It’s the ultimate vacation rental nightmare story: guests who check-in to your pristine property and hold an unauthorized, destructive party. This can cause major noise issues, costly property damage, and municipalities can even shut down recurring offenders for good.

But short of camping outside your vacation rental, how can your property management company prevent parties?

The answer is vacation rental noise monitoring. 

Installing privacy-safe noise monitoring devices allows you to keep track of heightened noise levels in your vacation rentals without compromising guest privacy or requiring someone to be on-site (and without breaking any privacy laws). 

But if you’ve never used them before, they can sound a little foreboding. 


That’s why this post will:

✔ Explain why noise monitoring is a must-have for your vacation rental.

✔ Get you up to date on exactly what a noise monitoring device is (and isn’t) and how to use it.

✔ Recommend our favorite noise monitoring solutions and how to make them work for you and your rentals.

✔ Answer your most-asked questions about noise monitoring and preventing destructive parties, including whether noise monitoring is legal (it is) and how to use it without infringing on your guests’ privacy.

Save this post so you can come back to it as you set up your vacation rental for optimum noise monitoring and put an end to the worry (and potential cost of damage) of unauthorized parties for good.


Connect your operations

Make preventing parties easy. Integrate your noise monitor with your PMS and gain total control of noise levels with Operto.


Why should you monitor noise levels in your vacation rentals?

Preventing parties is high on the priority list for vacation rental property managers and hosts, and elevated noise levels are a key indicator that a party is taking place.

Not only is a noisy party a nuisance for neighbors, and a possible breach of your property’s rules, but unauthorized parties can cause costly damage—and can even threaten your business entirely if the authorities decide to shut you down as a result.

And this isn’t just a tabloid horror story. 

Michael Goldin, Director of Business Development at noise monitoring company NoiseAware, has admitted that Covid has made things worse, saying: “Before Covid, house parties were about one in every 200 reservations, and noise levels exceeding acceptable ranges were one in every 20.

“But since the pandemic happened, there’s been almost a 47% increase in noise events across North America, and in July [2020] there was 270% increase in noise events compared to April. 

“Social activity has now been moved into rentals. I wish I could say that the headlines were just ‘against short-term rentals’, but since Covid started [the reports] have been especially true.”

And it’s not just about guests breaking your “house rules”—they might also be breaking actual laws, too. As STRs become more popular, local authorities have faced pressure to introduce more noise regulation for vacation spaces, including in tourist hotspots such as Palm Springs and Las Vegas

Beyond the US, the state of New South Wales in Australia notably introduced new noise laws in December 2020, which require all hosts and guests to agree to a code of conduct, including no parties or noise that affects the neighbors. 

Breaches of the rule are punished by on-the-spot fines of AUD $550 (about USD $411), and a “two-strikes and you’re out” policy means repeated breaches could result in a five-year total ban from hosting. Disaster.

Long story short, monitoring noise levels has now become a crucial part of responsible management. Just as you would monitor access and security via smart locks and keyless entry for your vacation rentals, or ensure professional levels of vacation rental cleaning and maintenance, dedicated hosts now need to monitor noise levels too. 

And monitoring noise isn’t just about keeping an eye on your guests or not trusting them: it also offers you another avenue of communication between you and your rental. In addition, it gives both you and your guests peace of mind in the event of a security threat or emergency.


01_A happy woman sits on a sofa reading the paper, looking out the window

Give your guests the peace of mind of a calm, quiet space

What is a noise monitoring device?

A noise monitor is a smart indoor sensor that detects if noise volume rises above acceptable levels in your vacation rental property for a set period of time, especially during set quiet hours. It’s connected to the internet and to your hospitality PMS and digital automation platforms such as Operto. 

It allows you to monitor elevated noise incidents and sends you and your guests a polite, automated alert if noise levels are breached.

In the same way, as a smoke detector alerts you to smoke, noise monitoring devices are a more sensitive way to monitor activity and noise inside your property.

 

Are vacation rental noise monitoring devices privacy-safe?

Yes. The term “noise monitoring device” may suggest that the device is “listening in” on your guests the entire time, but this is false. 

Noise sensors don’t have microphones, listen in to conversations, or record sounds or imagery. They don’t give the operator any means of listening into or recording noise in the rental, and only monitor decibel changes over a sustained period of time in the designated space.

The only output given is a raw decibel reading, which is filtered through an algorithm to make it “readable”. There is no threat to privacy laws.

In fact, installing visible noise sensors in your property is arguably more transparent and less invasive than installing security cameras around your home, hiring someone to keep watch, or driving by your own property to “spy” on guests.


NoiseAware

To get the most out of vacation rental noise monitoring, you need to find a great smart noise sensor device connected to your PMS and digital automation platform. 

We’ve picked some of our favorites below, including NoiseAware, a sophisticated device that partners perfectly with the Operto platform. Here’s how to know if it’s right for your business.


02_A screenshot of the NoiseAware homepage, reading Rest Easy

NoiseAware partners perfectly with Operto Credit: Noiseaware.com


What is NoiseAware?

NoiseAware is a respected noise monitoring device that is designed specifically for vacation rentals. It comes as a discreet, white rounded square device that attaches to the wall and is the only option that offers an outdoor sensor.

Not only is it an Operto partner, OTAs such as Airbnb and VRBO also recommend it as a trusted way to prevent parties, improve security, and keep on good terms with your neighbors and local authority. It has already been used to protect more than 700,000 reservations with positive results.

