Vacation Rental Smart Home

The Best Door Locks for Vacation Rentals

Are they worth the cost?

Are you looking for the best door locks for vacation rentals or Airbnb properties?

Smart locks can be an incredibly convenient solution – they will keep all of your rentals secure and allow guests to check in without you or your staff having to be there. Once smart door locks are installed, you will learn to integrate smart home locks with your current business practices to increase satisfaction with your guests, staff, owners and finally, you.

Read on for a comprehensive guide to choosing the best technology, the best hardware and ultimately best home automation provider (who will take care of the technology and hardware for you!) We have compared some of the best door locks for vacation rental properties and taken a close look at the pros and cons they have to offer.

smart locks for vacation rentals
Your lock can be a whole lot smarter than a traditional key – and make your life easier.

Advantages of  Smart Door Locks for Vacation Rentals

You might be wondering – “why should I pay extra for smart locks, when ordinary locks or keyboxes work just fine?”

Smart door locks provide better security, remove tasks from your check in/out process, and reduce your costs.  Best of all, they provide a better guest experience by removing the hassle, stress and irritation that are inevitable with physical keys.

Here are some of the reasons why this type of lock can be a lot more practical for vacation rental owners:

They Make Quick Turnaround Days a Lot Easier

When you have multiple same day changes over during your busy season, things can be hectic. You know the drill,  wait for 10am departure time, then cleaning, laundry, inspections, garbage… you staff rushing around to make sure  everything is perfect for the next guests to arrive. If your departing guests leave late and your next guests arrive early, this puts even more time pressure on you.

This time pressure can ultimately leave a bad impression on your guests. If you are pushing them out the door at exactly 10:01am or asking them to take a walk before they can check in, they might feel a little less welcome. This can negatively reflect on your owners, especially if those guests leave a bad review.

By installing a smart lock on your property, you can help add more time to the day. Guests will receive an email or text on the morning or checkout, giving them a special check out code they can use when leaving the property.   You can know right away when a guest check’s out so that you know the home is vacant and ready for cleaning.

If you are using  VRScheduler,  both you and your assigned staff can be alerted of early check outs so they know to head to that property first.  How’s that for convenient?

the best door locks for vacation rentals
If you want to avoid feeling like this on turnaround days… keep reading.

Smart Locks Improve Vacation Home Security

A smart lock allows you to know when your property is being accessed, and who is accessing it. All security data for your vacation rental will be at your fingertips. You can set up a key code for each user, as well as an alert so that you get a notification when anyone accesses your home.

In an average year, a typical vacation home may be accessed by over 150 different guests, as well as housekeeping and maintenance staff. Sharing keys with that many people is quite risky.

(This is a huge selling point when you are pitching your vacation rental management services to new owners – so make sure to mention it!)

No Need for Physical Keys

Why have keys, if you don’t need them? Keys can be easily lost, stolen or duplicated. Plus, it takes time for your staff to put them in the lock box or pick them up from your office.

Without physical keys, your cleaners will be able to spend more time cleaning rather than messing around with lock boxes. When your cleaners waste less time, this cuts down staffing costs – a savings you can pass along to owners.

Keyless Entry is Better for Your Guests

Your guests will love keyless entry with smart locks as well. They can arrive at the property at any time and not have to plan to meet with staff.

If a large group is visiting, they don’t need to worry about whether there will be enough keys for everyone. There’s no need to stress about losing the key and guests don’t have to deal with finding the lock box or stopping in at the office.

Guests love keyless entry because it makes it a lot easier to get in and out of their vacation rental – which means they can relax and have more fun on their getaway.

the best door locks for vacation rentals
Your guests will be relaxing on the beach not worrying about where the keys are… because there aren’t any!

How Smart Home Door Lock Technology Works

Technology is pretty amazing.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that you can control the lock to your front door with your phone. But it’s true! A smart home lock is a great example of the ever-growing “Internet of Things” – objects and devices that are connected and can be controlled wirelessly.

A smart lock can connect to the internet in a number of ways, so that you can lock and unlock your home with just a few taps on your tablet or smartphone.

These are a few of the ways a smart lock can connect to the internet.

