Advice on exchanging keys

Hi, I am totally new to hosting in Airbnb and last night had my first booking, we have confirmed the dates and everything is ready to go. Except I will not be in the country to hand over the keys to my new guests and I don’t have anybody to meet them when they arrive. I’m asking for advice on how other hosts exchange keys with their guests if they are unable to be there? Any recommendations would be really appreciated as I am new to this and want my first guests to be at ease when they arrive and have no mix ups on my first host.
Thanks in advance for your help

Um … really you should have thought about this before you started to host.

The easy fix is to get a keypad. But not to be around - to be not even in the same country - when your first guest arrives seems a bit irresponsible.

Who is looking after your rental while you’re away? Who will give the guests the house tour? Who will contact an emergency plumber if the guest has a problem in the rental? Who will be ensuring that the guests don’t make excessive noise? Who is stocking the place before the guests arrive? (And plenty of other things).

That person should meet your guests and hand over the keys.


Leaving them by the side of the road is always an option.


Are you in a city where a KeyCafe exists? We have those here, although I’ve never used the service. We have a keypad lock on the door. They are simple to install.

We are not newbies (although only been hosting since Nov 2016) and I still wouldn’t feel comfortable having guests arrive when we are gone so generally we don’t host while we’re on vacation. I know lots of people on here do though. Even with the keypad lock we try to check most guests in personally and give them a tour. We live close to our property so we can sort of keep an eye on things and are around if any problems arise. We’ve had very few, but you just never know. Thus far we’ve had a plumbing issue (same two ladies clogged the toilet twice; has never happened before or since), an odor issue (resulting from a plumbing issue in another unit), a hair dryer not work (woman was pretty frantic and I rushed over with mine and then bought another; now I have a back-up on hand), and a noisy fan that was left on in another unit while that long term tenant was gone and the fan basically started making an awful noise that the guests reported to be keeping them awake (we had to contact long term tenant and get permission to go in and turn fan off which has since been replaced). If we hadn’t been around to address each of these, I’m afraid it may have resulted in some awful reviews. Luckily we have almost all 5 star reviews which I’m sure is because we are attentive and handle anything that arises immediately.

Is this a separate house listing? I hope you’ve at least stayed there yourself so you know if there is anything immediate that might cause a guest confusion or problems.

Good luck!!

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I might be wrong but I think that the members here who host remotely have FABULOUS people to help them. They have great cleaners, great co-hosts and an established network of people who can help out if necessary.

I’m a long-established host (since long before the arrival of Airbnb) but I’d never be brave enough to host at a location where I couldn’t keep a close eye on things. I know that some members here do and I’m full of admiration.

I’d worry that I couldn’t provide the great hospitality that Airbnb needs.


Yes, you’re probably right! We have one cleaner that I would trust with doing a turnover I suppose, but beyond that don’t really have anyone (I should work on finding someone actually). Our building was built in 1959 and although we keep it up, I’m always worried that something might go wrong.

Hi Arlene,

Our building is ten years older than yours so I know exactly what you mean.

But whatever the age of the building, even if it’s brand new, there are always things that can go wrong when you’re hosting guests. The internet can stop working for no reason, the city can decide to dig up the road and turn off the water for a few hours, a window can break, the toilet can get stopped up, the guest can need more towels, there could be a shooting right outside the building, the guests could spill coffee on the bed (or worse!) and need clean bedding, the neighbours could complain about the noise, the guest could have his car towed inadvertently, the guest could get sick and need immediate medical care, the guest could invite a dozen people over for a party, the guest could be shooting heroin in your place, the guest could be a working girl having her clients over, they could bring children or pets despite your rules…

There are truly hundreds of things that could happen and personally, I want to be right on the spot to sort them out!

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In desperation I have left keys in the electrical meter box with a combination lock on the box

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My neighbour (not renting via any online service) leaves his key under the doormat! Just a little obvious…

Hello @Marylinn

Do you work for Igloo? or get a commission if people click on the links you provide to buy the products?

It’s just you joined recently and have made six posts all promoting their products, which has involved going through the forum and digging up old posts just to promote the product.

Get a lock box. We purchased ours on Amazon for about $20.

Keys don’t work, I found that out very early on. Move to codes, preferably one that links into Airbnb. I use resort/remote lock.