The privacy, space, self catering facilities and other comforts offered by short-term rentals appeal to travellers needing to isolate, combining travel with work from home or just not wanting to come into too much contact with other guests.
The recent Airbnb IPO valuation of more than $100US million, which was more than those of Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels combined - shows the continued confidence in this sector through 2021 and beyond.
The development and take-up of technology in the holiday rental sector has accelerated. Partly as a response to increased guest expectations for safety and professional standards, but also for ensuring that they meet the obligations of their communities.
No-contact keyless entry, automated property technology, enhanced operations and property care technology, voice-activated guest concierge, AI guest communication tools, noise and occupancy monitoring, digital guest screening and outsourced turnkey solutions are all available to ensure that the holiday rental market continues to thrive in 2021.
6 Tech Trends stand out:
1. Property Automation & Keyless Entry
When it comes to property automation in holiday rentals, it all starts with the door. Since COVID-19, being ‘meeted and greeted’ by a host has lost its charm and keyless entry has grown in popularity.
According to Operto, an award-winning software platform and leader in smart devices for hospitality, demand for ‘contact-less’ check-in and smart locks has vastly increased since the pandemic. Once a property has a smart lock connected to its software, temperature control, occupancy and noise levels can also be monitored ensuring that the property, especially if its in NSW, is adhering to the new code of conduct regulating short-term rentals which came into effect in December 2020.
2. Operational & Housekeeping Technology
A hugely positive consequence of COVID-19, has been the increased emphasis on safety, hygiene and quality service within holiday rentals. Guests have demanded higher standards and the sector has complemented this with technology tools that enhance maintenance protocols, cleaning tasks and housekeeping schedules. As a result, rental quality assurance has become increasingly sophisticated.
A recent report by Breezeway, a property operations and services software platform, showed that 95% of holiday rental managers were planning on implementing changes to their operations to help guests feel more confident in the safety of their rentals, while 83% planned on enhancing their quality assurance programs, and 39% used customized checklists for dedicated safety inspections.
3. Digital Guest Screening
The majority of the holiday rental market comprises properties owned by individuals. These may be investment or second homes generating income for owners. It is estimated that the volume of potential holiday rental ‘stock’ that could be available to meet guest demand would grow if owners felt more comfortable about welcoming ‘Internet strangers’ into their homes and communities.
Using comprehensive guest screening based on predictive analytics that checks for criminal records, ‘bad characteristics’ or previous renting history, reservations can be checked so that ‘bad’ guests don’t even make it past the front door. Safely.com, a specialist insurtech and guest screening platform for short-term rentals, states that only 3% of reservations ever result in a claim.
4. AI Guest Communication
Communicating with guests is time consuming. However with AI technology, time and precious resources can be saved by automating all guest messaging and engagements through smart, context-aware chatbots.
Still in its infancy in holiday rentals, the technology is being developed by companies such as start-up Yada.ai, which provides a 24 hour service so guests can have questions answered in real time.
5. Voice Activated Virtual Concierge
The desire for ‘touchless tech’ experiences has also made its way into the traditional ‘guest book’ with more properties being equipped with Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices providing information about the rental rather than the traditional ring-binder.
Virtual Concierge Service says that by adding a voice assistant device in your property, you can provide expert local knowledge in an interactive voice conversation or deliver the same experience directly from your guests' phone.
6. Disruptive business models
The impact of COVID-19 has changed the way many businesses operate in the rental market, opening up new opportunities. Technology solutions such as Jetstream have come onto the market to support new entrants disrupting the short-let sector.
Large, multi-unit properties and their owners can now access specialist tools for marketing, guest communication, pricing, operations and automation so they can put part of their assets on a low financial risk basis as short-lets, whilst keeping the flexibility to also manage longer-term rentals.
The short-term rental market is undoubtedly being transformed. And technology holds the key to success.
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