NoiseAware’s sensitive algorithm, known as the Noise Risk Score, can distinguish between loud party noise and other single events, such as a door accidentally slamming (or even a particularly loud laugh), as it only alerts you if sound levels are elevated at the property for more than five consecutive minutes.

It can be set up to send polite messages to guests through the Operto platform, deal with the issue without causing conflict or awkwardness, and keep you on good terms...while also sorting the problem.

The creators of NoiseAware personally know the risks of having unauthorized, illegal parties on your property. One of the co-founders has frankly explained how the company came about after a guest staying for a supposed “quiet weekend” in his STR ended up hosting a “mini Coachella rager” in the space.

The story made headlines, with the owner angering a lot of neighbors, receiving a cease and desist letter, and ultimately being forced to sell his property, losing more than $30,000 in the process.

From this nightmare came NoiseAware—a sensor designed to help ensure no more vacation rental hosts ever suffer the consequences of “surprise” house parties.

Using Operto, you can connect NoiseAware to any of our integrated PMS partners  (14 and growing). This means that it integrates seamlessly with your digital automation system and your connected PMS. As a result, it ensures a tech-forward approach to operations management that’s accessible to everyone, using existing internet infrastructure and easy-to-install smart devices.


03_A screenshot of the Operto website saying Noise Monitoring

NoiseAware is now an Operto partner Credit: Operto.com/noise-monitoring



Minut

04_A screenshot of the Minut website

Minut is a monitoring device option Credit: Minut.com


Minut’s monitor is a small, circular device that attaches to the wall, and can monitor not only noise, but also temperature, motion, and humidity. 

Minut works plugged in via cord, or wireless with 12 months battery, it’s up to the property manager. It sends you email and mobile alerts when noise levels are exceeded. Minut integrates with a handful of PMSs, namely Guesty, Smoobu and Bookingsync, making it suitable for hosts, owners and property managers. 


Roomonitor

05_A screenshot of the Roomonitor website for Property managers

Roomonitor allows you to track all your properties on a dashboard Credit: Roomonitor.com/property-manager/


Roomonitor is a team based in Barcelona, Spain, with a limited presence elsewhere. Its sensor is a compact square device that attaches to the wall, focused on noise monitoring specifically.

With packages for vacation rental managers, its software offers a specially designed dashboard so you can see all of your properties at once. It only sends you alerts when there is a problem, and not only shows an issue on your dashboard but also sends you an SMS and calls you to ensure you (or your team) get the message. It’s also an Airbnb partner. 

Some possible downsides to Roomonitor include that the sensor can be easily unplugged and has a limit of 100m2 per sensor. They also don’t offer the option of an outdoor sensor.


Netatmo

06_A screenshot of the Netatmo website

Netatmo’s noise sensor was originally developed as an air quality monitor Credit: Netatmo.com/en-gb

Netatmo is a French company specializing in smart devices. Its noise sensor is a cylindrical device that was first created as an air quality monitor. After partnering with Operto, it was repurposed as a highly sensitive and effective noise sensor. 

This means it also measures CO2, so it can also keep track of rough occupancy levels in the property (as people breathe out CO2) alongside noise monitoring. This helps you to check if the elevated noise level seems to coincide with increased occupancy.

However, Netatmo wasn't built specifically for hospitality and is more of a residential option. And, despite its sleek appearance, the sensor is not wall-mounted, and so it can be unplugged more easily.

Vacation rental noise monitoring: Total peace of mind

Overall, noise monitoring is now just another must-have element when it comes to running your vacation rental responsibly and proactively.

With technology now able to keep track of noise without any privacy concerns, and the risk of destructive parties and unauthorized gatherings having risen stratospherically due to Covid, installing a noise monitoring device (just as you would a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide monitor) makes perfect sense when it comes to ensuring guest and property owner safety, security, and financial peace of mind at your vacation rentals.



Frequently asked questions about noise monitoring for vacation rentals

How can you prevent parties at your vacation rentals?

Monitor noise. Sustained excessive noise levels are a key indicator of a party taking place. Installing a noise monitoring sensor designed for hospitality, such as NoiseAware, which is connected to your PMS and digital platforms such as Operto, allow you to monitor and maintain appropriate noise levels without infringing on guest privacy or requiring anyone to be on-site.

What are the best noise monitoring devices for vacation rentals?

There are several recommended options, such as NoiseAware, Minut, Roomonitor, and Netatmo, and they each have a range of characteristics that could be right (or not) for your rental business. 

NoiseAware is particularly recommended for vacation rentals, as it is specially designed for that exact purpose. It has also established partnerships with OTAs such as Airbnb and VRBO, and dedicated hospitality digital automation systems such as Operto.

How much do noise monitoring devices cost?

It depends on how you want to buy or use them, and the number of properties you have. You can sign up for a monthly deal with a company such as Operto (whose NoiseAware package costs USD $15/month), or you can buy the devices outright, with discounts available through OTAs such as VRBO and Airbnb. 

The cost of purchasing the sensors, and connecting them, vary considerably depending on the device, connected platform, and how many properties you operate.

What’s clear is that investing in even the highest-spec, fanciest noise monitoring system is nothing compared to the potential cost of a destructive party, or having to close and sell your property completely.


Connect your operations

Make preventing parties easy. Integrate your noise monitor with your PMS and gain total control of noise levels with Operto.