Whether you’re new to short-term letting or are a seasoned Airbnb host with a portfolio of properties, you’ll appreciate just how much of a juggle the ‘meeting & greeting’ and managing property access can be.
With many Airbnb owners living miles away from their lettings properties, the option of ‘meet & greet’ in person is not practical for most. Luckily, neither is it necessary, with a range of self check-in options available for Airbnb guests.
Most larger cities have concierge companies who will look after your key and much more, like cleaning and laundry service. These services don’t come cheap but do take the headache away from the accommodation owner. It’s a great choice for someone looking for a fully integrated property maintenance service from a single provider.
If all of this is too much and you’re just looking for a solution to solve your key management problem, there are companies that offer a key exchange service through their network of pick-up and drop-off locations and self-service lockers. Whilst it solves the problem for you, it doesn’t offer a great guest experience, unless your property happens to be right next door to one. Trying to find a pick-up point dragging suitcases or driving round in blocks in an unfamiliar town is not fun for anyone, particularly when it’s late at night and the kids are getting cranky.
Logically, the best option that works for both you and your guests is the one that holds the keys at the point of need – that is, right by the front door of your holiday property. Lock boxes and key safes are two such options. Airbnb lockboxes get affixed onto an outside wall and store a key which guests (and Airbnb service providers like cleaners) can access by entering a code combination. It’s a simple and cost-effective option but you need to know what to look out for when buying one, as some lock boxes and key safes are not as safe as the name suggests.
So, what’s the difference between a keysafe and a lockbox? In a nutshell, there isn’t one. Many suppliers use the term ‘key safe’ as it sounds more secure but, in fact, the only way to be sure is to look out for independent security accreditations. If a lock box or a key safe has the ‘Secured by Design’ police-preferred badge and the LPS1175 certificate from Loss Prevention Certification Board, you can install it by the front of your property with confidence. Devices without these accreditations are not likely to have been manufactured and tested to the same high anti-attack standards and present a breach risk.
The most secure mechanical key safes in the UK are the Supra C500 and Supra P500 with both Police-Preferred and LPS1175 Issue 8 A5 certifications, unrivalled by any other mechanical lock box or key safe.
We recommend changing the key safe code after each stay. This is something you could ask your cleaner to do upon leaving the property. As you receive the new updated code, you will also know that your cleaner has finished and the property is ready for a new arrival.
Some property owners opt for smart locks which can be more feature-rich and don’t require handling keys at all. Whilst smart locks automate the process of access sharing, they need a wireless connection and are battery hungry, presenting new challenges of regular maintenance and potential lock outs.
Another thing to be aware of is that smart locks are not universal and can only be fitted to certain types of doors. If you’re managing multiple properties, you may not be able to install the same smart lock on all of them, which may add additional complications.
Finally, there’s the hefty price tag. Smart lock prices range from £100 to £200 upwards; add to this the average cost of installation (another £90-£200), factor in the maintenance costs, and you could easily be looking at £500 per door. Multiplied by the number of properties you run, the total cost can be significant.
Conversely, anti-attack certified mechanical key safes are highly reliable, easy to install by a competent DIY’er and come at just a fraction of the cost. You can buy a police approved, LPS1175 certified key safe for just £60-£80. There are no batteries to worry about and an occasional wipe down and some WD40 is all the maintenance that it’ll ever need.