ShortTermRentalz spoke to YC Chung, CEO and co-founder of Lubn, about the 4G / LTE IoT Smart Lock, which helps property managers improve security at their vacation rentals.
• Lubn recently unveiled the IoT Smart Lock – what were your motivations for bringing this to market?
Firstly, I am the owner of some of our rental properties and a few years ago, I was working at Microsoft. I was also the father of two young kids and I found it difficult to juggle all these types of jobs. I had to say goodbye to my family a lot to go to rental properties to view the property management tasks. Therefore, I wondered if I could use technology to facilitate my tasks so that was when I started to explore the technology and solutions to help myself.
Later when I talked to different property managers, they all had similar end points and that is how I started to develop this product. The goal is to democratise autonomous property management so that we can give the time back to the managers so we are all focused on business for value.
• How does the lock itself work?
Last year in November, we had our initial launch for our first model and we piloted it too. It works when you put the keys of the properties into this device called Keybag, which is basically storage for the physical key. Then you can put the key back inserted into the device called Lubn box. This device is an LT connected device which collects all the data including when the guest or the visitors return the key. It is always connected because we will ultimately use LTE connectivity and managers get to know when guests check in or out.
Our software actually enables property managers to summarise all that data for the managers and provides them with some business alternatives in order to help them improve the property management efficiency. In the case of property management for short-term rental, our system will be able to automate communication for the managers so when a previous guest checks out, our system will automatically message the next person who checks in.
In addition to that, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, we also announced a new product called the Manager Dashboard. It is a web-based dashboard so from there, property managers in mega booking for our guests we also develop this with the key where the managers book in button built for the property managers so they can build this book in button into their website so their visitors don’t have to come directly to the property manager they can just go to website and make a booking from there. Property managers will send an itinerary so that when the visitors stop by the property, our embedded cameras will take a snapshot of them, and if they are approved by the system, the key will be dispensed. The guest will then be checked in.
• How did it feel to win the CES 2019 Innovation Award in the smart home category?
I think a lot of the time was spent wondering whether it pinpointed a solution or whether it was just a hype! I cannot speak for the judges but I think our solutions provide solutions and one mentor at Google told me if this product could be used by a process without going to the house, time is money. That is the reason we won the award by CES.
• What is Lubn looking to achieve in 2019?
We will definitely improve the next version production. At this moment, I cannot disclose any details but I can tell you that we are going to be making this smarter and smarter. Once we have all the data from the device, we can start bringing more intelligence to the property managers.
• Do you think there are any key property management or tech trends which will be seen in 2019?
The trend we have noticed is that more and more people have investment properties listed on short-term rentals. They cannot look after multiple properties for the help they are looking for and so traditionally, property managers will start to manage more properties in their portfolio which increases their workload. They will either have to manage these properties or they will have to hire another property manager to collaboratively match properties and that is exactly why our dashboard features collaborative management. It allows key managers to help manage multiple properties at the same time.
• Are there any particular challenges you are currently facing in the segment?
For the security part, I would have to introduce our philosophy. We believe transparency will enhance security. The way we achieve transparency is we report all different events remotely to the managers guests about what is going on. With an embedded camera in the Lubn box, we can send a picture of the visitors at their check-in event to property managers so they get to know who exactly checked in. In addition to that, we get asked, what if someone tried to tamper this device? These are all the means and ends which is the goal to bring transparency to property managers.