Over the past two decades, the cost of cable tv has outpaced inflation every single year, at a nearly 5.7% increase yearly— that’s 3.6% more than normal inflation rates! The market responded, bringing about the near-end of cable’s relatively short 25-year lifespan. Consumers became fed up with the climbing prices and other platforms recognized the disconnect.
Enter the wide and often-wonderful world of streaming. In just a short timeframe, streaming has taken over many homes that were strictly cable, and now many homes and businesses find cable obsolete. That includes businesses that are homes, like the vacation rental industry.
While cable is more straightforward and simple to hook up and maintain than streaming services, it doesn’t offer nearly as much flexibility for your guests. This is important. Many of your guests will have a favorite long-form TV series they’ve been binge-watching for months, and they won’t want vacation to interrupt that. After all, vacation is their time to watch all the TV they want, guilt-free!
So what does this switch mean for vacation rentals and property managers who list cable as an amenity? Many properties are starting to switch over to streaming services and leverage what guests are used to watching at home: Netflix, Roku, YouTube TV, Disney+ and more.
Knowing the right platforms and tools for your vacation rental property is the key to cutting the cord and not compromising on the guest experience.
Best Streaming Services For Your Short-Term Vacation Rental
Amazon Prime Video
Best Streaming Devices
If you want to upgrade a TV in your rental property to allow for streaming, we recommend using one of these smart streaming devices from Amazon, Roku or Apple. These devices connect seamlessly into your existing TV (smart or not) and allow for you (or your guests) to sign into popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more.
Best Smart Streaming TVs
If you want to replace older TVs with new smart TVs, stick to the most reliable brands that have great user experiences for your guests. Vizio, Sony, TCL and Samsung consistently earn the best reviews from guests for their ease of use and smart connectivity.
What Technology is Needed?
- Smart TV or other streaming device for your vacation rental. SmartTVs offer a wide array of streaming services and streaming apps for download (including, most likely, your guests’ favorite) and don’t require multiple devices to troubleshoot.
Streaming services and apps do come with a bit of setup, but once these implementations are in place, diagnosing and fixing problems is much easier.
If you already have (non-Smart) TVs and aren’t looking to make an investment any time soon, you can also purchase an external device like a Roku, Amazon FireStick or AppleTV. These may involve an influx of guest calls if they’re unfamiliar with the device you have installed—and you also have to do the work of setting them up—but they’re much, much easier on the wallet than buying a new SmartTV.
External devices are also a great option if you own or manage multiple properties and/or plan to scale. If you want streaming to be a standard feature at all of your managed homes, streaming devices will be a much easier sell for your owners than SmartTVs!
- Also ensure that your rental property or unit is equipped with high-speed internet. The strength of the connection is vital when streaming, downloading, or buffering games and movies.A good connection is around 25mbps, while excellent connections test around 50 – 100mbps. Any speeds above 100mbps are top-of-the-line.
High-speed internet is important enough to the streaming experience, in fact, that those owners who can only get low-speed internet, dial-up, or wifi with low bandwidth, may want to simply stick with cable.
Whose Subscription Accounts Should Guests Use?
For those with a strong internet connection in place, the next step is to choose the right streaming service. Smart TVs and external devices both will offer the full range of apps to download, such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and HBO.
Each of these services comes with a monthly subscription cost, usually somewhere between $15 and $20 a month. So you have a decision to make:
- Set up house accounts that you pay for and make available on all of the Smart TVs in the house. This is the more guest-friendly option, freeing them from trying to remember passwords or hitting the maximum number of devices allowed with their subscriptions. It’s also a treat for those who don’t have subscriptions at home.
- Require that guests input their own account information. This saves you money (especially if you’re a scaled business with multiple properties), and allows guests to have access to their own playlists and fine-tuned algorithm recommendations. The downside: you will most likely have to navigate a scenario in which guests forget to log out of their accounts at checkout (no matter how many times you remind them).
Other Reasons to Cut the Cord At Vacation Rental Properties / Airbnb Rentals
- Your guests will soon expect it. Because of the pace at which streaming is taking over (no doubt accelerated by the pandemic), streaming capabilities will soon become as important as your coffee maker and air conditioning.
- It’s part of an overall modern Smart Home. Along with smart locks, Alexa, and smart light bulbs SmartTVs (or just streaming in general) are an essential ingredient in an integrated, tech-forward vacation rental.
- Cable costs are still ever-increasing. If you’re a manager whose homeowners are tired of the constant pricing increase and add-ons that cable box or satellite TV brings, it may be time to make the switch.
- With their favorite TV to keep them company, guests get even more of that “home away from home” feeling—and that equates to a better overall guest experience.
Bonus Tip: Roku offers an “auto sign-out” feature for allowing guests to safely user their login credentials, but have those credentials expire once they check-out of the property.
Called Roku guest mode, it’s the perfect STR/vacation rental solution for allowing full access to a system without paying for it, but not worrying about logins being left behind or paying fully for the half-dozen streaming services outlined above. Here is Roku’s support article about how to set this up.