Vacation Rental Safety: 10 Tech-first Ways to Protect Owners and Guests

Now more than ever, travelers are making choices based on safety, leaving short-term rental property owners trying to enforce new certified cleaning and disinfection protocols. Then there are other safety concerns which need to be considered, including: noise, unauthorized access, theft, and injury due to a lack of safety devices or poorly maintained facilities.

If you’ve ever had a 2am call from an irate neighbour complaining about a party in full swing at your rental property, or had one of your units broken into and damaged by thieves, then you’ve already learned the hard way how important it is to try to mitigate these concerns as much as possible.

Amazingly, safety is still an optional extra for some owners who prioritize spending on decor and amenities to attract guests. It’s easy to see why those on a budget are tempted to cut corners, but short-term thinking can do long-term damage to your property and reputation.

As well as noise and unauthorized access, subpar security puts guests at risk of injury or death, which means complaints, liability claims, or even jail time. Often, risks aren’t flagged up until there’s an inspection or, worse, someone gets hurt.   

Safety first isn’t just common sense: it’s good business sense.

Fortunately, a range of competitively-priced digital solutions allows smaller operators to offset investments in safety and security by automating and streamlining processes and staffing.

Connect your operations

Operto lets you take a tech-forward approach to safety and ensure peace of mind for both guests and owners.

Why should property managers focus on vacation rental safety?

Property managers should focus on vacation rental safety because it keeps guests safe and protects owners and their properties.  

Vacation rentals now compete directly with hotels so renters expect similar features and standards, especially after Covid-19. 

Short-term rental companies that take safety seriously can reap benefits in trust, good reviews, and bookings.

How can technology help protect your owners’ properties and ensure a safe stay for guests?

You can’t be everywhere at once, so technology protects owners and guests by being your eyes and ears, without violating anyone’s privacy. Smart connected devices and sensors provide real-time information and alerts so you can act quickly to solve problems and prevent accidents. 

Digital solutions, like keyless entry for rental properties, reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by eliminating face-to-face contact and allowing you to run a leaner operation. And automation takes the legwork out of scheduling tasks, coordinating teams, and tracking performance. 

The more joined-up your operations, the better the insights you get and the easier everything is to run. Platforms like Operto ConnectTM integrate with your PMS and smart devices so everything is accessible in one place.  

10 ways to ensure vacation rental safety for guests and owners

Safety issues include property damage and injuries from accidents, fire, leaks, disease, and hardware or systems failures. Also, people-related risks like theft, unauthorized access, and illegal or antisocial activity. 

Read on for our rundown of 10 tech solutions to these common issues:

1. Smart locks and keyless check-in

Staffed check-in desks are expensive to run and can be frustrating for guests. Nobody enjoys waiting in line to get their keys after a long trip. 

One solution is external lockboxes, but using the same code for every guest is a huge security liability. Fumbling with boxes and keys on the street also leaves guests vulnerable to thieves. And copied, lost, or stolen keys and keycards mean expense and headaches. 

Contactless check-in for vacation rentals offers a secure alternative via smart locks and unique guest access codes, so you know exactly who’s checking in and when. And there’s zero chance of anyone copying the keys and coming back to help themselves to the next person’s valuables.  

You can also configure access codes and permissions for individual rooms and team members, and get activity logs. 

Many locks fit over existing deadbolts, minimizing cost and disruption. Some also connect to heating, lighting, customer service, automated communications, and digital resources like guidebooks. 

Operto integrates with all major US and European smart lock brands, including Yale and SALTO, among others. Check out our post on Airbnb smart locks for advice on choosing the right hardware for your vacation rental.

Operto website screenshot showing a smart lock and Operto Connect portal on a phone


2. Install noise and occupancy monitoring devices

Noisy parties, rowdy families, and unauthorized guests are a major headache for property managers and can really hurt ratings. 

Fortunately, solutions like NoiseAware enable vacation rental noise monitoring with alerts if noise rises above a certain level. 

Operto also offers real-time occupancy monitoring via C02 analysis and smart lock data. So if the entire football team piggybacks on a two-person booking, you’ll know immediately and can prevent damage to your property and reputation before other guests or neighbors complain.  

3. Invest in guest ID verification

Even better, prevent undesirable guests altogether by vetting them during booking. 

Manual screening is time-consuming and inefficient, so solutions like Autohost enable ID verification and risk assessment based on Know Your Customer principles. Algorithms analyze booking information and dynamically adjust verification procedures according to risk level. 

Flagging up risky guests during booking helps prevent parties, unauthorized access, or illegal activity and means you can list fewer restrictions on marketplace platforms and OTAs. It also establishes you as serious and trustworthy and yields valuable information to tailor a guest’s stay.   

4. Install security cameras 

Keep guests safe—and protect your property—by installing security cameras around entrances. Cutting-edge digital solutions include smart doorbells from brands like Arlo, Ring, and Google, many of which are compatible with assistants like Alexa or Google. 

These typically feature live video and two-way audio, so you can engage with visitors even when you’re not in. Other features include real-time alerts, cloud storage, digital zoom, and facial recognition.


