Home Automation and Vacation Rentals – What you need to know

Anyone managing a vacation rental knows it’s a lot of work. Keeping the property booked, managing arrivals, talking to guests, cleaning, maintenance, crisis management — the to do list seemingly never ends. With so much on one’s plate, it’s easy for small details to fall through the cracks, and finding some free time to think about expanding profits can be difficult.

Luckily, we are living in a world where there is technology at every turn that can help take some of the work and stress of your hands, and of course, help increase your revenue and decrease your expenses.

Everyone knows of the platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway that will help you manage bookings and guests, but there is also technology out there that will help you manage your property itself. It’s often referred to as home automation technology.

Home automation technology is part of the Internet of Things, or IoT, a way to describe physical objects with software, sensors, and network connectivity (like WiFi, RFID, NFC, or Bluetooth), allowing them to “talk” to other objects, usually a mobile app.

The Internet of Things has been steadily gaining popularity in the past few years, and in just a short while, will be everywhere. Think T​he Jetsons.​Soon, your home will be able to communicate with you, and you’ll be able to tell it what to do. The possibilities are endless, and while we’ve a way to go to get to ​The Jetsons​level, we’re at a point where this type of technology can already be helpful.

Here are a few ways home automation technology can help you manage your responsibilities as a property owner or manager.

Remote Thermostats

“Smart” thermostats are the most common piece of IoT tech and are growing in popularity. It’s straightforward: you have a thermostat that’s connected to the internet and you can control it from your smartphone. When renting out property, this can end up saving you a lot of money. Has a guest ever checked out and left the A/C or heat on by accident? They probably have, and if you weren’t in the area, it may have been a few days before you could turn it off, an expensive delay.

With a smart thermostat, you can easily check to see if the A/C or heat was left on — or, in the summer, turn on the A/C a couple of hours before a guest is supposed to show up so they don’t walk into a sauna. You can even set up automated triggers via a service like I​FTTT,​to say, turn the A/C off if the weather report calls for rain. Depending on your technical know­how, you can get really geeky and set up custom triggers, even based on guest schedules. But even if you know next to nothing about technology, the basics smart thermostats are easy to understand.

Keyless Entry

Everyone knows that key handoffs are a pain for both you and your guests. If only we lived in a world where it could be magically handled for you — wait, we do! Keyless entry is becoming more and more common and there are a bunch of products out there, waiting to work their magic.

Each product works slightly differently, but take Parakeet’s for example: from your smartphone, you create a code for your guest to use during their stay. They use the code to go in and out of the house, and when their stay is over, the code becomes inactive. It’s that simple. No handoff, no hiding keys, no getting locked out, no worrying about a less­than­honest guest making copies for later.

Parakeet also has new garage door technology built on the same premise, but instead of a code (which would require a guest to get out of the car every time), they simply shoot off a text, and the garage door opens. Minimal effort required, and everyone is happy.

Avoid Disasters

While it’s common to manage vacation rentals from afar, it’s always a bit stressful. There are so many things that can go wrong, and if you’re not around to fix them, things can get expensive, quickly. That’s where flood and freeze sensors can come in handy. By placing sensors around the house, you’ll get alerted instantly if temperatures drop below a safe level, or flood water is detected. Once alerted, you can take action to fix the problem before it even begins. Instead of finding out about a flood days later (the horror!), you’ll know before it’s even a problem.

Connected smoke and carbon dioxide detectors are also increasingly common. In addition to avoiding the horrifying experience of trying to turn off a smoke detector while it’s blaring in your ear, you can easily check on battery levels, and make sure all is safe. No more throwing a smoke detector at a wall in an attempt to silence it — just tap your phone and it’s done.

Control Appliances

No more, “Oh no! I left the fridge door open!” The amount of household electronics that can connect to the outside world these days are staggering. Kitchen appliances, lights, and indeed, pretty much everything that plugs into a wall (or uses a battery) can be connected to and controlled by your smartphone. Set up triggers to automatically control them, or just use the opportunity to check in on your property once in awhile.

The home automation industry is just in its beginning stages and there is already so much technology out there that will help you save money, save time, and reduce stress, not to mention take work off your hands. If you’re renting out dozens of properties or even just a room in your apartment, these products will make your life easier, and let you focus on what matters: growing your business.