Pre-Arrival Key Exchange Communication & Preparation
Mailing Keys To Your Guests
This method is pretty self-explanatory, and there are two options:
For the first, all you need is a stamp, an address from your guest, and a manila envelope.
Alternatively, if you can’t get your hands on a manila envelope, you can use a standard letter envelope instead. The trick to avoid the key escaping is to tape the key securely to a small cut out sheet of plastic (most packaging should work) – an unprotected key will most likely rip through the envelope as it goes through the mail sorting machines. Just add the stamp and your guest’s address and you’re good to go.
One of the biggest benefits of mailing is that your guest can confirm receiving the key before they get to your property, freeing you from the worry that you’ll have to solve a key problem at the last minute. But be aware of the risks that come with trusting the Post Office with your exchange:
The key could always get lost in the mail, leaving you with a copy of your key circulating in some unknown location (to avoid this becoming a safety concern, consider omitting your return address from the envelope so there’s no indication of where the key can unlock).
The key could arrive after your guests have already left their home.
Your guest could lose the key before they make it to your property.
Keep in mind that a lot of guests rent rooms as part of a longer trip/vacation, so they may not even be at their home or even in their country when they reserve your listing (make sure to double check these details before you mail anything).
Copying Your Keys to Mail To Your Guests
This section is just in case you don’t have spares or don’t want to send a key you already have. Keys can easily be copied at a local locksmith or hardware store. The price for one copy of a basic door key will usually be $1.50 – $6.00. Keep in mind you need an original key in order to copy it. Or, if you don’t have an original, you may need to unscrew and take in your door’s lock so that a locksmith can create a key that fits.
You can also consider using services like KeyMe, which copy keys using a photo you send them. Once the key is copied, both services will send it to your address (or your guests’address) free of shipping charges. Another time-saving service is minuteKey, which has created kiosks that can read and copy a standard house key in 60 seconds. You can check the map on their site to see if there’s a kiosk set up near you.
Note: Regardless of how you choose to copy your keys, make sure to test that they work before you deliver them to guests.
Charging Your Guests for Keys
If you’re considering purchasing several sets of keys, and are worried about the additional costs, think about monetizing. For example, you can charge guests lars for every extra set of keys they request. This applies to lost keys as well. Any key exchange stipulation requires communication with guests: tell your guests ahead of time that if they lose a set of your keys, there is a charge. This will help balance out the inconvenience of having more keys copied, while also making guests more careful with them.
For example, replicating a key in the USA costs around $2. If there are 3 keys on the keychain and the keychain costs $5, you need to add this to the price of shipping the keys (around $10 on Uber) as well as compensation for the inconvenience (for example around $15) which would mean a charge of around $37 per set.
In-Person Key Exchange Communication & Preparation
What To Ask Guests
Even if your key method of choice isn’t time sensitive (most are), it’s important to know everything you can about a guest’s arrival to be better equipped in handling any trouble that may arise.
Before your guests arrive, ask them for the following info:
How they arrive to the area (car, plane, train, etc.)? This will help you gauge the time that it will take them. For example, if they are going by car you should check the status of traffic on Google Maps. If they are coming by plane, ask them for their flight number and keep an eye on its landing time. This information can also prove to be useful for you to suggest more specific arrival instructions so they don’t have to do any research.
When is their estimated time of arrival?
Where are they leaving from? Are they coming from home or a different destination? Knowing this can help with any route recommendations.
Are they coming from the airport? Are they renting a car at the airport? Taking a taxi? Determining how a guest is getting from an airport to your property will help you pinpoint their time of arrival. For example, taking a taxi is generally much faster than going through the process of renting out a car.
What To Prepare For
Cancellations and Delays – Again, keep an eye on that flight number in case its status changes.
Time from the airport to your home
Traffic – This applies to both car and airplane travelers. If you live in a city with bad traffic, this could completely change your guest’s time of arrival. Have them text you if they run into a particularly bad jam. You can also keep an eye on this yourself with traffic apps such as Waze, which is a live updated active map that tags every instance of traffic congestion, police traps, or anything else that may slow down travel time along with your guest’s route.
Key Exchange Communication With Airbnb Guests Prior To Arrival