Smart Home Tech Upgrades Guests Will Love

It’s no secret, technology and innovation have exploded into every facet of our lives. Homes are no exception to this technological revolution. With Smart Home technologies now available, many consumers—whether buying or renting—allow smart home features to influence their purchase decision. “Approximately 81% of home buyers prefer smart homes over non-smart homes,” according to VRM Intel. Ranked by consumer demand, the following features are ones that homeowners should consider installing in their vacation rentals to increase appeal and bookings.

1. Fast Wi-Fi

We’re in the 21st century. A home without Wi-Fi is like living in the Dark Ages. A home without fast Wi-Fi isn’t much better—possibly worse. Just imagine your guest, waiting for a website to load, waiting for twenty seconds. Unthinkable. If you want to see bookings, fast Wi-Fi is a necessity.

2. Smart Security Systems

This could include electronic access or high-tech door locks. You wouldn’t think smart security systems would be at the top of the list for vacation renters. For a homeowner, yes, but not a guest. Yet, in a study conducted by August.com, 93% of guests showed interest in smart security systems over other smart features. Sounds like a win-win for both homeowners and guests. Nobody has to worry about keys getting lost or stolen and the access code can be changed, preventing previous guests from returning to pick up that phone charger they forgot. At Finger Lakes Premier Properties we have accommodated this trend with our remote smart locks. Not only providing guests with an extra sense of security but also the peace of mind with an easy check-in process to begin their vacation.

3. Smart TV

If you want guests to have a positive experience and keep them coming back, install a smart TV if you haven’t already. Smart TV’s ranked just as high as security systems in the previous study. Why? Because guests enjoy connecting to their personal Netflix or Hulu account to watch whatever their heart desires.

4. Voice Assistant

Go over the top and impress your guests with a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The hotel and vacation rental industries are already incorporating smart home features. Why not jump ahead of the pack and get a larger share of market? The voice assistant is able to provide local information, accessing music, weather reports, and the answers to a wide variety of other questions. Think convenience. Think comfort. Anything to make your guest’s vacation easier and more enjoyable.

voice controlled smart speaker

5. Smart Tablet

The days of ink and paper are dwindling. Digital is the way to go. In addition to or in place of a voice assistant, you could include a welcome tablet. So instead of flipping through a book to find information, guests can use the tablet for an interactive experience. The smart tablet is just another way to make your property stand out from others as modern, hip, and techy. If you are worried about the tablet or voice assistant mysteriously disappearing, don’t worry. Anti-theft security grips or cable lock kits have you covered.

Another recommendation is to ask your property manager what they offer in terms of guest apps. At Finger Lakes Premier Properties, our guest app not only provides information about a reservation and details about their rental, but it also offers local information on restaurants, attractions, and events.

Finger Lakes Premier Properties Can Help!

Unsure where to begin or how to proceed with tech upgrades, let us help you. Our Owner Services department has over twenty-five years experience working with guests; they know what guests want. Contact Owner Services today for professional advice on technological upgrades you can implement in your home.

Finger Lakes – #1 Wine Region in the Nation

Whether you live in or have visited the Finger Lakes, you probably agree with most everyone that it is a breathtaking part of the country. However, not only is it beautiful, it has also been nominated as the #1 wine region in the United States, according to a 2018 poll conducted by USA Today’s 10 Best. Check out some of the wineries that contributed to the Finger Lakes nomination as #1 wine region in the nation.

Winery Restaurants

F.L.X. Table / Element Winery – Geneva, N.Y. 

As the leading restaurant in the Finger Lakes, F.L.X. Table at Element Winery provides an intimate and interactive dining experience. With only fourteen seats available, slots fill quickly. So plan ahead and make your reservation early.

Fox Run Cafe at Fox Run Vineyards – Penn Yan, N.Y.

Careful to serve high-quality foods that are in season, the Fox Run Café strives to represent the Finger Lakes region whenever they can. With several menu items, Fox Run staff pair wines with each menu item, carefully focusing on how the flavors complement each other. The café is open seasonally April-December.

Veraisons Restaurant at Glenora Wine Cellars – Dundee, N.Y.

At Veraisons, everything is made from scratch and sourced locally. From the meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, sauces, bread, and desserts—everything is homegrown in the Finger Lakes region. Veraisons also pays particular attention to diners with food allergies and dietary restrictions, serving vegan and gluten-free dishes.

Winery Tasting Rooms

Fox Run Vineyards – Penn Yan, N.Y.

Taking seventh place for the best wine tasting room is Fox Run Vineyards, according to 10 Best, an affiliate of USA Today. Open year-round, Fox Run invites guests to visit their tasting room and explore all the different wines they have to offer.

Dr. Konstantin Frank – Hammondsport, N.Y.

While guests enjoy complimentary tasting of curated wines, the Dr. Konstantin Frank tasting room offers a beautiful view of Keuka Lake. In addition, guests will be led through five wines as wine educators relay the story of Dr. Konstantin. The tasting room is open year round.

Wine Festival

Finger Lakes Wine Festival – Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Dedicated to showing off what New York has to offer for the wine industry, the Finger Lakes Wine Festival was ranked as the fifth best in America, according to 10 Best. The festival takes place annually between July 13-15, offering numerous opportunities to learn about and taste the best wine and culinary in the state.

Winery Tour

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard – Dundee, N.Y.

In the heart of the Finger Lakes, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard overlooks the largest of the lakes in the region—Seneca Lake. Known particularly for their Riesling wine, Wiemer employs meticulous viticulture and strict ecological standards to produce high-quality wines. Take a tour the next time you are in the area.

