7 Ways to Grow Your Vacation Rental Business From The Pros

vacation house mountain cabin rental window trees view sunshine

How to Own and Operate a Successful Vacation Rental Business

Have you always wanted to start your own vacation rental business, or are you looking to improve your current vacation rental business in 2021? Look no further. We’re going to cover everything you need to know to take your vacation rental to the next level!

The vacation rental industry is in a period of unprecedented growth. Your vacation rental business should be, too! In 2019, the U.S. vacation rental market showed revenue of more than $17 billion! Industry experts predict that by 2023, revenue could grow to early $19.5 billion. Shouldn’t some of that revenue be rolling your way??

Working in the short-term-rental industry means our team stays at rentals around the world. Along the way, we’ve picked up on some clever tricks from hosts that made their property memorable for all the right reasons. Today we’re sharing them with you.

  1. Treat your vacation rental like a hotel.
  2. Include a welcome book for your guests.
  3. Invest in smart home technology for your property.
  4. Keep towels clean with this simple trick.
  5. Consider allowing pets in your vacation rental.
  6. Showcase your outdoor space to increase bookings.
  7. Include luxury amenities in your vacation listing.

1. Treat your vacation rental like a hotel.

short term rental hotel window amenities

Research has found that vacation rentals are becoming more popular to travelers than ordinary hotels. That doesn’t mean that we, as hosts, still can’t learn a lot from the way hotels operate. A study by HomeAway (now Vrbo) and the University of Texas found that travelers are 73 percent more likely to remember their trip if they feel happy and excited about it during the planning stages, before the trip ever starts. So it’s all about offering your guests a great experience. 

Start by sending them a welcome message, and include a guide with recommendations for restaurants and things to do in the area. Nine out of 10 times, guests staying at short-term rentals want to experience life as a local. 

Who doesn’t love a nice welcome present? This is the part where you can get creative. You might want to leave your guests a local specialty like a bottle of wine, some snacks, or even a little souvenir to remind them of their wonderful stay at your property. It’s a small gesture, but it will make a massive difference to your guests and might even help you to get that 5-star review.

2. Include a welcome book for your guests.

short term rental guestbook welcome book sign in visitors vacation

Ever thought about creating a welcome book for your guests? Your welcome book will serve as a guide for your guests during their stay. It will inform the guests of the house rules and everything that’s available to them during their stay. 

Does your property have a few quirks? You’re not alone. Every property does! Let your guests know where the hard-to-find light switches are, which remote is the one that actually turns on the television, and info about that one burner on the stove that gets way too hot. And remember, while most of these things are common knowledge to you, your guests will have no idea. They can get frustrated when searching to find the answers. Make it as easy as possible for them. Your welcome book is the perfect place for descriptions, instructions, pictures, and all the rules your guests should follow during their stay. Just make sure to keep it short, fun, organized and easy to read. 

3. Invest in smart home technology for your property.

noiseaware indoor outdoor noise detection device sensor mobile app

Haven’t jumped on the smart-home train yet? Well, it’s about time that you do so! Smart-home technology devices are a MUST for every vacation rental owner in 2021. Not only are they adding more value to your property (highly appreciated by your guests), but they serve as a protection for your property, to make managing a vacation rental business so much easier. 

Smart locks are a simple way to make your guests’ life a breeze. They are revolutionizing how property managers and homeowners keep their guests happy. No one has to worry about losing a key again. With smart locks, all our guests have to do is look at their phones and type in the provided key. It’s that effortless! 

Ever considered using noise monitoring at your property? NoiseAware’s noise monitoring sensors allow you to have an insight into the well-being of your property without interfering with your guests’ privacy. If your guests end up being too loud, NoiseAware allows you to step in from wherever you are, and ensure the safety of your property as well as your community. Learn more about smart-home technology here.

4. Keep towels clean with this simple trick.

luxury bathroom clean towels short term vacation rental increase profits

This might seem like a random tip to you, but doesn’t every host struggle with the same problem? Of course, everyone loves white towels. They look fresh, clean, and add that hotel vibe to our vacation rentals. But sadly, most of the time, our nice white towels won’t stay white super long. It only takes one guest to wash their makeup off with your pristine towel to ruin it completely. 

Ever wondered how to keep your washcloths clean and makeup-free from guests washing their faces? It’s something you wished you thought of before all of the trips to the store for replacement towels! The answer: black washcloths. Monogram them with “MakeUp” to ensure your guests reach for the black towels instead of your white ones.

5. Consider allowing pets in your vacation rental.

vacation rental allow pets increase profits couple dogs

Who doesn’t love to travel with their pets? Pet-friendly vacation rentals are on the rise. According to Booking.com, 42% of pet owners around the world would choose their accommodation based on whether or not they could bring their pets. 

As vacation rentals typically offer more space than a simple hotel room, it makes them far more desirable for pet owners looking for a place to stay. So why not change your rules and allow pets at your property? While allowing pets at your property might mean more work for you, just think about all of the new bookings you will get. If you are nervous that someone is going to bring a pack of animals, set a limit on the number of pets and their weight limit, to make you feel more comfortable. Some hosts even ask for a picture of the pets before the stay, so they have an idea of what type of pet will be at their property.

6. Showcase your outdoor space to increase bookings.

outdoor patio pool vacation rental palm trees pergola deck

An increasing number of travelers are opting for health-focused vacations. A report by the Global Wellness Institute found that wellness tourism is now a booming $639-billion market. You want to highlight things that will help people relax and rejuvenate when staying at your property!

Have a pool or a hot tub in your backyard? Make sure to showcase it on all of the booking platforms you use! Create a little wellness oasis in your backyard that guests will love and never want to leave. Make sure to get some high-quality outdoor furniture that offers enough space for everyone to sit or lay by the pool. You also want to provide nice pool towels and consider having an outdoor kitchen area where they can grill food without leaving the relaxing space you have created. 

7. Include luxury amenities in your vacation listing.

high end coffee maker nespresso keurig vacation rental amenity

Don’t we all love to experience a little more luxury when we’re on vacation? Spending a little more money upfront to invest in a few luxury amenities for your guests will make a huge difference. Don’t worry, we don’t want you to break your bank account but here are a few suggestions on items you might want to consider getting for your vacation rental:

Having all of these products in your rental will not only increase your bookings but will give your guests the best vacation experience they can get. 

These were our top 7 tips to improve your vacation rental business in 2021! What are you waiting for? Let’s go ahead and turn your vacation rental into a place that guests won’t want to ever leave. Here’s to a great 2021, more bookings, and happy guests! 

Why Smart Homeowner Acquisition Is The Key To Success For Vacation Rental Managers in 2021

blue beach house vacation rental property manager

Short-term-rental bookings in the U.S. are growing, due to new travel habits and pent-up demand. Short-term-rental property volume in the U.S. is shrinking, due to property management consolidation. And short-term-rental ownership patterns and needs are changing. Which makes the U.S. short-term-rental landscape both challenging, and ripe with opportunity, for property management companies that specialize in this market. To remain competitive on the not-quite-post-pandemic VR property management scene, companies need to make growth a top focus. And that growth hinges on smart, sustainable new homeowner acquisition. Here’s why acquisition is so important, and how to beat the big players at their own game.

