The Future of Vacation Rental Operations: The Experts’ Take

Vacation rental operations have changed dramatically in the past 10 years.

There have been major shifts in the industry thanks to the increased use of tech, the smartphone, the democratization of travel, the rise of short-term rentals, and the growing focus on sustainability. Meanwhile, contactless trends accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic have led to exciting developments within the sector. 

And it’s only just beginning.

At Operto, we’re at the forefront of key technological breakthroughs in the industry. So we asked top experts for their views on what the future of vacation rental operations will look like, to help you optimize your vacation rental tech, and stay ahead of the curve for maximum success.

Our experts identified five key trends:

  1. Expect a greater focus on guest experience

  2. Vacation rental operations will mirror hotel operations

  3. Property managers will have access to more data insights

  4. Contactless, digital check-in will be the norm

  5. Sustainability will be top of mind

Read on to see why, and learn how to prepare your vacation rental for the future—starting now.

Connect your operations

Make the future happen today by upgrading your rentals with new-age technology.

What will vacation rental operations look like in 10 years?

1. There will be an even greater focus on guest experience

guest arriving at destination


The rise in smartphone use and personalized technology means guests now expect their vacation rental experience to be as stress-free as ordering their groceries online, getting takeout on an app, or streaming Netflix at home. 

As Alexander Rosdorff, Global Technology Partner & Integrations Lead at SALTO, whose smart locks integrate with Operto, tells us: “New guests will expect automation, digitized experience and solutions. 

“These will allow them to control when and how they check-in, check-out, select their apartments and services, keyless access to their vacation rental apartment or personal booking experience directly with properties.

“In 2030 the Internet of Things (IoT) will boost the overall customer journey, giving guests more control over their stay and experience. It will continue to be critical on how business for vacation rental properties for the next decade and beyond.”

Alexander Rosdorff

Global Technology Partner & Integrations Lead at SALTO


Andrew Schulz, CEO of noise monitoring specialist NoiseAware, agrees. He says: “Automation will allow for most supporting functions to be handled easily from a smartphone empowering an increased focus on guest experience.

Of course, guest satisfaction has always been key to vacation rentals, but in the future, this increased use of tech means it will take center stage.

Technology will be at the heart of giving guests a seamless experience and will remove issues such as the waiting around, hassle, unreliability, and stress of the average vacation rental experience.

Matt Welle, CEO of PMS giant Mews, calls this “friction.”

He explains: “When I think of vacation rentals today, my main hesitance in booking a place is caused by the friction I expect to encounter compared to hotels. Friction in the arrival and getting access, friction when something breaks and getting it fixed, friction in using the non-standard equipment.”

But, he adds, increased use of smart technology will mean that this awkwardness, and consequent less-than-excellent guest experiences, will be reduced or eliminated.

“Evolving cloud technology and smart IoT will further boost the vacation rental market,” he says, “as it has the power to remove these points of friction and truly create remarkable guest experiences.”

2. Vacation rental operations will mirror hotel operations

09_A screenshot of the VRScheduler website

VRScheduler works with Operto and helps you to coordinate the entire process (Credit:

The “home from home” nature of vacation rentals has always been seen as a plus when compared to the facelessness and corporate style of identikit hotels. 

But the downside is that this means vacation rentals are sometimes perceived as amateurish, less user-friendly, more hassle, less reliable, and offering a far shabbier experience than that of staying in a great traditional hotel. 

Not anymore.

Andrew Schulz says that in “10 years, vacation rental operations will be a highly sophisticated and mature industry rivaling traditional hotel [set-ups]”.

This is largely due to increased professionalism among hosts and property managers, with a focus on important aspects such as vacation rental cleaning and maintenance.

Cleaning, maintenance, upkeep, and preparation for new guest arrival will no longer be the job of a harassed, non-professional host, trying to get everything done manually. 

Instead, Jill Mason, founder of vacation rental automation software VRScheduler—also an Operto partner—says that “in the future, hardware and software will be more tightly connected.”

She explains: “Cleaners will be set up for maximum efficiency—such as following a standard, consistent vacation rental property management checklist—and will know with 100% accuracy when the guest has left.

“Home smart devices can open windows, set thermostats, and perform other actions before the cleaner even arrives to reduce human error and workload.

