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Being a “smart” host – the devices you need in your vacation home

By August 13, 2020No Comments

 

With millions of short term rentals available through Airbnb, Vrbo and other booking sites, it’s a challenge to make your listing stand out, and to avoid getting overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of managing your space. After all, this is supposed to be easy, right? Well, it can be. You just need to bring your home into the modern era with technology that will make your rental management effortless.

The best way to do this would be to integrate smart devices into your home, to offer remote access and automation. This way, you can be sure that your home is secure, your guests are comfortable, and that you have complete oversight of your property and bottom line of your running costs. You’ll never have to worry about that late night phone call when they can’t find the key, or that the wifi isn’t working, or that it’s too hot or cold, and these will drastically reduce the times you’ll need to come down to the rental to turn something on and off.

By becoming a smart host, you’ll be able to manage nearly everything from the comfort of your own home, and allow your rental property or vacation home to work for you efficiently.

 

Smart Locks

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Remote access is the holy grail of short term rentals. There are too many stories (including our own), that outline issues with missing keys, jammed lock boxes, incorrect codes and the key being impossible to retrieve or find. A smart lock mitigates all that. There are several, highly-rated smart locks to choose from on the market, and they all serve the same purpose; controlling access to your rental property. For example, with the Enso Connect platform your guests can easily unlock the door from their phone, as well as offering access to you, your agent, or your housekeeper to do the same thing. It also gives your guests limited access, so that once they leave after their vacation, they’ll no longer have access, and you don’t need to come on site to implement any changes.

It’s best to look for a smart lock that offers multiple choices to guests. For example, August Smart Locks, as well as many other popular locks have 3 modes of access; via an app, a keypad, or with a physical key. As guests will have varying comfort levels with using smart technology or their phones, it’s best to offer a choice. And, even though the key option sounds counterintuitive, it’s best to have a backup plan in case you’re not up to date with changing your smart lock’s batteries or if there’s a technological failure. Having a backup plan ensures that access to your property will not be compromised.

 

Noise Monitoring

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A relatively new smart piece of tech, noise monitoring is a way to protect your space and preserve the relationships with neighbours, while also maintaining the privacy of your guests. This device can monitor changes in the noise levels of your home and alert you if things get out of hand. For example at Enso Connect, we’ve partnered with Minut and Noiseaware, and if there is a high level of noise, the alarm sends out a notification to our system or the host directly, and allows us to push an instant message directly to the guest on behalf of the host to ask for them to be more quiet. Or the host/property owner can handle it themselves.

This works well to ensure no rowdy parties take place when they shouldn’t, as well as monitoring for noise during a time when the space should be vacant.

 

Temperature Control

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Gone are the days of a thermostat having a dial, or a knob, or a wildly imprecise slider. Today, thermostats are smarter, easier to use and can be managed remotely. You can choose between Nest, Ecobee or Honeywell (just as examples of the top rated devices); each with their own benefits. All can be managed by a host from their smartphone or computer.

This mitigates several of the most common problems that hosts and guests find with the temperature. Right up there with shower controls, thermostats are the bane of a guest’s existence. Some are too complex or old for a guest to use intuitively. Then they end up reaching out to the host, or continuously playing with it to get the right temperature, and inadvertently changing a setting, shutting it off completely, or not even bothering with it and leaving a poor review because they were too hot or too cold. Even worse, if the fussing and fidgeting of a thermostat persists, destruction or damage to the thermostat may occur. Most smart thermostats are pretty easy to understand and easily adjustable.

Smart heating is also a great way to save money and reduce the potential for temperature related damages in-between bookings, as you can turn the heating up or down so you’re not heating an empty property, but also not letting things freeze in the deepest parts of winter.

This doesn’t mean you should change the temperature constantly to meet your bottom line. As a host, it’s not advisable to adjust the temperature without informing your guests, just because you think they’re running things too hot or too cold. What you can do, however, is program it to within a range that they can adjust it to, and set it so that it defaults to your regular program at set times.

Finally, you’d be best served to ensure that your thermostat is hard wired, and not running on batteries, and you should disable any smart features such as Nest’s learning algorithms to program the schedule, as guests will have unpredictable usage patterns. As well, no need to have geofencing set up. It’s good for your own personal home, but it would mean that your heating would shut off as it’s detecting that your mobile phone isn’t at home.

 

Home entertainment

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Understandably, your guests aren’t there to binge watch Netflix, but having the right set up can do wonders for your listing and ratings. Most guests will bring their personal computers for entertainment, but if you’ve got a big screen tv or a bluetooth speaker system, you have to make sure that guests can easily access it. Whether you’ve got an Apple TV, Chromecast, or a smart tv, it’s best to have a guide on how to connect to your devices. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a whole set of toys to play with, and no idea how to use them. Most of these can be managed remotely, and offer value to both you and your guests.

The same goes for your Wifi and wireless routers. You want to set up a guest wifi that’s easy to connect, and have all of those details readily available. As for your router, one that offers remote management will be incredibly useful. This way, you can access the router from anywhere in the world and troubleshoot and reboot if needed. You could even add in a mesh system to improve wireless performance throughout the property, to reduce dead spots. There’s nothing more frustrating than wifi issues for a guest, and access issues for a host.

 

Smart Speakers

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Smart speakers have grown in massive popularity over the past years, and many of them, including Amazon Echo, offer blueprints and ways to program your own skills, so that they could answer some common questions from guests such as the wifi password, or checkout procedures. For those that aren’t familiar with smart speakers, you can leave out some instructions on how to activate it and ask for information.

You can also integrate these with your entertainment devices, smart plugs and smart lights, to automate more processes for your guests.

That said, smart speakers aren’t to everyone’s taste, and understandably, there are some privacy concerns. It’d be a good idea to avoid any speakers that have cameras built-in, and offer your guests the ability to disable the microphone or to unplug the speaker completely. While the benefits outweigh the risks and concerns, it’s good to give guests the option.

 

Smart plugs

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Smart plugs might be the least exciting piece of technology on this list, but it’s also one of the best ones for remote management and automation. For example, if you’ve got a plugged-in device that crashes all the time, a smart plug is a great way to reboot it without having to physically be there.

More commonly though, you can use these plugs to turn off lights and appliances when your home’s not in use, to manage your energy consumption via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit. Just make sure that you turn everything back on before your guests arrive.

 

Automation is the future

As you know, the key to being a great host is being hospitable. Having the right amenities and devices, along with the technology to manage them properly, will do wonders for your bottom line and help your guests feel at home. This is something that we, at Enso Connect, know something about.

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