Major Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart Co. said Monday it will allow tourists staying in accommodation rented through Airbnb Inc. to receive and return door keys at some of its stores.
Ahead of a new law on the private lodging business coming into force in June, FamilyMart hopes the service will lead to increased revenue as Airbnb users are expected to do some shopping at its stores while picking up or returning door keys.
"Our business will expand if foreign travelers staying in private homes do some shopping at our stores," said FamilyMart President Takashi Sawada at a news conference in Tokyo.
Under a business tie-up struck in April with the Japanese unit of the U.S. online home-rental service giant, FamilyMart will set up boxes for the key service at around 150 stores mainly in Tokyo by the end of next February.
Users will be able to confirm their identities by connecting to a call center via tablets located close to the boxes.
Japanese convenience stores are stepping up efforts to cater to travelers staying in private homes, as the new law will allow property owners in Japan to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists for up to 180 days per year after registering with local municipalities.
Seven-Eleven Japan Co., the country's biggest convenience store chain, is teaming up with Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. to offer a similar key collection and return service beginning in June.
The law is aimed at coping with a sharp increase in foreign visitors and a consequent shortage of accommodation, a trend expected to continue toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.