The sharing economy has shifted society’s mind-set from ownership to access, disrupting every possible industry imaginable. And no more is this disruption evident than in the short-term accommodations sector. In 2018 alone, Airbnb had more than 5 million listings in 191 countries and 400 million cumulative guest arrivals, while vacation rental marketplace HomeAway had more than 2 million listings in 190 countries.
Today’s property owners are increasingly tapping into the sharing economy, leveraging popular online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and Vrbo to rent out their properties and homes. But managing access to property can be a challenge, especially for short-term rentals with a high turnover of guests.
So, what options are available to manage property access? Here are three entrance solutions—along with their pros and cons—to ensure security and convenience for both guests and property owners.
1. Basic Safety: Traditional Lock and Key
Traditional lock-and-key systems have been around for centuries, keeping properties safe from unauthorized access. They’re affordable, easy to install, and simple to use. Because of their ubiquity, lock-and-key systems are a common access solution for most properties. Owners could just make copies of their keys and hand them out to renters.
Yet, there are downsides to this approach. A physical exchange of keys is required at the start and end of the rental period. In case the property owners can’t be physically present, they’ll need to find someone else to drop off and pick up keys for them, or look for other means to get keys to the guests.
Additionally, keys can be lost or stolen, and there’s no way for the property owners to know if guests have made copies. Copy-protected keys are available, but they come with a much more expensive lockset. Meanwhile, replacing or rekeying locks for each new guest or when keys are lost or stolen could be a costly and onerous process.
2. Keyless Security: Mechanical Push-Button Locks
When it comes to mechanical push-button locks, access is granted through several button touches. These locks don’t require batteries or power, and most come with numeric keypads that can be easily programmed for a single-access code. This eliminates the need for issuing and collecting keys. Hence, property owners don’t have to be physically present to provide guests with the access code.
However, they need remember to change the access code for each new guest. Otherwise, they might run into issues with previous renters still having access to the property while it’s occupied by new ones. Moreover, changing the access code for mechanical push-button locks may be a complex procedure: Some locks need to be removed from the door before entering a new access code.
3. Automated Safety and Optimal Security: Electronic Locks
Electronic locks are at the forefront of enhanced security, even though they’re a more expensive solution. Much like mechanical push-button locks, electronic locks have keypads for programming and entering access codes. Yet, unlike mechanical push-button locks, it’s possible to program the electronic locks to have multiple access codes. Renters could have individual codes not only for each new guest, but also for cleaners or maintenance staff, giving them added control and flexibility. Electronic locks also allow for time-sensitive codes, granting scheduled access for particular dates and times to specific users.
Most electronic locks also come with an access control management system, enabling owners to remotely monitor access to their properties. The system—which may come in the form of a web application or a mobile app—provides functionality for generating access codes and sending them in a secure manner to guests or staff, notifying owners in real-time when codes are accepted or rejected, and logging all actions on the electronic lock to serve as an entry audit trail.
Another advantage of electronic locks is their integration with smart home hubs. Once an electronic lock is successfully accessed, lights can be turned on or the air conditioner or heater temperature can be set, enhancing a guest’s experience. Then, when a rental period is over, the water supply can be shut down and energy settings can be regulated to save on costs and energy and help streamline property management.
The Right Access for Your Short-Term Rentals
These three entrance solutions could lead to more convenient guest access and easier property management. Each option comes with its own pros and cons, but in the end, it’s all about choosing an entrance solution that suits the short-term rental needs.