Short-term-rental demand is currently at a record high and forecast to grow significantly.

According to STR business intelligence site Transparent, vacation-rental reservation volume for the summer 2021 exceeds summer 2020 by 400%. While the huge jump over last year’s peak pandemic months is not surprising, summer reservation volumes that exceed pre-pandemic 2019 by 50% mark a notable jump. 

As rental demand threatens to outpace availability, property managers will need more homes to meet short-term renters needs. A lot more homes. This past spring, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC that the listing platform would need “millions more hosts” to meet demand as travel expands following the lifting of COVID restrictions. And as rental property owners and new STR investors seek ways to capitalize on this demand, while many return to work themselves, they will need professionals to handle servicing, marketing and booking their properties. Property management companies that fail to acquire these new homes during this unprecedented boom will find themselves unable to compete with those that make proactive homeowner acquisition a part of their success strategy.

Consolidation means inventory is shrinking and competition is growing—but areas of opportunity abound.

While rental demand grows, property inventory continues to shrink nationwide. This lack of available properties is due largely to a number of massive home acquisitions, recent mergers and acquisitions within the STR space, and a flood of venture capital aimed at large PM company growth. High-profile acquisitions include Vacasa’s March 2021 purchase of TurnKey Vacation Rentals—the company’s 160th acquisition since its founding—which swelled Vacasa’s already substantial portfolio to 30,000 properties in 80 destinations across the U.S. 

Meanwhile, STR startup The Guild announced in April 2021 that it had secured $17.1 million in equity and securities options. At the same time, business-travel-focused Mint House secured $18 million in new investment. In June 2021, real-estate investing firm ReAlpha announced that it was planning to spend a cool $1.5 billion to purchase and manage 5,000 short-term rental homes.

While small and midsize vacation-rental property managers may not have the bags of cash and large business development teams of the mega-PMs, they do have plenty of opportunity for targeted homeowner acquisition. 

These “smaller” property-management companies tend to be local or regional experts, and employees usually have a detailed understanding of the properties they serve. And because smaller property managers don’t have to report to investors or boards, they have the flexibility to pivot to new ideas, bring on new tech solutions, target niche markets, and engage in community relations efforts as needed.

Technology is leveling the homeowner-acquisition playing field between smaller property management companies and the megas.

The fields of property-management data science and marketing technology have expanded significantly in the past several years. Even “mom and pop” property management companies can build highly targeted lead lists by utilizing readily available real estate and STR permit information. They can then target these refined lists of homeowner prospects using customized ads, landing pages and social media marketing. 

Many VR property management companies who are serious about growth in 2021 and beyond are tapping into the expertise of niche agencies such as Vintory. This company specializes in homeowner-acquisition data services, super-targeted marketing automation and inbound marketing management, at a reasonable cost, and with hard data to demonstrate ROI. 

On the value proposition side, growth-focused property management companies are now able to offer much of the same kind of proptech as the big players. Cleaning service automation and quality assurance? Check! Using historic data and smart pricing models to maximize revenue? Check! Offering privacy-safe noise-mitigation technology to protect property from complaints and damage? Check!! 

Consolidation is not going to stop anytime soon. Neither is the demand for more short-term rental availability. Nor the need to cater to specific new types of STR guests, including:

Which makes the second half of 2021 a prime time for smart homeowner acquisition that brings not just more volume, but more visibility, exactly where you want to be seen.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

7 Reasons Why You Need A Noise Monitoring Device For Your Airbnb Property

house party airbnb green drinks noise monitor

No Airbnb host or property manager wants to handle an irate neighbor complaining about late-night noise coming from the vacation rental next door. And they definitely don’t want to deal with law enforcement or security intervening in a noise situation. Having a privacy-safe noise monitor that measures decibel levels, but does not record guests, installed at the property, can prevent both of these management headaches. 

But there are other reasons for needing a noise monitoring device that may not be as apparent. They are, however, just as important. And sometimes they can lead to a significant loss of income, and even the loss of a short-term vacation rental property altogether. 

These are the top 7 reasons for installing a privacy-safe noise device in your short-term vacation rental.

  1. If the short-term-rental property is being managed remotely.
  2. If neighboring houses are very near by.
  3. If the property is in a multiple-unit dwelling.
  4. If the property is in an area that’s a big draw for younger guests or is known for parties.
  5. If you’re concerned about, or have been affected by, false noise complaints.
  6. If you want to better protect your property against costly damage.
  7. If your property’s local short-term-rental ordinance requires proof of a noise-monitoring device to obtain a permit.

Pro-Tip: Inform guests upfront. Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term-rental platforms require hosts to disclose that the property is equipped with a noise device. Include this disclosure with information about wifi, carbon monoxide detectors and security cameras.

1. If the short-term-rental property is being managed remotely.

A large number of short-term-rental property hosts operate “long-distance rental properties.” This means properties that are located at least a few hours’ drive away from the host, or possibly in another city or state. In these cases, a privacy-safe noise monitor helps by measuring noise and alerting the host when noise exceeds an acceptable level. The host can then opt to text the guests a gentle reminder to lower their volume a bit, wherever they may be. In more than 75% of cases, the noise problem is completely resolved with just this initial text.

For short-term-rental property managers who handle multiple properties in different areas, remote noise monitoring can cut down significantly on labor costs. Noise detection software can easily be integrated with other management technologies more efficient noise mitigation from anywhere, at anytime.

2. If neighboring houses are very near by.

Because all short-term-rental property settings are different, it’s important to have both an indoor noise monitor and an outdoor noise monitor with customizable noise thresholds. You can set the allowable noise level for your property’s situation to best accommodate neighboring houses. If neighboring houses are directly adjacent to or very near your short-term rental, noise monitoring is a must. By setting the noise threshold at a volume that cannot be heard by neighbors, you protect your property against noise complaints and potential law enforcement intervention.

3. If the property is in a multiple-unit dwelling.

glass concrete condo building blue sky

Privacy-safe noise monitoring is essential technology for short-term-rental condos, apartments and townhomes. Noise complaints and fines can become a major issue when neighbors share a wall with a short-term-rental unit. A privacy-safe noise sensor set to the proper noise threshold can ensure that neighboring units are not bothered by noise, even from a unit directly upstairs, downstairs or next door. 

This need is expanding as a much-discussed new “flexible living model” gains traction. Flexible living refers to multi-family communities where residents can freely rent their space, with the understanding from neighbors and management that short-term guests will stay on the premises. In some of these cases, noise monitoring is integrated with access control, cleaning services and other STR needs.

4. If the property is in an area that’s a big draw for younger guests or is known for parties.

Cities like Austin, Las Vegas, the Coachella Valley’s desert cities, and numerous Florida destinations are renowned for their nightlife, festivals and concerts. So it’s no surprise that these cities tend to draw college students, young guests, and groups looking for a place to party. While each of these cities has its own noise ordinances and short-term-rental noise rules, vacation rentals in all of these areas can benefit from noise monitoring. 

The first step in protecting your property is thoroughly screening guests before booking, and avoiding red flags. Be wary about booking guests with limited or no rental history, or poor reviews from previous hosts. Also, make sure house rules are clearly stated in your listing (“no amplified noise at any time,” “no audible noise between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m,” “no parties or events,” “no smoking,” etc.). And, because even the most respectful of travelers can get a little rowdy when visiting town for a bachelorette bash, bowl game or spring break, have a noise-measuring device installed to remind guests to take it down a notch if needed.

