6 Tech Tools Every Vacation Rental Owner Needs (3 Are Free)

Technology is like a Marvel Comics superpower. If used for good it can greatly improve your guest experience and yours as an owner. Below are 6 winning pieces of technology you can employ to jumpstart your world domination and go from zero to customer service Hero.

 1. Harmony Remote

Technology is great, but too much tech to the point of confusing your guests is a really BAD idea. As in they will be calling you 24/7 to ask questions so they can catch the rerun of Breaking Bad. Or worse, they won’t call but just leave you a bad review.  I recently went to a vacation rental cabin where they had 5 remotes on the table. No instructions what so ever. Are you kidding me? Do I have to assemble your dining room table too before we can eat dinner? Make it EASY, I’m on vacation! Luckily the Harmony All in One Remote does just that. It programs all your remotes into one easy to use remote that will delight your guests, and make your life easier too.  Unless being TV tech support was on your bucket list.

Tech Tip: Print & laminate a cheat sheet for your remote controls, including the tech support number for your cable company. You won’t need one  nearly as much with the Harmony Remote, but it’s still a good idea.

Don't do this to YOUR guests!

Don’t do this to YOUR guests!

2. LastPass

Let’s be honest, remembering passwords sucks. With this tool, you don’t even need to remember your name. LastPass makes logging in to all your Vacation Rental listing sites, bank, email & every other site online simple and secure. It could be the best free service on the Internet since email. Be more productive and answer inquires even faster!  See my LastPass How-To Video here and don’t pass on LastPass.

3. Keyless Locks

Boy I wish someone would have slapped me with a pork chop for waiting 6 years to get a keyless lock. This is another example of a no brainer for both you & your guests.  I strongly recommend the ResortLock. It works flawlessly and makes me smile just thinking about it. Is that weird?

  • Better security (no copied keys)
  • No lost keys
  • Custom codes only work during their stay
  • Separate codes for housekeepers, service people
  • You can generate codes from anywhere online

4. MailChimp

Email. It has been, and always will be one of the best (and most under used) marketing practices you can employ to increase bookings. Start building your list now! Better late than never. With MailChimp you get a FREE account for up to 2000 subscribers, so it’s perfect for vacation home owners. Don’t be a chump, Get your free MailChimp account here.

5. Security Camera

Like the keyless locks, a security camera is one of the best investments you can make as a VR owner.  Especially if you are an out of town owner. See my popular video where I show you exactly how my security camera works (and what I catch happening outside my Cabin!). I even reveal how my camera has paid for itself in 6 months.

6. PayPal for Credit Cards

If you are not already using HomeAway’s Reservation Manager or some other method to accept credit cards, use PayPal. It’s simple, easy & a very reasonable 2.5% fee, with no charge on refunds. If you are still requiring people to mail you a check you need to ask yourself a serious question:  “Am I in the hospitality business or not?”  Because asking me to send you a check so you can stick to your 1980’s business practices is a borderline customer service crime. If you insist on checks at least use the free eCheck feature on Reservation Manager so that I can easily send it to you from my computer with a few clicks. What ever you do, don’t ever force a guest use a stamp, envelope or the Post Office.

Bonus:  Google Forms for Online Contracts

My rant above would not be complete without mentioning another FREE TECH TOOL: Google Forms. This allows you to create a custom form filled contract. You can buy literally anything on the Internet with a few clicks and a digital signature so why make your renter use the Post Office? Or find a fax machine? Yea, the 1980’s called and they want their cassette tapes back too. There is simply no excuse in 2013 to ever make your guests mail or fax anything.

Here is the exact Google Form I’ve used for about 6+ years.  Don’t like Google Forms? Use EchoSign for online contract signatures.

Extra Double Secret Bonus: iPod Docking Atomic Alarm Clock Radio

This is a great piece of technology that gives your guest two things they love:  A way to play their own music, and another way to charge their phone if they forgot their charger.  The only issue now is that the newer iPhones have new connectors, so the guest would have to bring their own converter. The part that I really like as an owner however is the “Atomic” part.  This feature allows the clock to reset itself to the correct time after a power outage. If your vacation home has frequent outages like mine, you know what a pain this is resetting the clocks in every bedroom is. No more with these!


What are your favorite technology tools you use that make you feel like a Super Hero?


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  1. I so LOVE the camera idea but concern it would deter renters because they may think if I am spying in the outside then I may be on the inside. I feel it shows lack of trust but for me personally who had people say that there is only the allowed 12, then they bring in more and with my property being no pets and they bring in pets I want to have the camera

    • Thanks for the comment Angela! I can see your concern, but I think if you are upfront about the camera and where it’s located it should only scare away the people you are trying to avoid. Cameras are all over other public areas, hotels, businesses etc., so it’s fairly common and most people are used to it. I too had many guests sneaking in extra people, so to me any trade off is worth it.

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