Smart Tech is in the HouseGreg Burge, President PointCentral
There is a significant technology trend occurring in the U.S. and other countries that is having a major impact on the vacation rental market – the adoption of Smart Home technologies by homeowners and Vacation Rental Managers (VRMs). This article examines the growth in the sector, the benefits and risks to homeowners and VRMs, and the best course of action for all.
Here are some stats to get started:
- Approximately 81% of home buyers prefer smart homes over non-smart homes.
- More than 10% of U.S. broadband households are planning to buy a smart thermostat over the next 12 months.
- Nearly 75% of current smart thermostat owners report reduced electric bills.
- Global smart home connected appliances are projected to grow from fewer than 1 million units shipped in 2014 to more than 223 million units by 2020
- Worldwide the 13.4 billion internet-connected devices in 2015 are projected to grow to 38.5 billion in 2020 – a 285% increase (Juniper Research).
- The home automation market in the U.S. is estimated to reach more than $5.5 billion in 2016.
Yes, you read that right. Smart Home growth is expected to rival mobile phone growth. Fueling much of this is the growth in consumer awareness of the technology. Giants like Apple, Google, Samsung, LG and others are committing huge resources to the category and have invested hundreds of millions in marketing to shine a very bright light on Smart Home. Google’s purchase of Nest and Apple’s launch of HomeKit have brought more attention to the category and opened the eyes of many consumers to the advantages of Smart Home technology.
The Smart Home Pull
For the homeowner, Smart Home provides peace of mind knowing they have more control over their property, from remotely controlling locks and thermostats to being alerted when someone enters their home. Plus, there are significant cost savings that come from automating energy usage and controlling min/max temperatures. This is especially critical for vacation rental properties that often see guests leave the air conditioning on high after they check out. Smart Home automation provides alerts when thresholds are exceeded so that temperatures can be remotely adjusted.
Vacation Rental Managers are able to significantly reduce their risk and liability with Smart Home since they can eliminate hard keys, which are often lost, copied or stolen. The news is filled with terrible stories of vacationers experiencing theft and violence during their stay because of so many keys unaccounted for. Smart Home not only provides new lock codes for each guest, it provides the VRM with the ability to monitor and remotely control access and temperature for ALL their properties. Not having to send someone out to a property to let someone in or change the thermostat saves operational costs for VRMs.
The Market Push
In addition to Apple and Google bringing attention to the category, Samsung, LG and others are shifting their focus from mobile and TV to Smart Home devices. The result of all of this is that homeowners are increasingly eager for the added security and convenience, as well as the energy savings that Smart Home provides.
For VRMs, this has both good and bad ramifications. On the bad side, the more control homeowners have over their locks and thermostats, the less control this gives the VRM. There have been many reports from VRMs of homeowners changing the temperature of their home while a guest was occupying their property. That’s right – while the guest was there.
Of course, one of the positive aspects of the Smart Home wave is that homeowners are much more open to the technology and can thus be more easily convinced to go with a solution offered by the VRM.
Consumer vs. Enterprise
It’s important to point out here that the market push by the major players is focused on the DIY/Consumer-Grade technologies. These are self-contained solutions that give the homeowner control of access and temperature for just their property, usually from their smart phone or other mobile device.
VRMs, on the other hand, require an enterprise solution that provides centralized control of multiple properties, something a consumer-grade solution cannot provide. It’s this enterprise class system that gives the VRM the type of property intelligence they need to see a complete picture of property status. This real-time information helps them to streamline turn days, improve operational efficiencies, and provide a better guest experience – things that every VRM wants.
So what should a VRM do? What’s the best course of action? As with any major trend, especially one that is changing the market in so many ways, VRMs need to get in front of the wave or they will find themselves struggling to catch up. If homeowners adopt Smart Home, which we know is already happening, VRMs will be relinquishing control of access and temperature. Once a homeowner has installed Smart Home, they will be reluctant to uninstall it.
VRMs should talk to their homeowners now and show them the advantages of an enterprise system that provides centralized control of all their properties. PointCentral, the leading provider of enterprise Smart Home solutions in the vacation rental market, has found that the large majority of homeowners are not only eager to adopt Smart Home, they are very open to covering the cost since they will be reaping many of the security and energy benefits.
The Smart Home wave is here and it is good for homeowners, VRMs and guests.
The Smart Move
VRMs have a remarkable opportunity to help their homeowners, their guests, and themselves – by implementing Smart Home technology.
The key to this opportunity is to implement it before your homeowners. VRMs across the U.S. report that many of their homeowners are installing Smart Home because it provides better security and saves on energy costs.
But homeowners are installing consumer-grade systems that will give control of access and temperature to the homeowner, not the VRM.
VRMs need to install a commercial-grade solution that provides centralized control of ALL their properties.
I totally agree. The challenge is ROI and control for the homeowner. Many homeowners want a system that they own and control with or without the VRM. Also, they are reluctant to pay the high monthly fees of most enterprise level solutions out there. The trick is finding the balance where the homeowner can maintain levels of ownership and control, even a system that can be decoupled, as well as allow for the VRM to do their job, all while hitting a price point they can swallow. Consumer systems have other promises that do not deliver in the VR setting – example, who is the Nest learning about when a different family stays every week…