According to Hostfully’s 2019 report, 70% of vacation rental companies in the U.S. are small, each managing between 1-19 of the 2.25 million short-let rental housing units that are professionally managed in the U.S. That is 16,000 vacation rental managers who–either because they are just starting out or have chosen to run a boutique business–are rolling up their sleeves and helping individuals, friends, and families build lifelong memories by delivering first-rate vacation experiences.
These businesses are, for the most part, doing a brilliant job balancing the needs of guests, staff, and owners, as well as running what is often a complex business. But what many property managers with ‘under 25 doors’ may not realize, is that they too can use many of the property automation and other tech tools that larger property management businesses with inventory in the hundreds and thousands are benefiting from.
The benefits of smart property automation for ‘Under 25 doors’
As any vacation rental business owner knows, to be successful, a business must be both a property manager (focusing on how to efficiently get ‘heads in beds’) and an asset manager (focusing on protecting the owner’s asset and maximizing its value).
Even with a smaller inventory size, using smart property tools such as smart locks, temporary key codes, energy, and HVAC monitoring can help you address all facets of vacation rental management, which in turn provides a better guest experience, happier owners, and greater profit.
Here are some of the key benefits that property automation technology has to offer the smaller vacation rental property manager:
1. Improved efficiency
According to a recent report by KPMG, 65% of the time a real estate company hires a tech company, it does so to help improve speed and operational efficiencies. To borrow from Matt Landau at VRMB, when technology augments some of your workload, it frees you up to focus on the tasks that really delight guests and please owners, making your vacation rental business ‘limited edition.’ This improved efficiency is effective if you have 10, 100, or 10,000 properties.
2. Informed decision making
Property automation tools and ‘smart technology’ will give you information about an individual property in ‘real time’ so that you can make better and more informed decisions. Even with ‘25 doors and under,’ this is very useful information and, used well, will have a positive impact on your business.
Whether an HVAC notification that helps you service a failing HVAC unit between guest stays, a connected wall switch that allows you to reset a troubled internet router, or a temperature sensor in the refrigerator that lets you reassure your owners—automation helps you identify what needs fixing, monitoring, or changing. For example, by quickly identifying when an HVAC isn’t working properly, you can address the situation before it impinges on your guests' stay and their enjoyment.
3. Enhancing ‘guest delight’
34% of U.S. broadband households own at least one smart home device and 47% of the time, the first smart home device purchased is a smart lock. Guests are increasingly familiar and comfortable with this technology, and not having it will become a negative factor. In addition, technology like smart locks and connected thermostats help guests skip check-in lines and start their vacation sooner in a home that is at a comfortable temperature when they arrive.
Today, guests are increasingly looking for ‘frictionless’ stays and ultra-convenience. Having the ability to let themselves into a property when they arrive, regardless of the time of day or night, and with a secure temporary key code is a definite bonus.
4. Happy owners = a better business
An owner is an owner, regardless of the size of the property manager’s inventory. All owners want to ensure their assets are both being looked after and earning them as much income as possible. Properties that are more secure, less costly, and more convenient with keyless access, energy management, and water monitoring are working hard for their owners.
Connected thermostat and pool/spa heat controllers can save owners significant sums of money, while water sensors and smart thermostats help make sure assets aren’t abused and that the vacation rental manager is immediately notified about any emergencies. This not only saves the owner money, but also ensures problems are reduced.
5. Increasing the bottom line and maximizing value
A 2019 WSJ article showed that the savings and convenience that a smart home drives can increase a home's value by over 22%. Using smart thermostats saves energy and therefore reduces energy costs. As a manager, you can automatically set upper and lower limits on the thermostat, as well as reduce it when the property is unoccupied (you will know when your guests are out because of the information from the smart lock).
Switching to smart locks and using unique codes instead of keys also saves you money. Not only in the inconvenience and cost of replacing lost keys—but also so that you can better manage your team’s time by giving temporary access (remotely) to housekeeping, maintenance, and other suppliers. These savings can be just as significant to a manager taking care of a smaller number of properties as it is with one that has hundreds of ‘doors.’
6. Tech: the great equalizer
PointCentral is proud of the property automation tools that we have built over the past 10 years to help vacation rental managers be the best property managers and asset managers they can be. Up until now, we have focused this tool towards medium and large property managers because we simply did not have the bandwidth to properly support the 16,000 small vacation rental managers.
However, with the launch of our ecommerce platform with our certified partner Helm, we are excited to now be able to offer the best-in-class property automation platform, including our award-winning support and add-on options like monitored life safety that protects against burglary, smoke and CO dangers, to all vacation rental managers, no matter what their scale.
With smart property tech and automation tools, all managers can deliver real value to property owners and guests and improve the way they operate and grow their businesses.
About Sean Miller
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com. PointCentral provides short and long-term property managers with an enterprise-class property automation solution that monitors and controls Smart Home technology across all properties in their inventory over a best-in-class secure and reliable cellular network – increasing property awareness, reducing operational costs and improving guest and resident satisfaction.