If you’re not offering WiFi for your Airbnb guests – you’re already losing out. According to a recent survey in TripBarometer, nearly half of all travellers – 46% – considered in room WiFi a “must-have.” So if you don’t have WiFi in your property, your listing isn’t even going to show up when Millennials and Digital Nomads click the “On site WiFi” box in Airbnb searches.
Even if you already have WiFi in your Airbnb places, you could still be leaving yourself open to hackers and those bent on stealing your data. You know that router sitting in the living room you use to connect to the internet? You know – the one out in plain sight. Yeah – that one – the router provided by your internet company that is still protected with the default password. The default password that is probably on a sticker on the bottom of the router somewhere – I think you can see where this is going.
But what to do? You want to give your Airbnb guests an awesome experience so you can gather those positive reviews and keep your place at the top of the listings, but without leaving your data and valuable computer systems open up to evil-doers.
Don’t worry. There are a few simple precautions you can take to keep both you and your guests secure.
Keeping your Airbnb WiFi Secure
CHANGE YOUR ROUTER PASSWORD – Let’s start out simple. CHANGE THE DEFAULT ROUTER PASSWORD. You big dummy. Interesting trivia bit – one of the first tricks a hacker will try is checking default passwords. This is detailed in the 1989 computer security classic The Cuckoo’s Egg.
INSTALL A GUEST WIFI DEVICE – If you don’t want to bother with changing passwords, Guest WiFi allows you to set up a separate wireless network exclusively for your Airbnbers. This keeps things secure by keeping them off your WiFi network. Simply take the guest Airbnb WiFi device, plug it into the router, adjust a few settings, and you’re good to go. Setup the Guest WiFi so users can register with their email address or even use a social login like Facebook. If you’re running a high volume Airbnb with a lot of turnover, you can even use the built in marketing capabilities of Guest WiFi devices to gather customer data and start building a mailing list, or use the built in SMS/Email messaging to alert previous guests to special offers or discounts. These devices are typically pretty inexpensive and can be setup in just a few minutes.
INSTALL A VPN ROUTER – This is probably the most technically challenging of the bunch. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your data and tunnels it to another network location. What’s the point of this? Thanks for asking – few of reasons here. Number one, this protects all your data, which is always a good thing. Your Airbnb guests can surf to their hearts content, knowing that they’re protected from the bad guys. Last, but not least, your ISP can’t see where the traffic is going on an VPN. So, if your visitors decide to get on your WiFi and download the latest Hollywood releases from the newest Pirate Cove site – you won’t be left holding the bag when the lawyers come calling.
Here’s a little bit more about VPNs from the nice folks at Android Authority.