Please join Debi Hertert of HostingYourHome.com, as she visits with Airbnb Superhost Kym Cumbo and tours the “Slater House” in Portland, Oregon.
Kym and her husband Fred live at the “Slater House” in Ladd’s Addition in Portland, Oregon. Fred has lived there for 26 years and Kym for 7. Kym began listing on Airbnb in 2012 and has really done her homework as far as advertising and learning how to be a great host.
The style of house is known as an “American Foursquare” and was featured in This Old House magazine when they did a story on Ladd’s Addition. You can read about this house style and the unique Ladd’s Addition neighborhood by following links at the end of the show notes.
Kym loves to teach, and turns this love into small businesses, including teaching people how to host on Airbnb, coaching on the topic of divorce resiliency, Reiki, Laughter Yoga, SoulCollage, and a class called “Bring Your Joy Out to Play”. These activities add nicely to her passion for hosting, often overlapping with guests’ interests.
Marketing is something Kym really works on. She makes sure prospective guests know about her varied interests and of Fred’s jazz band “Ladd’s Condition”, and says many of their guests cite these reasons for staying at the Slader House. Kym also markets to many institutions and universities in town to encourage them to use her house when they have travelers coming to Portland. And, unusual for an Airbnb-only host, Kym has a separate website in order to attract more visitors. On the site she lists her coaching and other activities, and a very clear “Airbnb” link that takes interested visitors to her listing on the Airbnb site. Kym attributes much of her booking success to the personal website, and watches Google Analytics to confirm it.
They also have guests from other countries. Kym told Debi about the availability of Google Translate directly within the Airbnb platform to facilitate conversations. And Kym also told Deb about learning a good lesson while she and Fred were traveling: you need to find a substitute host to be at your home. They had Japanese travelers who could not read the instructions for opening the lock and had other problems, and now their son makes a point of being there when his parents are gone.
Speaking to the feeling she gets from hosting, Kym says flat out that she loves it. She feels they attract amazing guests and have made several good friends. This is something Debi hears from so many hosts. Kym mentioned going through the City permitting process, which also requires notification of neighbors. She said that now, four years later, every one of those neighbors has had some family or friends stay at Kym’s Airbnb! She said that she and Fred feel like they are ambassadors for the City and can speak to the local history and politics. And, she adds that if hosts are only looking at the money, they are missing half of the value of the experiences. She uses Airbnb when she travels, and encourages all her friends to do the same. In an interesting personal extension to the Sharing Economy, Kym is now trying to promote the business interests of the guests who stay with her. This is just beginning but she would like to help them succeed too.
Debi recommends some takeaways from the interview:
- Personal profile: Give attention to your bio. Talk about your experience and interests.
- Have a website: Not all Airbnb hosts will want to take this step, but it has definitely helped Kym gain business and allows her to market “add-on” services.
- Substitute host: If you share your living space and will be out of town, find a person who can be there in your place. This will help bridge language and cultural barriers, and also keep the peace among guests.
- Share what you know: Invite guests to events, classes, and so on.
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A tour of the house followed the formal part of this episode. There are four bedrooms, two of which are for Airbnb and Kym is considering adding a third bedroom for rental and becoming a formal Bed and Breakfast. That path has some serious city development fees compared to the minor fees for doing two bedrooms so she says they really have to think it out.
Here are some links. Debi and Rob love live music and couldn’t resist including those links 🙂
Ladd’s Addition Neighborhood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladd%27s_Addition
Kym’s Airbnb listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/714112
Kym’s personal website: http://www.theslaterhousepdx.com/
One of Kym’s favorite bands (besides Fred’s), Ma Fondue: https://www.facebook.com/mafonduepdx/
One of Kym’s favorite places to listen to music (and salsa classes twice a week), Vie de Boheme: http://www.viedebohemepdx.com/
Fred’s band: https://www.facebook.com/laddscondition