they need in their hands”, Lawry says.


That personal level of communication is key and allows Urban Butler to recommend great nearby places, enabling guests to feel like locals more quickly. This in turn means they’re more likely to treat their STR and neighbors with respect because they feel so at home. 

It’s a virtuous cycle.

How Urban Butler cares for their business today

Ultimately, using Operto has enabled Urban Butler to go from a potentially business-threatening problem, to calming the fears of nervous residents, improving its staff’s lives, and boosting guest satisfaction to boot.

It’s done all this by using Operto to screen guests before they even book, installing smart locks to step up security by changing passcodes and sending guests new ones automatically, and keeping watch on what’s happening in each property via noise monitoring.

Now, Urban Butler is still going from strength to strength, fostering community in some of Auckland’s most prestigious buildings, while still running an incredibly successful business.

Noise monitoring is just one part of that wider system, for better security and total peace of mind for nearby residents, owners, property managers, and ultimately guests too.

As Lawry explains: “It’s about asking: What will help everyone sleep better at night?”

And, with Operto automating everything seamlessly in the background, we can’t help but think he means that entirely literally. Quiet rooms, sweet dreams.

Want to up the security in your operations?

Operto helps you run a completely secure operation with noise monitoring, guest verification, automatically changing door codes and more.