“Guest, staff, manager and owner communication and inefficiencies will be resolved using smart devices and AI technology. For example, a damaged item reported with a quick photo upload will be identified and re-ordered. Then, once the item is received, a task will be assigned to maintenance and billed to the owner automatically, transparently, and without fail.”

Jill Mason

VRScheduler Founder

“This automation will allow vacation rental owners and managers to focus more on the guest experience, including upselling products and services to individual guests.

“Technology will allow guests to split costs, share pictures, and continue the enjoyment of their stay long after it has ended.”

3. Property managers will have access to more data insights through smart connectivity

Hotel-level operations also mean that property managers will have increased access to insights that were once impossible. This improved understanding of guest behavior and booking patterns will enable the creation of even better guest experiences. 

Connecting smart home technology for vacation rentals and syncing operations with check-in and check out means that property managers will be able to see who’s staying at their rental, and how they’re using technology inside the space.

This will offer much greater insight into things like energy consumption and noise levels, as well as a precise understanding of check-in and check-out times. 

The more you know, the more you can tailor and improve your business to please guests, increasing satisfaction and repeat customers, saving costs on energy and wasted activities, and boosting overall revenue.

As Andrew Schulz, CEO of vacation rental noise monitoring specialist NoiseAware, explains:

“Small operators of vacation rentals will have access to the same types of data and scalability traditionally only seen by large incumbents.”

Andrew Schulz

CEO of NoiseAware

Noise monitors are just one smart device that will offer greater data information. Smart locks, thermostats, and lights connected to platforms such as Operto, which are in turn connected to PMSs such as Mews, themselves offer insight that would previously have remained opaque.

Schulz continues: “Operators will have greater visibility into who is staying in their properties, so pricing will be dynamic. 

“In addition, these technologies will create opportunities for more flexible and on-demand customer choice and better use of space.”

4. Contactless, digital check-in will be the norm

salto locks

If contactless check-in for vacation rentals was already growing pre-pandemic, its usefulness has never been more apparent thanks to Covid.

Keyless entry for rental properties gives guests the freedom to check-in whenever suits them. This is especially welcome for guests who expect to do everything instantly via their smartphones.

They no longer have to wait around in a communal space, feel stress if their travel plans are delayed, or suffer the anxiety and hassle of an awkward, needless, and perhaps even unsafe interaction upon arrival.

Beyond Covid, the sheer ease of use for guests and managers—who themselves no longer need to arrive at the perfect time, worry about delays, or stress over lost or stolen physical keys, or insecure lockboxes—is undeniable.

Many OTAs and high-end programs, such as Airbnb Plus, now require properties to use contactless check-in using smart locks, such are its advantages.

“Smooth and instant check-in and check-out or the digital key will be a major attraction for the seasoned traveler,” explains Alexander Rosdorff at SALTO explains.

“Replacing door keys with a smart access control solution and all-in-one platform that makes it simple, easy, fast and secure for guests to get access, and for vacation rental operations to increase visibility, increase bookings, increase revenue, increase efficiency and increase safety will define the future of property operations.”

Alexander Rosdorff

Global Technology Partner & Integrations Lead at SALTO


Our research shows that twice as many guests now expect to check in digitally rather than use a traditional front desk, and almost half of the professional hospitality respondents we surveyed said that their guests either expect it or prefer it.

In fact, just under half (43.5%) said that their guests “appreciate” keyless technology even if they don’t yet “expect it,” while more than a third (35.3%) of our respondents said that guests are even coming to “expect” automated and keyless check-in. 

Almost two in five (17.6%) said that smart processes such as digital check-in were already “completely essential” to their operations.

5. Sustainability will be top of mind

05_eco friendly toothbrushes in a sustainable hotel

Guests are also already prioritizing eco-friendly travel, with many choosing to stay at a vacation rental rather than a giant hotel precisely because they’re looking to be greener and more sustainable.

From renewable energy use, non-toxic cleaning, and sustainable toiletries, to local and ethical food sourcing, vacation rentals that thrive will put eco-friendly practices at the heart of their operations. 

According to our survey and recent whitepaper on how going green helps your hotel, a growing percentage of guests are willing to pay significantly more per night—up to 75% more in some cases—to a hotel that can demonstrate genuinely green policies, and we found that more than half of our respondents (52.4%) see eco-friendliness as a great “bonus” to their stay.

