Tactics to Successfully Manage Your STR Properties Remotely

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In this podcast, Liam Carolan discusses remote management of short-term rentals with Florian Hoven, co-founder of KeyNest. Keynest provides a widespread network for secure key storage, enabling remote access for guests and service providers at 4,000 to 5,000 locations. 

This solution was inspired by Florian's challenges in managing Airbnb properties alongside a demanding job in London. Keynest eliminates the need for physical key handovers, improving convenience for guests and increasing foot traffic for stores hosting keys.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Okay, everybody. So today we are discussing tactics to successfully manage your short-term rental properties remotely. And we've got very special guests to help us with a tool, with a tactic that will help you to do so. So thank you for tuning in. As you know, this is the Boostly podcast, uh, the podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence.

[00:00:22] So you can go out there and work on your direct bookends. My name is Liam Carolan and we're shining the spotlight today on Florian Hoven from, uh, Keynest. He is the co-founder and I'm not going to take anything away from Keynest. I'm going to let him explain exactly what it is and what it does. So, uh, welcome along Florian.

[00:00:42] Thank you for, for joining me. Thanks for having me. So can you give an introduction to yourself where you are in the world and, uh, what Keynest is?

A bit about Florian and KeyNest

[00:00:49] Florian: Absolutely. So essentially we're a network of four to 5, 000 locations, um, where Um, every management company, service apartment providers, um, et cetera. Everyone that, that manages properties can, uh, securely store their keys, um, or their means, you know, to access the property and then can give remote access.

[00:01:11] Um, to them. So, um, if you have a property, um, up in Manchester and you live in London, um, you can store your key in the local keyness point and then the guests can collect the keys there. The cleaner can go there, and pick them up as well. Um, the contractor, you name it. Um, yeah, just to have a network, a global network of locations that you can use, um, to, yeah, manage your properties remotely.

How did KeyNest come about?

[00:01:36] Liam: You know, if I'm not going to invest necessarily locally to me, if the market doesn't make sense, then how else can I make sure that people can get in for say big apartment buildings or places where I don't live? I just want to make sure that you don't want that problem where a guest can't get in, right?

[00:01:50] That's this like rule number one, you don't want to, don't want guests not to be able to get in and be seeking refunds or compensation. So before we dive more into Keynest. And that's it, what it does and how it does what it does. Um, can you let us know, as the co-founder, how did this all come about?

[00:02:06] What, what is the history with it?

[00:02:08] Florian: Yeah. Um, so it came from a problem and a. From an experience problem as well. So my co-founder Mark and I were both Airbnb hosts, um, working in private equity in London. Um, so we had very long hours, um, and it was very difficult, um, you know, to, to host guests, um, in, in, in, in, you know, um, different apartments.

[00:02:28] So, um, we thought about different things. What can we do? So first of all, of course, ever trying to meet them and hand the, and the keys over, but that was just a. Such a frustrating process because, um, either, you know, the guests were annoyed because we came a bit late or one of us was late and something that happens because of work or other commitments.

[00:02:49] And, but equally frustrating was when, you know, you leave work early or you work, you leave work just to, to meet your guests and then go back to work. And then they are late. It's not their fault, but you know how it is when you fly into London. It's quite hard to, um, predict at what time you will be at the property.

[00:03:07] Um, so it's just a frustrating process, um, for the guests, um, and, um, for him, for his department and myself, for my apartment. So we experienced the same frustrations. Um, so we talked about it just randomly over, over lunch. Um, and then, um, yeah, we, we thought about different ways on how to solve this problem.

[00:03:28] So he tried to install one of these lock boxes, um, outside his property, um, and tried that, um, but wasn't comfortable with the security and also the neighbours, um, immediately complained, um, that they don't want to have a lock box just outside the property, the, the apartment block. Um, so that wasn't an issue.

[00:03:47] Um, we, um, we're not ready and not prepared to invest, um, a lot of money into a smart lock, especially because we had, he had two doors, I think that would have to be fitted. And I had, um, three doors even. So that was also not an option. So, um, we thought about, um, respectively, um. giving the keys to a neighbourhood store.

[00:04:09] He gave it to a cafe, I think. I gave it a, to a convenience store close by. And that worked like a charm. So the guests went there, and they got the keys. So we thought, okay, that's great. He and I, myself, were very nervous because we didn't know, did they had the keys. Did they get there? So you were texting the guests, Hey, have you received the keys to check in?

[00:04:27] So, um, yeah, we spotted this gap in the market where you want to have this convenience of an existing network of stores where people can come and go and they are greeted by a friendly face, but you need technology behind it. You need, um, you know, the tracking needs to be there. You need to know where the key was moved.

[00:04:45] Um, and just. Yeah, just just having the peace of mind of knowing being notified. All my guests have just received the keys. They have checked in so I can relax. Um, yeah, so we looked at the market everyone is as it was back in 2016. And it was doubling every year. But without a solution for the access problem, something was probably the only thing that short-term rentals were still missing to close the gaps to hotels with a reception desk right.

[00:05:12] So yeah, we thought about it, and we had the idea. Um, stores, cafes, et cetera. And then just took us, uh, quite a few months, uh, to build the app and then we launched in London and the end of 2016.

