Do you rent out multiple holiday apartments in several cities as well as abroad? Are you looking for a new way to deal with key handovers? Do you wonder how you can help from a distance in an emergency? Many short rental hosts are opting for smart home as the ideal solution for the challenges of short-term rental. We asked Henrik, an experienced host of multiple holiday apartments, to do an interview with us.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been renting out holiday apartments for and in which countries? Why did you decide to rent out holiday properties and what is your impression about the industry so far?
Hendrik: Of course. My name is Henrik Kuhlmann. I am 32 years old and I come from Augsburg. I began to offer short-term rentals and holiday rentals in 2019. With my company BRIGHT, I now rent out more than 15 holiday apartments in Germany, Prague, Fort Lauderdale in Florida and a holiday home in Bali too.
Thanks to BRIGHT, I have been able to build up my business consistently and professionally. That’s actually the reason I went into the short-term rental business in the first place. I see great potential in it and with the right kind of automation, significant opportunities for growth as well. I think we represent a very promising branch of the hospitality sector. The pandemic is one of the main reasons many guests have discovered this type of accommodation, no matter whether it’s called a holiday apartment, a short-term rental or a serviced apartment.
My experiences have been positive throughout and it’s become a real passion for me. That’s why I am also helping new and existing hosts to build up and professionalise their properties with my second business, BNB Pro Hosting.
What are the biggest challenges of short-term rental for you personally? What challenges did you underestimate at the beginning?
Hendrik: When I started, I completely underestimated linen management. It’s easy to handle for one or two apartments, but with any more than that the mountains of linen can be quite challenging. But I have found quite a viable solution for this.
Other than that, marketing yourself over multiple platforms and having the right public image and the appropriate revenue management is a big challenge – but also a fun one! Automating your business is another big challenge, as there are so many options and tools for this: but harmonising them is not that easy.
However, you just can’t avoid automation these days, or at least, if you don’t want to be overrun with phone calls and messages, you can’t. Regardless of growth and development.
Why did you decide to get an electronic door lock? How do your guests react to the smart access system?
Hendrik: Automatic locking systems are perfect for automating check-in and check-out. That’s great because otherwise key handover can be quite a hassle. Apart from that, the systems also have a lot to offer in terms of security. With activity logs, I can now get a picture of the state of affairs at a location and see what is happening with a specific door. For example, in combination with other tools, I can quickly find out if there is a party being held at a property.
What other access solutions do you use? What advantages/disadvantages do these products bring you?
Hendrik: In addition to NUKI systems, we still use traditional key safes in many places, which are of course relatively basic and also cheaper by comparison. They work really well, but they are not too great or smart on the security front. We will probably replace them with electronic access systems sooner or later.
For our apartments in Prague, we actually are still doing in-person key handovers. That’s because these properties are very valuable, and we consider the handover and a tour of the apartment as part of our service.
Our guests always react well to the use of electronic door locks. Often, they are very impressed by the technology and everything that is possible in this field nowadays. Our guests also really like the flexibility and the option for remote opening in emergencies. Forgotten your apartment keys? No problem with us!
By the way, your Opener is great for building doors and a real boon.
What advantages do you see in a digital access system with regard to the current Covid situation?
Hendrik: The flexibility really pays off in the current situation. One of the consequences of Covid has been that, in this regard, we have changed our behaviour when travelling. A designated key handover is usually out of the question now, other than at our properties in Prague due to the guest experience I was talking about.
Fundamentally, it means we have much less direct contact with guests, which of course means both they and our staff are at much less risk of infection. Even with all the tests and the vaccines, you just never know if someone is going to pass it on.
Between us, can you tell us about a situation where you were really glad you had a Smart Lock?
Hendrik: There are always situations like that. Whether it’s forgotten keys in the apartment or wanting to get a picture of the situation in the apartment.
If the apartment door is opening and closing every ten minutes during the night, we’re well advised to recognise that early and to take appropriate steps, not least for the sake of our neighbours.