As I mentioned the other day, we recently returned from attending the regional VRMA shows. We logged some serious travel time, but VRMA shows are always a blast. Hard to find any other events with so many great vacation rental managers in one room.
As we chatted with the VRM’s throughout the shows, it was very refreshing to hear the overall perspective of vacation rental security and mechanical key management. If I had to sum it up in a couple words…
Vacation rental managers understand that mechanical (i.e. “hard”) keys stink – keys are expensive, keys require time and effort to cut, and most importantly, there is no good way to track 100’s or 1,000’s of mechanical keys.
As a result, safety and security at vacation rental homes is also stench-worthy.
I’ve already sung my sermon about the extremely poor security conditions at vacation rental homes, so I’ll spare you any further ranting.
However, as I was swapping stories about the horrors of mechanical keys with VRM’s in Savannah last week, one thing was clear; not only do VRM’s recognize the drawbacks of mechanical keys, but they are eager to find a solution.
Vacation rental managers are hungry to improve their operational efficiency, and more importantly, they want to make sure that guests, homeowners, and employees are safe and secure at each and every home.
If VRM’s are eager to find a solution, how is it 2013 and we are still talking about the horrors of mechanical keys? Didn’t hotels drop mechanical keys a LONG time ago?
The reality is there really hasn’t been a great solution…YET.
Hotels are a different animal. It is much easier to find an access solution at one location than at 700 unique locations across 50 miles of beach.
VRM’s need to create hotel-like control, but the technology has been lagging behind a bit. Luckily, that technology is catching up in the form of property automation.
Whew, that was the long route to get to the main point of this post:
The Evolution of Access Management
So, why are mechanical keys still a vacation rental standard? Let’s take a look at the access management options up to this point…
- Guest pick up required
- Distributed to employees & contractors
- Key control/audit difficult, at best
- After hours check-in a challenge
- Limited to 1 common code
- Codes rarely changed
- Gen 1 – Off-line, required to travel to property to program
- Gen 2 – Off-line but web based code generation (codes expire)
- Requires code management & updates for housekeeping/employees.
- 150 homes, 35 employees = 5,250 codes to update on a regular basis?!
From a vacation rental manager’s perspective, none of those options are very appealing. Sure, steps can be taken towards keyless access, but there are still plenty of security and management issues associated with the solutions.
As a result, mechanical keys have remained the vacation rental industry standard. With no clear solution, VRM’s have muscled through with all of the horrors to provide the best service they can – despite ineffective operations, wasted time and money, and a general lack of security.
Sure, floating keys STINK, but they WERE a necessary evil. (Crazy, I know!)
- Eliminate mechanical keys – risk, costs & liability
- Increase guest satisfaction & convenience
- Improve operating efficiency
- Increase property security
- Professional standard of care
Is property automation the solution we’ve all be waiting for?! The new vacation rental standard?