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We are breaking down the complex topic of smart locks in professional short-term rentals. Learn about the advantages, and potential drawbacks to help you make informed decisions for your property management business.

In this webinar, we are talking to a leading hardware manufacturer whose smart locks are used in STRs worldwide. Explore the ins and outs of this cutting-edge technology. Discover how smart locks help professional property operators to streamline operations and deliver an exceptional guest experience

Webinar Speakers

Francois Gouelo, as the Co-Founder and CEO of Enso Connect, Francois has been at the forefront of the intersection of technology and hospitality. He is moderating the session.

Sid Butalia, Head of Product and Design, IglooHome 

An award-winning product expert with over 15 years of experience in Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering and New Product Development. With a track record of over 150 successful projects, Sid is an expert in IoT products, specifically smart locks.

2024.02 Smart Locks in Short Term Rental All you ever wanted to know Speakers Large v3

Watch the webinar recording

What are smart locks and how do they work?

Smart lock is a mechanical product that opens and closes a door. It’s not a door handle, not a doorknob, but essentially – the lock. Most of them are motorized, so they are battery powered. In the past, they were digital where they would not have smartphone features. But now we’re starting to see more smartphone connectivity with door locks and as a result, a huge range of software features that come along with it.
We’re taking a traditional mechanical device and adding some intelligence to it.

Types of smart locks

We’re at a point where, despite the many smart lock manufacturers, we’ve barely begun exploring all the possibilities. There are various methods and devices for unlocking doors. For instance, IglooHome focuses on several types, including those with keypads for entering a code to access a unit. Other locks may not have a keypad, suggesting they rely on different mechanisms for locking and unlocking.

Smart locks by connectivity
We can break it down first. I think connectivity is a big topic because when we started out, there was no connectivity. 
We then looked at, with the proliferation of smartphones having Bluetooth connectivity. 
And then it expanded to Wi-Fi,  Z-Wave and Zigbee in some cases. Now, we even have cellular connected locks at IglooHome, that are connected directly to cell phone towers. So that connectivity range is always evolving. And for any brand to maintain a solid market share, they need to be able to have a few connectivity options.
Smart locks by access types
Biometric and PIN code access technologies initially emerged in the commercial access control sector. Businesses often lead in adopting new technologies due to greater needs and financial resources. Over time, these innovations tend to filter down to consumer products. 
Today’s smart lock technologies encompass features like facial recognition, biometrics, and PIN codes. At the CES conference, innovations such as palm scanning and voice recognition were showcased. Essentially, if a software can authenticate it, it can be integrated into a lock. By connecting these locks with smartphones, they achieve a higher level of security through multi-factor authentication.

Top smart lock types and features in short-term rentals

What are the best smart locks for vacation rentals, what features are the most popular and what are the latest trends in smart home technology for the industry?

PIN Codes

The short-term rental scenario is primarily where you have one or two primary users: a property manager, co-host, virtual assistant, etc. But your end users – you could have thousands. In that scenario, PIN codes by far are the most popular. It’s a powerful form of access because they can easily be shared. Thanks to IglooHome’s AlgoPin technology, they can be generated completely offline. So when it comes to having a very reliable system that has virtually no downtime, that’s where pin codes really come in.

If you’re talking about biometrics, let’s say fingerprint, for example, due to security concern, you can’t store users’ fingerprint data on the cloud. So you have to store it on the lock. What that means is for a typical short term rental customer, they’re only going to be at the lock when they check in. That defeats the purpose because then you have to be there to do the onboarding of their fingerprint. So that’s where we see pin codes being the primary use case. 


We’re starting to see Bluetooth pick up. A lot of IglooHome’s integration partners are figuring out how to create temporary guest experience applications. And through that, giving your guests the ability to just unlock the doors from a smartphone. It is easier because you don’t have to remember the code. 

The go to trend moving forward for smart devices is WiFi. Especially if you have Wi-Fi on site in your rental, the connectivity range is pretty decent. With that, you can automatically get additional features. First being notifications. When someone opens or closes the lock, you get a notification.
Second one, you can actually create customized pin codes. Whether they’re four digits, five digits, you can simplify it.
And the final thing that we find quite useful is – for canceled bookings, 
you can delete a pin code if the lock is connected to Wi-Fi. And so part of the reason why there were these different types of connectivity just for people to know is that Wi-Fi wasn’t great five, 10 years ago, but Wi-Fi is great now. Wi-Fi locks are on the rise. 

The example for this is SmartThings, the company that  was pivotal in linking various connectivity types through a single hub. However, the necessity for such a hub is declining as device connectivity becomes more centralized, reducing the need for different frequencies to connect devices. It’s encouraging to see IglooHome also advancing in this direction, simplifying connectivity in smart devices.

It’s important to know that WiFi is not ideal for smart devices because of its power consumption. It is much more power hungry than Bluetooth.

