In the world of vacation rentals, smart locks have become a must-have for property managers and hosts. These innovative devices offer convenience, security, and peace of mind for both guests and property owners. Best of all, they save you time, coordination, and can lead to more 5-star Airbnb, Vrbo, or direct booking reviews.
In this guide, we will explore:
- The reasons why vacation rental managers and hosts are opting for smart locks over physical keys or lock boxes
- What to consider when choosing the best smart lock for your business
- Some of the best smart lock brands on the market today
- Other smart home devices to consider
Why a smart lock?
Short-term rental managers and hosts have many reasons to invest in smart locks for their properties. Here are just a few.
One of the key benefits of using smart locks is the ability to provide guests with easy access. With a smart lock’s keyless entry, guests no longer need to worry about losing or forgetting keys. Instead, they simply use a unique access code on the lock’s keypad to unlock the door. This eliminates the need for physical keys — and the hassle of replacing lost or stolen ones.
Smart locks provide a higher level of security compared to traditional locks and offer enhanced security features that give both hosts and guests peace of mind. Traditional door locks can be easily picked or tampered with, but smart locks use advanced encryption and authentication protocols to ensure that only authorized individuals can check-in or enter the property. Many smart locks also have built-in alarm systems that can deter potential intruders.
Another advantage of smart locks is the convenience factor. With a smart lock, property managers and hosts can grant access to guests even if they are not physically present. Remote control access can be especially useful for property owners who don’t live near their vacation rental properties or for those who manage multiple properties.
Smart locks also offer a range of customization options that can cater to the specific needs of vacation rental managers and hosts. For example, some smart locks allow for temporary access codes that expire after a certain period of time. This can be useful for short-term rentals as it ensures that guests cannot access the property after their stay has ended. Other smart locks can be integrated with existing home automation systems, allowing hosts to control not just the locks, but also other aspects of the property such as lighting and temperature.
Some smart locks have features that allow tracking when guests enter and exit a property, providing property managers with valuable insights and data. This critical information can be useful for managing check-ins and check-outs, monitoring and optimizing occupancy rates, and even resolving any disputes or issues that may arise during a guest’s stay.
Smart locks also simplify things for your cleaning crew and maintenance team. Rather than lugging around a set of keys, managers can issue each team member a unique touchscreen pin code and track who and when someone has accessed a property. And if a team member ever leaves the company, it’s easy to terminate the pin code to protect the property.
The drawbacks of lock boxes
While some vacation rental hosts may consider using lock boxes as an alternative to smart locks, it’s critical to consider some drawbacks:
- Lockboxes can be easily tampered with or forcefully opened by intruders, compromising the security of a property
- With lock boxes, hosts only have one access code which is problematic as any past guest can access the property in the future
- Lockboxes are less convenient for guests, especially those checking in late or during extreme weather conditions—and fiddling with a lockbox or door lock in the dark or a storm isn’t the ideal way to kick off a vacation
- Lockboxes still necessitate the need for a physical key which can be easily misplaced or stolen
Implementing smart locks
In order to implement smart locks, you will need to set up Wifi and use a property management solution. Once you’ve installed a smart lock, here are the basic steps for integration:
- Step 1: After completing installation, sync your smart lock to your internet
- Step 2: Sync the lock to your software provider
- Step 3: Integrate the software provider to your PMS
- Step 4: Test your lock! Try generating and sending a pin code to your lock
- Step 5: Create the automated message that will send the pin code to your guest (check your PMS’ and lock software’s documentation as each provider has different steps)
Be sure to set expiration rules in the software so that guest pins expire 1-2 hours after check out. This way if a guest forgets something and returns right away, they aren’t locked out. After all, a frantic call isn’t the best way for a guest to end their stay!
Vacation rental smart lock considerations
When selecting the best smart lock for a vacation rental business, several factors need to be taken into consideration:
- Compatibility with a property management system
- Reliability and security features
- User-friendly interface and easy installation (including deadbolt compatibility)
- Battery life and power source
- Integration with other smart home devices
By evaluating these factors and choosing a smart lock that meets your specific requirements, you can ensure a smooth and efficient experience for both you and your guests.
