Before you open your home to paying guests, install these items to make life easier for everyone.
by Chris Parker
Part of the draw of Airbnb for renters is the ability to feel like you're in a home away from home -- or at least somewhere that's more homey and hospitable than your average hotel or hostel. But no one wants a helicopter host and very few hosts will feel worry-free without having at least some insight into their guests' stay.
As a host, one thing you can do to keep an eye on things -- without being too snoopy -- is to install a few smart gadgets around your space. Here are seven essentials every Airbnb host should consider.Smart locks James Martin/CNET
With physical keys, you run certain risks that could be avoided altogether with smart locks. Physical keys can be copied, of course. But it can also be a little more difficult to enforce checkout times, especially if your Airbnb property isn't nearby or if you're out of town.
With a smart lock, like those from August or Schlage, you can give temporary access that begins with check-in and expires after the check-out date and time. You can also assign different access codes to guests and others (such as cleaners) to see who is entering or leaving the property.Video doorbell Chris Monroe/CNET
Unlike controlling when someone has access to your Airbnb, it can be difficult to police how many people are staying. If you charge additional fees for extra guests, you probably want to know how many people are actually crashing at your place when you're not there. Or if you have a strict no-pet policy and suspect a guest might be sneaking in a furry friend, you'd probably like a way to check on that.
This is also a nice failsafe, in case the guest loses or forgets their access code or their phone is dead and they can't unlock the smart lock. They can simply press the doorbell, which will give you two-way audio (and one-way video) communication with your guests and you can unlock the door for them.Smart thermostat
With a smart thermostat, you will never have to run by your rental to turn on the air conditioning before a guest arrives or off after they leave again. Something like a Nest or Ecobee can determine when people are at home or away and adjust the controlled air respectively. And a thermostat as simple to use as Nest can make it easier for your guests to make themselves comfortable.
These simple automations will save you a lot of hassle and some energy costs over time, especially if your rental remains vacant for extended periods.Smart lights Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Smart bulbs are more tricky. They continue to work as normal lights, even without a phone app to control them. But without something like an Alexa or Google Home speaker or dedicated controller, guests won't get to enjoy the full benefits of having bulbs that can change colors or operate on a schedule.
The perks of smart bulbs are more for the host than the guest, however. With connected lights, you can see if a guest happened to leave lights on when they checked out. Or you can set the lights to a schedule to simulate someone being home when the property is vacant.Media streamer Taylor Martin/CNET
Give your guests something to do after they've spent a long day touristing around with a media streamer. An Apple TV is probably the cream of the crop, but it's also more expensive than other streamers and is more likely to go missing.
A Chromecast, Roku Express or Fire TV Stick are affordable ways to give your guests some entertainment without running such a high risk of theft. Plus, now that Fire TV Sticks have Alexa capabilities built-in, you can let guests control some of the smart amenities, like smart bulbs, door locks or the thermostat without needing an expensive smart speaker.Security camera
You definitely don't want to make your guests feel uneasy, but most will understand if you equip your space with security cameras both indoors and out.
Security footage is one of the few protections Airbnb hosts have against theft. Investing in something like Nest Cam Indoor or Homeboy will be well worth it should something ever go missing or if anything expensive gets damaged.
If you go this route, just make sure you clearly list that they're present and working on the Airbnb listing and keep them out of sensitive areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.Chargers