5. If you need to use noise-monitoring-device data to defend against false noise complaints.

A significant portion of vacation rental property managers report using noise monitoring to protect against false noise complaints. Sometimes, neighbors don’t like living next to a property that is permitted as a short-term rental. They may have experienced past noise problems, or they simply may want to get the property shut down as a short-term rental. While privacy-safe noise detection does not record sounds, it does store data about decibel levels, which can later be used to defend against false noise complaints. Often, simply letting neighbors know that your property is equipped with a noise monitoring device will deter them from making false complaints. If a neighbor does complain, being able to show hard data to the contrary can help resolve the issue.

6. If you want to better protect your property against costly damage.

revenge travel short term rental property damage noise complaint

While excessive noise doesn’t always lead to property damage at short-term vacation rentals, damage is frequently preceded by excessive noise. By resolving excessive-noise events as soon as they happen, noise detection curtails behavior that may result in damage. A gentle text reminder to guests to lower the volume can prevent up to $5,000 in property damage annually (see item #4 above!).  

7. If your property’s local short-term-rental ordinance requires proof of a noise monitoring device to obtain a permit.

This one is a no-brainer: If your city requires proof of noise-monitoring as a permitting condition, you need a noise sensor. While not all cities or counties require proof of a noise detection device in short-term vacation rentals, some do. And more are expected to as short-term-rental demand continues its unprecedented growth trend. Does your permit ordinance stipulate a noise detection device? Make sure you opt for a sensor that measures decibels only and does not record guests, for privacy-protected peace of mind, for hosts, managers, guests and neighbors.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

4 Desert Cities With Strict New Short-Term Vacation Rental Rules

rancho mirage estate pool chaise desert skies golf course

These 4 Coachella Valley Desert Cities Have Some Of The Strictest New Short-Term Vacation Rental Restrictions In The Country

As fall/winter Southern California desert vacation season nears, and vacation rental demand soars, it’s time for a hard look at what’s happening with vacation rental regulations in the Coachella Valley. The city of Palm Springs, with its strong occupancy rate, and investor-friendly permit regulations, continues to be a vacation-rental hotspot. But scarce property inventory and intense competition has led many to operate short-term rentals in smaller neighboring desert cities. And along with vacation-rental growth in these communities has come increased neighbor opposition, and a spate of new city council votes, ordinances and permit restrictions. Here are the new restrictions for four Coachella Valley desert cities that have voted on ordinances in the first half of 2021. 

New La Quinta Vacation Rental Restrictions

Even with the COVID-10 pandemic in full force across the country, La Quinta saw a 267% increase in neighbor noise complaints between May and July of 2020. That steep rise led to a December 2020 city council vote to tighten La Quinta’s existing vacation rental ordinance

Changes to permit rules included requiring a local STR property contact to be available 24/7, and able to respond within 30 minutes of being called by STR code enforcement or the sheriff’s department. The city council also doubled noise-ordinance and other permit violation penalties. The new fines are set at $1,000 for a first violation, $2,000 for a second and $3,000 for a third. 

As of May, 2021, per La Quinta Ordinance 591, the city added these important new changes to short-term-rental permitting:

Looking for a La Quinta vacation rental investment? These 10 La Quinta “non-issuance exempt zones” are not affected by the new stay on short-term-rental permits.

La Quinta desert villa vacation rental fire pit

New Rancho Mirage Vacation Rental Rules

Similar to La Quinta, Coachella Valley golf paradise Rancho Mirage is moving toward a ban on short-term rentals in non-gated communities. The move comes in response to a massive increase in noise complaints, along with complaints about parking. A January 2021 city council vote skewed 5-0 in favor of a stay on new and renewed permits outside of gated HOA communities. Here’s what the new Rancho Mirage short-term-rental ban means for current and prospective vacation-rental owners and property managers:

Along with the ban on new STR permits in non-restricted HOAs, Rancho Mirage is toughening up its existing STR rules. Among restrictions in this haven for poolside gatherings and al fresco festivities: No amplified sound may be used outdoors, or be audible from outside the property, at any time. 

New Regulations for Cathedral City and Palm Desert

Located between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, popular retirement enclave Cathedral City has seen a boom in vacation rental demand over the past several years. The desert city has also experienced a major increase in neighbor complaints related to STRs in their neighborhoods. Over a 14-month period between October 2019 and November 2020, Cathedral City police reported more than 1,800 complaints and calls for service related to short-term vacation rentals, most of them about noise. 

The city has responded with a sharp curtailing of short-term rentals. The new Cathedral City short-term-rental measure, approved in March:

In Palm Desert, famed as the Coachella Valley’s upscale-retail hub, the city council took up the short-term-rental issue in December 2020. In a 3-1 vote, Palm Desert approved a new ordinance that:

Even with new restrictions and regulations, owning and operating a short-term vacation rental in the Coachella Valley can be a lucrative enterprise with proper management and marketing. Find out more about protecting vacation-rental property and profits, and avoiding noise-related fines and damage, here.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

4 “Surprise” Costs That Cut Into Vacation-Rental Profits

noiseaware noise detection press release series A funding april 2021

With vacation-rental occupancy rates and booked ADR both on the rise in the second half of 2021, the STR revenue outlook is strong, and growing stronger. But threats to profitability still loom. The most daunting of these are unexpected, unplanned-for and easy-to-neglect costs, all of which can throw a massive wrench into profit predictions. In this post, we focus on the four most problematic “surprise” short-term-rental costs. And, because we’re cool like that, we also offer our expert tips to minimize these vacation-rental expenses and maximize vacation-rental profits.

The Vacation-Rental “Fearsome Four”

  1. Unplanned property repairs or replacement
  2. Fines or penalties for violating STR-permit stipulations or local ordinances
  3. Rising and/or unnecessary utility costs 
  4. Unanticipated vacancy

1. Unplanned Property Repairs Or Replacement

Property cleaning and maintenance are regular operating expenses that can be calculated fairly easily. But major property repair or replacement? That’s another story. Yes, you can anticipate the need to upgrade an ailing HVAC system or replace an old roof, and figure these “milestone” fixes into a property’s CapEx expenses. But with the post-lockdown “revenge travel” boom comes a growing concern about another type of property repair. This type of repair is for damage that can result from larger groups finally getting out of town to relax and revel. And maybe get a little out of control. 

Reports of Airbnb “party houses” became a regular news feature in late 2020. As the great travel recovery of 2021 commences, Airbnb and Vrbo are both taking proactive steps to prevent parties and de-list problematic party houses. 

But guest groups don’t have to be throwing an official party for party-like behaviors to ensue. A beautiful location, a great house, a bunch of friends, a case of tequila and a blender, a year’s worth of pent-up celebration energy…these can lead to broken blinds, stained upholstery, cracked tiles, broken windows or damaged floors. And the cost of fixing these damages can quickly cancel out vacation-rental profits associated with high demand and strong ADR.