This means that the most successful vacation rental businesses will both communicate their practices to their happy guests, and reap the benefits when it comes to cost.

Steve Davis, CEO at Operto, believes that “sustainability in the hospitality industry is now a key priority, for both guests and property managers alike.” He says that the combination of “an unprecedented environmental crisis” and the impact of Covid-19 means we “cannot go back to the old pre-pandemic ‘normal’.” 

“Travelers understand this,” he says, “and are now supporting sustainable businesses with their wallets. I believe we have a collective responsibility to step up and not be passive bystanders in the fight against climate change. Every little action helps.”

He explains that smart devices will play a significant role in this action. 

“In our Operto world, our solutions significantly reduce energy consumption across all accommodation types. The broader industry shift towards smart energy control was turbo-charged by Covid-19, and will continue to gather steam over the next 3-5 years.”

Steve Davis

Operto CEO

“Smart thermostats will continue to play a big role across the entire global hospitality industry for the foreseeable future, and we are fully committed to supporting these devices within our ecosystem.”

And, he explains, “every little action” will now become more and more accessible to all sizes of hospitality operators, big and small, including vacation rentals that will be competing on a hotel-style level. 

This will partly be due to reduced costs, and partly due to innovation among the industry itself: “Despite the upfront capital spend of switching to these smart devices, properties are now able to save as much as 30%-40% per month on their existing energy bills, which easily covers the initial investment in a very short timeframe.

“And as the smart device industry continues to evolve, we will see a proliferation of new, innovative, and increasingly cost-effective eco-friendly solutions. 

“This will bring down the barriers to entry for more and more buyers across a broader spectrum of the accommodation industry. I personally look forward to seeing the adoption of solutions such as solar panels, ground source heat pumps, motion sensors to control lighting, and adjustable heat and AC.“

The Future of Vacation Rental Operations: Sustainable, seamless, super-connected

05_A screenshot of Operto's check in and smart lock platform

From improved guest experiences to simplified back-end operations, smart tech is ensuring that vacation rentals will continue to improve well into the next 10 years. 

Cost savings and eco-friendly shifts will also mean vacation rentals will step up to compete with and outdo hotels like never before.

Smart devices and hyper-connected platforms such as Operto will enable vacation rentals to respond dynamically to shifts and challenges. 

Hosts and property managers will have countless opportunities to easily and consistently improve guest experiences, and reduce stress and hassle among staff too, all by using and connecting new innovative tech.

From booking to check-in to check-out and beyond, It’s clear that the future of vacation rental operations looks as bright as your brand new smart lights.

Connect your operations

Make the future happen today by upgrading your rentals with new-age technology.

Frequently asked questions about vacation rental operations 

Vacation rental operations is a huge topic, so it makes sense if you’re looking for a quick summary of some of the most common questions property managers might ask, and what you need to know to be successful.

What are vacation rental operations?

Vacation rental operations means everything involved in managing your vacation rental property business. 

It can mean everything from attracting the perfect guests to confirming their booking, as well as sending important check-in information. It refers to your customer service too, plus cleaning and regular maintenance after guests check out.

The future of vacation rental operations will revolutionize this entire process, with centralized, smart, and super-connected digital platforms such as Operto enabling hosts to automate, monitor, and coordinate everything easily and remotely.


How have vacation rental operations changed in the past two decades?

The main shift is in technology. 

Vacation rental operations have transformed from paper-based, lengthy, clunky operations to streamlined tech-led systems. These include enabling property managers to set up streamlined workflows, and integrate digital, smartphone-led guest communication tools—such as Operto Connect—with traditional management PMSs.

Guests now expect their vacation rental experience to be as easy as ordering groceries online or streaming Netflix, and smart devices make this a reality. Not to mention, smart systems offer managers greater insight too, saving costs, boosting revenue, and driving up guest satisfaction.


What do I need to know about the future of vacation rental operations?

Smart technology will continue to revolutionize operations. There will be an even greater focus on guest experience and contactless, digital check-in will be the norm as vacation rentals begin to mirror (and even exceed) hotel operation standards. 

Vacation rentals that do best will also focus and shift towards sustainable, eco-friendly practices. 

Property managers will use their super-connected smart devices to discover greater data insights that will allow them to save money, boost revenue, and continually change guest experiences for the better.