To Key or Not to Key: Pros and Cons of a Keyless Entry System

Opening the door with number combination

One of the biggest concerns of many travelers heading on a trip is how they are going to check into the vacation rental and start enjoying their vacation. It's important to consider the check in procedure that works best for the vacation rental. A stressful check in can set the tone for the trip and influence how the traveler feels about the property.

Coordinating check in times can be difficult when the traveler is coming from far away. A traveler with a long drive or a connecting flight may run into traffic or delays, leaving the owner or property manager waiting and wondering when the traveler will arrive. Having a keyless entry to the property can take these factors out of the equation.

Without keys, as an owner you don’t have to worry about the traveler misplacing the key or not returning it at the end of their stay.  You won’t have to make new copies or come to the rescue if a traveler locks themselves out with the key inside on the counter.

As a traveler, you can go enjoy the beach or explore the city without having to bring a key with you-it’s one less thing you have to worry about when lugging your beach chairs, towels, surfboards or wallet, passport, bus passes, etc.

Another advantage is that all members of the group can access the property without all being issued a key.  If you’re on vacation with your extended family, the whole family doesn’t have to plan to be back in time for the baby to take a nap, or synchronize your schedules so that everyone is ready to go out to dinner at the same time.

While a keyless entry can save time and help create a hassle-free check in, there are some other factors to keep in mind.  Having a keyless entry can make the check in process easier for the owner and the traveler, but communication is essential.  Make sure the traveler is aware of the code and the steps to use the keyless entry. If the traveler does not have the correct access code or does not understand how to use the system, this process can be more frustrating than simply having a traditional key. Some travelers may find it more burdensome to remember the code instead of remembering a physical key.

The negative side of not issuing a key to a group of travelers and allowing them to access the property freely is that they can easily share the code with others outside of their group. This makes is difficult to monitor who is coming and going.

Like all technology, there is always the possibility of a system error or hardware malfunction. Battery or electric powered locks prove to be useless when the power source is cut off. Keyless entry systems can also be more expensive than traditional locks and may require more maintenance.

Weigh your options to find the most efficient way to manage reservations and create the ideal experience for the guest. Some of the best keyless entry vendors in the business are: Lockatron, Kaba, Point Central, and Resort Lock.


  1. I feel that to run a professionally operated vacation rental from afar with security and privacy guests expect, a system like eRentalLock is invaluable. I installed them on my gate and front door. I simply go online (from phone or computer) generate an access code that starts working at check-in time and stops an hour after check-out time (in case they need to run back to get a forgotten item). It allows me to generate codes for my property manager that work around the clock and long-term (2 years). Or I can generate codes for the pool guy only on Tues/Fri between 11-3 so he doesn't interrupt my guest's privacy without having to ask us for a temporary code. We can generate a gate code only for deliveries, or for a service tech for tree trimming, exterior repair etc. Or during a reno, can give the code to the contractor that only works during the period he is allowed to be on-site, i.e. M-F 6am-5pm Aug 1-15.
    The codes are ten digits long and are easily programmed by the guest to a four digit code of their choice and they can make the gate and door the same. They are not reliant on the internet to get programmed! The creator is some kind of math genius and it works by an infinite number of algorithms programmed for start end times and the system is installed in housing by Schlage locks. It adjusts for daylight savings and you just set your time zone on the computer. The batteries should be replaced every two years, we do ours every year preventatively.
    All my guests can feel confident, no past guests can re-enter the property. And insurance wise too, were we ever to have a burglary, I can attest no past guests have a valid way of accessing. We still use a Do Not Copy key on the garage door but are also thinking of upgrading this to an eRentalLock.
    We have a master code and can cancel codes at the lock itself if we fire a contractor. (You can't cancel them online.) You can also buy an audit trail reader so you can see when people have used their code to enter (i.e. is the pool guy really coming twice a week?).
    I love it, and I generate codes for each unique stay, even friends and family so they can create their own easy to remember entry code. My one complaint is that I wish the deadbolt style was more intuitive to lock... guests have to hit Schlage and then turn the deadbolt which requires some explanation. The handle style auto-locks. I wish there was just a Lock button and hope to see this in future products. We installed ours in 2012 and have never looked back.

  2. Since we are not local, it's our only viable option. We reset after each guest and so far in 2 seasons no problems and still original battery. Guests like not having to drag keys to the beach and we like only one entry door for them. 3 owners all have own codes. I want one on my house now too.

  3. Its easy for them to remember the combination, I use the last seven digits of their telephone number. Especially nice when they are arriving at 2:00 am . I email them on how to use the lock and all out side doors get the same combination. It takes me about 20 seconds per lock to change combination.

  4. I agree with Steve! The few issues with keyless entry are far outweighed by the hassles keys can present. A lockbox with keys can be even harder to open, for example. And worries about whether renters will lose your last set of keys are eliminated.

    As for the issue of battery or power outage, I hide a set of keys on the property just in case, and my cleaning lady also has a set.

    Wish I could afford one of those keyless systems that you can lock & unlock remotely. That's the ultimate solution!

  5. Gotta disagree with the negative of the digital locks is not having control of who enters the property... A regular key copy can be made anywhere for $1... Guests can easily make copies and share with the group... And worse, now they have the key for your house until you change your lock....
    Many keyless systems allow you to program a code for each guest/group... If not scheduled, you can manually disable the code after the guest departs...
    I use the Schlage with z-wave system....

  6. We have started to use a keyless system at our property, and we love it. After examining all of the available options we opted for an ERentalLock. We can issue codes to our guests without worry they they will overstay, arrive too early, or that the code might be shared improperly. Second to all of this we have the ability to issue one time codes to contractors, and other work crew they arrive infrequently and only need occasional access to the property.

  7. I had keyless entry for years. When it works it is great. I replace the units before they go bad and they still fail to work. It isn't the batteries. Can you recommend a keyless entry that will not fail?

    Captain Don

    • I agree with you Steve. And we change the codes regularly. We use part of one guests phone # so we never run out of #'s. Just need to replace the batteries every so often and remember to write it down so YOU don't forget it. :)

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