New Fort Smith Airbnb host receives top ranking in Arkansas

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,213 views 

A Fort Smith resident has taken the lead as the No. 1 top new Airbnb host in Arkansas for 2021. Cathy O’Hern of Fort Smith entered into the Airbnb market in February with one side of a duplex she has named Cozy 2 BR Cottage on the vacation rental site.

“Cathy’s listing is maintaining a perfect 5.0 rating, and she is a Superhost after starting hosting just this year. Cathy told us the best advice she received when looking to become a host was that successful hosts strive ‘to make their guests feel special. I took that to heart and have tried to think of what things I could do to pamper my guests and let them know they are appreciated, like setting out a welcome to my home note and dessert for when they arrive,’” a news release said.

O’Hern also stocks her rental with coffee, tea and different creamers along with pancake mix and oatmeal. She lets her guests know what is going on around Fort Smith, she said.

“It’s the little extra things that make the place special,” she said.

O’Hern first entered the vacation rental market after her renter left the duplex.

“She suggested it to me. She told me my duplex would make a great spot for Airbnb because it is close to downtown and the hospital,” O’Hern said.

Being close to the downtown hospital makes the spot ideal for traveling nurses or those wanting to visit Fort Smith her renter told her about the duplex. She had about six months to stock up on items and furniture she would need to turn the duplex from a long-term rental into a furnished vacation rental. She also hired a contractor to do some remodeling.

The listing shows the Cozy 2 BR Cottage as clean, nice and bright within walking distance to downtown. The Cozy Cottage usually rents for $98 a night, according to the Airbnb website.

“Enjoy a stylish experience at this centrally-located place. … Located in a quiet, walkable neighborhood close to everything that is Downtown Fort Smith. Enjoy all the rich atmosphere of an 80+ year old home without having to scrimp on up-to-date comfort and function. This will be your new ‘go to’ place when visiting the Fort Smith area or just passing through. A perfect place for long-term stays,” the listing states.

Each bedroom has a pillow-top queen-size bed, and the living room has 55-inch smart tv with Netflix and Cox cable and high-speed wifi. There is a fully stocked kitchen with a Keurig coffee maker, gas range with griddle and air fry function, microwave, washer and dryer.

Without even an entire year under her belt, O’Hern made her way to the top of the list as a new host in Arkansas. One renter wrote of the cottage earlier this month, “You can expect being treated like royalty with Cathy. She thought of everything you would need for your comfort and your enjoyment. It was exceptionally clean, and she even had some breakfast items for you!”

Flooding in the other half of the duplex later in the year led to renovations in that half of the duplex. In October, she opened it as an Airbnb property as well, she said. Her background in property management and education in marketing both come in handy in the Airbnb market, O’Hern said.

“It may not be something for anyone. There is a lot involved. I can’t ever leave town,” she said, noting that she wants to be close by in case anything needs care.

She also prefers to clean her units herself because she wants to make certain everything is done thoroughly and properly to keep things safe for all renters during the COVID-19 pandemic. O’Hern said she isn’t sure how much she put into the units before marketing them on Airbnb, but she does know that she is bringing in more each month with them as vacation rentals than she was receiving in monthly rent from the duplexes.