Thinking about adding streaming TVs to your rental property? Not sure where to start or if it’s even a good idea? You’ve come to the right place. At Cabins for YOU — listed as one of the Top Vacation Rental Managers in the World — we know guest satisfaction and which expected amenities make a difference. With over 20 years of experience in the vacation rental industry, we’ve learned to flow with the times and often suggest updates or upgrades to our partnered owners. One of the biggest ones within the last couple of years has to be adding smart TVs and streaming services.
What kind of television and which streaming options you provide does impact your guest’s experience. If you currently have secondhand or older TVs in your vacation home, it can even be a deterrent to potential reservations and discourage repeat guests…which isn’t great for your revenue stream. In today’s virtual world, it’s important to offer smart TVs with online TV options at your vacation rental. And believe it or not, you can even save money by cutting cable and satellite! Plus, it gives your guests a way to enjoy rainy days and evenings inside.
Modern television technology is a glorious thing. Once upon a time, there were only 3-4 channels...with static and strategic antenna placement. A few decades later, cable TV took the world by storm! Flipping on the TV for 24-hour news, weather reports, sporting events, sitcoms, and MTV became part of our daily routine.
Fast forward a few years, and we traded coaxial cables for a digital box to scan the TV universe for 100s of channels and watch our favorite shows and movies on demand. This led to PPV (pay per view), channel packages, and rising costs as basic cable drifted away.
Around this time, satellite TV came into the mix as well, with HUGE dish antennas taking up valuable roof real estate. Sure, rain or snow might have interfered from time to time, but occasional pixelation was worth enjoying TV with family and friends on most days. Although, even with smaller satellites, about the size of a dinner plate today, it still cost a pretty penny…
Now, in the 21st century, high speed Wi-Fi is the primary source of TV entertainment. Streaming shows, movies, weather, sports, events, and literally every type of filmed content known to man without antennas, cables, boxes, or satellite dishes is mind-blowing. Smart TVs — basically internet-enabled computers that function as TVs — complement this process and make your viewing experience easier and more vibrant.
With genius innovation and easy access for most households, streaming services and/or smart TVs are quickly becoming alternate sources of entertainment. And it’s no different for short-term vacation rentals. Not to mention, cutting cable or satellite costs with reasonably inexpensive streaming services is pretty appealing to owners who want to save money!
How to Cut the Cord
“Cutting the cord” of expensive cable or satellite TV and providing quality streaming services saves money for sure. Naturally, this brings us to a common question from vacation rental owners. What level of service and/or which channels should you sign up for? If you’re struggling with rapid advances in technology and maybe even feel clueless about smart TVs and streaming services, we are here to help!
Things to Consider
What are your guests expecting? Should I offer more?
Do you have speedy Wi-Fi and enough bandwidth for smartphones, PCs, and TVs?
Which smart TV should you add to your vacation rental?
Do you want to include live TV or specific channels?
Which streaming service should you sign up for?
Are you interested in premium services or bundles?
Prospective guests often call our vacation planners or message us online about TV services. They want to make sure they can watch “the big game,” follow the latest news updates, or enjoy a favorite TV series while on vacation. At a minimum, we recommend some level of a live TV service to meet your guests' expectations. However, we strongly encourage vacation rental owners to offer more if possible.
Okay, this is a BIG item to consider when thinking about streaming services at your vacation rental. Essentially, the speed and bandwidth of your property’s wireless internet will determine how much (if any) you can offer in the streaming realm.
Ultimately, you need to opt for unlimited, high speed internet through your local cable provider (like Spectrum, Xfinity, or Time Warner) to allow for proper installation and use of smart TVs at your vacation home.
Now, we know not every location can access unlimited bandwidth, but take heart because broadband WAN (wide area network) is growing, especially in rural areas. Even some satellite providers are offering unlimited data now!
Maybe you’re wondering if a simple cell hotspot or just a higher level of a limited data package will be enough. While we can see the appeal and appreciate the idea, frankly, it just won’t work — and will cost YOU more money in the long run.
Keep in mind more Wi-Fi-enabled devices tapped into your vacation property’s internet connection means you’ll need more bandwidth and speed. You may even want to consider installing Wi-Fi extenders at your property to expand coverage and keep guests happy.