5. Install security lighting 

Falls are the primary cause of preventable, non-fatal injuries in the US so keep stairs, entrances, outdoor areas, and passageways well-lit. As well as keeping guests safe, good interior and exterior lighting deters thieves and boosts a vacation home’s visual appeal. 

Many smart lighting systems now integrate with cameras and assistants and include features like: 

  • Motion sensors 

  • Solar-power

  • Wireless

  • App-enabled

  • Voice-controlled

  • Remote settings adjustments

  • Real-time alerts

6. Install safety devices

Preventing injury and damages from leaks and fire is a priority. Incredibly, however,  a US study of over 120,000 Airbnb vacation rentals found only 80% had smoke detectors, 57.5% had carbon monoxide detectors, 42% fire extinguishers, and only 36% a first-aid kit. 

Smoke alarms are the single most important safety device you need. Install one in each bedroom and at least one on each floor, mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall. 

Models like Google Nest Protect connect to your smartphone for real-time remote alerts. They also provide color-coded warnings and voice instructions, which can make all the difference to panicked guests in an emergency. They even tell you when the batteries need changing. 

CO sensors are also essential and can be bought separately or integrated into smoke detectors.

Install fire extinguishers on every floor and in high-risk areas like the kitchen, barbeque area, or near fireplaces. Smart models like en-Gauge automate regular checks by alerting you when the pressure drops below a certain level. It also triggers your building’s alarm when activated.


7. Schedule regular maintenance and safety inspections

Keeping facilities and devices in tip-top shape is crucial. The last thing you want is a guest being injured by faulty equipment. Or a leak causing major damage to your property.  

Test everything regularly and change batteries according to manufacturer’s instructions (at least once a year). Use tech like VRScheduler to automate a regular inspection schedule for pools and hot tubs; fireplaces, barbecues, and grills; electrical items and wiring; HVAC systems and plumbing. 

Install smart water, temperature, and humidity sensors for real-time alerts about dripping faucets and HVAC failures so you can prevent freezing pipes and water damage.  

Vacation Rental Cleaning VRScheduler Screenshot

8. Enact rigorous cleaning protocols

Vacation rental cleaning is now more important than ever. Ensuring rooms and shared areas are properly cleaned and disinfected reassures guests and shows short-term rentals can compete with hotels. 

Train staff in cleaning certification programs like this one based on guidelines from the WHO, CDC, and FDA. Display your certification prominently on your website and premises. 

Use platforms like Operto’s Housekeeping Portal to automate and schedule housekeeping, share protocols and checklists with staff, and track compliance.


9. Have a first aid kit and an emergency contact list

Emergency Safety information can literally be a lifesaver so display it prominently with emergency contacts and instructions, including safe use of facilities. 

Since not all incidents happen near the safety card, or even on the property, share this information via Operto’s Guest Portal, too, so that guests have it on their phone at all times. 

A well-stocked first-aid kit in a prominent place is another must. Automate regular checks and restock as necessary after each stay, and set up alerts for expiration dates. 

10. Get specialized vacation rental insurance

Standard home insurance may not cover damages, thefts, and cancellations for short-term rentals, so you need insurance and liability coverage for properties, guests, and owners. Platforms like Airbnb offer their own but you need to check carefully what’s included.  

Let insurance providers know your place is tech-enabled as many offer discounts for smart devices that reduce the risk of claims, so investing in safety should pay for itself over time. Some insurers even partner with tech providers to offer discounts on hardware or installation.  


Conclusion: How to ensure safety in your vacation rental

Covid-19 means travelers are making choices based on safety. Short-term rentals need to show they can compete with hotels by training staff in certified cleaning and disinfection protocols. Other safety concerns include noise, unauthorized access, theft, and injury due to a lack of safety devices or poorly maintained facilities.

Smart connected devices and systems offer a cost-effective solution through guest ID verification, unique access codes, and real-time monitoring of occupancy, noise, fire, CO2, and leaks. Security lighting and cameras also help prevent accidents and deter thieves. 

Automate and streamline operations, inspections, communication, and staffing by integrating your tech stack, teams, and operations in one platform. Take out specialized vacation rental insurance and look for discounts for tech-enabled properties. Don’t forget to advertise your efforts to boost your bookings.  

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

Frequently asked questions about vacation rental safety 

How can I protect guests staying at my vacation rental?

You can protect guests staying at your vacation rental by using contactless check-in and smart devices to monitor noise and occupancy. Install security lighting, cameras, and safety devices like smoke and CO2 detectors. Provide emergency contact information and a first-aid kit.

How can I protect my owners’ properties?

You can protect your owner’s properties by using guest ID verification and smart devices to monitor noise, unauthorized access, occupancy, fire, and leaks. Get specialized vacation rental insurance and schedule regular inspections and maintenance.

What safety devices should my rental have?

Your rental should have safety devices like fire extinguishers, smoke and CO2 detectors, and security cameras and lighting. You can also install smart devices to monitor access, occupancy, noise, water, temperature, and humidity.

Connect your operations

Operto lets you take a tech-forward approach to safety and ensure peace of mind for both guests and owners.