  • Wi-Fi: Power-intensive requiring a power source or long-lasting battery.
  • Bluetooth: No one can intercept or unscramble the interaction with the devices. Bluetooth requires close proximity to the device (meaning you need to stand near it with your smartphone to control it).
  • Zigbee: Uses low energy radio waves to communicate. This is a much lower power alternative than Wi-Fi, but with a much bigger range than Bluetooth.
  • Z-Wave: Like Zigbee uses low energy radio waves, but was developed to operate on a frequency without interference issues.
best door locks for vacation rentals
Homes these days… they just keep getting smarter and smarter!

What is the SmartHome Hub?

When you set up a smart home lock on your property, you’ll need to set up a SmartHome hub as well. The hub will be located on the property and is connected to the internet.

Your smart home devices will use one of the above technologies to communicate with the hub, which will subsequently communicate through the internet to your automation provider.

Devices on Wifi or Bluetooth will connect directly to the hub, while Zigbee and Z-Wave use “source-routed mesh network topology.” What does this mean? Source routed mesh network topology means that signals can hop from device to device until they eventually reach the hub. In other words, the signal does not have to be direct.  Whew! This means it is a lot easier to set up your devices because they don’t necessarily need to have direct access to the hub.

Which is the Best Type of Smart Home Door Lock Connection?

Out of all the ways a smart home door lock can connect to the internet, one of the best options is Z-Wave. It offers low power consumption, a dependable connection and a very easy setup. Sounds like a winner to us!

Many of the most popular smart door locks for vacation rentals use Z-Wave technology, including Operto, BeHome247 and PointCentral. Later in this post, we will take a closer look at these options and compare their pros and cons.

The Best Door Locks for Vacation Rentals: How Much Will They Cost?

As a vacational rental manager, you’re probably thinking about how you will present the option of a smart lock to your property owners. Will they be open to the idea of paying more for this type of smart lock technology?

You never know… when they hear about the benefits of this type of lock – they just might.

In fact, we were surprised at the results of our cost analysis. Here are the results of our study, along with our best recommendation on how to present this option to your owners.

As with any project, we will start by compiling all the one time and ongoing costs that are involved in installing and using smart door locks at your vacation rental property.

Step 1: Factor In The One Time and Ongoing Costs

Your Time

Of course, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your time – because it really is valuable. You’ll need to take the time to research your options, put all of the information together and present it to owners. (However, a smart lock will eventually save you time down the road.

The Lock Itself

Of course, you’ll also have to factor in the cost of buying the lock, which will depend on which lock you choose. (We’ll compare some prices later on in this article.)

Installation

You’ll have to pay for the lock to be installed, so don’t forget to factor these costs in. Some of the best door locks for vacation rentals are those that are easy to install, which cuts down on labor costs.

Home Automation Software

Don’t forget to also factor in the ongoing cost of the home automation software as well. (We’ll take a look at software choices and prices below.)

Maintenance

Also, consider the ongoing maintenance costs of replacing batteries every year. It will add up over time and is something that you need to factor into your ongoing budget.

Do your research to figure out what these one time and ongoing costs will be, so that you can make a budget for the future. We love to use excel for this type of forecasting, but you can use any software, or a piece of paper!

best door locks for vacation rentals
Alright… let’s crunch the numbers. Time to get the calculator out!

Example Expenses

*The numbers used here are examples only, please perform your own analysis, we are not responsible for incorrect estimates or under estimates.  Here are VRScheduler we always amortize projects over a 2 year period, so we will do the same here.*

Expense Notes One Time Expense Monthly Expense Annual Expense 2 Year Amortized Expense
Lock $200-$300 $300
Hub $100 $100
Install Labor 3 hours $120 $120
Home Automation Software $20 $240 $480
Batteries $5 $10
Annual Maintenance Expense 1 hour $40 $80
Total for First Lock per Home $520 $285 $1090

So you can see that you would spend approximately $520 for the first lock, hub and install on each home.  You would then spend an additional $285 annually.

Also, keep in mind that there may be volume discounts available if you are installing locks on multiple properties. So, if you manage a large collection of homes, you’ll save even more.