IglooHome smart locks offline functionality: how it works  

AlgoPIN is a technology behind all IglooHome devices that lets rental property managers grant PIN codes remotely without Wifi. This is unique to IglooHome devices. We asked Sid to tell us more about how it works and why they implemented it for the hospitality industry. 

Imagine, when you pair the lock, you’ve created a virtual lock in the cloud – on your servers. Whatever pin codes you want to generate, you can generate on your server. Your physical lock and your virtual lock are synced. They’re synced down to the millisecond. This means you’ve created a one-way traffic where whatever you do on the cloud can be applied to the lock through the pin code. You can’t delete the pin code, but you can generate a pin code. It’s one-way traffic. 
Why this is important specifically for short-term rentals? Because almost every short-term rental operator has a software to manage bookings, property management systems (PMS). In order to make sure that that integration was as easy as possible, all we need to do is expose web APIs. So whatever software you’re managing, whatever integration you’re working on, you don’t ever have to talk to the lock, the physical device. You’re only talking to our cloud system. And that’s where the algoPIN really comes in power for short term rentals.
How AlgoPIN Works - Explanation

Pro tip: What’s the best lock connectivity?

We recommend using PIN codes as they are reliable, especially if there’s a delay or issue with connectivity. PIN codes work well because they can function offline, ensuring access even when technical problems arise. Most countries follow the same numerical system, so it’s easy for guests from all over the world to understand pin codes. We recommend using Bluetooth, because of its power efficiency. 

There are networks like Matter, are coming in, which are trying to do both – having a connectivity of WiFi with lower power drain. Closer to that with Bluetooth. 

For property managers, the choice between technologies depends on their needs. Whether it’s minimizing battery replacements for high-traffic properties or prioritizing guest convenience. Ultimately, selecting the right technology scales with your business, making each device’s unique features crucial to decision-making.

Top three benefits of smart locks for short-term rentals


For the guest not having to worry about an access card or a separate key, one less thing for them to carry and to worry about. For operator – no need to handing off and picking up physical keys to the guests. 


Not so much from the lock hardware, but from the ability to pull logs from that device at any point. If somebody’s lost or left something in the room, you have an accurate log of what happened on that door. If you have a smart lock and a security camera – two bits of information – there’s a monitoring system on your front. 

Having a security camera and smart lock can serve as a deterrent, discouraging potential criminals by signalling enhanced security measures.
Operational efficiency
In the past, a single manager was able to turn over two or three units in a day if they’re spread out. Today a single rental manager can run 10, 15, 20 handovers in a day.
This is something that could never even be thought about a decade ago.

Previously, services charged $30-40 per check-in, essentially for key handovers. Considering the cost, investing in a smart lock, which might range from a few hundred dollars, seems economical compared to the potential expenses of replacing keys or locks if guests lose or take them. This investment not only saves on the costs associated with traditional check-ins but also offers both cost savings and convenience over time, justifying the initial outlay from multiple angles.

Difference between smart locks in Europe and North America 

North America 

The primary difference is the door hardware, the way the door is built. This tends to be very uniform in North America, including Canada adhering to ANSI standards. In most cases, except for condominiums, homes typically feature a deadbolt lock. This type of lock is one of the simplest to install, making it a standard choice across North America.


In Europe every country has a slightly different standard, as well as fire ratings. Igloohome, as well as many other lock makers in Europe follow the approach to not actually touching what’s on the door.

So in a sense, you don’t void any legal issues with fire rating of the door because you’re not tampering with it. You also don’t need to change your physical key system. Let’s say you have a security guard or something that has to have a copy of a key with a retrofit solution or a key box solution. They don’t really need to change their workflow.
So in Europe it’s a little less standardized. And as a result, we tend to use like what I like to call a hybrid system where it’s either retrofit onto the lock or it’s a key box with a pin code. In Canada deadbolts work quite well.
IglooHome also produce mortises. It is what you would see in a hotel room where your entire lock and handle is one big piece. So it’s a little more harder to install, but it’s a little more robust at the end. When you have a deadbolt, you’ve got your latch or your doorknob, and then – a lock. So the alignment between those two is fixed in a mortise. This is one metal piece. 

How secure are smart locks?

Igloohome asked locksmiths about how secure smart locks need to be.
And their repeated answer is, breaking a window is much easier than picking a lock. If somebody really wants to get into your home, chances are your front door is not the thing that’s going to be broken into. Therefore, smart locks are valued more for their monitoring capabilities. Overall home security systems involve multiple entry points, not just the front door.

6 steps to choose the right smart lock for your short-term rental

Begin with a key box

It allows integration of software into your management process without needing a locksmith for installation. Simply attach the key box outside your door for a practical, semi-automated solution (“IoT 1.5”), blending manual and digital access without altering existing locks. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to change all the locks. You can just put a key box in. Even if you have multiple doors, front, side, back door, you can provide those keys in the key box. Essentially, you’re providing access to the whole home with a single device. 

