Owners of successful vacation rental properties understand the importance of physical security, cost management, and overall guest satisfaction. Keeping abreast of new technologies and investing in ones that improve the guest experience while securing your rental is important.

When your property is vacant and you elsewhere, these upgrades will help you monitor what is happening around the site and allow you to limit energy consumption from your remote location.

And, while guests are present, you will be providing additional value with enhanced entertainment and security.
Property management is more effective with these additions:

1. Digital Assistant

The presence of digital assistants in homes and rental properties is growing rapidly. These perform many types of tasks or may be asked to provide instant information. Generally, digital assistants can be incorporated with smartphones and smartwatches, tablets, the latest computers, Apple TV and DVRs, appliances, smart speakers, messaging systems, automobiles, and just about any modern device with which humans may interact.

Digital assistant devices can perform calculations, answer questions, obtain instant weather reports, play music, and more. In a vacation rental, you can use your digital assistant to set timers and control settings on thermostats, appliances, and more from any location.

Your digital assistant is typically a voice-activated software that will interact with various types of devices. The program understands voice commands and will activate applications that previously required manual interaction.

For your rental property, a digital assistant will interact with the electronic devices within the home and allow guests to:

  • adjust temperature settings
  • change music
  • activate security systems
  • search for local tourist attractions
  • check the weather
  • get driving directions
  • create a shopping list.

Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa are currently the most popular digital assistants. At least one of these is installed on most smartphones, PCs and Apple computers, Windows 10, Amazon Echo or Fire TV.

Adding a digital assistant to your rental management resources will enhance the guest experience, keep them in touch with what is happening in the area, and tell them how to get where they want to go.

For you, the owner, the capability allows you to access the systems within the home to monitor and manage the security, optimize energy usage, and more.

Property owners can even change entry codes from a remote location before each new renters arrive.

2. Smart Locks for Every Access Door

Smart locks are essential for establishing a high level of security for your rental property. With these, owners and property managers can set and reset numeric codes to limit access only to designated persons for specific times.

Smart locks can:

  • Admit incoming guests 24/7
  • Permit entry by service and cleaning personnel, as scheduled
  • Monitor traveler and service usage
  • Be accessible from anywhere on the globe
  • Integrate with Airbnb or other property management groups
Schlage Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt with Built-In Alarm and Handleset Grip with Accent Lever, Aged Bronze

One significant benefit of Smart Locks is that owners or managers do not have to worry about key exchanges and the potential for lost keys, re-keying, or having to change locks, a frequent problem of the past.

Codes can be changed remotely as needed right after prior guests depart and before new guest arrivals.

Separate codes can be provided to cleaning and service personnel prior to entry to further ensure the security of the incoming guests.

Codes are temporary and, once changed, are no longer effective. Owners or managers can receive emails or text message alerts when new guests arrive and when the service personnel have entered the property.

3. Outdoor Security Cameras with Cloud Recording

Security cameras are everywhere. Installed with ATMs, business districts, around campuses, office buildings, and apartment complexes, these devices are important for monitoring activity around the premises and later for documenting and identifying intruders and wrongdoers.

For any vacation rental property, strategic outdoor camera setups can be important features. Never intended to spy on the activities of law-abiding renters, owners and managers need to monitor exterior activity from a remote location while the property is vacant. Vandalism and theft are real threats to unprotected properties.

Current exterior digital cameras record and store visual and audio data files all day and night and require little maintenance and no tape changes as needed in the past. These cameras operate and can be controlled remotely by WiFi. Owners can change angles and magnification of exterior scenes for more detail.

The presence of exterior digital cameras can also add a greater sense of security to the rental guest experience. You should advise them that the presence of the cameras is for their protection and allow them to stream the video, if they choose, on a dedicated site. They may use the systems to check on their cars and other properties that may be outside.
Also, careful vandals tend to spot the presence of cameras and are likely to move on to another, more vulnerable location.

4. Smart Security Systems with Smart Phone App Notifications

As with your private home, motion sensors and alarms can provide a vital service in notifying you of intruders as they move throughout your property. You or your security provider can immediately contact the police to investigate.

Property motion detectors need only be armed when the home is vacant, so advising guests about how to turn the system on and off is important.

When the rental is vacant, sensors can send alerts directly to your smartphone to warn of movement within the unit. And, you can arm or disarm detectors and alarms from any location at any time.

Vandals notice when lights are left on constantly. Adding exterior motion-activated lights can catch them off guard and possibly alert the neighbors to nearby intruders. Programming individual lights to shut on and off at various intervals also gives the impression that someone is home.

