Written by: Beth Hamilton, Product & Marketing Manager
Last week our team enjoyed exhibiting at the RezFest Conference and were really interested to see how it compared to our many other markets, in particular the traditional hotel industry. Our company has been innovators in technology for 23 years, with our average employee tenure at 7.6 years (3.4 years longer than the average). There were 5 things in particular that we found interesting at this conference that we wanted to share:
- Trending: vacation rental companies are investing in, and standardizing their technology offering. Vacation rental organizations are focusing on growing their rental numbers and in order to do so are beginning to standardize their technology offering across their properties. Standardizing your offering eases the pressures of operations, keeps things simpler for your rental onboarding team, and could assist with cost cutting based on bulk ordering. The important thing that we are noticing with this trend is to ensure that you’re moving forward with commercial products and steering clear of the residential items. Running your business on residential equipment that is not built or tested with your business in mind, will ultimately have a negative impact on your business. We recommend that you make sure that whatever you are choosing to standardize on will scale with you.
- Door locks are number one technology that rental managers are talking about; but what were #2 and #3? Smart door locks make sense for so many reasons: guest safety, ease of use, multiple lock codes for maintenance and cleaning staff, and of course, saving time (and money) on distributing keys to guests. The second most talked about item of smart home technology that we found were smart thermostats. Saving money by adjusting the heat and air conditioning in your rental is a practice that hotels and conference centers have been doing for years; why wouldn’t you want to save money? The third most popular smart home technology item were noise sensors. Sadly, it’s hard to identify the partying guests before they arrive and throw a rip roaring bash in your property, destroying things and irritating neighbors. Taking advantage of a noise sensor allows you to be notified before it escalates too far and causes you long term headaches. These were the most discussed pieces of technology at RezFest but do not forget: they all require a properly managed, robust WiFi network to run at an optimal level.
- Consumer goods are turning into commercial offerings. Virtual assistants, door locks, security cameras, smart lights, guest WiFi, and many other smart home technologies in the vacation rental space began as consumer products. One thought leader decided that it would be great to install smart lighting in their properties and others followed suit. The challenge with smart lighting (and many other smart home technologies) is that the applications to run these devices are meant for a consumer experience (ie small deployments) and they do not have the proper management tools for you to operate a growing business. This is very true for guest WiFi; a home router does not have the appropriate security tools for you or your guest and are challenging to manage. The industry is growing rapidly and commercial vendors are joining the marketplace to offer these products; it’s time to start engaging with them instead of trying to do it yourself. Using commercial vendors ensures that your business is set-up to succeed and scale.
- Safety technology is becoming increasingly important. Hotels are moving towards outfitting individual housekeepers with their own panic button devices to ensure their safety (see Bloomberg’s article here). The RezFest session on safety technology was very well done and informative. Things were discussed like the new UL2020 smoke detectors which are aimed at preventing false alarms, roost WiFi enabled batteries which can be used to tell if someone removes the batteries from your current smoke detector, electricity monitors like ting that help to prevent electrical fires, and phyn, a water flow/leak prevention smart monitor for cost savings. All of these items are important for your vacation rental so you don’t end up in a horrible news story with millions of dollars in damages. These technologies are all new, exciting, and important for your rental(s).
- The lines between hotels and vacation rentals are blurring more every year. It’s no secret that many demographics prefer vacation rentals to hotels – otherwise we wouldn’t all be here. This means that all vacation rental managers and owners should be paying close attention to their hotel counterparts to make sure that they are not capitalizing on the things that make your rental unique and desirable. Making sure that you have everything that a hotel has ensures that while these lines blur even more, you are staying competitive. Some of the items that we would recommend are: full length mirrors, beach towels, umbrellas, and (of course) WiFi.
There’s no doubt that the vacation rental industry is an interesting one and is rapidly growing. Follow us as we continue to monitor the interesting trends in vacation rental technology. We will be at the VRMA International Conference in New Orleans monitoring following along with more exciting technology news. We hope to see you there!