By The Hospitable Team
If you’re in doubt about the kind of entertainment package to provide in your short-term rental, you’re not alone.
It’s a hot topic of debate among our clients, and many property owners are wondering:
Should I provide streaming services for my guests? Which ones?
Is it better to pay for all the subscriptions or let guests use their own logins?
Do I need cable TV in my rental as well?
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every rental is unique and caters to different types of guests.
In this article, we’ll go through some of your options when it comes to streaming and entertainment. We’ll weigh up the pros and cons of each and include insights from fellow hosts explaining what they do and why.
Read on if you’re ready to resolve the entertainment dilemma once and for all!
Why should you provide entertainment solutions for your guests?
After a long day of sightseeing and taking in the local attractions, all your guests feel like doing is relaxing in front of the TV. As they grab the remote and cozy up on the couch, you don’t want to leave them short of choice.
There are many reasons to give your guests plenty of entertainment options to choose from. For example:
- Increase guest satisfaction – You can earn more five-star reviews by going above and beyond to keep guests entertained.
- Keep up with the competition – Other vacation rental properties in your area probably offer streaming services. If they don’t, your property will stand out.
- Attract more mid-term guests – Travelers who book longer stays will expect all their home comforts. This includes access to all their favorite streaming platforms and shows.
- Tick off another amenity – It’s always good to add extra vacation rental amenities to your listing to ensure your properties appear in more searches.
Raise your prices – Boosting your entertainment package could justify increasing your nightly rate.
Which streaming services should you provide?
78% of US consumers have at least one streaming subscription. With this many people using video-on-demand services, you should definitely provide some streaming options in your rental.
By far the most popular streaming platform worldwide is Netflix, followed by Amazon Prime and Hulu.
If you were to only offer one platform, it should be Netflix. But we recommend giving your guests access to as many other streaming services as possible, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV plus. Disney+ is also a great option if you regularly host families with children.
Now you might be worried about the cost of all these streaming platforms. Well, as we’ll explain in the next section, you don’t necessarily have to pay for the subscriptions yourself.
3 ways to provide access to streaming services in vacation rentals
Your guests want to watch Netflix. If they can’t find what they’re looking for there, they’d like to browse through Amazon Prime and Hulu as well.
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So what’s the best way to provide these services to your guests? Here are three approaches, and the pros and cons of each.
1. Pay for the streaming service yourself
You could sign up and pay the monthly fee for subscription services yourself. All your guests will share a master login.
The main advantage here is that it’s quick and easy. When they arrive in your property, guests only have to turn on the TV and the streaming apps will be ready to go.
However, there are major downsides to taking out the subscriptions yourself.
Firstly, paying for multiple streaming services is costly. Even if you increase your rates, it might not cover the expense.
If you have more than one property, you might need to create multiple accounts to allow your guests to watch in different places at the same time. Using the same logins for different properties could also violate the terms of your agreements with streaming services.
What’s more, a shared login won’t give your guests the optimum viewing experience. They can run into issues such as:
- Unsuitable “watch next” recommendations – Your current guests might love rom coms and family movies. But, thanks to the viewing habits of the previous renters, Netflix’s algorithm suggests horror movies.
- Guests leave mid-way through watching a show – This show now appears in “continue watching.” Future guests might accidentally click here and end up starting the series halfway through.
- Apps are set to the wrong language – If you welcome guests from all over the world, they might have to figure out how to change the language settings when they arrive.
None of these are serious problems that you can’t work around. However they can cause inconvenience and distract your guests from their leisure time.
2. Allow guests to log into their own accounts
If you go for this approach, you’ll have to provide a smart TV with all the apps loaded and ask guests to log in to their own accounts when they arrive.
They can pick up where they left off with any show they’re enjoying, and have all the comforts of their account, such as personalized recommendations and their preferred settings.
The good news is you’ll avoid paying subscription fees for various streaming services, and you won’t be breaking any terms of service. It may seem less luxurious to ask guests to use their own logins, but you’ll probably find that they prefer it this way.