5. Video Doorbell is an essential Component for an AirBNB.

Know exactly who is coming and going at your house. Video doorbells provide an additional level of security, whether you are present or away. This feature can be beneficial for you as well as your guests during their stay. If you are not at home or happen to be anywhere else in the world, you will be able to see who is at the door through a video and audio feed to your smartphone or other compatible electronic devices.

Video doorbells are becoming a must-have feature with most modern homes. Knowing who is outside allows you to avoid unwanted intrusions and communicate without opening the door.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Popular systems are compatible with Google Home, Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or HomePod Digital Assistants. The doorbell function may be controlled by a simple verbal order like “Alexa (or “Google Home”), show me the doorbell.” This command generates a live feed of the exterior doorway area to reveal who is there.

The doorbell chime itself can be created electronically when the button is pushed. You can even change the tone easily depending on your preference or, perhaps, a special event.

Video doorbells provide another layer of security for your rental guests, allowing them the option to not answer the door whenever they might be wary of doing so.

6. Smart Thermostats Save you Money and Provide Comfort

In many instances, energy costs are one of the most significant drains on rental property profitability. Guests need to be comfortable, of course, but once they leave, owners can immediately regain control over the energy usage.

Smart thermostats are accessible from remote devices like smartphones to lower energy demand when not needed and to reset temperatures before the next occupants arrive. This capability will save money while ensuring the temperatures are always set in the ideal range when the home is empty or occupied.

 Nest Learning Smart Home Thermostat for AirBNB

Some smart climate control systems consist of a wireless control panel that automatically manages the temperatures in several rooms. These may be individually set or controlled by a smartphone app that lets you reset temperatures before guests arrive or after they check out.

Being able to remotely set temperatures higher when the ambient temperature rise and lower when it is colder outside can save hundreds of dollars each year for larger rental properties. The amount of savings you may experience with Smart Thermostats will depend on such factors as:

  • your current energy usage
  • cost of energy in your area
  • temperature variations
  • the severity of the seasonal weather
  • climate
  • insulation efficiency
  • your system’s efficiency, age, filter condition, maintenance, and upkeep

Assuming your systems are working properly, you will save money by managing your thermostat settings remotely.

7. Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Rapid response to emergency or fire events in an unoccupied rental property can make the difference between relatively minor damage and complete destruction.

Most importantly, having systems that alert residents when smoke or carbon monoxide may be present can save their lives. These systems also may contact emergency services while simultaneously alerting you to life-threatening circumstances on your property.

Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are linked to WiFi will notify you instantly when the device detects a problem. If the residence is vacant at the time, you have a significant head start to address the issue rather than when a passerby or neighbor eventually notices the problem.

Some smart detectors simply send signals that something is amiss. More sophisticated models may shut down your heating systems, for example, when gas is detected. These can be equipped with voice alarms that can advise occupants whether the issue is gas or smoke detections and to evacuate immediately.

8. Smart Lighting and Smart Light Controls

Tracking the ways energy is wasted when you are elsewhere can improve your property cost management. Smart systems demonstrate where energy waste is pronounced and can provide clues on how to improve. Leaving lights on unnecessarily can be one of the most wasteful categories.

Managing interior and exterior lighting can generate significant savings. When the home is unoccupied, having the ability to shut off lights remotely after visitors leave or program them to turn on only when and where you choose is an important part of cost management for rental properties.

What are some of the components of a smart lighting system?

  • LED lighting for longer life and greater energy efficiency. Old incandescent bulbs burn out relatively frequently and require replacements. If you are offsite, replacing light bulbs becomes an expensive hassle.
  • Lighting Sensors can determine when someone enters or leaves a room and turn them on or off, as indicated.
  • Programmable capability lets owners set times to turn lights on or off throughout the interior and exterior to create the appearance of occupants being present. Ample exterior lighting can be a deterrent for unwanted visitors.

9. Smart TV Can Add an Extra Level of Satisfaction For Your Renters

The latest generation of Smart TVs offers viewers a full range of entertainment options that stream content through your WiFi connection. Integrated into your smart home system, Smart TVs offer voice control that makes operation easier for your guests.

Paying for cable or satellite TV is becoming an unnecessary cost in an Airbnb vacation rental. Given the number of streaming, internet-based entertainment options, people are choosing to bypass cable even in their own homes. Instead, they can use Free TV along with their own subscriptions that give access from anywhere like Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vue, Apple TV, and more. Disney is even introducing a new lineup of streaming TV options with a full slate of their own movie and sports content choices.

In addition, Smart TVs are equipped to support “mirroring” that transfers content streaming from a tablet or smartphone through the larger screen television.

Supplying your guests with the latest Smart TV that accesses their favorite programs through their own accounts is another significant cost savings.

