Location is everything, but smart gadgets can make your rental stand out to potential guests.
Many hosts in popular destinations face a lot of competition when renting their homes. To make your pad appealing to potential guests, it takes more than comfortable furniture and natural light: Smart home technology can help turn it from an overlooked listing into a five-star property.
Ease check-in and checkout
Forget fumbling with keys that can disappear or be copied. With a smart lock, you use your phone to lock and unlock the front door when you're in Bluetooth range (about 30 feet). If you won't be greeting your guests in person, you can send them a virtual key via the lock's app (they'll need to download the app, as well) that will grant temporary access during their stay. You'll also get notifications on your phone when they arrive and leave. "It circumvents a lot of the complexities around making sure that you're around to hand someone a physical key and that they return the key, and then that the key works in everything," says Patrick Srail, a rental property product manager. There are some risks with smart locks (there have been cases of folks getting locked out of their home because of a botched firmware update), so make sure to research smart lock safety issues.
Give the gift of entertainment
Rather than setting up a cable TV subscription for your rental, install a streaming device like an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Chromecast so guests can watch movies and television programs and listen to music during their stay. To avoid using your personal accounts, you can set up accounts just for your rental or let guests log in to their own. Just be sure to leave instructions on how to use the equipment.
A smart speaker like this Amazon Echo Dot could help welcome guests to your rental property.
Leave an in-home friend
The Amazon Echo, the Google Home and Apple's HomePod (due to be released in early 2018) are internet-connected speakers with voice-activated virtual assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, respectively). Both fun and useful, these devices can do a little bit of everything -- control your lights, play music, order you a pizza, and more. All your guest needs to do is ask. Just don't forget to disable settings that could pose a security risk to you. If you're not careful, for instance, a guest could use an Echo to order something from your Amazon account.
Keep guests comfortable and energy costs down
If you manage a property where you don't live, you can remotely control the temperature from your phone with a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat. Smart thermostats also help conserve energy between guests -- if your property is going to be empty, you can adjust the temperature accordingly. And some thermostats' apps will let you set up notifications if your place reaches certain temperatures, so you can make sure guests aren't cranking up the heat or AC to extreme levels.
Don't forget the basics
Whether you install just one device on this list or all of them, double-check that everything is working properly and the instructions are clearly outlined. Even more important, make sure your Wi-Fi connection is stable and that you have enough outlets and extra charging cables for your devices and your guests. And while you're at it, leave out a few outlet power adapters for your international visitors.