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Short-term rental property managers are having one of the busiest seasons on record, thanks to sustained high demand for domestic travel. In the US, June 2021 saw occupancy rates in the sector rise to an all-time high of over 70% (AirDNA) and the UK staycation boom has sustained throughout the summer with demand outstripping supply, especially in coastal destinations.
Some might say we are approaching saturation point with tech solutions. Others might say property managers will continue to seek out the latest innovations in smart property automation in order to make their business operate more efficiently and with greater profit margins. Here we take a look at which view might win out in the future.
Short-term rentals turn to tech
Tech adoption in short-term rentals, as in many facets of our lives, has accelerated at a phenomenal rate over the past year. Hostfully’s study shows the average vacation rental management company now spends approximately $51 per property per month on tech, showing investment in proptech is being taken seriously. Terms such as ‘hands-free’ and ‘contactless’ have been much used as industry players adapt to new guest expectations and a very different travel landscape.
Our recent PointCentral customer research revealed that not having the ‘basic’ smart home tech in place in a rental – such as keyless entry and a connected thermostat setting a comfortable temperature for guest arrival – sets a trip off on a negative footing. This shows just how essential integrated tech has become to the travel journey as well as how much guests now expect a teched-up experience.
What are the reasons behind the increased adoption of tech in short-term rentals?
Smart home tech developments have advanced quickly in order to address travellers’ new priorities of health and safety. With the world opening up again, these concerns remain for guests and smart tech solutions are enabling socially distanced stays with keyless curb-to-couch access and direct-to-home check-in or check-out. Automated cleaning processes have come a long way to reassure guests, with additional checks and elongated cleans, that their rental properties are hygienic and safe.
A digital demographic
Digital natives have digital expectations. This means that guests with teched-up homes of their own want a similar experience when staying in a short-term rental for work or leisure. 34% of US broadband households have a smart home device – and this figure is expected to keep growing. For Millennial and Gen X travellers, it has become an expectation to have a high level of smart automation when they book a stay away from home.
Not all guests will want all the same tech that they have at home – they may prefer to switch off – but proptech solutions that help them enjoy their stay, however, are much appreciated. For example, predictive technology to keep the home working properly, tech to keep guests safe, speakers or connected lighting that can auto turn outside lights on and off.
Operational efficiency is key
Short-term rental property managers have been quick to get on board with the automation trend. They’ve recognised the operational benefits of having the right tech stack in place. Think about the savings of up to 23% on heating and cooling achievable in properties with the right connected systems in place. This makes HVAC analytics (monitoring and reporting on overuse and damage) a prime example of how smart property management can protect a property’s assets, increase productivity and drive efficiencies.
Contactless check-in, keyless work orders, water leak detection, light sensors are all effective smart home solutions, which add up to maximise efficiency for managers and protect assets for owners.
Are we all teched-up now?
The benefits of automation for property managers are clear: efficiency, guest satisfaction and owner reassurance. But are we now at a point whereby that’s it – managers have built their tech stacks and banked the efficiencies?
As with all technology sectors, it’s important to stay on top of the latest innovations in proptech. Tools will evolve constantly and property managers need to take the time to review their tech stack periodically and make sure that it is delivering the best possible experience for them, their staff and their guests.
Property managers can leverage smart home automation to minimize certain operational activities, leaving them free to spend more of their time on the things that really differentiate their businesses from the competition, thereby creating value for owners and guests alike.
As the short-term rental industry continues to thrive, continues to professionalize and continues to diversify, I predict rising demand for smart tech solutions. There isn’t an endpoint to this tech evolution, it’s only just begun.