Pro Tip: A great way to prevent property damage and protect vacation-rental profits is to curtail what comes before it: noise. While loud music or raised voices don’t always lead to damage, damage is almost always preceded by excessive noise. A privacy-safe noise detection sensor measures decibel levels over time and sends a gentle text reminder if volume exceeds acceptable levels. The vast majority of noise events are resolved with this one initial text.

vacation rental profits group travel college students

2. Fines or Penalties for Violating STR-Permit Stipulations or Local Ordinances

Almost all cities and counties have long lists of stipulations that short-term rentals must abide by in order to receive a rental permit. These include regulations on parking, trash disposal, safety sensors and occupancy limits. By applying and paying for a short-term-rental permit, the property owner agrees to comply with these regulations. And complying with regulations means compelling the property’s manager and, of course, guests, to abide by the rules.

Some rules apply to things guests are directly responsible for. Guests, for example, are responsible for parking their cars. They’re also generally responsible for taking out trash, controlling their noise level and letting only registered guests stay at the property.

Other permit rules have to do with property location (for example, Nevada’s proposed restriction on short-term vacation rentals within 2,500 feet of any resort hotel), or fire prevention (i.e. Lake Tahoe’s requirement for inspection of natural and landscaped areas around STRs in high fire rating zones). And still other rules may apply to regular maintenance, upkeep or landscaping. 

Regardless of who is primarily responsible for complying with rules, violation of permitting rules can result in expensive fines. In many locales, an initial permit fine may be around $500, with subsequent fines doubling and tripling. Operating a vacation rental condo or apartment in Florida’s Miami-Dade County—a sizzling STR hotspot? You’re looking at a first violation penalty of $1,000, and a second of $2,500. Ouch!

To avoid fines and penalties, and protect vacation-rental profits:

Pro Tip: Coordinate and automate your property services (cleaning, maintenance, inspections) through one easy-to-use platform. We’re big fans of Breezeway, which lets property managers schedule, expedite and monitor services all from one dashboard, helping to ensure that everything is up to snuff. The platform even has a photo upload function, which lets field teams present visual proof that a service is performed right!

noise detection vacation rental house college students suitcases

3. Rising and/or Unnecessary Utility Costs

Unlike long-term leases, short-term rentals cannot pass utility bills along to tenants. Utility costs also rise year over year, and can spike during high seasons, as local electricity grids are maxed out. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to monitor utility costs closely, before they eat into anticipated vacation-rental profits. 

Installing a smart-home thermostat is one good way to avoid overspending on heating or cooling, by adjusting a property’s HVAC system remotely between guest stays. 

Other utility cost-cutters include switching to LED lighting (which, alone, can cut electricity costs by up to 75%), and swapping out high-wattage plasma televisions for lower-wattage LED TVs. Energy-star appliances also cut back on utility expenses, as do double-pane windows and good insulation. Yes, these CapEx expenses require upfront payment. But when a property’s primary guests are short-term visitors, who are not paying the utility bills, and are much less likely to switch off lights or turn down the A/C at night than long-term residents, the investment is well worth it.

Equally important is cutting cables. More than 95% of Americans own a mobile phone, so there’s little reason to have a landline in a vacation rental property. Likewise, cable TV, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month for “premium” packages with endless unwatched channels, is a cost that’s ripe for slashing. Instead, install a Smart TV system with a handful of great streaming platforms, and let guests take their pick of movies, TV shows, sports events and other screened entertainment, at a fraction of the cost of cable.

Pro Tip: Hosting international travelers at your no-landline property? Consider including a prepaid SIM card with a local telephone number as part of a guest welcome package. Mail the card to the guest prior to their visit, along with a guide to local attractions and activities, or have the card waiting for the guest at the property, along with a map, guidebook and/or a few locally made goodies.

young guests dinner party vacation rental

4. Unanticipated Vacancy

In addition to natural seasonal dips, plenty of other factors can affect short-term-rental vacancy rates. But do they have to? Maintenance neglect, ho-hum marketing and poor responsiveness to guests can lead to a non-operational property or negative reviews. And the cost of unbooked nights can quickly take a big bite out of planned vacation-rental profits.

To mitigate unanticipated vacancy, take these proactive steps toward management and marketing:

Make cleaning Priority One. Great guest reviews are vacation-rental gold. And Airbnb consistently reports that the leading factor in garnering positive guest reviews is cleanliness. In the current post-COVID travel market, cleanliness is more important than ever before, as guests seek out safe, sanitized accommodations. Have cleaning QA standards firmly in place and confirm that they are being met (see our Pro Tip in section #2 above). 

Make maintenance Co-Priority One. A broken A/C, leaky faucet or faulty shower head can lead to poor vacation-rental reviews, while a non-functioning toilet, broken window or crumbling drywall can put a property out of operation entirely. Perform necessary repairs as soon as they are needed to prevent further damage and avoid any unnecessary non-operational nights. 

Offer flexible rates. While the current travel recovery points to strong ADR even for normally low seasons, there will be times of the year, month and week when bookings dip. Lower rates during these periods may entice guests who are looking for a bargain. Consider using a flexible pricing platform to track trends and adjust pricing accordingly. 

Pro Tip: Use smart social media marketing to boost bookings, especially during anticipated travel “troughs.” Fabulous photos or video, and a caption that emphasizes special rates, plus a creative, compelling call to action (“Get Away For Less,” “Book Now For Special Rate,” “Limited Time Offer,” etc) can go far toward protecting profits against the cost of unbooked nights.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

6 Ways to Help Your Vacation Rental Benefit From Summer Travelers

summer 2021 travel short term vacation rental swimming pool party young guest group

As vaccination distribution widens and pandemic-related restrictions lift, a 2021 summer travel boom is already underway. An increase in short-term rental bookings started even before the larger travel recovery took off. And it appears destined to continue on a sharp upward trajectory. Travel site Expedia reported that even while its overall accommodation bookings fell by 67% in the fourth quarter of 2020, short-term rental platform Vrbo, which Expedia owns, actually showed year over year growth for the same quarter. 

While Expedia doesn’t disclose specific Vrbo numbers, industry analysts estimate that the short-term-rental platform accounted for more than 40% of Expedia’s 2021 Q1 gross bookings. They further predict that Vrbo’s 2021 revenue could exceed 2019 revenue by 35%. A large chunk of that change is credited to the 2021 summer travel spike. 

What the Summer Travel Increase Means for Short-Term Property Owners & Managers

All of this is welcome news to short-term vacation rental owners and managers. Also promising: Short-term rental reservation volume is up by 400% over last summer, even while nightly rates have increased significantly over 2019 rates. 

A big-time summer travel bounceback. Strong short-term rental earnings. Higher nightly rates and a huge spike in rental reservation volume. In short, short-term rental owners and property managers are looking at a major opportunity to capitalize on the coming season’s demand. But strong demand is just part of the revenue picture. To truly reap the rewards of the 2021 summer travel boom, vacation rentals must take these steps to protect property, profits and future viability.

6 Ways to Reap the Rewards of the 2021 Summer Travel Boom

  1. Screen guests thoroughly before accepting a booking.
  2. Emphasize house rules in your listing.
  3. Enforce property occupancy limits.
  4. Clearly state noise rules to prevent noise complaints.
  5. Market with great photos, special amenities and helpful tips for potential guests.
  6. Focus on summertime features and summer travel extras.

