On the up · 20 March 2017

KeyNest: The key exchange platform at the heart of London’s Airbnb ecosystem

KeyNest has partnered with over 50 retailers across the UK
Prior to the launch of KeyNest in June 2016, co-founders Marc Figueras and Florian Hoven were colleagues at one of London’s top strategy consultants, working mainly with private equity clients.

As an Airbnb host, Marc became frustrated whenever guests arrived at inconvenient times, because he didn’t have any other way of handing over keys.

The pair discovered that in fact, check-ins were a major Airbnb friction point not just for hosts, but also for guests. KeyNest was created with an understanding that guestswould prefer topick up the keys at a flexible time, instead of coordinating an in-person key handover.

Launched less than a year ago, the platform is proving a huge success. It now has a network of around 50 partner storesacross’seven UK cities, serving Airbnb hosts, serviced accommodation providers, and property managers.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

We are Florian and Marc, the founders of Keynest, the smart key exchange service that allows serviced accommodation operators and Airbnb hosts to securely store keys in their nearest local store.

Our customers no longer need to be there to let in guests, cleaners or contractors. Instead, customers can simply send the person collecting the keys a single-use collection code. Our smart RFID fobs enable our customers to track all keys online, while keeping them anonymous at all times.

(2) How long have you been around for?

We started KeyNest in late 2015. After six months developing our smart RFID fobs, we launched our service in June 2016, with five stores in London.

We now have over 50 stores across seven cities. This year we will be welcoming more tourists than any short-term rental operators in the UK.

(3) How do you make money?

We built the technology to enable our customers to track their keys online and generate collection codes for their guests and staff. Customers pay 14.95 per month for the ability to have their keys collected as often as they like. Or, if they only need the service once (for example, when they go on holiday), they can pay a one-off fee of 5.95.

?(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

Were different because we work with your existing access solution, whether it’s a key-fob, a normal key, or a key-card. No need to compromise your security or to change your front door. Simply drop your keys at the nearest KeyNest and share access online.

KeyNest puts local businesses back at the centre of their communities, making them the first point of contact tourists have with a new neighbourhood, and allowing them to profit from each tourist that stays in the area.

The scope for KeyNest is huge. Our core market is the UK sharing economy, which PwC has estimated will grow from 7.4bn in 2015, to 140bn by 2025.

London’s sharing economy is growing at an astonishing rate, with the number of Airbnb listings doubling every year. Were gradually establishing ourselves as one of the building blocks of London’s sharing economy.

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

When Marc started hosting on Airbnb, he welcomed every guest in person. He had to plan his life around each guests? arrival, and got very frustrated when guests arrived late.

The majority of guests would prefer to check-in at their convenience instead of coordinating an in-person key handover. It allows them to discover the city on their way from the airport, without the stress of being late to meet their host. Existing solutions to this problem typically require permission from other dwellers of the building because it affects the level of security and the insurance.

So we made security our number one priority. The ability to track keys online at any time gives our customers total peace of mind. Focusing on security paid off we recently gained recognition as the only insurance-approved key exchange solution in our sector.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

What makes us proudest is that once a host starts using KeyNest, his reviews improve. Reviews directly affect our clients? ability to increase prices, which means our service doesnt only make life easier for the customers, it also makes them more money.

Were also extremely proud of the feedback from our 50 partner stores, where sales have gone up for all sorts of products & services that tourists and cleaners are likely to purchase, from coffee to souvenirs.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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