Pam Knudsen, Director of Compliance Services at Avalara, advises rental property-owners to deploy AI, IoT tools for management of real estate assets
There are certain experiences that simply require businesses to provide a human touch, like a fitting for a new suit or a guided travel tour. But, that’s not the case for all businesses – or business functions.
AI automation is having a particularly powerful impact on the service industry, where technology is alleviating the workload for business-owners, while enhancing experiences for customers. Intelligent automation is becoming particularly useful in the short-term rental space. Here’s how:
In the not-so-distant past, making hotel reservations required a rotary phone, the Yellow Pages and a whole lot of patience. Vacationers were required to call around, inquiring about hotel availability and features. In today’s world, vacationers need little more than an Internet connection and credit card to book that room.
Automated and chatbot-interfaced bookings enable travelers to effortlessly reserve a room with instant gratification. Twitter room with instant gratification. They’ll also have the option of viewing, modifying and canceling reservations online. Travelers even receive automated email reminders to ensure their plans are not waylaid due to missing docs or misplaced tickets.
Automation can be a huge help to rental-owners, too. This technology enables them to track bookings, cancellations and site traffic with little capital investment, training or time. Automation can also alleviate the stress of managing multiple rentals and streamline the entire rental process.
Moreover, automation tells renters more about the guests they’re set to receive, and helps them determine whether special room preparations are necessary. For example, if you’re expecting a young family, you might need extra time to child-proof the rental.
Ah, the joys of modern technology: dishwashers, Roombas, microwaves, robotic housekeepers – the latter might seem like a stretch, but it’s not as hyperbolic as you think. Automation is helping lessen the burden of post-rental cleaning.
Services are available that help automate housekeeping services by scheduling cleaning appointments online that coordinate with a guest’s arrival or departure time. Such services can also monitor your housekeeping routine and send an alert if your vacant rental is due for a cleaning.
Better still, housekeeping apps can determine the level of cleaning service your rental requires, based on a number of variables. They can also enable cleaning services to submit property damage reports that include photographic evidence.
AI automated housekeeping has become so popular that there are now multiple apps to choose from. Before selecting a service, compare prices and features to find one that best suits your budget and cleaning needs.
Tax seasons have a way of sneaking up on us, and hurling us into a disorganized frenzy. Luckily, all that stress and panic can be avoided with the right automated taxation software.
The right automated tax collection tool can easily determine what local and state taxes are due, their deadlines and to which agencies money is owed. Automated tax collection tools can also automatically remit required lodging tax payments. It’s important to remember that while the traveler is responsible for paying those taxes, it’s the owner’s responsibility to collect the money and remit the payment. If the owner fails to collect the required taxes from their customers, they’re on the hook for that cash.
Automated taxation software especially helps when taxation requirements keep regularly changing on the local, state and federal levels. It can be tricky to keep up with those changes, but this is another area where automation can help. The right automated tool will alert you of any relevant tax changes and adjust its automatic withdrawals to meet the new requirements.
As well, tax solutions can obtain and manage licenses, track license renewal requirements, and automatically renew them when due.
Tracking information with pen and paper – or even through Excel – has become an impractical means of tracking customer data and interactions. Property-owners should instead seek a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to take their Rolodex further.
A CRM will help you maintain a detailed, updated database of your visitors – and any travelers you have discussed your short-term rental with – through easy-to-use, automated technology.
Aside from tracking customer information, a good CRM also offers marketing automation and predictive analytics technologies. This helps determine the best next step in interacting with prospective renters. It can also help prioritize leads and maintain contact with potential repeat customers.
Safety and security
For short-term rental-owners, nothing is more important than the safety and security of guests and property. But when your miles – and sometimes states – away from the property you own and manage, protecting your rental can be easier said than done. This is especially true for high-turnover rentals, or properties located in remote areas.
When you can’t be on or near your property, look to IoT sensor automation to serve as your eyes and ears. Twitter Noise tracking and notification systems such as NoiseAware can track overall noise levels and any suspicious outdoor sounds. NoiseAware tracks activity round-the-clock and provides users with a dashboard they can use to monitor activity or communicate with guests.
Other AI-driven apps provide automatic notifications – or even calls to security – if there’s suspicious activity or movement during times of property vacancy.
There are also specialty, customer-designed insurance products that exist to protect short-term rental owners and their assets. Home inspection apps and drones for repairs and maintenance will give you a checklist to complete and submit on your phone, which includes photos.
And, if you’re worried about a key being copied or falling into the wrong hands, consider automation there, too. Smart locks are available that can programed to automatically rotate lock box password pins before a new customer checks in. This ensures travelers can’t access the property prematurely, and can be useful when scheduling maintenance and house-cleaning appointments.
For short-term rental owners, time isn’t just money. It’s a precious opportunity to balance the books, communicate with customers and prepare a property for the next guest. But, of course, when it comes to time, it seems there’s just never enough.
Short of a technology that would allow you to clone multiple versions of yourself, the best way to maximize your time as a short-term rental owner is through automation. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to embrace technology as a way to more effectively manage your property while improving the overall getaway experience for guests.