What sort of Locations are these keys kept?

[00:05:25] Liam: What sort of locations are these keys kept in then? So at the moment, how many did you say about four or 5, 000 locations and in what sort of locations are they kept?

[00:05:35] Florian: Yeah, so we, yeah, around 5, 000. So we are, um, in around 15 countries right now. So several, several European countries, um, from the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, et cetera. Um, and we're also in the US, Canada, um, and Australia. And, these locations were quite open to who we work with. So quite often it's small chains, it's often hotels as well.

[00:05:59] And they can be convenience stores. Just most important is. Um, the reliability and the opening time. So most of our locations are 24 seven. Um, but then afterwards we have, we have, um, yeah, brands we work with that have 500 stores with us roughly. And then we also work with people who own their, own shops.

[00:06:19] Um, but they are in a location that is highly demanded and we've had this relationship for a long time so we're very open to it as long as you know they, they are passing our vetting process and have. Great opening times, ideally 24-seven.

[00:06:33] Liam: When you switched from doing those meet and greets to having a key, were you worried about the guest experience at the time, and has it impacted guest experience or I guess it's just okay with picking up the key from a third party location?

[00:06:46] Florian: Yeah, it's a great, great question. Um, we launched keenest because the guest experience, even without the technology, you know, no, no, a guest needs to go and provide a code and everything we built behind it. But even back then, when we just started, um. Guests loved it because they didn't have to tell us would be there at 7 p.

[00:07:05] m Please let me know if you're a bit delayed. Are you that 8 p. m? Now we told them it's um a cafe or a store Um a two-minute walk away from the property and don't worry about it Just you know Whenever you feel um, like going to the property go there if you want to stop to buy some groceries on the way You can do the location as well But um, if you want to stop by having some dinner before you can come in whenever you want to you don't need to tell me Um, which is just So much nicer as a guest because you're not starting your holiday stress because your flight is delayed and you're worried about, oh, I told my host I'm going to be there at six, I'm going to be there at seven and then you're delayed.

[00:07:40] And, also, for example versus lockboxes, which is most of our customers as you can imagine, and switching to us from from these lockboxes. And it's often that you're still greeted by a face you're still going to a neighbourhood store where you can pick up groceries, a bottle of wine, or some food you had a long flight.

[00:07:58] Or ask them if you need something, where's the closest cinema, where's the closest pharmacy, and it's sort of a welcome, sort of a reception desk, our locations, um, which is always nice, right? It's nice to be greeted by someone local, um, you know, we all know the Airbnb slogan, which I think they still use, of living like a local, and it's just a nicer start to your Yeah, your holiday or your start to a city trip, um, to go somewhere where there's a face that you can ask a question if you need to.

What benefit do these locations get?

[00:08:27] Liam: What, what is the benefit that these locations get? Is there, do they get any monetary benefit or is it more just, just passing custom? How

[00:08:34] Florian: does it work? Yeah. So, um, that is, um, a part of it, um, as well. Um, the biggest, um, yeah, the biggest benefit for them though, is just the extra footfall. So they do get tourists coming from all over the world.

[00:08:47] Um, and yes, it's great for the guests to be able to pick up something, but that's also great for the store that they have. You know, people travelling from far, um, who are just happy to go somewhere and being able, um, to, to buy the sandwich, buy the bottle of water, get the bottle of wine, as I said. So they, they mostly benefit from the extra footfall.

[00:09:06] Liam: And for hosts who are considering this, so, so You know, hopefully, um, you know, somebody is listening to this just going, do you know what I've, I've been meet and greet and I'm exactly that person who is having to finish work early, having to arrive five minutes after the guests already there, which doesn't look good.

[00:09:22] How do they check, um, if their location is available for, for keyness? Cause I take it, there may be some places where it's not yet available, but is there a place they can

[00:09:31] Florian: check? Yeah, we're not everywhere yet. Uh, it's coming. Um, but yes, for sure. So on our website, if you go to keenest. com, um, you can look for your postcode, um, and all our locations are there.

[00:09:42] So we're still opening, um, at least 20, 30, 40 locations, um, per month, um, often even more. Um, and we always open them on demand as well. Um, so all of the locations that we currently have. Um, which is already a pretty full map, um, is, um, yeah, added to by new locations because we have customers saying, okay, great.

[00:10:01] I use you in this area or here, but we have a property, you know, somewhere in a different city where we're not yet, um, or in different parts of town or something like that. And then it takes us around two to three weeks to open a new location. So we go out often, and we have these partnerships already in place.

[00:10:17] That's why it's quite easy for us. So we work with, um, a chain that also has a store in that area. Um, and then we just do our vetting and then within two or three weeks, um, if we can open a new location as well. Um, and as I said, we, we get multiple requests, um, a day, um, and always try to, to action them all as fast as possible.

[00:10:36] Sometimes it takes a bit longer because. Most important is finding a, as I said, reliable location with great opening times. Um, but yeah, normally the average is always two to three weeks. Having a blast, gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee likes Bruce Lee cause it's so hard and the T is loose leaf.

[00:10:52] Making up those rhymes, don't write it just do it loosely.