How to Remotely Manage Key Exchange for Airbnb Guests

Manage key exchange remotely

If you have been self-managing your Airbnb for some time, you have come to learn that personal key exchange to check-in guests, has both advantages and disadvantages.

Meeting each and every guest provides wonderful opportunities to meet new people and connect through stories of family and travels. It shows you are a diligent host, who cares about their well-being and values feedback.

Guest check-in can also be the most time consuming aspect of managing an Airbnb…

Most people are respectful of your time and arrive within the pre-arranged time frame. But, life has a way of throwing curve balls like flight delays, car breakdowns and changes to holiday schedules. These delays can leave a host waiting for 2 hours or more for guests to arrive.

Everyone is busy. Even hosts who self-manage their Airbnb can find themselves strapped for time and looking for alternative ways to check-in their guests. Besides, most guests don’t like time frames and are perfectly happy to collect keys from a designated location at their leisure.

Here are the best options to remotely manage key exchange for guest check-ins.


A simple and cheap way to keep keys safe, a lock-box is the obvious choice for houses and townhouses/terraces with street access. Simply install a wall-mounted lock-box, or secure a portable lock-box to the entrance of your property and provide your guest with the code and instructions (many guests have never used a lock-box before, so don’t forget instructions).

Your choice of lock-box very much depends on your budget and your interest in technology. Lock-boxes vary from a standard keypad to an electronic monitoring system. Prices start at $30 and fetch up to $220 for Bluetooth smart lock.


facial recognition lock
The most sophisticated of all lock-boxes is hands-down this facial recognition door lock. Technology like this is being adopted by Chinese Airbnb competitor Xiaozhu to minimise security issues.

It is not possible for the majority of apartments to have a lock-box for several reasons:

  • The onsite managers do not approve of owners renting through Airbnb and will not share their key safe
  • The body corporate doesn’t allow the installation of a lock-box to the building structure
  • There is no safe place where a portable lock-box can be secured

So how do apartment owners remotely manage check-ins without a lock-box? 

By getting someone else to manage key exchange on their behalf.

Co-hosts and Property Managers

If you already have a property manager, the key exchange is included in your management fee. But if you prefer to self-manage your Airbnb, perhaps a co-host is the best option.

A co-host can be anyone local who is experienced with guest check-ins. An example is an existing host who manages several properties for other people in the area. You will also find several Airbnb management companies will offer key management as a separate service (including fivestarhost).

Prices range from $20-$45 per check-in, depending on whether it is office pickup or meeting each guest at your property.

Key collection from an office is not only cheaper for the host, but convenient for the guest - as long as the office is located on the way to your Airbnb property. Office pickup offers personal service within office hours and a lock-box for after-hours check-ins.

Key Exchange Company

There are several companies that have emerged who specialise in key exchange for guests. Companies like KeyNinja, KeyHub and KeyCafe utilise the power of the share economy to manage key exchange.

Prices vary depending on the service offered. For example a physical key exchange costs around $25 – $30 per check-in, whereas collection from a centrally located lockbox or key locker is a subscription fee.

KeyNinja is the Uber of key exchange: utilising the power of the share economy to deliver keys to guests.

Key exchange services are suitable for any host who are happy for guests to pick-up keys from central locations. These locations are normally safe, within a busy metro area and/or inside local businesses such as the 7-eleven or local supermarket.

Make sure the key pickup location is within close proximity to your property for guest convenience and remember to read the fine print. There are additional fees for after-hours check-ins, which can be 2-3 times the check-in price.  

If you need someone to manage key exchange, why not contact us for a quick chat. Fivestarhost are professional co-hosts, assisting home owners on the Gold Coast to efficiently manage their Airbnb property. Call today on 0416 552 754.