Yes, that headline might seem crazy. But that is what many VRMs are doing, albeit unintentionally. Let me explain how this is happening.
Tech and PMS Systems Are Great for Guests and Property Owners
With the explosion of private accommodations in recent years, comfort, convenience and safety are now part of guests’ standard expectation. Technology, such as modern PMS systems and property automation platforms such as PointCentral, are helping property managers provide great service to guests while also keeping owners and staff happy. In fact, in various surveys we ran this year, approximately one-third of property managers were using an exterior camera, almost half used connected thermostats, and over two-thirds were using a keyless lock or lockbox. The problem is in how some of this technology is being used.
But…Improper Use Can Impact Safety
I had the pleasure of staying in several private vacation rental accommodations across the United States over the past 12 months, sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure. Each time, my family was with me, and each stay was everything that family travelers love about vacation rentals—ample space, great family amenities and engaged hosts who helped make sure our stays were great.
In most of these stays, the property managers provided me access using a code generated for an on-site, offline lockbox. Offline lockboxes are designed specifically to allow more control over access and frequent changing of the code.
Unfortunately, the code wasn’t being changed. That meant that a lot of previous guests, plus staff, housekeepers and maintenance providers, all had access to the property where my family was staying.
In this case, the property managers were getting the operational benefit of keyless access, i.e., direct-to-home check-in and keyless work orders, but were actually delivering a lower quality product to me, the customer. My family was less safe.
Customers, Especially Millennials, Prize Safety
Safety is a key concern of the group that is helping to drive a surge in private accommodation travel—millennials. In fact, 60.9 percent of millennials traveling with children said that safety was a primary concern when considering vacation plans, while 51.7 percent of millennials without children voiced the same concern.
As an industry, we have to make sure we use technology properly so that it meets or exceeds guests expectations, and is not simply a short-term profit bump that creates negative headlines.
The good news is that using technology in the right way is not more difficult or necessarily more expensive (connected products should actually help save you money in operations and resources), it just takes a little time to pick the right product and setup the correct processes. To learn more about these resources, click here.
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com and the leader in smart home automation solutions for long-term and short-term 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, having previously led global sales and business development for Wemo, Belkin’s home automation business unit, and launched Mobile Link, a cellular-based internet connectivity service for generators, at Generac Power Systems.