One issue with this is that guests need to remember to log out of all those apps before they leave, to avoid inconveniencing the next host. If they forget, you’ll have to do it for them.
Some guests might worry about logging into their accounts on different devices for security reasons.
These are only minor inconveniences, though.
Here’s what some vacation rental hosts had to say about this approach:
“We only provide the smart tv that allows guests to connect to their own streaming services. I have not had any complain over 2 years of hosting, so no plans to change that!” – Stephanie Alexander
“[We provide] Roku Smart TV, Bluetooth speaker. Guests sign in to their own streaming apps or can use free apps or live TV.” – Seb at Lodgeur
“We only provide a TV (Roku) in some of our properties (depending on the owner). We do not provide streaming services, as most folks already have their own favorites they can log into.” – Anonymous host
3. Provide a Chromecast or Apple TV device
If you don’t like the idea of guests signing into their apps on your TV, you can invest in a tool such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV.
A Chromecast is a dongle that you plug into the TV’s HDMI port and can control from your smartphone or tablet. It enables guests to connect their smartphones, laptops, and tablets to the TV so they can cast media onto the TV.
An Apple TV does much the same thing and allows guests to connect to the TV with their own devices.
The good thing about this is that guests can use their own streaming accounts without actually having to log in on your device. They can access all the streaming services they have, as well as other apps like YouTube and Spotify. When they leave, they’ll automatically disconnect.
It’s possible that guests may change the settings of the device, and therefore make it hard for the next guests to connect. You just might need to include some clear instructions about how to connect and disconnect for less tech-savvy guests.
Is cable still a thing?
Streaming services now account for 26% of the total time spent watching TV in the US, and that market share continues to grow.
Streaming is especially popular with younger generations, with 98% of Gen Z and 95% of Millennials using streaming services.
Video-on-demand may lead to more and more consumers deciding to “cut the cord” and cancel cable for good. However, that day hasn’t arrived yet. Cable is still a thing, and many people rely on cable tv for news, live sports, and more.
To help you decide whether you need cable in your rental, here are some things to bear in mind:
- Price – How much does it cost to have cable TV in your properties?
- Competition – If similar listings in your area provide cable, you may have to follow suit.
- Type of property – If your vacation rental is a luxury property, your guests might expect cable TV as standard.
- Your typical guests – What type of vacation are your guests looking for? If you manage a city-center apartment that hosts mostly young party-goers, cable TV is probably unnecessary. However, if football fans often rent your property, you’ll want to invest in cable so they can watch games.
- Guest feedback – Look at what kind of reviews your guests leave. Has anyone ever complained about the lack of entertainment options?
While it’s possible to provide streaming apps in your rental without spending a lot of money, cable TV is different. It requires a significant monthly investment, and as a host, you have to make the decision as to whether it’s right for your business.
It’s up to you to judge whether cable is worth it, but it’s certainly not a must-have for every property. As one host in the Airbnb Profit Club Facebook group put it:
“We run 40 Airbnbs and don’t offer cable in any of them. Just a smart TV connected to the internet and an air antenna for local stations. We’re a super host with a 4.9 rating. Trust me, cut the cord.”
Streaming services can help guests feel at home
Managing vacation rentals is all about creating amazing experiences for your guests, and making sure they feel at home.
When guests are relaxed and having fun, you’re going to earn more great reviews and future bookings.
Home entertainment is a small detail that goes a long way. Giving guests the chance to watch all their favorite shows in comfort will earn you more 5-star reviews and bookings, and cement your superhost status.
When it comes to cable TV, the choice comes down to your budget, and the type of guests you’re looking to attract. However, these days streaming services are a must.
To avoid spending a lot of money on streaming services, many now opt to let guests use their own logins, or provide a device like a Chromecast or Apple TV so guests can connect their devices to the TV.
This is more convenient all round and makes for a smoother experience for guests.
Do you want to improve guest experience and take the hassle out of running your business?
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