Choosing the Right Smart TV
Selecting the best smart TV for YOUR vacation rental is very subjective. Whatever you decide, offering a smart TV with streaming capabilities is a great way to help your vacation rental stand out. While it’s tempting to buy the biggest and most reliable brand, it’s not always feasible. How big is your property? Are streaming services a huge marketing opportunity for your vacation rental? Does the TV fit into your upgrade budget?
What we can tell you for certain is to avoid discount/knockoff brands. Some internet providers, including Spectrum and Xfinity, even have partnerships with several TV brands, which is worth looking into as it might be more cost-effective for you. Do note the vast majority of smart TV brands include a built-in app store that allows you to download/subscribe to any number of streaming services.
Live TV & Specific Channels
With so many guests of different backgrounds and tastes staying at your property rental, it can feel overwhelming to choose which TV options to offer. At the very least, it’s a safe bet to provide live TV, best with a package that includes the news, weather forecast, sports plus a few fan favorites, like SyFy, Hallmark, and the Travel Channel.
You can opt for live TV with varying packages through AT&T, DISH, DirecTV, Spectrum, and Xfinity. Or check out streaming services that offer live TV as a bonus, like Hulu, Sling TV, and fuboTV. Plus, you can usually offer premium call options to these.
As for specific channels, we’ll let you be the judge. If you use your vacation home often, it may be worth it. And you’ll probably have guests that really appreciate it! However, it’s not something you need to provide.
What about “free” streaming services with live TV? That’s a hard pass. Guests won’t be satisfied any more than you would be…
Pro Tip: Create Separate Accounts
Never allow your rental property TV to use your personal home account to stream any service. While many streaming providers allow you to use their service across multiple devices/screens, your guests might rent shows, movies, or channels that you’ll have to pay for… So, if you want to offer live TV or specific channels on your vacation rental’s smart TV, create separate accounts.
Streaming Service Options
Which streaming services are your guests expecting on vacation? That’s a tough one! First of all, there are SO MANY streaming TV options. Along with more popular streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Roku, and Amazon Prime, there’s Vudu, Sling TV, fuboTV, Pluto TV, and Tubi…to name a few.
With a plethora of subscription options, which ones should vacation rental owners provide? None! You read that right. Most travelers already have their own account for one if not many streaming services, so as long as you provide a smart TV with apps to access their own accounts, you’re all set!
Premium Services & Bundles
Okay, maybe subscribing to popular streaming services isn’t necessary. But what about premium services and bundles? Ultimately, we recommend offering premium streaming services if you have a larger property for group stays (especially with kids) or a high-end luxury property of any size.
From HBO Max, Cinema, and SHOWTIME to Paramount+, Disney+, and ESPN+, there’s a slew of options out there. And you can bundle some streaming services together for an even better price!
At the end of the day, it’s really up to you and your preferences. You know your property, generated revenue, and guests better than anyone else. Plus, you can always give it a test run for a few months and ask for direct feedback to see which providers are worth keeping for future and repeat guests.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Adding smart TVs and providing streaming services is a great idea for any vacation rental. It’s affordable and offers your guests added entertainment on their trip. Just remember to keep it simple; too many streaming devices or specialty remotes can cost vacation rental owners in repairs and/or replacements down the road.
Keep in Mind
- Today, guests DO expect vacation rentals to provide Smart TVs and access to streaming services.
- Smart TVs and streaming services require unlimited, high-speed internet, so do a little research first.
- YOUR benefit almost always outweighs the cost of switching from cable or satellite TV to online streaming.
- Offering a live TV service for guests is an automatic win in our books! Specific channels are fair game, too.
- Guests can use their own streaming service accounts, so there’s no need for you to subscribe. Providing a capable smart TV really is enough!
- Premium services are best for large and/or luxury properties, but offering them at any property is always nice.
Need Further Assistance?
With this new era of TV entertainment, it’s important to understand how it relates to you as a vacation rental owner, your property investment, as well as guest satisfaction. While it can be overwhelming and difficult to decide and implement changes to your vacation property, as a partner with Cabins for YOU, we can offer appropriate recommendations based on your property plus specific wants and needs. Reach out anytime at 1.800.684.7865!