"Workcations," which once sounded like a good vacation gone wrong, have become popular since COVID-19 turned the world upside down. With professionals and their families largely stuck at home, these working vacations are a way to get a desperately needed change of scenery without shirking responsibilities for work or school. All that’s necessary is a nice place to stay with a good internet connection, and these vacations can go on for weeks.
From the perspective of vacation rental managers, this may not seem all that different from typical getaways. People come, stay for a slightly longer period than a normal vacation, and then leave to make way for subsequent guests. In practice, there are some important distinctions with these medium-term rentals that short-term property managers need to understand.
Because the rental period is longer — and because renters will be using it for remote work and school — the things they need and want will differ from those of a typical vacation. They don’t need a getaway; they need a home away from home. Here are a few changes property managers should make:
Upgrade your internet.
High-speed internet is a must for any rental property, but it’s particularly important when remote work and school are involved. Internet download speeds should be at least 10 Mbps, while upload speeds need to be at least 2 Mbps for a single device to stream video or handle videoconferencing. If two to four devices need to stream video or videoconference, look for at least 25 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds (100 Mbps download speed is necessary for four to eight devices, and 200 Mbps download speeds are ideal for more than eight devices).
Additionally, older and cheaper routers often can’t handle the activity of a working family with multiple devices. Most modern routers, on the other hand, are built to deliver high speeds to every device. Consider mesh routers if you need to cover a lot of square footage and/or multiple floors.
Perform regular cosmetic maintenance.
Medium-term rentals are meant to be livable spaces. That means your renters are going to make themselves at home. It also means you need to perform cosmetic maintenance — such as deep carpet cleaning and paint touch-ups — on a more regular basis than you would with short-term vacation properties. These little touch-ups can do wonders for making a space inviting for renters who are going to stay for extended periods.
Make sure appliances are in it for the long haul.
From toasters and ovens to washers and dryers, every appliance will see a lot more wear and tear in a medium-term rental. It’s important to invest in appliances that are built to last, testing them regularly to make sure they’re in working order before new tenants arrive. Don’t forget about accessories that go with appliances, such as a full set of cutlery and knives. These small touches can help create that “home away from home” feel.
Switch to a smart thermostat.
With smart thermostats, residents can set up specific routines — cooling or heating the house to their preferences depending on the time of day and weather, saving money and energy without anyone having to lift a finger. More importantly, property managers can set limits to protect the system from overuse. These devices can also let property managers know when there is an HVAC issue, enabling them to conduct repairs before those minor issues become costly problems.
Ditch physical keys.
There are many benefits to connected keyless entry in medium-term rentals. For one, this technology eliminates any headaches associated with lost or surreptitiously copied keys. It also enables managers and residents to grant access to visitors with ease. That means maintenance crews, third-party vendors, dog walkers, guests and more can get temporary access to a property without anyone needing to be there — while automatically respecting the access rules of a community.
Invest in water sensors.
According to the International Organization for Standardization, the second-most common home insurance claim is water damage. When it goes unnoticed for too long, the cost can be considerable in both money and time. These leaks can become floods, breed mold, and weaken the structural integrity of a vacation rental property. Water sensors and water flow/shutoff devices can catch small problems before they become full-blown disasters in medium-term rentals.
Workcations aren’t going away anytime soon. For many, these types of trips may be here to stay even after the pandemic has passed. Vacation rental property managers who want to capitalize on this booming trend will want to focus on meeting the unique needs of these medium-term renters. With a few minor updates, your property can be a paradise for renters who need a break from their routines.
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com and the leader in enterprise property automation solutions for long-term and short-term managers of single-family and multifamily rental properties. Outside of having a lifelong passion for technology, Mr. Miller has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IoT/home automation technology.