10. Ceiling Speakers, Surround Sound and Whole Home Audio

Add drama and enjoyment to the guest experience with high-quality ceiling speakers. With the abundance of current entertainment options, creating a theater surround-sound experience throughout the home will further delight your guests. Installing high-quality wireless ceiling speakers allows you to transmit pure clear sound to several rooms at once.

When connected to streaming television, ceiling speakers enhance the viewing experience with higher quality sound transmission than the television’s own system can provide. Furthermore, TVs and ceiling speakers can be placed in kitchens or bathrooms, for example, so that no one misses any action while engaged in other activities.

A practical and aesthetic advantage of modern ceiling speakers is that they produce great sound quality without taking up valuable living space. The speakers are installed flush into the ceiling so that they are not noticeable as visitors enter the room.

Installing a Plex Media Server with ceiling speakers allows guests to play music or TV as they choose. The system brings together all media into a single app for enjoyment on any device. With your ceiling speakers, guests can enjoy streaming TV or DVR programs along with any shows, news, podcasts, or

Having your digital assistant play through the ceiling speakers will also enhance the guest experience, allowing them to further enjoy your “smart home” experience.

11. Over the Air Antenna: Free TV in HD

If you are already providing WiFi and Smart TV capability throughout your rental, do you really need to continue paying the monthly cable or satellite television fees for programming? These costs may amount to over $100 per month whether the home is occupied or not.

Your Smart TV offers a Free TV option that works in most places with an over-the-air TV. As in the days of old before cable and satellite, viewers in most areas can watch channels with an HD (high-definition resolution) antenna.

Many consumers are “cutting the cord” by investing in a relatively inexpensive antenna that picks up local stations on ABC, NBC, CBC, FOX, and local PBS as well as a large selection of free stations. In some markets, viewers may be able to enjoy from 50 to 100 free channels. Los Angeles residents can watch around 157 channels for no cost.

As mentioned with your Smart TV, guests can supplement these free channels with the ability to stream their own content through Hulu, Netflix, and others through your televisions.

12. Plex Media Server for Music, TV and Movies

The Plex Media Server allows users to access a collection of movies, TV shows, and music on any device. Besides playing movies and music, the application can also record OTA (over-the-air) TV shows and sports for later viewing.

As the rental property owner, you can download the Plex Media application without cost to a single device that becomes the server for your guests’ devices. When the renters arrive, they can to access your server from their smartphones, computers, and other devices that have the Plex app installed. The server accesses the video content and sends it to the Plex Media Player app on the user’s device.

Even for the rental property owner, Plex Pass will allow you to play all of your media anywhere you happen to be. You will pay the current small sum of $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year that allows you to access all of the favorites like Netflix, Hulu, Fire TV, Roku, PlayStation, or any other system you access.

A Plex Pass allows a host of features like:

  • Free apps
  • Live TV and DVR
  • Mobile sync
  • Multiple users
  • Parent controls
  • Music extras
  • Cloud media sync
  • Trailers and extras
  • Discounts on various electronic accessories

13. Whole-Home Mesh WiFi provides a Superior WiFi Experience

Having installed all of the energy-saving and guest pleasing electronics in your rental property, a robust internet capability to manage the plethora of devices and systems both internally and externally is essential. Depending on the size and layout of your property, a whole-home mesh WiFi system can minimize interruption and excessive buffering.

With many standard WiFi systems, owners often experience dead spots and weak signals. Internet providers may check out your systems and still advise that everything seems to be OK.

These problems arise as a result of obstructions within the home or building. Or, they may occur in particularly large homes where the router will only reach so far. Sometimes interference from other devices and nearby networks can also interfere with your WiFi capability.

Establishing a whole-home mesh WiFi system means setting several nodes that carry the signal throughout the home rather than relying on a single router to reach around corners, up the stairs, or out to the patio or deck.

A modular mesh system is scalable to your home configuration.

Most mesh systems come with a guided setup that walks you through the process of installing what you need and where you need it to allow the systems to work at top performance.

14. House Instructions

Standard instructions about what guests may and may not do in the rental, what they should do when they depart, and information about local attractions should be readily accessible.

In addition, you need to provide passwords and detailed instructions for operating all the smart devices and security systems that you have installed. Not all guests will be as technologically advanced as you, so creating a hard copy as well as an online link to your House Instructions is essential.

It is important that your guests experience all the high-quality features of your home without creating undue frustration. Clear and uncomplicated instructions with Command Lists and passwords, where needed, will allow guests to access and enjoy the benefits of all of these features.

Maintaining the instructions for easy viewing online allows you to amend and improve these from a remote location at any time. Providing a link will make the information easily available.