Smart Home Features For Your Vacation Rental

By Kylee Niederhauser

Maybe you are new to the vacation rental market, or maybe you are looking for ways to better manage your current rental from afar. Either way we’ve got you covered! Managing a vacation rental property is a detailed job so we are always on the look-out for new ways to automate and optimize our processes. Read on for a few of the smart home features that we install at Arrivls locations to keep our properties running smoothly from a distance!

Smart Locks

This one is a no-brainer and has become more of a standard, industry-wide, in recent years. Not only does it make guest check-in a breeze, but it adds an extra layer of security to the property.

With smart locks, guests are given a unique access code for use during their stay, and the code can be changed remotely (via app) between each guest. Long gone are the days of guests fumbling with a lock box or worrying about losing the house keys while hanging out at the beach! They also give added flexibility for check-in and check-out times since you don’t need to exchange keys.

And speaking of exchanging keys, smart locks have been extremely beneficial during the Covid-19 pandemic as a method of social distancing. Guests and managers do not need to meet in person and the lock and door handle surfaces are thoroughly disinfected between each guest.

The type of lock you will need will depend on your door, but we typically purchase this Schlage model or this Kwikset model. We like that we are able to set multiple codes at once, so we can have a master code for management, a code for the cleaners and also set a new code for each guest.

Benefits of Using Smart Locks at Your Vacation Rental Property

  • Easy check-in at any time of day
  • Able to follow social distancing guidelines
  • Added security with a new code for each guest
  • Ability to set unique codes for owners, managers, cleaning staff and guests
  • Codes can be changed and door locked/unlocked remotely via app
  • Don’t have to worry about key loss/theft or costly locksmith fees
  • Easier for groups than sharing one set of keys

Security Cameras

Security cameras at vacation rentals can be a controversial topic. But there are legitimate uses for cameras that don’t include invading guest privacy. For example, we use them to make sure our cleaners have arrived at the property on turnover days. If we don’t see anyone arrive at the house within an hour after guest check out, we know to reach out to the cleaner for an ETA. Cameras are also helpful for security and peace of mind when the property is vacant.

At Arrivls, we only install cameras in public places, such as the driveway or the front door. We would never install a camera inside of a house.

Some of the properties we manage have Ring devices, but for most we purchase this inexpensive WiFi camera. The camera connects to WiFi and records video to an SD card which is stored in the cloud. You can access the video footage via app and set preferences to receive alerts from a motion trigger. It’s proven to be durable over time and has even survived 120-degree desert summers. Just make sure to mount it in a somewhat protected area (such as underneath a roof overhang).

Cleaning Crisis Averted!

When there are multiple property turnovers in one day, the cleaning schedule needs to be meticulously monitored. We recently had a day with three property turnovers: one was a standard same-day turnover, one had a guest who requested an early check-in, and one was scheduled to be cleaned but the next guest wasn’t arriving till the following day. There was a mis-communication with the cleaning manager and the crew arrived at the lowest priority property first. Thankfully we spotted this on the camera and we were able to quickly redirect the crew to the correct property!

Noise Monitor

At Arrivls, we pride ourselves in our “Good Neighbor Policy” (see below) in which we strive to be respectful neighbors in our communities at all times. One of the ways we ensure this is by installing these WiFi noise monitors at each of our properties. The monitors do not record noise, but instead monitor the decibel levels which you can view in the connected app. Sometimes guests need a little reminder to keep music levels down or to respect quiet hours, and for that the noise monitors have been very helpful!

We understand that daytime noise (especially with kids splashing in the pool!) is to be expected, so we like that the app lets us set the noise threshold at which we’re notified. To give an example, daytime noise would have to exceed that of a lawnmower to trigger the alert. Night-time (“quiet hours”) noise levels are monitored more closely.

Arrivls Good Neighbor Policy

Since this home is located in a family-friendly neighborhood, we ask that guests please be courteous and respectful of full-time residents at all times. This includes keeping daytime noise and music to an appropriate level and observing strict quiet hours after 10pm. Thank you for your cooperation in fostering good relationships with our community!

Wifi Thermostat

Whenever possible, we recommend installing a WiFi thermostat in your vacation rental property. It’s not uncommon for guests to check in and quickly adjust the thermostat as low as it will go, sometimes down to 50-degrees (true story)! But with a WiFi thermostat like this one, it’s easier to make sure that the air conditioning use is not being abused.

We also like having the ability to adjust the temperature of the house remotely when there is a gap between guests. We’re able to raise the temperature after a guest leaves and then have it nice and cool again before the next guest arrives. In addition to adjusting the temperature, having a WiFi thermostat has also helped us detect maintenance issues when units aren’t reaching their set points. We’re able to view all of this remotely via app and schedule repairs if needed.

Your Electricity Bill Was How Much?!

Steven and I had a rocky start to one of our properties, when we received the electricity bill after the first month open to guests and it was more than four times what we would have expected it to be! We were absolutely floored. We quickly installed WiFi thermostats and are now able to closely monitor air conditioning usage resulting in an electric bill that’s much easier to stomach.

Do you have a favorite smart home product in your home or vacation rental? Tell us about it in the comments!