Increase Bookings With Four Easy Upgrades

Comfortable Outdoor Atmosphere

When you vacation in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee or the white sandy beaches of Pensacola, what do you do? Do you lounge around inside or enjoy the view outdoors? If you are like the people vacationing in the Finger Lakes, you probably chose your vacation spot for the outdoor spaces to savor the scenery. If you want to increase bookings, create an enjoyable outdoor atmosphere for your guests.

One way you can do this is to provide furniture. However, throwing a few wooden chairs out in a yard that receives direct sunlight probably isn’t going to do the trick. Instead, you may want to invest in plush furniture that is both comfortable and decorative, but durable enough to withstand the elements. Perhaps some comfy cushions or a recliner would be appropriate so that guests can unwind and relax.

Another way to create an enjoyable outdoor atmosphere that will really make your vacation rental stand out is outdoor décor and shaded spaces. With some art, statues, and area rugs, you can increase the ambience of your outdoor living area. Potted plants that don’t require much watering would also add a nice touch. Above all, make sure your vacation rental’s outdoor space provides enough shade. Not everyone likes to be in direct sunlight all day.

Central Air and Ceiling Fans

Although vacation rentals are on the cool waters of the lakes, summers can get hot and humid. Nothing feels better than walking into a cool, air-conditioned house to recuperate from the day’s activity. It also happens to be one of the main complaints our guest services department handles during peak months.

If your vacation rental home does not have central air and/or ceiling fans, you will want to install these as soon as possible. Doing so will boost your home’s search results, improve your guest’s experience dramatically, and ultimately lead to return bookings.

Technological Home Improvements

While many people vacation in the Finger Lakes to get a break from reality and enjoy the outdoor scenery, they still appreciate the convenience technology offers. This is especially true of the millennial generation who are beginning to enter into the vacation rental industry as consumers.

Installing a reliable Wi-Fi network will definitely please your guests. If guests have complained in the past about limited Wi-Fi, you may consider upgrading to accommodate a greater number of devices.

Guests also appreciate smart TVs with cable or a movie streaming service to relax at night, such as Roku. Besides entertainment, a TV contributes to the overall atmosphere and helps your guests feel more at home. If you already have one TV in the living room, you may consider placing additional TVs in each bedroom.

Another technological improvement that is becoming popular in the vacation rental industry is virtual home assistants such as Amazon’s Echo products. Like Siri, a virtual home assistant will talk back and act on voice command. Guests can ask for information, the weather forecast, music playback, and more. This can be especially useful for guests who want to look up things to do or places to eat in the area.

Amenities

When it comes to amenities, do not skimp. Amenities are all those extra things that put the cherry on top. Even the smallest things can make or break a guest’s experience which can affect reviews and repeat visits.

FLPP includes the traditional amenities such as towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and maps of the area. You may wish to throw in additional amenities such as a universal charger and adapter to assuage the fears of travelers who forgot their own.

However, remember that guests are vacationing in the Finger Lakes. If you want to increase bookings, consider adding lake-specific amenities such as paddleboats or kayaks as part of the vacation rental. Another amenity guests look for is a hot tub, especially our year-round renters. In addition to the extra draw, you will be able to increase rates as well.

Benefits of Home Renovations – A Case Study

At Finger Lakes Premier Properties, we strive to meet both guest and owner expectations. Guests expect an enjoyable experience while owners expect to receive a return on investment. One way we help our owners maximize their revenue is by suggesting home renovations that cater to guests. Through our reservation software, website analytics, and guest reviews, we are able to determine what amenities guests desire and drive revenue.

New Renovations

One of our owners decided to act on our renovation recommendations to a newly purchased home that had been in our vacation rental program. Before the rental season began this year, they made some improvements to Seneca Shores. They started simple by adding new bedding and paint throughout the house. In the kitchen, they installed new wood floors, marble countertops, and white cabinets which have given it a nice modern flair. The largest project was turning the basement into a furnished game room so guests have something to do at night or during rainy days. Outside there was more emphasis on the guest experience by adding a lake view fire pit area and additional lounge chairs on the deck. After the renovations were completed, here’s what one guest had to say:

“This was our 2nd time staying at Seneca Shores and everything was magnificent. We really enjoyed the new updates & bedding along with the game room and hot tub. Excellent job. We hope to stay again in the future.”  – Kimberly S. from Pittston, NY, 04/25/2018

BeforeKitchen Before RenovationAfterKitchen After Renovation

Renovations Results

After we examined the numbers, we found these renovations improved bookings and revenue significantly. The following table illustrates the increase in 2018 bookings compared to 2017 year to date.

Year Nights Reservations
2017 92 21
2018 113 29

With the improvements to the home, we found that guests booked more nights and we charged a higher rate. To see the average rate per night, check out the figure below.

Not only did these renovations meet owner expectations with increased revenue, they met guest expectations as well.

In addition to Seneca Shores, we performed case studies on two other rentals that were renovated late this spring. However, these rentals opened their calendars late in the summer. This makes it difficult to compare year-over-year data. However, based on their booking patterns so far this summer, the potential for increased revenue is high for 2019.

Get Recommendations to Renovate Your Rental Home

Investing money to renovate your rental home can be risky. Let us help you make an informed decision. If you would like recommendations for renovating your rental home, contact Owner Services. With over twelve years of experience, our Owner Services Department knows what guests want and how owners can meet those expectations. We always include recommendations for our owners in their post-season inspection. If you would like more information about joining our property management program, contact Owner Services today.