1. Screen guests thoroughly before accepting a booking.

Get to know your neighbors, and don’t let your short-term vacation rental be a surprise to them. While 33% of homeowners report that they are not very familiar with their neighbors, nearly 50% who are very familiar with neighbors say they would approve of a short-term rental next door. 

Communicate to neighbors that your property is being rented out as a vacation accommodation. Express that you are invested in the neighborhood, and care about the security and comfort of the people who live next door to or near your Airbnb rental. 

List out the steps you are taking to ensure that guests are quiet, well behaved and respectful. Explain that you thoroughly screen guests prior to booking. Note that you have house rules that must be followed. Make sure to tell neighbors if you have remote noise detection sensors installed. You may even consider offering your Airbnb property to neighbors’ own visitors at a special “friends and neighbors” rate. And, of course, make sure your neighbors can get in touch with you should they need to inform you about anything questionable taking place at your property.

If your short-term vacation rental property or properties are managed by a professional property management company, find out how the company notifies neighbors of new STRs adjacent to them. Ask how they respond to neighbor noise complaints, and how you can expect to be informed about complaints. Get their complaint-response policy in writing, including liabilities and exclusions.

Most booking platforms accept “upon-request” bookings. This feature gives hosts an opportunity to check out the guest before booking. Before accepting a booking, make sure to:

Multiple negative guest reviews, incomplete or duplicate profiles, opposition to the security deposit, evasive answers to questions, or no answers at allthese guests may be more likely to violate noise and occupancy rules, or cause costly damage.

luxury vacation rental home pool lawn palm trees 2021 summer travel

2. Emphasize house rules in your listing.

Make sure to fill out all fields in the “house rules” section of your vacation rental listing. Clearly state what’s allowed and what is not (special events, parties, amplified music after a specific time, no smoking, only registered guests allowed at property, no photo shoots, etc.). 

Letting guests know they will be charged penalties for violating house rules is a great way to prevent noise, permit violations and neighbor complaints. These rules, and reminders about penalties, should be included in booking and pre-stay correspondence, and be on display at the property. Emphasizing and enforcing house rules is one of the ways the most profitable short-term-rental hosts mitigate unanticipated costs such as ordinance fines, legal conflicts and damaged property repair or replacement.

3. Enforce property occupancy limits.

Almost all localities that allow short-term-rental permitting have occupancy rules built into their permitting ordinances. Violation of these rules can result in steep fines if discovered. To avoid fines, as well as neighbor complaints and potential property damage, occupancy limits should be strictly detailed in listings. It’s also important to include reminders about occupancy limits and guest penalties in booking confirmations and follow-up correspondence, and to display occupancy limits clearly on property.

4. Clearly state noise rules to prevent noise complaints.

Like occupancy limits, permitting ordinances include noise rules. These may prohibit noise that is audible outside the property during certain hours. Owners and managers may also set their own noise rules, and enforce them with penalties for violations. One of the best ways to avert noise issues before they become a problem is to install privacy-safe noise sensors both inside and outdoors at the property. Privacy-safe noise monitors, which must be disclosed upfront in the rental listing, measure decibel levels and duration of noise, but do not identify specific sounds or record sounds. 

A remote noise monitoring system will alert the short-term-rental owner or property manager when excessive noise is an issue, and allow them to send a gentle text reminder to the booked guest to lower the volume a bit. In more than 75% of cases, this initial reminder resolves the issue without further intervention, preventing neighbor complaints, ordinance violations and the potential for expensive property damage.

summer 2021 travel vacation swimming pool friends inflatable swan

5. Market with great photos, special amenities and helpful tips for potential guests.

Taking full advantage of the 2021 summer travel boom also means advertising competitively. Take the time to stage your vacation rental and include special touches such as cookbooks on the kitchen counter, a fancy espresso machine, vases filled with blooming flowers, stacks of luxurious bathroom towels, and fluffy, inviting bedroom linens. Shoot professional-quality photos both indoors and out, and edit them for maximum impact. Consider including a video tour of the property. These virtual 3D tours have been shown to significantly increase booking rates.

6. Focus on summertime features and summer travel extras.

Property descriptions should include references to local attractions, dining and summer activities. They should also highlight amenities including outdoor kitchens, barbecues, swimming pools, decks and patios, and beach or lake toys. If the property is located in a hot-weather area, mention AC and/or ceiling fans. All of these marketing points can help guests “see” themselves enjoying their summer vacation at your property, and can be the deciding factor between your rental and other listings. And that can make the difference in reaping the full revenue benefit of the 2021 summer travel recovery.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

How To Prevent Airbnb Neighbor Noise Complaints

Like owner-occupied homes and long-term leases, Airbnb rentals have neighbors. And those neighbors aren’t always thrilled to live near a short-term vacation rental property. Research consistently shows that short-term-rental neighbors worry about one thing more than any other: noise. In fact, neighbor concern about noise ranks higher than concerns about parking, trash, smoking or general safety. 

When guest noise is a problem (and sometimes even when it’s not) neighbors are likely to complain. They may complain directly to the rental’s guests, or they may contact law enforcement or security to intervene. They may also lodge complaints with the rental’s property management company or owner. 

noise detection vacation rental house college students suitcases

However or wherever neighbors voice noise complaints about Airbnb rentals, these complaints can cause serious problems for STR owners and property managers. A vacation-rental guest who has been yelled at by an angry neighbor may retaliate with a negative property review on Airbnb. A neighbor complaint lodged with a city’s short-term-rental licensing department may result in hefty fines for the property owner. Repeat complaints may lead to revocation of the property’s short-term-rental permit altogether. In short, neighbor noise complaints can hamstring vacation-rental marketing efforts and deeply cut into short-term-rental profits. 

But by taking a handful of proactive steps, short-term-rental property managers and hosts can prevent most, if not all, Airbnb neighbor noise complaints.

For starters, be upfront and honest with neighbors about short-term rental plans.

Nobody likes to feel caught off guard or left in the dark. So don’t let your short-term vacation rental be a surprise to neighbors. Communicate to neighbors that your property is being rented out as a vacation accommodation. Express that you are invested in the neighborhood. Let them know you care about the security and comfort of the people who live next door to or near your Airbnb rental. 

List out the steps you are taking to ensure that guests are quiet, well behaved and respectful (guest vetting prior to booking, house rules that must be followed, remote noise monitoring). You may even consider offering your Airbnb property to neighbors’ own visitors at a special “friends and neighbors” rate. And, of course, make sure your neighbors can get in touch with you immediately if they need to.

If your short-term vacation rental property or properties are managed by a professional property management company, find out how the company notifies neighbors of new STRs adjacent to them. Ask how they respond to neighbor noise complaints. Find out how you can expect to be informed about complaints. Get their complaint-response policy in writing, including liabilities and exclusions.

Take the time to thoroughly screen potential guests before accepting bookings, and book with care.

Fortunately, guest vetting services and smart Airbnb sleuthing make this step fairly easy. Before accepting a booking through Airbnb, look at the guest’s rental history. Read the potential guest’s reviews. Are they consistently positive? Do previous hosts describe them as quiet and friendly? Good communicators? 

