This article was originally published in VRMA’s Arrival publication – Summer 2021

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 has grown up around property management, distribution, revenue, pricing, guest communication, property automation and even luggage storage.

Here are 5 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 travellers’ 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 standardising 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 doubt be the year in which operations tech comes 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 home owner. 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 with staff to provide fully seamless stays and personalized experiences are new to the market but developing fast. Operto has just launched Connect, an advanced operating system which does just that.  

Digital Guest Screening

The fear that an ‘internet stranger’ will stay at your property, cause damages, disturb your neighbours 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 which 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 behaviours 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 which offers tailored guest screening and insurance, 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 like Jetstream that work on a variable cost basis ensuring risks are reduced and profits maximised.

What this looks like in reality is multi-family buildings being transformed into boutique apartment rentals which feel very much like hotels – branded, standardised and offering a uniform, quality guest experience. All the benefits of a hotel stay yet coupled with the convenience of a rented apartment. Tech is powering this new business model and 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. 

About Jessica Gillingham

Jessica is the director of Abode PR – a boutique public relations agency and consultancy specialising in working with hospitality and property technology clients operating in the global short-term rental and hotel industries. With over 20 years of experience in travel, technology and hospitality, Jessica writes and speaks regularly on topics related to public relations, technology, the short-term rental industry and the travel industry. www.abode-pr.com 

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Posted in Our Thinking, Short-Term Rental Industry