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Airbnb Key Exchange: What You Need To Know For An Amazing Guest Experience

Airbnb Key Exchange: What You Need To Know For An Amazing Guest Experience

These and other articles are part of our Airbnb Super Host Series. If you haven’t yet made the Airbnb leap, go sign up to see what it’s all about. We are pretty awesome when it comes to Airbnb, and we want to share all our experience with you. But, there are others out there who are just as, if not more awesome than us. Like Jasper Ribbers for instance, who wrote the definitive guide to Airbnb hosting.This is a great one-stop shop for Airbnb hosts. But let’s get started with today’s Airbnb tip!

We want to start today with an amazing Airbnb key exchange story. It’s more of the horror genre, so if you have small children nearby, you may want to put them to bed early. It does have a happy ending though.

Airbnb Key Exchange

Frank is a fellow Casual Capitalist who is killing it on Airbnb. He earned $30,567 in 2015 from renting out his basement unit and cottage on Airbnb.

After dipping his toes in the Airbnb pool by renting out his basement apartment, Frank decided to expand. Frank and his family own a nice cottage just outside of Syracuse, NY.

One afternoon, Frank was finishing up after a long day at work. He was preparing to head out to his family cottage to meet Airbnb guests at 6:00pm that evening. These were his first Airbnb guests, and he had spent the weekend making sure everything was perfect.

It was 4:00pm and Frank had plenty of time. Or so he thought.

His phone rang, it was Mr. Walker, the Walker family patriarch. Mr. Walker was a nice guy, but abrupt and serious. You were never left wondering what he thought about a particular topic.

“We are here, traffic was good and we didn’t end up stopping in Niagara Falls,” Mr. Walker reported.

Frank’s heart sank, he had the key in his pocket and was at least 45 minutes away, assuming there was no traffic.

“Mr. Walker, I apologize but I am still at work, I will leave immediately and see you in an hour,” I said, with a hint of frenzy in my voice.

“That’s OK, we will just hang out outside until you arrive, it’s only late November after all,” Mr. Walker responded with a short chuckle.

The sarcasm wasn’t lost on Frank.

It didn’t have to be like this. There were many options Frank could have considered to facilitate a smooth Airbnb key exchange.

Airbnb has their own check-in guidelines, but we feel we can do better than this.

Before we get to the end of Frank’s tale, we will outline our top five tips Airbnb key exchange options that hosts should consider. With a little planning and creativity, an Airbnb key exchange need not be a frantic or awkward event.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tip #1: Smart Locks

One of the easiest ways to allow access to your Airbnb rental is a smart lock. These are extremely easy to use, simple to install, and allow you to easily provide access to renters.

Several of our Casual Capitalists have experience with smart locks, and recommend two in particular. These we feel are the best smart locks for Airbnb hosts.

First, the most popular is the Schlage Camelot Keypad Deadbolt. The main reason we like this is because codes are easily changed on the keypad after each guest leaves. It’s also reasonably priced at $99.

Another popular smart lock is the Kwikset SmartCode Electronic Deadbolt. It is like the above lock but cheaper and easier to install. Although code selection is more limited, it does have an automatic locking function you can program, which automatically locks the door after 30 seconds.

Using smart locks as your Airbnb key exchange option is the easiest and most convenient option. But, you may want more control and security involved in your Airbnb key exchange. Don’t fret, there are other options.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tip #2: Digital Locks

If you don’t like the keypad entry, there are better high-tech options. With digital locks, you can use any internet accessible device to unlock your door. Or, and this is my favorite, you can digitally pass a code to your Airbnb guest.

In Frank’s case, all he had to do is click “open door” on an app or send his guest an access code via email or text. Convenient no?

The best option is called the RentingLock, which is designed specifically for Airbnb hosts.

  • Step 1: Someone books your Airbnb property
  • Step 2: The Airbnb guest selects check-in and check-out times
  • Step 3: An auto-generated code is sent directly to your guest
  • Step 4: Guests use this access code to open your door only during a specified period

Pretty nifty! This is an extremely convenient option for Airbnb hosts who have busy schedules. Another reason we like RentingLock is that you can manage your bookings and access codes online with the RentingLock dashboard.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tip #3: Use a nearby café

use nearby cafe - airbnb key exchange

If you live in London, KeyNest is a network of cafés and shops with long opening hours where you can drop your keys for free. Your guests can pick up the keys at their leisure and will be warmly welcomed by the staff (some locations even include a free coffee for guests!). The keys are tagged stored in a safe behind the counter.

The best feature about KeyNest is that it’s extremely simple to use. Just create an account, send your guest the 6-digit collection code, and drop off the key at any time.

Another favorite service here at the Casual Capitalist is KeyCafe. Although KeyCafe is only available in select cities at the moment, it is expanding to other markets.

KeyCafe kiosks are located in various restaurants and cafe’s across a city. You place a KeyCafe fob on your keys and drop them off at the KeyCafe location nearest you. Your guest can then pick up the key at their leisure, removing the need to for a face-to-face meeting.

KeyNest and KeyCafe have many built-in security measures to protect your identity and keys. They even notify you when your keys are collected, so you can relax knowing your guests have safely checked-in.

Guests, no matter whether they are early or late, can pick up keys at their convenience. And, maybe a latte and scone as well.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tip #4: The Old Fashioned Way

As a kid, whenever I got locked out of my house, I always knew there was a key hidden in the backyard under a hollowed-out fake rock. Remember those days? These are still good options, but not overly secure.

Fake rocks, lockboxes, or other standard yard equipment are easy to find online. These will allow you to hide a key somewhere on your property. Although this is one of the cheapest options, you do need to consider security.

I personally have a lockbox with a key in it as a backup to my smart lock. This is a great backup plan should something go wrong with your digital or smart lock.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tip #5: In-Person

Many people prefer to meet their guests in person. And I don’t blame them. This gives you an excuse to meet the people face-to-face, to show them your property, and get some social interaction.

Airbnb Key Exchange Tips

If you do this, you have to be extra organized so you aren’t leaving guests waiting for you to arrive.

Personally, my favorite is a digital or smart lock, even though they are more expensive. Once I started using a smart lock the Airbnb key exchange process has been a non-issue. I’ve never had to worry about it and it has freed up my time for other things…like writing this article!

And every once and awhile I will still meet guests in person to chat with them and show them around. The smart lock gives me the freedom to do both if I want.

Oh, and Frank? He pulled up to his cottage two hours after the Walker family arrived. Construction had added to his commute time, and stress level. The Walker’s were enjoying themselves down by the water and didn’t seem to notice Frank arrive.

Thankfully it was a warm November afternoon. The Walker’s were understanding and didn’t seem to mind the delay in the Airbnb key exchange. Frank however, only received a 4-star rating. He missed that final star “because of the awkward key exchange.” Mr. Walker’s own words.

Frank has since invested in a smart lock and is thinking about buying a digital lock like the RentingLock to make his life even easier. The point, according to Frank, is not to over-complicate your Airbnb business. Invest a small amount of money now to save time and headaches in the future.

Happy hosting everyone!


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