The simplest way to avoid Airbnb neighbor noise complaints is to rent your property to guests who are unlikely to make excessive noise. This means guests with an established short-term-rental history and positive reviews from previous hosts. It also means enforcing occupancy limits. You may also consider requiring multi-night minimum stays, especially on holiday weekends and during events.

Reliable, experienced short-term-rental property management companies typically have strict guest vetting policies. Since property managers are responsible for maximizing nights booked and minimizing unanticipated expenses, they focus on getting positive reviews, and preventing noise-related penalties and damage.

older guests vacation short term rental airbnb

Communicate “house rules” clearly in Airbnb listings, and attach penalties to rules violations.

Airbnb, Vrbo and other booking sites have “house rules” sections on property listings that you can customize. Customizable fields generally include maximum occupancy (don’t rent a two-bedroom condo to a group of 10). They also include fields for special events (where you can prohibit parties and events) and minimum stay (two nights or more are recommended for holidays, festivals, concerts and events). 

Letting guests know they will be charged penalties for violating house rules is a great way to prevent noise, and neighbor noise complaints. These rules, and reminders about penalties, should be included in booking and pre-stay correspondence, and be on display at the property.

Install a privacy-safe decibel-measuring sensor both indoors and out.

Being able to remotely monitor noise gives short-term-rental property owners and managers greater power to prevent complaints and damage. Privacy-safe noise devices measure decibel levels and duration of noise. They do not identify specific sounds or record sounds. These devices can easily be installed during a cleaning turnover between bookings. Once installed, they can be monitored via mobile app or website. Guests are reminded via text message to take it down a notch if things get too loud. Most of the time, this gentle reminder takes care of the noise problem without neighbors being bothered, or getting involved. Industry research has shown that a single night of rental not protected by privacy-safe noise protection can lead to unplanned costs of up to $2,500.

Noise monitor data can also help property managers and owners defend against false noise complaints. Let’s say that a neighbor complains that a nearby Airbnb rental is the source of constant noise, simply because they don’t want a vacation rental in their neighborhood. Decibel data measured by a noise sensor can help prove that excessive noise did not, in fact, take place. This documentation can mean the difference between expensive fines or a revoked permit, and enjoying the benefits of well-reviewed, well-maintained, profit-generating investment property. 

Some cities and counties actually require noise monitors to be installed in order to obtain a short-term-rental permit. Even if not required by ordinance or permitting rule, a privacy-safe noise detection device is an excellent tool to protect property, rental profits, and neighbors’ rights to a quiet neighborhood and a peaceful night’s sleep.

How To Protect Your Austin Short-Term Vacation Rental During Festival Season

austin music festival crowd visitors short term vacation rental property

Long beloved by musicians for its vibrant venue scene and enthusiastic fans, Austin has become a music-festival mecca. The city’s renowned music, film and technology festival, South By Southwest, aka SXSW, is usually held in March. While SXSW took a COVID pause in 2020, and went virtual for 2021, the live Austin festival is back for 2022. The behemoth gathering typically brings in a flood of out-of-state visitors, along with (in 2019), an economic impact of $330 million. A whopping 450,000 people, many visiting from outside the city, attend October’s two-weekend Austin City Limits festival. This popular festival draws big-name talent, and rustles up $265 million in revenue for Texas’s capital city. 

With more than 10,000 unique short-term vacation rentals spread all over the city and its suburbs, and with Austin’s sky-high hotel room rates during festival season, it’s no surprise that many visiting festival-goers opt for STRs over hotels. It’s also no surprise that parties, excessive noise, trash, and occupancy violations associated with festival revelers, can pose problems for owners, property managers and neighbors alike. 

As post-lockdown “revenge travel” heats up, and live Austin festivals are once again on the city’s schedule, short-term-rental bookings are booming. So, how do Austin short-term vacation rental hosts and managers reap festival-visitor revenue benefits while protecting against noise ordinance violations, permit penalties and property damage?

  1. Practice smart guest vetting, and pay attention to red flags.
  2. Consider requiring a two-night minimum stay for your Austin short-term vacation rental during festival dates.
  3. Make sure you state “parties are strictly prohibited” in your house rules, and set out penalties for violating this rule.
  4. Install a privacy-safe noise measurement device both indoors and out.
  5. Require a refundable security deposit.
  6. Make sure you have the right property insurance for your Austin short-term vacation rental.
college students austin short term vacation rental festival

1. Practice smart guest vetting, and pay attention to red flags.

When you use listing sites like Airbnb or Vrbo, which allows upon-request bookings, look at a guest’s history before you accept their booking. Peruse the potential guest’s reviews. Are they consistently positive? Do previous hosts describe them as being respectful? Quiet? Personable? Responsible? You can also ask the guest direct questions—within limits. For example, you can ask the guest to tell you a bit about themselves. You can also ask if they have any special plans while in town. But don’t dig for personal information like who they associate with, or if they have a college degree, or, it should go without saying, their race or religion. Also, mention your house rules, and see how the guest reacts.

If you find negative reviews of your potential guest, or if he or she seems evasive or inconsistent in answering your questions, take note, and move on. A guest who has been flagged for bad behavior or for violating house rules in the past, or who won’t respond candidly and promptly to your basic questions, is more likely to cause costly problems such as noise ordinance violations or property damage.

2. Consider requiring a two-night minimum stay for your Austin short-term vacation rental during festival dates.

Some cities and counties actually require a two-night minimum stay on holidays or dates that overlap local events or festivals. While Austin currently does not, you may want to impose this minimum yourself. Multiple-night minimums tend to weed out potential party-throwers. A two-night minimum also helps cut down on visitors who are just swooping into town for a full day (and night) of all-out festival revelry, which may include bringing the festivities and noise back to the property.

3. Make sure you state “parties are strictly prohibited” in your house rules, and set out penalties for violating this rule.

Most booking sites include “house rules” fields that hosts can customize with their own specific limits and expectations. These usually include minimum age of the primary renter, maximum occupancy, and whether special events or pets are allowed. In addition to specifying that “special events” are prohibited, make sure to state clearly that all parties are prohibited, and define what constitutes a party under your rules, and what the penalties are for violating the no-parties rule. Otherwise, guests may think that while weddings are not allowed, impromptu keggers are A-OK.

4. Install a privacy-safe noise measurement device both indoors and out.

Privacy-safe noise measurement lets you detect and mitigate excessive noise without violating guest privacy. NoiseAware noise sensors measure how loud a sound is by decibel level, and how long the sound is loud for. They do not identify specific sounds or record anything. Installing one sensor indoors, and one outdoors, is a simple process that can be done during property turnover between bookings. 

Guests must be notified up front that the property is equipped with a noise sensor. The sensor can be operated remotely through a mobile app. If noise exceeds what is deemed acceptable, the host or manager receives notification, and can send the booked guest a simple text reminding them to lower the volume. 

More than 70% of noise events are resolved with this initial text. Quickly and easily resolving noise issues has resulted in a nearly 30% reduction in damage claims by short-term-rental owners. Quick-response noise resolution also has resulted in a reported savings of $5,000 annually in unplanned costs that may include paying ordinance-violation penalties, or repairing or replacing property damaged during parties associated with festivals, events and holidays.

