Technology has played a definitive role in the growth of the global vacation rental industry over the past few years. From the early stages of Airbnb—a whole ecosystem of innovative tech start-ups have grown up around property management, distribution, revenue, pricing, guest communication, property automation, and even luggage storage.
Here are five technologies set to disrupt as well as add value to property management and the guest experience during 2021.
Property Care Technology
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that safety, cleanliness, standards, and trust in the quality of a property are at the forefront of travelers’ minds. Individual rentals or “Airbnbs” sometimes suffer from a reputation of falling short in these areas. With higher standards being demanded by guests, the professional vacation rental market is increasingly adopting technology as a way of standardizing processes—from housekeeping to maintenance checks to quality assurance.
Breezeway, offers tools to streamline and automate the behind-the-scenes processes that are crucial to the success of the professional short-term rental market. 2021 will without a doubt be the year in which tech operations come into the spotlight as a way for businesses to become even more efficient, profitable, and guest focused.
IoT and Smart Property Devices
Home automation with smart locks, temperature control, noise monitoring, and smart alarm systems are no longer the domain of just the techy homeowner. Smart property devices connected to software platforms are now available to implement at scale. Enterprise-level property managers have been adopting these devices in order to expand their portfolios, create efficiencies, and provide an enhanced guest experience. For smart devices and IoT, PointCentral and Operto are both leading providers in the sector.
Connected Hospitality Technology
Technology that connects devices to operating systems is evolving at pace in a bid to transform the guest experience and create greater revenue opportunities for holiday-let managers and owners. Tools that address common friction points by connecting guests with property managers and staff to provide seamless stays and personalized experiences are new to the market, but developing fast. Operto, for example, has just launched Connect, an advanced operating system that does just that.
Digital Guest Screening
The fear that an “internet stranger” will stay at your property, cause damages, disturb your neighbors, and generally be a nuisance has put many second home owners off renting their properties. As we all know, there is a huge potential stock of quality properties that could be added to the inventory of available homes, only if owners felt more confident that their assets would be “safe.”
Digital guest screening, which uses algorithms and predictive analytics around potential behaviors and criminal activity, effectively weeds out “bad guests” and blocks them from ever stepping foot through the front door. In reality, most reservations go without a hitch. Vacation rental insurtech company Safely.com says that only 3% of reservations ever result in a claim and the majority of these are purely accidental damage.
Multi-Unit Distribution Technology
The concept of turning large property assets (regulations permitting) into boutique short-let apartment rentals has huge potential to challenge the urban rental and hotel sectors. Multi-unit owners, with little or no previous experience of “holiday” lets, can now access the short-term rental market and service guests through specialist technology solutions—such as Jetstream— that work on a variable cost basis, ensuring risks are reduced and profits maximized.
What this looks like in reality is multi-family buildings being transformed into boutique apartment rentals that feel very much like hotels—branded, standardized, and offering a uniform, quality guest experience. Guests can receive all the benefits of a hotel stay, coupled with the convenience of a rented apartment. Tech is powering this new business model; during the past year, we have witnessed the growth of this revolutionary shift.
The short-term rental industry has historically been ahead of the game in terms of technology adoption—hotels have been playing catch-up during the pandemic—so it is of no surprise that these disruptive technology trends are driving its recovery in 2021. As the whole hospitality sector gathers itself and looks to a brighter future, it would be wise to keep one eye on holiday rentals and track how tech is adding value, carving out efficiencies, and fundamentally enhancing the overall guest experience in this buoyant sector.