Step 2: Quantify The Benefits

It is hard to quantify the benefits you will enjoy when switching to a smart door lock, as they depend on your current system. However, here are some of the factors that you can consider when analyzing your unique situation.

Reduction in Labor Costs

If you are currently using keys, you will no longer need to pay for someone to meet the guest at the house upon arrival. This offers immediate savings unless staff still have to meet the guest anyway for other reasons. You’ll also save on the cost of staff finding and replacing keys into the key box on site whenever guests leave. If it takes 5 minutes per visit, for 10 visits per month and you pay your staff $25 per hour – this can cost nearly $300 extra over the year.

If you can get all your homes to transition to keyless, you will not even need to pay for staff in an office where guests pick up their keys. So, swapping to smart door locks can save you a lot in labor costs.

(With this new system, you will probably not pass the savings along to the owner. There are benefits for the home owner that you can bring up when you are selling them on the idea of switching to smart locks. See below in our section “How to Sell Your Owners on the Best Smart Locks for Vacation Rentals“)

Smoother Turn Days

When you are calculating the benefits of the best door locks for vacation rentals, another factor to consider is how much smoother your turn days will be. Take a look back at your turn days in the past. Do you often find that the property is not ready on time for the next guest? Or that the cleaning staff are rushed due to time pressure and miss important details?

Because staff will not have to worry about picking up and dropping off keys, they will have more hours to deal with cleaning and turnover of the property – so they can do a better job. Smart locks will make things less stressful for your staff, which will reduce turn-over and improve their morale.

This means that the best door locks for vacation rentals will reduce your costs when it comes to labor and training. (By the way, we have some great tips for other ways to reduce staff cost which will we share in an upcoming article. In the meantime, reach out to help@vrscheduler.com for advice.)

Again, this is something that benefits you but probably not the owner.

the best door locks for vacation rentals
Here’s some more chilled out guests – they look so happy and laid back because they don’t have to keep track of a key.

Improved Guest Satisfaction

The more hassle-free your vacation rental experience is, the more guests will enjoy it – and leave positive reviews! When guests travel to a vacation rental, they want to focus on the fun sights, activities, dining and nightlife of that destination – not the logistics of how to get in and out of their accommodation.

Whenever they have to do an extra step, such as picking up and dropping off keys or meeting with staff – it cuts into their precious vacation time. If there’s an issue with the key (or, if they lose it, or the lock is hard to open) it can cause a lot of stress.

This is the main reason why Airbnb added a new check-in tool to their app in 2017 – so that owners could provide directions for operating the lock to their guests. When you make the process for entering the vacation rental property as smooth and quick as possible, you’ll be more likely to get a positive review – which will lead to more bookings. So, this is a factor that will absolutely translate into a benefit for your homeowners.

After all, a five-star stay should start with a welcoming arrival.

Increased Security

The improved security aspects of using the best smart locks for vacation rentals are hard to quantify. However, consider the negative repercussions if one of your vacation rentals were to be broken into due to someone losing or copying the key, or forgetting to lock the door.

Although your insurance might cover the damage and the lost property, you’ll still have to pay staff to deal with the issue and file the claim. Also, while items are being replaced and the locks are being changed, that rental property is unbooked and not generating income.

With the best smart locks for vacation rentals, you can make sure that access to any property is always monitored – even during vacant periods. It’s the best way to keep your staff and guests safe.

The best door locks for vacation rentals
Your home is your castle, so keep it secure. (No need for a moat, a smart lock will do.)

How to Sell Your Owners On the Best Smart Locks for Vacation Rentals

It’s pretty clear to see – keyless entry is much better for the property manager than the owner. However, if you are trying to sell your owners on the idea of a smart lock for their properties – there are some benefits you can highlight for them.

When you present the option for smart locks to your owners in the right way, it will become quite clear to them that this technology offers a lot of advantages. Here are some tips for selling your owners on this option.