5. Require a security deposit.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. If an Austin festival guest wants to book your short-term vacation rental property, they should be willing to put their money where their…er…suitcase is. Airbnb, Vrbo and other booking sites allow you to set a security deposit, and place a hold on funds through the payment method used to reserve the booking. You can then release the hold after the booking, or collect within a specified window after the booking period, if the guest causes damage. A reasonable security deposit shows that you care about your property, and gives you a measure of protection against losses. 

6. Make sure you have the right property insurance for your Austin short-term vacation rental.

Protecting against short-term vacation rental damage before it happens is key. Fortunately, rigorous guest vetting, and two-night minimums can reduce your risk. So can firm house rules and privacy-safe decibel measuring, especially during festival seasons. 

But sometimes, despite protections, damage does occur. In these cases, it’s critical to have the right kind of property insurance to cover your losses. Both Airbnb and Vrbo offer their own liability insurance. While these policies offer some protections, they have numerous exclusions that may leave you liable for out-of-pocket costs. 

Currently, Austin’s STR licensing law requires only “proof of property insurance.” But that insurance may not cover STR damages related to rowdy guests, parties, or non-property liabilities such as personal assault on property. To ensure you’re fully covered, sign up for a plan that covers all of your vacation-rental insurance needs with one policy. Having complete coverage will help you sleep at night, even if the festival’s going strong all night long.

Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.

6 Things To Know About The New Nevada Short-Term-Rental Bill

nevada short term rental bill las vegas strip

In 2018, county commissioners essentially imposed a ban on short-term rentals in Nevada’s unincorporated Clark County, which covers the state’s largest short-term-rental operating area. At the same time, the Las Vegas Planning Commission placed severe restrictions on Las Vegas vacation rentals, limiting short-term rentals to owner-occupied properties. Nearby Henderson, Nev., opted to allow short-term rentals, but with many restrictions, and an annual $820 registration fee. Nevada’s Washoe County, which includes Lake Tahoe’s popular Incline Village area, adopted an entirely new short-term-rental policy earlier this year, setting permit fees, limiting occupancy. and allowing owners to operate multiple STRs in some cases.

Ever since the strictest of these rules were imposed, STR owners and potential STR operators have clamored for more freedom, and wondered if and when the bans and tight restrictions would ever end. They may finally have reason to be hopeful. Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen (D-Las Vegas) recently introduced Assembly Bill 363, which would create permitting rules and requirements, and enforce tax collection, for short-term rentals brokered by companies such as Airbnb, Vrbo and other listing platforms. But eager Nevada real-estate investors and property owners can’t jump on the speeding STR train just yet. Here’s what’s happening with AB 363 and what’s on the horizon for Nevada short-term rental licensing and regulations.

  1. Assembly bill 363 is not the first Nevada bill to address short-term rental issues.
  2. The new Nevada short-term rental bill is accompanied by a “conceptual amendment” that includes “distance-between” restrictions, multi-family-dwelling caps and other limits.
  3. The bill includes regulations designed to prevent “party houses” and excessive noise.
  4. The new measure could have major tax benefits for Nevada state and local governments.
  5. The new Nevada short-term rental bill has some surprising supporters, and equally surprising opponents.
  6. The bill has not yet been voted on, but could be soon.
vacation rental nevada neutral tones peaceful

1. Nevada’s short-term-rental issues—Assembly Bill 363 isn’t the first to address problems.

Back in 2017 the Nevada state legislature approved AB 321, which authorized counties and cities to adopt ordinances allowing property owners to use online hosting platforms such as Airbnb. The bill also required submission of quarterly reports by these platforms. But AB 321 did nothing to tackle the state’s hodgepodge of county and city short-term-rental regulations. That vacuum in statewide regulation allowed for extremely strict rules to be set in some areas (unincorporated Clark County’s total ban) while other areas were virtually unregulated. Assemblywoman Nguyen has noted that this disparity has given rise to a massive number of non-compliant Clark County vacation rentals openly listed on Airbnb and VRBO. More problematic to Nguyen and her co-sponsors is the inability of state and local governments to reap tax revenue from these “illegal” rentals.

2. The new Nevada short-term rental bill is accompanied by a “conceptual amendment” that includes “distance-between” restrictions, multi-family-dwelling caps and other limits.

In its main scope, Nevada’s AB 363 does the following:

But the real meat and potatoes of the bill—and the points of greatest contention between supporters and opponents—lie in the amendment that was introduced along with AB 363. The detailed add-on includes these stipulations:

short term vacation rental party pizza wine mess

3. The bill includes short-term-rental regulations designed to prevent “party houses” and excessive noise.

Section 20 of AB 363 calls for establishing specific requirements for noise, trash and security. It also defines and prohibits parties. But, again, the real details lie in the conceptual amendment, which:

Excessive noise and rowdy gatherings are consistently the biggest complaints voiced by STR neighbors in popular Nevada vacation destinations including Las Vegas, Henderson and Lake Tahoe. The new bill addresses these issues and provides penalties for violating noise and occupancy rules. But even with these regulations, Nevada short-term vacation rental owners likely will want to take a cue from STR owners in other in-demand vacation destinations and protect against fines and false complaints with privacy-safe noise monitoring devices and other smart-home technologies.

4. The new measure could have major tax benefits for Nevada’s state and local governments.

By including short-term rentals in the definition of “transient lodging,” AB 363 would subject residential vacation rentals to the same taxes that Nevada hotels and resorts charge their guests. Taxes would need to be collected and remitted to state and local governments. Ostensibly, these taxes would amount to millions of dollars in currently untapped revenue. Airbnb, for example, estimated that it could have collected and remitted up to $14.5 million on behalf of hosts in 2019. Advocates point out that this windfall in tax revenue could be used, for example, to meet recent recommendations by the Commission on School Funding to bump per-pupil spending in Nevada up to the national average.

5. The new Nevada short-term-rental bill has some surprising supporters, and equally surprising opponents.

Bill supporters include the Culinary Workers Union. This powerful group cites the need for stricter regulations to deter STR investors from purchasing large numbers of housing units—and ostensibly making these unavailable to low-wage-earning service workers seeking affordable housing. The union also hopes that tighter regulations will prevent loud, rowdy guests, and even violent confrontations, from disrupting the lives of workers who live near these properties.

The Nevada State Education Association hopes that taxes collected from licensed short-term vacation rentals will help close the gap between Nevada education funding and other states in the country.

The Nevada Resort Association, which has opposed short term rentals in the past, actually supports AB 363, because the bill mandates and enforces taxing vacation rentals similarly to hotels. 

Opponents of the bill cite a variety of different concerns. These include Airbnb’s worry about provisions including a “buffer zone” around gaming establishments, and a required 500-foot distance between STRs (except for units located in the same multi-family building).

Meanwhile, single-property owners and smaller STR operators worry that having to pay the same big taxes as big hotels will put them out of business.

Still other opponents think that the new bill doesn’t go far enough to limit the overall number of short-term vacation rentals in popular vacation destinations in the state, including Lake Tahoe.

noiseaware noise detection press release series A funding april 2021

6. The bill has not yet been voted on, but could be soon.

As of this post publication, AB 363, which was first introduced to the Nevada state legislature in April, has not yet been put to a vote. The bill has been exempt from legislative deadlines and further consideration in the legislature is yet to be announced. But Assemblywoman Nguyen appears confident that action will be taken on the issue of short-term vacation rentals during this legislative session. Make sure to check back with NoiseAware for developments on the Nevada short-term rental bill, and other news in the world of vacation rental regulations, and improving relations with STR neighbors and communities.

