TOKYO -- Two security companies here are readying services to help homeowners who rent to travelers, a practice seen as key to easing shortages of lodging as foreign visitors to Japan swell.
Sohgo Security Services, or Alsok, will launch its services in May. Nearby 24-hour call centers will respond to complaints in multiple languages, including English and Chinese. Their phone numbers will be listed in fliers and online when property owners start out.
Owners will pay as little as 30,000 yen ($282) a month for the services. Options include surveillance camera monitoring, with security staffers dispatched in emergencies. Such items as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, safes, fire-retardant curtains and defibrillators will be supplied. Smartphone-operated "smart locks" and building inspections are also under consideration.
Secom will roll out its services around summer. Along with camera surveillance, it plans to provide passcode-operated locks to eliminate the problem of keys falling into the wrong hands. A nonlife insurance unit will insure items inside the home. Secom will offer a platform for hosts and guests to check on each other's safety via smartphone when disaster strikes. Pricing is still being hammered out but will likely come in cheaper than combining comparable services from different providers.
With conventional lodging facilities not keeping up with the rise in travelers to Japan, the government now permits paid accommodations in private homes within experimental economic zones in Tokyo and Osaka. It is also working to allow such arrangements elsewhere.
But many potential providers are apparently hesitating out of concern over accidents, crime and poorly behaved guests. Alsok and Secom aim to leverage their expertise to address such worries and capture rising demand for lodging in private homes.