  • Instead of highlighting how it will benefit you (labor savings and staff stress savings), focus on how it will benefit the owner and their guests.
  • Let them know that smart locks will increase guest satisfaction, which will result in higher ratings and potentially more bookings.
  • Also, highlight the increased security that the best door locks for vacation rentals can offer.
  • Inform the owner that you will include the annual costs in with your normal monthly fees.
  • Consider covering the cost of the installation to sweeten the deal with them. You’ll likely make up the difference quite quickly in the time you save.

When you present all of the above in an attractive way, your owners will only be paying for the lock itself. This should make it easy for them to say “YES!”

Door Locks We DO Recommend for Vacation Rental Properties

Yale

A Yale lock is one of the best options for vacation rentals and it is used by our partners, Operto, BeHome247 and Point Central. Yale has been around for many years and their name in synonymous with quality, secure locks. There are many different models online. Look for a lock that uses Z-Wave chips that align with PC radio/hub connectivity, and is also durable and easy to install and maintain.

dormakaba

dormakaba is a brand preferred by our partner BeHome247. Their digital door locks are sleek, stylish and easy to use. For example, take a look at the Digital Mortise Lock ML 330. It has a durable metal body, a backlit keypad and is capable of storing up to 4 sets of pin codes and 100 access card registrations.

Kwikset

Kwikset locks are easy to install and come with an excellent user’s manual that will help with the setup. They allow you remote access advantages, so that you can lock or unlock doors via your smartphone. You can also receive remote notifications when the door lock is accessed. (Note: The Kwikset brand is also known as Weiser in some locations.)

smart door locks for vacation rentals
These smart locks? No. Just no. I think I’ll pass.

Door Locks We DO NOT Recommend for Vacation Rental Properties

Schlage

Many people have had issues with the keypad for this lock disconnecting. It has a mechanism inside the lock that connects to your smartphone device and tells you whether or not the door is locked. However, the small forks within the mechanism have been known to rub down and stop making contact with the keypad (which causes the keypad to stop working.)

There is also a common issue with the battery pack, which tends to read incorrectly. It shows that the device has high battery when it is actually dead. So, due to the high number of quality issues reported with these locks, we would not recommend them for your properties.

Sesame

The Sesame Lock offers the advantage of being easy to install, as it can be attached to the door with only double sided table. However, this lock is plastic and not built to last and the motor isn’t very strong, so we wouldn’t recommend it as a long term solution.

August

The August lock is quite popular, but it’s not a great option. While it allows you to keep the same lock on the outside, this isn’t ideal for vacation rentals. It’s much easier to give guests access to the property via a keypad, rather than having them connect their phone via an app(which might come from another country.)

Also, the lock is large and would be difficult to get your hand around – especially if you have small hands or a disability. Plus, the fact that the August is not universal and has to have it’s own Wifi hub is another reason why it’s not ideal.

Home Automation Providers We Recommend

VRScheduler integrates with PointCentral, BeHome247 and Operto to increase the number of hours in your quick turn days. Learn more about VRScheduler’s integration with PointCentral, BeHome247, and Operto.)

Operto

 

Operto

Operto is the expert in offering smart keyless entry and suite automation systems that are easy to use and integrate well with other property management systems. Their systems allow for guests to enter without the need for a key or a fob, which makes it easy to set up guest entry remotely.

PointCentral

PointCentral offers smart home automation services for property managers. Not only will their automation solutions help you know who accesses each property (and for how long) they will also allow you to control energy consumption across all locations, monitor HVAC and water and much more.

BeHome247

BeHome247 offers software that you can use via a dashboard on your tablet, so that you can control lock access, HVAC settings, energy and more – for hundreds of properties. The software is available for an annual fee, which includes support. Plus, with the energy savings features, your homeowner clients will enjoy the benefits as well.

 

This is how happy and free you’ll feel when you’ve finally switched to smart locks. What are you waiting for?

Conclusion

We believe that Smart Locks are, hands down, the best place to start when introducing home automation to your vacation rental business.  Although there are upfront and ongoing costs, there are so many advantages to having an automated keyless entry system.

We believe investing in a smart lock system is well worth the cost. 

Any questions?

Do you have more questions about home automation providers and the best door locks for your vacation rental properties?  Contact us anytime, we are always happy to help.

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