What Is Privacy-Safe Noise Monitoring For Short-Term Vacation Rentals?

privacy safe noise protection quiet vacation rental couple

Privacy-safe noise monitoring is one of the most important property technologies in the short-term vacation-rental sector. By monitoring volume levels without identifying or recording sounds, privacy-safe noise detection helps protect the property owner’s investment and the guest’s right to complete privacy. But how does it work? And what are the ultimate benefits of safe noise monitoring for rental hosts, property managers, vacation-rental guests, and neighbors living near short-term-rental homes?

  1. Vacation-rental listing platforms require that guests be informed up front if a property is equipped with noise-detection
  2. Privacy-safe noise detection measures volume levels only.
  3. Privacy-safe noise detection monitors not just how loud a noise is, but also how long it is loud for.
  4. Privacy-safe noise-detection devices do not and cannot record sounds.
  5. Privacy-safe noise detection allows the property owner or manager to discreetly let the guest know things have gotten too loud.
  6. By gently reminding the booking guest when noise is out of control, guests can avoid confronting angry neighbors, security guards or even law enforcement.
  7. Privacy-safe noise detection protects hosts and guests against false noise complaints.
  8. Increasingly, cities and counties are requiring that property owners show proof of noise-monitoring devices in order to obtain a short-term-rental permit.

1. Vacation-rental listing platforms require that guests be informed up front if a property is equipped with noise-detection.

Airbnb, VRBO and other short-term-rental platforms include noise-device disclosure requirements in their policies. This means that any rental equipped with noise detection must have that information in the rental listing. It will usually be included along with information about wifi, carbon monoxide detectors and security cameras. 

Guest tip: If you are looking at short-term-rental listings and see “equipped with noise-detection device” or similar wording, make sure to ask the host if the device is a NoiseAware privacy-safe sensor. That way, you can rest assured that only decibels are being measured, that you and your guests are not being recorded, and that your privacy is truly protected.

2. Privacy-safe noise detection measures volume levels only.

A common misconception about noise detection is that it can “hear” and identify specific sounds. This is not true of privacy-safe noise detection. A privacy-safe noise device tracks decibels, which are the units used to measure the amplitude of a sound relative to other sounds. A privacy-safe noise device can tell how loud a noise is in the room or outdoor space where it is installed. But it cannot distinguish if the sound is shouting, amplified music, a TV set, fireworks or an orchestra of vuvuzelas. And yes, that means it also cannot identify if the sound is of a more intimate nature, whether in the bathroom, bedroom or elsewhere.

vacation rental allow pets increase profits couple dogs

3. Privacy-safe noise detection monitors not just how loud a noise is, but also how long it is loud for.

Legitimate privacy-safe noise measurement does not just measure the volume level of noise. If it did, it would trigger an alert every time a guest sneezed or shouted or popped a balloon. NoiseAware noise-detection technology, for example, uses a proprietary algorithm called the Noise Risk Score (NRS). This algorithm tracks not only how loud a sound is, but also the duration of the loud sound. The algorithm combines this information with a number of other factors to determine the contextual risk of the noise being excessive and disruptive.

4. Privacy-safe noise-detection sensors do not and cannot record sounds.

Another misconception is that all noise devices record noise. This is absolutely not true with reputable privacy-safe noise-detection devices. This type of privacy-compliant noise monitoring measures decibels. But it does not and cannot record sounds. NoiseAware noise detection, which does not identify specific sounds or records sounds, uses an anonymizing function for converting sound into data. The system can identify noise risk but cannot be used to eavesdrop on guests. It  is certified as privacy safe by the Federal Communications Commission.

5. Privacy-safe noise monitoring allows the property owner or manager to discreetly let the guest know things have gotten too loud.

With NoiseAware noise detection, if the NRS exceeds levels allowed by the owner’s “house rules” and/or by local noise ordinance, the noise detection mobile app alerts the property owner or manager. At that point, the owner or manager may send a text to the guest asking them to lower the volume.

6. By gently reminding the booking guest when noise is out of control, guests can avoid confronting angry neighbors, security guards or even law enforcement.

Just as short-term-rental guests have a right to privacy, neighbors have a right to peace and quiet. By informing guests about excessive noise before it gets out of hand, privacy-safe noise detection gives guests a chance to lower the volume on their own. How many times have you gathered with friends or family to eat, drink and have fun, and simply not realized how loud you’d gotten as the celebration ramped up? In most cases, excessive environmental noise is simply a matter of guests being unaware that they’re being as loud as they are. A simple text reminder can bring the situation to their attention before a neighbor—or, worse, a uniformed guard or cop—comes knocking at the door.

noise detection device mobile app text SMS message

7. Privacy-safe noise monitoring protects owners and guests against false noise complaints.

Property owners can use noise monitoring to protect their properties against false complaints. Sometimes, neighbors don’t like living next to a property that is permitted as a short-term rental. They may have had problems with noise at the rental in the past, or they simply may want to get the property shut down as a short-term rental, even if it’s not a “party house” or source of excessive noise. While privacy-safe noise detection does not record sounds, it does store data about decibel levels, which can later be used to defend against false noise complaints. Often, simply letting neighbors know that your property is equipped with a noise monitoring device will deter them from making false complaints. In the event that a neighbor does complain, being able to show your neighbor (or the police, or the county permitting board) hard data to the contrary will resolve the issue.

But it’s not just property owners who benefit from protection against false complaints. Guests can be fined for violating “house rules” that are included in booking agreements. Guests are also subject to guest reviews on listing platforms like Airbnb, which can affect their future ability to book short-term rentals. Neighbor complaints can result in both fines and negative guest reviews, even when a complaint is false. But with the data provided by a privacy-safe noise detection system, guests can prove they did not cause excessive noise.

8. Increasingly, cities and counties are requiring that property owners show proof of noise-monitoring devices in order to obtain a short-term-rental permit.

Hollywood, Fla. is one of a number of cities that have started requiring owners to show evidence of a properly installed noise-detection device in order to obtain a short-term-rental license. Many cities and counties across the country are currently considering similar requirements, and will vote on these later this year or early in 2022. As people who have been cooped up for months find themselves bitten by the “revenge travel” bug—eager to get away, let loose and live it up—demand for vacation rentals will continue to grow. So will demand for ways to prevent out-of-control noise, frustrated neighbors and trashed properties. 

Privacy-safe noise monitoring is the least invasive, most efficient solution to all three of these problems. So if you’re a staying in a short-term rental and you see that little sensor on the wall, don’t start thinking of ways you can pry it off and toss it in the swimming pool (you can’t, btw, without damaging the hardware, alerting the property owner and likely being fined big bucks). Instead, recognize that just like a smoke detector, a privacy-safe noise device is there to protect you and your guests—in this case, from expensive fines and unwelcome intrusions. It’s there to protect the rental’s neighbors from aggravating, stressful late-night noise. And it’s there to protect the space you’re celebrating in from permit violations and damage, so that it can continue to be occupied and enjoyed.