Meet Kathy, long time Oahu resident and passionate Airbnb host. Kathy has lived in Hawaii for 37 years, raising two children and a dog named Cookie Dough. She loves sharing her home with travelers from around the world who come to the island to explore, work, or spend time with family members who live here. “It’s a beautiful home that I love,” she says.
“People have mentioned that they really appreciate us opening up our home, Airbnb is really just like visiting a family member or a friend, and that’s how I try to treat people.”
When Kathy first purchased her home, she needed space for her family and dogs to live in.
“I was able to buy my home about 14 years ago, and I just settled in. We bought it for our dogs; it’s a safe place where they can’t sneak out.” It was also the perfect home for her children to grow up. “Upstairs there are three bedrooms. I have a master bedroom and another room for my son and daughter, when she lived here.” When her oldest daughter moved out, she decided that she could rent out the space on a short term basis.
Luckily, with help from a friend Kathy discovered a solution that would allow her to utilize her extra space in a way that is both comfortable for her and her guests. “My friend kept telling me about Airbnb, and I didn’t know what it was, but I looked it up and it’s been amazing. I set up the back bedroom to be an Airbnb room.”
“guests really want to know the local people, they want to be part of what we call the ʻĀina or the land here in Hawaii. They are respectful of our island, most of them are not here to cause a ruckus or a problem.”
Since then, she’s found endless joy in getting to know the visitors who stay in her house. “People from all over the world have found me and wanted to stay in my room,” Kathy says excitedly. “It’s been a wonderful second income because I am at retirement age but I like to keep working. The work that I have is talking to people and greeting them, and cleaning the room for the next guests. I’m just happy, happy, happy to have this extra space.”
Kathy also loves recommending local businesses to her guests, and knows that her guests are contributing to the local economy. “I let them know about the local places that I like to eat and my favorite places to shop. They support the local businesses, which is a real asset to the community.” When guests stay outside of the traditional hotel zone, they get to learn about the locally owned and operated businesses that typically don’t see the dollars that tourists bring to the island. “So it’s a win-win for everybody, because the guests really want to know the local people. They want to be part of what we call the ʻĀina or the land here in Hawaii. They are respectful of our island. Most of them are not here to cause a ruckus or a problem.”
“[Airbnb] is a win-win for everybody.”
The income that Kathy receives from Airbnb helps her pay her bills and make home improvements. “I use it to partially give back to the guests and to let them know that they are appreciated and I use it for utilities, home improvement, living expenses or other bills, it really is just used for the necessary expenses that I have.”
“I am opposed to [the city] raising taxes because we’re already paying nearly 15% per year in taxes on all our Airbnb income, and that’s pretty hefty.”
Kathy is concerned that the City and County of Honolulu’s consideration of new short-term rental rules, including a plan that could double the property taxes of all hosts who share their homes, will threaten to take this modest income away from her. “I am opposed to [the city] raising taxes because we’re already paying nearly 15% per year in taxes on all our Airbnb income, and that’s pretty hefty but we do pay it. And if they impose more taxes, it’s just going to drive the cost of room rentals up even higher, which would make some people not be able to afford to come here.”
She’s also concerned that further restrictions will negatively impact the local economy. “I do believe that we take care of a portion of the tourists that are not able to afford hotel rooms. They would like to be with us, they’d like to be with the local people. They want to find out about the local ways of life,find out where the local businesses are, and support them.”
Above all, Kathy wants to be able to continue to be an ambassador of the island that she knows and loves. “People have mentioned that they really appreciate us opening up our home. Airbnb is really just like visiting a family member or a friend, and that’s how I try to treat people.”