Once you’ve addressed the vacation rental essentials—like price, convenience and cleanliness—the renters’ market, to some extent, becomes a battle of aesthetics and what’s in vogue.

Guest post by Karen Clark

If you’ve taken steps to automate your vacation home, you already have a leg up. Home automation has seen a massive spike in popularity. Homeowners are tethering their houses to their electronics, and there’s never been a better time for vacation rental owners to consider the smart home game.

Why automation? Why now?

Vacation rental owners are specialists in simplicity. With just a few pictures and some lines of text, you can sell an entire experience to tourists. It just goes to show that in the world of travel, easier is always better—and automating your home can bring both simplicity and efficiency.

Home automation has quickly ascended and is close to becoming an industry standard. According to SecurityCompanies.com, the home security and smart home spheres are quickly merging. It’s getting harder to find a home security service that doesn’t offer some type of home automation access and vice versa.

With the onset of automation features gracing so many products in today”s market – from security systems to toasters to sprinklers – it’s only sensible to give your guests the most hassle-free experience possible.

How to automate your vacation rental

If you’re looking to outfit a smarter vacation rental, you can go in a few different directions.

Some field experts suggest a complete kit from one of the major providers. These types of systems can handle everything from regulating your thermostat to locking your front door. You’ll see them as standalone items, security system integrations or even home entertainment modules.

If you’re interested in putting a little more effort into it, you can also piece together a home automation system on your own. There are plenty of individual components on the market that you can purchase separately and then combine on the back-end (it doesn’t hurt if you’re tech-savvy and handy with a few tools).

Regardless of whether your solution is pre-packaged or individually wrapped, it shouldn’t be a burden to turn your vacation property into a smart home.

In the meantime, here are a few techniques you can use to streamline your rental without breaking the bank or committing to anything too sizable:

  • Get some smart light bulbs. Automated LED bulbs aren’t terribly expensive, and they’re an awesome feature for setting the mood and even saving you money in the long run. If your lights are programmed on a schedule, you can potentially cut back on your electricity bills for all the time they’d otherwise spend burning up watts.

  • Upgrade your outlets. If you have older appliances, they might not have the most intuitive on/off switches. Thus, they may not be all that easy to automate. Try installing a specially-fitted device like the WeMo Switch rather than fiddling with wires and cables. An outlet switch lets you turn devices on or off from a remote location.

  • Download the right apps. The Internet is crowded with home automation apps—many of them free. Some are as simple as audio/video controllers. Others are a little more advanced, providing room-by-room navigation and weather alerts. Provided you have Wi-Fi on hand, you can encourage your visitors to download the same apps when they come to stay and give them control!

It’s a big, wide world when it comes to home automation, and it’s only getting bigger. Why not get ahead of the game and spruce up your rental with a few smart devices? Your guests will appreciate it, and you’re sure to improve their stay.

Karen Clark is a freelance writer who covers technology and the home. Her work focuses on exploring how technology shapes our day-to-day, but especially the time we spend at home. She writes from San Diego, California where she resides with her husband and three children.