Zach Taiji is a freelance writer/photographer by night and a public relations professional by day for Pulp-PR and River House Development.
With over half a million listings worldwide in 192 countries, vacation rental service Airbnb has skyrocketed to popularity since its inception in 2008. Because of its large scale of incoming and diverse users, it’s important to make sure that the necessary tools are put in place to offer security and convenience for both the guest and host.
Here’s a list of the top 10 tools that every Airbnb host should have:
1. Urban Bellhop (Starts at $50 per guest)
Urban Bellhop is a service for helping Airbnb hosts maximize their rental opportunities by offering bellhop like-services such as check-ins, rental turnover, listing management and cleaning for hosts who are unable to meet the guests.
This is a great tool for hosts who are always traveling, on the job, or on vacation.
2. Nest Thermostat ($249)
Nest Labs, now owned by Google, is a company that develops “smart” home automation products. The company’s most notable invention is the ex-Apple engineer designed Nest Thermostat – which programs itself to set optimal temperatures, saving energy for homeowners by up to 20 percent per month.
Airbnb hosts who are often away and not able to monitor temperatures at home can use the Nest to monitor and control the climate at home to make sure that guests are warm enough or not using too much energy.
3. Fibaro Door/Window Sensor ($65)
Fibaro offers several home safety products, including smoke sensors and flood sensors – but one of its best devices is the Fibaro Door/Window Sensor – a perfect security device for Airbnb hosts to prevent theft and break-ins. A bonus? It also lets the homeowner know why the house might be getting so cold.
The sensor detects when a door or window is opened and sends a mobile or Web notification to the homeowner. It can also be programmed to work with a temperature sensor. Fibaro is currently working to bring the device to the US – it’s currently available in Europe and parts of Asia.
4. FlyCleaners (Starts at $4.95 for 5 lbs of laundry)
FlyCleaners is an on demand dry-cleaning service and mobile app for iOS/Android based in Brooklyn, NY that allows users to place orders for pickup and delivery. It’s a perfect solution for Airbnb hosts who need to get their laundry done but don’t have a washer and dryer in their apartment, or don’t want to offer theirs to guests. It’s also a great way for hosts to get bedding and towels quickly cleaned in between guests.
FlyCleaners will pickup and deliver clothes pretty much anytime – from 6 AM to midnight, seven days a week – and prices start at $4.95 for five lbs of laundry. Right now the service is only offered in the greater Brooklyn area, but they plan on expanding later this year.
5. Lockitron ($179)
Lockitron is a “smart” keyless entry device for your home, controlled by any mobile device – the user simply sends a text message command or uses the Lockitron app to lock/unlock their door. It also features proximity-sensed keyless entry using Bluetooth to communicate between your phone and the lock.
If you can’t afford a bellhop or doorman service, Lockitron is a great alternative for Airbnb hosts who can’t let their guests inside due to being away or at work.
6. Proprly (Starts at $125 per cleaning)
Proprly is a full-service cleaning and key delivery company for rental homes and homeowners. It’s an ideal tool for Airbnb hosts who need to book an on-demand house cleaning in between Airbnb guests while at the office, since the company will do so within two hours of booking.
The service is currently in beta, serving the greater New York area.
7. Netflix (Starts at $7.99 per month)
Coupled with a set-top box like an Apple TV/Roku or a Smart TV, Netflix can be an affordable solution for Airbnb hosts who want to offer a luxury service to their guests without having to pay for a cable or satellite TV subscription.
Since many Airbnb guests choose to stay only overnight, Netflix allows them to select which movie(s) they’d like to relax to, without all of the TV commercials. The built-in parental controls are also great for families who stay at your rental.
Ube is platform for controlling home electronics, and was recently successfully funded on Kickstarter for $300K. The platform is focused on everything “smart” – allowing its users to control lighting and electrical outlets via a smartphone app.
The Ube Smart Outlet/Plug and Smart Dimmer are ideal for Airbnb hosts who need to monitor and control their electricity usage by guests.
9. SkyBell ($199)
Surveillance and security is key for any listed Airbnb host. At any time, a complete stranger could approach your home – thankfully, there are several home security options to choose from.
One of them is called SkyBell, which is a combination “smart” doorbell and security camera. The homeowner can instantly watch a video feed of the guest at the door via a smartphone app, and also speak back at them with a greeting. SkyBell also has a motion sensor so that you can view who’s in front of your house without them actually having to push the doorbell button.
If the aesthetic doesn’t quite appeal to you, an alternative is Doorbot - an equally smart doorbell system that’s made to sync with the aforementioned Lockitron.
10. Raspberry Pi ($25)
Perhaps this is best limited to the very tech-savvy homeowner, but the mini computer Raspberry Pi can be a great tool for hobbyists looking to add something unique to their rentals.
If you have any programming experience or want to learn it, the possibilities for homeowners and Airbnb hosts are endless with a Raspberry Pi: home automation, security devices, monitoring solutions, or even media centers. The low cost of investment makes it ideal for part-time uses (or in extreme cases, theft).
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What tools do you find helpful when hosting guests in your rentals?