We’re serious about safety and security. We want you to be, too. We’ve put together this guide to help you proactively address safety issues for guests, ensure the safety of your property, and prepare for emergencies. If you want to do more, please check our guide: How to ensure property safety and be prepared for emergencies.
Guests who unexpectedly encounter a security camera at an accommodation may view cameras as intrusive or problematic. Yet, others may refuse to book home accommodations that don't offer any additional security.
You'll need to decide on a policy that works for you and your property, and you should always keep your guests’ privacy in mind. One thing is for sure: Transparency is of utmost importance. If you decide that a security device is right for your property, you should include details about it. In fact, you may find that advertising a security device as an amenity could work in your favor.
We put together a list of some of the most popular types of security devices used in home accommodations, along with tips for communicating the use of these devices to your guests. We recommend you follow all privacy laws and regulations that apply to your location, as well as being open and available to answer guest concerns about privacy and security.
Keys get lost. Guests lock themselves out. You can avoid these unfortunate events by investing in a smart lock. In addition to bypassing the physical key exchange process entirely, electronic smart locks offer you additional controls. You can create an electronic key customized for each booking, which is safer for both you and your guests.
High-end smart locks can allow a partner to unlock doors remotely from halfway across the planet, while also giving a guest the ability to enter and leave using only their smartphone (via Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or WiFi). Some smart locks offer connected apps that you can use to monitor when guests arrive and leave, which can provide additional peace of mind for partners.
Guests who value security above all else will appreciate properties that call out security alarms. That said, there are positives and negatives to consider before investing in a security alarm.
On the positive side, security alarms can provide unprecedented peace of mind for guests. They can immediately alert you or your guests if an intruder enters the property. Most security systems come with sensors that detect motion, which can be especially useful when placed at key entry points. Some systems come with motion sensors that have been designed for doors and windows, and some come with additional sensors that you can place wherever you like. The most sophisticated security systems allow you to adjust the range and sensitivity of motion detectors, which gives you additional control over how secure you want your property to be.
Be aware that high-tech security systems can be complex. Having a state-of-the-art system in your accommodation can be a selling point for guests, but it can also lead to guest confusion or false alarms. A few questions to ask before installing a security system: What happens after an alarm is triggered? Will the police or a private security company be notified? How will you as the property owner be notified? What will happen if you're unreachable?
While security systems can be complicated to set up, they may be right for some partners. That said, make sure you understand what a system like this will cost and how it will work before you invest in one.
If you choose to install security cameras inside your accommodation, some people will naturally hesitate to book with you. Most people, whether staying at a huge hotel or in a studio apartment, think of cameras inside an accommodation as incompatible with their expectation of privacy. Then again, if you install an outdoor security camera, which is standard at most hotels, these same potential guests may see it as a positive sign that they'll have a safe stay on your property. If you choose to install a security camera on your property, you'll want to address guest concerns like these with both diplomacy and hospitality.
Before installing a camera on your property, be aware of laws in your area that apply to surveillance. Placing a camera in areas where there is an expectation of privacy—such as a bathroom or bedroom—is illegal in most countries.
Some property owners are attracted to the idea of video cameras because they feel these devices can help enforce their house rules. For example, if you don’t allow additional unregistered guests, smoking in or around your property, or pets inside the home, knowing there is a camera at the front door might dissuade people from breaking these rules.
One popular choice for property owners is a “video doorbell” device. These are usually mounted at the front door and function as a combination doorbell, security camera, and two-way voice intercom. When someone approaches the door or rings the doorbell, the device will send a notification to your smartphone, allowing you to view the video feed directly from your phone and respond to visitors. This type of device can also be used to communicate with guests in other ways. For example, you can use it as part of your check-in procedure if you wish. Of course, opening up this new channel of communication means you may be contacted by a guest with a question for you at any time of the day or night.
Above all, it's important to be transparent about any security cameras located inside or outside of your accommodation. This is a detail you should always include in your listing.
Motion detectors are less of a privacy concern than cameras, but they also shouldn't be placed in areas where guests have an expectation of privacy. They can be used outdoors as a security amenity to alert guests when people approach the property, but they can also be used to keep certain areas off-limits. If your house rules designate an area like a garage or storage space where guests aren't allowed, a motion detector can help enforce those rules.
Similarly, you can find devices that are designed to only measure the level of sound in an area. The most obvious use for a sound detector is to help enforce house rules about parties and noise. These devices may be attractive to partners who want to use technology in a focused but limited way to solve a specific guest relation problem.
How should I communicate the presence of security devices to my guests?
If you use smart locks, inform guests that you create a unique key code for every booking. If you enforce checkout times by changing key codes on your smart locks at a specific time, make sure you let guests know this ahead of time.
If your property has a security alarm, create a set of detailed instructions so guests understand what the system offers, how it works, and how they're expected to interact with it.
If you install a camera that includes two-way voice controls, set expectations for guests as to when they should use this mode of communication to reach you.
Indicate the presence of any camera devices, either inside or outside your property, in the Facilities and Services section of the Extranet.