We’re serious about safety and security. We want you to be, too. We put this guide together 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, check our guide: How to ensure property safety and be prepared for emergencies.
Guests who unexpectedly encounter security cameras at an accommodation might think they’re intrusive or problematic. However, others may refuse to book home accommodations that don’t offer any additional security.
You’ll need to settle on a policy that works for you and your property, while always keeping your guests’ privacy in mind. One thing is certain: Transparency is essential. If you decide a security device is right for your property, you should include details about it. In fact, 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 how to communicate the use of these devices to your guests. We recommend following 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 prevent these mistakes by investing in a smart lock. Along with bypassing the physical exchange of keys entirely, electronic smart locks offer you additional controls. You can create a custom electronic key for each booking, which is safer for both you and your guests.
High-end smart locks can allow a partner to unlock doors remotely, while enabling a guest to enter and leave using their smartphone via Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or WiFi. Some smart locks offer connected apps that you can use to monitor when guests come and go, which can provide additional peace of mind for partners.
Guests who value security above all will appreciate properties that have security alarms. That said, there are pros and cons to consider before investing in a security alarm.
On the plus 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 detectors designed for doors and windows, and others 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 the security of your property.
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 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 happens if you’re unreachable?
While security systems can be complicated to set up, they may be right for some partners. Before you invest in a system, make sure you understand how much it will cost and how it works.
If you decide to install security cameras inside your property, some people may be hesitant to book with you. Most people—whether staying at a big hotel or a studio apartment—think of cameras inside an accommodation as incompatible with their expectations 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 indication of having a safe stay at your property. If you decide to install a security camera at your property, you’ll want to address guest concerns like these with both diplomacy and hospitality.
Before installing a camera, look up the laws in your area that apply to surveillance. For example, placing a camera where people have expectations of privacy—like in a bathroom or bedroom—is illegal in most countries.
Some property owners like the idea of video cameras because they think these devices can help enforce their house rules. For example, if you don’t allow additional unregistered guests, smoking, or pets, the presence of 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 of doorbell, security camera, and two-way intercom. When someone approaches the door or rings the bell, 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. Of course, opening this new channel of communication means guests can contact you with a question any time of the day or night.
Above all, it’s important to be transparent about any security cameras located in or outside your property. You should always include this detail in your listing.
Motion detectors are less of a privacy concern than cameras, but they shouldn’t be placed in areas where guests have an expectation of privacy either. They can be used outdoors as a security amenity to alert guests when people approach the property, and also 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 only measure sound levels in an area. The most obvious use for a sound detector is to help enforce 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 issue.
How should I tell guests about available safety devices?
If you use smart locks, inform guests that you create a unique key code for every booking. If you enforce check-out times by smart lock codes at a specific time, make sure you let guests know 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 supposed to interact with it.
If you install a camera that includes two-way voice controls, set expectations about when guests should use it to contact you.
Indicate the presence of any camera devices—both in and outside your property—in the Extranet’s Facilities and Services section.