My STR Tech-Stack: The Smart Tools I Use At My Airbnbs To Improve My Operations

The more short-term rentals I add to my portfolio, the more I realize that the investments I can make in hardware and software products can make life a lot easier. Even with just one rental, there are lots of tools you can use to make you feel more at peace while managing the business. Keeping your home safe and ensuring a smooth and enjoyable stay for your guests are paramount to a long and successful hosting career. In this post I’ll discuss the tools I use inside my homes.

Keeping an Eye Out

As nice as it would be to be able to see what’s going on inside your Airbnb home at any time, it should be very well understood that you cannot have cameras anywhere inside the home. You are allowed, however, to have security cameras outside and in public/shared spaces (in the case of a multiunit situation).

I enjoy the Blink cameras from Amazon. When paired with the connection gateway device, the system allows me to view my camera feed on my phone from anywhere. I even get alerts when the camera notices motion. This is a nice feature on check-in day and also to make sure a guest isn’t bringing in more people than allowed. A great party stopper! Plus, there’s no monthly fee for the service. That is a huge plus for me.

If you add cameras to your Airbnb, be sure to include them in your listing details. I like to mention that we have outdoor security cameras “for the safety of our guests and of the home” and I also make it clear that there are no cameras inside.

Restricting Access

If you’re an Airbnb host, or long to be one someday, I hope the idea of leaving a key under the mat for guests never crosses your mind… same with under a flower pot or in the mailbox. You should always have a code that the guest must know in order to access the home. Not all code-restricted access methods are created the same, though.

You could put a key in a lock box with number dials or install a door lock mechanism with physical buttons but that still presents a challenge – The code remains the same unless and until someone is able to go to the home and change the combination. Otherwise, the longer you operate with that static entry code, the more people know how to get into your home. I’d hate to be in a position where a previous guest comes back for a freebie because they know the lock combination.

The better solution is a smart lock mechanism that can be controlled from your phone. Similar to the camera system, the Sifely door lock uses a plug-in hub that allows me to communicate with the system from anywhere. I am able to add and remove passcodes as often as I’d like. When I make a new code for a guest, I just tell them the code in their check-in communication. Then, they enter the code on the touchpad and they’re in. Setting the code to a guest’s last 4 phone number digits can be a nice personal touch. There are even some locks, like the Schlage Encode, that can integrate with certain management software to automatically set door codes personalized for each guest, only active for the duration of the stay. I don’t currently utilize any lock systems like that, but it sure is cool.

(Don’t) Bring The Noise

When I closed on my most recent short-term rental home, its big city location brought with it the potential for big city problems. Among these is parties and drunken foolery. While I’m all for my guests having fun, I’m totally against parties and chaos in my investment home. There are several options for noise monitoring in your rental. Similar to the camera situation, it’s important to know that you cannot record audio inside of the home. Rather, the device I use to keep an eye on noise is a decibel monitor from Roomonitor. I can see noise trends throughout the night, right on my phone. The service even calls me if the noise is too high for too long or, if I choose this setting, it can alert the guests directly. Either way, this is a good way to stop problems before they even arise. I will say, though, that I am not happy with the hardware so far, as the connection to the power source feels very week and easily tampered-with by guests. This solution is relatively new to my stack, so I am still debating whether this is the noise-watcher for me.

It’s Getting Hot, Or Cold, In Here

If you read my post about my furious furnace fight, you know how important it is for me to be able to monitor the temperature of my homes from anywhere. After I learned that smart thermostats wouldn’t be so easy to install at my two Michigan rentals, I found an easy solution on Amazon. The device is small and sleek and acts as a beacon for me to see the temperature and humidity at any time from my phone, from anywhere.

Always Looking For Peace of Mind

The tools I utilize at my homes offer a sense of calm and control over my business. The more I can monitor from my phone (from anywhere) the more I feel like it’s okay for me not to be at the property. I am able to spot issues quickly and, thanks to great relationships with cleaners and handy professionals I consider friends, I can resolve them in no time. If you know of any other tools that I should check out, please leave them in the comments on this post!

Happy Hosting.

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