person handing keys over

How to Get Keys to Airbnb Guest

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Getting the keys to your Airbnb guest while ensuring a proper check-in process is not always easy. Whether you live on the other side of town, or other side of the country, arranging a suitable method and time for your guest to obtain the keys may not necessarily be convenient to either of you. It could also be that you have other commitments, such as work or family, when the guest is arriving. Even if you happen to be renting a room in your own residence, you never know what life will throw at you at the exact time of arrival. Nonetheless, it is a process that must be done, and as an Airbnb host there are a few main options you might consider:

  1. Meet & Greet Your Guest
  2. Setup a Lock Box
  3. Use a Smart Lock
  4. Get a Co-Host

You may choose to have one method of key exchange. Or, if you lead a busy and unpredictable life, a back-up method may also be a great idea. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to get keys to your Airbnb guest.

Ways to Get Keys to Airbnb Guest

Traditional Meet ‘n’ Greet

Organizing a time and place to meet your guest when they arrive through the Airbnb app or website is still a popular way to check-in guests, despite other options available for hosts who prefer to avoid face-to-face encounters.

If you are able to meet and greet your guest personally, it is highly recommended to do so. Not only does it help reassure them that there will be someone physically around if they require assistance, it also adds a personal touch to their experience.

If you feel this is the best option for you, simply head to the Airbnb app or website and tee-up a suitable time and place to meet your guest. If you choose to meet them at a train station or airport, that’s great! Just be sure to obtain the correct plane or train number so you can be there on-time. Or, if you arrange to meet them in front of your listing, let them know the best method of travel from their point-of-arrival to the home. From there, once you have handed them the keys, give them a brief tour of the home and any other amenities (e.g. pool, gym, etc).

After you’ve given them the tour and keys, answer any questions and confirm that they feel comfortable. Then, you can get back to your day. Just be sure to keep notifications switched on in case your guests require assistance.

While many would call this method old-school, there are a lot of clear advantages. The major negative being that it requires your own personal time and effort. For some, this is a deal breaker, if not, you may consider testing it occasionally to see if the benefits are worth it:

  • More personalized experience
  • Allows interaction with guests
  • Help vet guests and put a face to the name
  • Allows for a Better Walkthrough & Check-In
  • Opportunity to explain house rules & answer questions
  • May interrupt your plans for the day
  • Less Scalable Solution
  • Not Ideal for Managing Multiple Listings

Lock Box

If you cannot meet your guests for whatever reason, having a lock box is a great way to keep your keys safe. Once their booking is confirmed, let them know that although you won’t be there to greet them, the keys will be in the lock box. Make sure to let them know where the lock box actually is, as well!

You can choose when to send the lock box code through Airbnb messaging. However, it is recommended to only release the code 24 hours or less prior to their arrival. Don’t wait until too long, as the guest may not have access to internet for whatever reason, and may not be able to receive the code. Additionally, keep these codes within the Airbnb platform. Do not take the conversation, or at least any lock box codes, to popular outside sources such as WhatsApp or WeChat. This will ensure that if anything does go wrong, you are covered by Airbnb.

Lastly, it’s important to change your lock box code frequently or after every guest to make sure that prior guests don’t have continued access to your home!

Let’s explore some of the best lock boxes on the market today:

Iron Lock – 4 Digit Waterproof Key Lock Box

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YDO Key Storage Lock Box

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Kidde AccessPoint KeySafe

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Pros of Lock Box
  • More convenient for you and guests
  • Allows quick check-in and check-out process
  • Inexpensive and popular option
Cons of Lock Box
  • Less personalized experience
  • You have to trust the guest will place the keys back upon check-out
  • Frequent changing of codes

Smart Lock

If you manage your listing remotely, you’ll want to be reassured that your place is secure. Smart locks are the hip and happening, keyless version of the lock box. Instead of entering a code and obtaining the keys, guests can pop in a code set by you and unlock the door right away! This is a great option if you have had the unfortunate experience of guests losing keys, or simply don’t want the hassle of lost keys in the first place.

Whether you are renting a one-bedroom apartment, or a place with multiple rooms, you can lock every door with a different code to ensure safety. Many multi-bedroom flats lock individual doors by a different code, as well as the door to the flat, and the door to the apartment building.

There are 3 smart locks that stand out:

August Home Smart Lock Pro

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Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot Touchscreen Smart Lock

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August Smart Lock – 3rd Gen

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Pros of Smart Locks
  • Very easy to use
  • Manage access from anywhere on your smartphone or tablet
  • Sleek designs
Cons of Smart Locks
  • Not all smart locks integrate with Airbnb (therefore must be set up manually)
  • Lose face-to-face time with guests
  • More expensive

Search For A Co-Host

If you travel frequently for your day-job, or you simply live out of town, another very good option is to search for a co-host. A co-host is someone who helps with the general upkeep of your listing, as well as takes care of guest interaction. As a result, they are paid anywhere between 20% – 50% of the total revenue per booking. This can be negotiated with the primary owner of the listing.

Sure, having someone help service your Airbnb and take care of guests might sound ideal. However, it is important to remember that it does come at a cost. Some people search for co-hosting roles as they enjoy guest interaction and guest services, but they usually will expect a fee towards the higher end of 40% – 50%. If you’re unable to access the listing often enough to service it yourself, it could be a viable option to ask a family member or friend to help you out. This way, your co-hosting fees will generally be lower, meaning more profit for you.

If you are either on the hunt for a co-host or are searching for any co-hosting roles, you can put the word out on platforms such as our Facebook Group. You would be surprised how many people enjoy co-hosting as it not only allows them to earn a little side income without the hassle of paying rent (as the primary host may), it also allows them to meet new people and help guests have a great time. An added benefit of a co-host is that even if you cannot meet your guests upon arrival, you can delegate your co-host to meet them, maintaining that face-to-face interaction, which can really go over well with guests.

Pros of Co-Host
  • No stress of having to service listing yourself
  • Guest interaction can be left to co-host (if you choose)
  • Face-to-face check-in and interaction is maintained
  • Co-hosting fees can be negotiated between yourself and the potential co-host.
Cons of Co-Host
  • Cuts into Profits
  • Finding a good Co-Host
  • Managing your Co-Host

Which Method Is Right For You?

Ultimately, only you can decide. You may wish to be there for every guest, but if not, they will understand. Self-check-in is quick and convenient for everyone. Even if you are able to meet them upon arrival 99% of the time, it is always great to have a back-up method for the remaining 1%.

In this case, a smart lock is the best option. It allows you to manage codes from anywhere in the world, and program them (depending on which one) to send an automated message to your guest 24 hours prior to arrival. A co-host is great if you can afford it, as it may help keep the traditional face-to-face interaction in place.

All in all, try your best to keep physical guest interaction alive, but if not, don’t fret. Modern day technology is here to help you so use it to your advantage! Happy hosting!

About the Author Jake Leavy

Jake Leavy has worked in the content industry for 8+ years. Travel writing has been his main focus, however, he also has luxury hotel management experience under his belt. He has traveled to over 50 countries and loves immersing himself into different cultures. Jake combines his passion for travel and hospitality experience to offer hosts tips and tricks to improve their business.