Best smart lock brands
Now that we have covered the reasons to consider smart locks for your vacation rental properties and what to look for in a smart lock— including seamless PMS integration and other lock features—let’s explore some of the best smart lock brands in the industry.
RemoteLock, a leading software provider, offers a user–friendly interface and seamless integration with a variety of PMSs, including Hostfully, Guesty, and Track. With RemoteLock, property managers can easily manage access codes, track entry and exit logs, and even monitor battery levels of their smart locks.
Lynx provides a comprehensive software platform that enables managers to generate unique access codes for guests, monitor property access activity, and control other smart devices in their properties (—think thermostats and lights!).
Operto specializes in smart lock integration with leading PMSs and offers automated check-in and check-out processes, guest communication tools, and real-time monitoring of property access.
Jervis Systems, known for secure and reliable smart lock solutions, offers locks that allow property managers to remotely manage access codes, monitor guest entries, and receive instant notifications for any unauthorized access attempts.
PointCentral’s interface is user-friendly and boasts a comprehensive smart lock integration solution, allowing managers to create and maintain access codes, track entry logs, and even customize access schedules for their guests.
Schlage, a well-known brand in the smart lock industry, is known for durability, reliability, and straightforward installation process—and some Schlage models are bluetooth compatible.
August smart locks are known for their innovative features and seamless integration with other smart devices. Equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, August smart locks eliminate the need for an additional hub, making the setup process quick and effortless.
Another trusted brand, Kwikset, makes easy to use smart locks with touchscreen keypad capabilities in a variety of sleek designs.
With a long-standing reputation for quality and reliability, Yale smart locks combine security, convenience, and a variety of access options including keypad codes, key cards, or even Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, and bluetooth integration.
Some popular smart locks on the market, including some options that integrate with pre-existing deadbolts and smartphone apps. Top row, from L to R: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, Yale Assure Lock® 2. Bottom row, from L to R: Level Bolt, Lockly Secure Plus
Other smart devices to consider
While smart locks are undoubtedly a game-changer for vacation rentals, here are some other smart devices that can enhance the guest experience, improve operational efficiency and give you smart home status:
- Smart thermostats: Allow hosts to remotely manage a property’s temperature, including adjusting the heating and cooling based on check-ins and checkouts
- Smart speakers: Provide guests with voice-controlled entertainment and useful information about the property and local area
- Smart security cameras: Enhance property security and provide hosts with the ability to monitor the premises remotely
- Smart lighting systems: Enable guests to create the perfect ambiance with programmable and remote-controlled lighting, and allows hosts to remotely turn on and and off lights before check-ins and after check-outs
By incorporating these devices into your vacation rental properties, you can elevate the guest experience and streamline operations.
Vacation rental smart locks offer numerous benefits for property managers and hosts, including the convenience of keyless entry, auto-locking, and remote access control. By choosing a smart lock solution that integrates with your property management system, you can ensure a seamless check-in process for managers and guests, improve your security system, and ultimately increase guest satisfaction while bolstering operational efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do smart locks need Wifi to work?
The features of vacation rental smart locks function best when Wifi is connected. However, if you do lose Wifi, most brands have a means to open the lock with a universal key, or by simply using the last pin code.
What happens if the property loses Wifi when a guest checks in?
Assuming you’ve integrated with a PMS, the guest will still be able to use their unique pin. At the time a reservation is made, the booking data is sent to the PMS. The PMS informs the smart lock management software, which pushes the pin code to the smart lock. With most top brands, the pin code is stored in a memory on the smart lock.
When is a smart lock not suitable for a vacation rental property?
Smart locks are suitable for all vacation rental properties that are connected to the internet. However, it can get tricky to use smart locks in a multi-unit vacation rental. If a property is rented to two families at once, managing and generating pin codes may be challenging.
Would it be expensive to install smart locks on all my short-term rentals?
No matter what, installing smart locks will be an expense, however smart locks that rely on a door lock’s deadbolts can save time and money. And in most cases, a smart lock is an investment that will pay for itself if you consider the cost of greeting each guest.
Are smart locks only available to hosts and managers who use a PMS?
Hosts and managers who don’t use a PMS won’t be able to automatically send unique pin codes to guests. However, there are some smart locks that integrate directly to hosts who only list on Airbnb.