Identify which is the door that most people are using
When you feel comfortable with how smart locks work, think which door is the most used. That’s the door you look at putting a smart lock on.
It saves that issue where someone may not put the key back inside the key box. And then the door will automatically lock as well.
Think the value adds
Does it make sense to have a smart lock on the back door? Let’s say you have a swimming pool, and at night, you want to make sure that back door is closed. Smart lock are a good addition on secondary doors as well. 
Look at your door and see what’s already on it

Sid recommends using what you have before you start drilling holes in your door.

So if there is a solution to retrofit, we could go with that, right? Now, even if you decide to remove your hardware and replace it with smart hardware, it’s better to replace like for like. So if you have a deadbolt, it’s better to replace it with a smart deadbolt rather than swapping it out with a mortise.

There is a door compatibility checklist, where IglooHome’s experts suggest which lock will be compatible with your door.

When installing a lock on a new door, you have options. A deadbolt is simpler to install, but a mortise, which integrates the lock and handle into one unit, offers a sleek look once set up. Despite being a smart lock, remember it’s also a mechanical device that must securely close the door, similar to traditional locks.
Decide whether you want Wi-Fi or Is it ok with Bluetooth

 Are you just going to be using pin codes or? Are you going to be connecting this with a smart home? 

Include smart locks into your check-in experience
Another important question is when are you going to be able to program those codes? When are they going to be made available to your guests and be actually accessible? The way you can program your codes at Enso Connect programs them actually immediately at booking confirmation. But the platform will only make them available two hours before the guests’ check-in.
The access codes will be gated with a check-in process, with your step-by-step check-in instructions.

Main issues with smart locks and ways to overcome them

Addressing common concerns with smart devices involves proactive measures and effective troubleshooting by operators. Since no system is flawless, issues will arise, potentially stressing those responsible for day-to-day operations.

Door misaligned / jammed

Due to changing temperatures and seasons, doors and frames in North America can misalign, affecting the locks. This might require a key getting stuck or the smart lock not functioning properly. It’s advisable to have a check-up on the door’s alignment periodically, maybe every six months or annually. Do this by yourself or with a locksmith, to ensure everything works smoothly. This maintenance is essential for all types of locks to keep them operating correctly.

Battery drain

IglooHome smart locks come with an emergency power feature to prevent lockouts due to short battery life. This means you, your guests, or the property manager can still access the lock if its battery dies. For some models, attaching a nine-volt battery can temporarily power the lock, while newer models use a USB Type-C connection, similar to charging phones or power banks. This allows devices like Android phones or tablets to supply emergency power to the lock, ensuring remote access is always available. Smart door locks have low-battery alerts, reflected in your Enso Connect device dashboard or directly on your phone.

WiFi outage

Your Wi-Fi connection or your power could cut out for your home. That is where AlgoPIN comes in, where there’s no need for WiFi to allow people to go in and out of the home.

Insurance Restrictions (in Europe)

Before making any changes to your door, it’s important to understand what’s allowed with insurance. Some places have restrictions on altering doors, while others permit it. Make sure to research and understand these regulations to avoid unnecessary expenses and complications when modifying your door.

Compliance with the local rules and regulations

You can attach our key box to a wall, or if that’s not possible, it comes with a shackle for easy attachment to things like door handles or railings. However, it’s crucial to comply with local regulations. Additionally, understanding insurance is key, especially with the various coverage options available for vacation rentals, whether or not you use a smart lock. While requirements for smart locks may vary and I may not have all the details, it’s important to be aware of potential issues related to insurance.

New features and trends in the smart home devices

The new features of smart locks cater both to B2B like vacation rentals, and to end-users, focusing on convenience.

New networks standards like Matter 
Matter is a new kind of ecosystem technology that’s coming up. It allows Android devices to talk to Apple, Google Home, Amazon Alexa and other devices. So we are looking at bringing new products in for this ecosystem.

So it’s going to become a lot easier to integrate a smart lock into your smart home. That’s one big shift. So if you can get over the DIY of a screwdriver and all that, the IT stuff is far easier. 

Biometric facial recognition and mobile access cards

For short-term rentals, biometric facial recognition and mobile access cards hold significant potential. This trend, seen in hotels with physical tap cards, is moving towards digital cards. The convenience of tap-to-pay, as popularized by Apple, is extending to cars and hotels, enhancing user experiences. However, building hardware solely compatible with the Apple ecosystem limits broader application, highlighting the need for versatile solutions in access technology.

Effortless entry

Currently, you have to physically turn a doorknob to open a door. However, imagine a future where the doorknob is connected to your lock. It is allowing you to simply nudge the door open with your shoulder or walk through without touching it. In Asia, IglooHome have developed a mortise lock that operates this way, enabling effortless entry simply by approaching the door.

Learn more about creating a seamless guest experience with smart locks

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