The Technology Adoption Lifecycle

A little science can show you the best time to implement new technology.

As you learned from our 2017 Vacation Rental Trends Report, technology and the way property managers use it is changing. As new technology is developed and released, it moves through what is known as the Technology Adoption Lifecycle (TAL). Made popular again by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm, the TAL has five stages:




  • Innovators are the first group to adopt new technology, often as soon as it’s available. Think of this group as the people who snag tickets to the pre-release screening of a new movie and are so excited to see it that they show up at the theater in costume.

  • Early Adopters, the second group to adopt new technology, are the type of people who camp out for hours to see the midnight showing of the movie. They’re still ahead of the crowds and they’ve bragged about having great seats at one of the earliest showings.

  • The Early Majority is the group that follows. While they may not wait in line for hours to get good seats or show up in costume, they’re going to see the new movie within the first few weeks. They’re willing to pay for a movie ticket and want to talk about it with their friends.

  • Next are the Late Majority. This group will see the movie but they’re not in any rush. A convenient weekend matinée before it leaves theaters is more their speed.

  • Laggards are the last group of adopters. These are the people who avoided the movie until they had no choice or no excuse not to. They were the ones who said “I’ll get around to it at some point.” And they did…although they waited until it was released by Netflix or Redbox.

Why does this matter to property managers?

Knowing where technology falls in the TAL helps property managers make decisions about the tools they use to run their business. Although the TAL is a scientific model that feels far removed from day-to-day operations, it’s useful for predicting the expectations of customers and owners.

Example: Property management software, the core tool used by property managers, has been around for decades. Established companies just now adopting a dedicated property management system are in the Laggard stage. Even cloud-based property management software, a more recent innovation, has reached the Late Majority stage.

Since the core tool property managers use has been developed to meet current technology standards, property management software developers are likely to focus on building supplementary tools that improve maintenance workflows, owner management, or guest experience. This could include guest management apps and smart home technology, both of which have grown rapidly in the last few years.

Guest Management Apps

According to the latest adoption data, guest management mobile apps are just breaking into the Early Majority stage. This stage represents one of the best times to implement a technology because it has already been vetted and tested by Early Adopters and it’s still new enough to set you apart from your competitors. Since guest management apps aren’t common enough for guests to expect them, using them lets you “surprise and delight.”

Smart Home Technology

Interestingly, smart home technology spreads over different stages of the TAL. Keyless entry systems have seen widespread adoption, placing them somewhere in the Early Majority or Late Majority stages. They’re a fairly standard part of the guest experience.

Energy monitors, smart thermostats, and smart lighting are still in the Early Adopter stage. These technologies could be a great way to differentiate yourself from other property management companies as you’re trying to attract new owners.

Resources for staying up-to-date

Of course, no product comes with a label conveniently stating “This is an Early Majority product!” You’ll need to keep your ear to the ground to stay abreast of the big changes. Here are some resources to help you stay up-to-date on new and emerging vacation rental technology:

  1. Skift and Phocuswright, two industry-leading research firms.

  2. VRM Intel, a well-respected industry magazine with free access to both print and digital editions.

  3. Webinars from vacation rental technology providers, which will often show off new products and features.

  4. Conferences hosted by national industry groups like VRMA. While the organization itself may not be developing new technology, the vendors exhibiting at the event probably are.