Submitted by Ann Kopel, Host2Host Charter Member and host of Hawthorne/Belmont Retreat
The Oregonian (9/29/21) reported that 180 refugees are expected to arrive in Oregon in the next few months, and Host2Host invited Katrina Boratko of Airbnb to educate us about ways that hosts can help.
Katrina shared that since 2015, Airbnb and Airbnb.org (their 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm) have helped 25,000 refugee and asylum-seeker guests worldwide by working with non-profit organizations globally to provide housing and unrestricted grants. Airbnb hosts can help by hosting for free, at a discount, or by donating to Airbnb.org to cover the cost of stays. She said that Airbnb is committed to covering the cost of 20,000 stays worldwide during this crisis, but donations to Airbnb.org can help cover even more. Of course, Airbnb waives all service fees for these stays.
To host, you need to be a current host on Airbnb and offer a private space. Refugee guests will be arranged in advance and come with a case worker who will help with orientation and arrange for next steps at the end of the stay. Refugee stays will show up on your calendar and regular paying guests can still book your free dates. Refugee stays average a family of four and range from a few days to a few weeks with an average stay of 7-14 days.
Opt in using your existing listing or sign up as a refugee only host on Airbnb.org/refugees. You can also register directly with one of Airbnb's 3 nonprofit partners. They are:
The second part of the program covered a few of the more than 100 updates to the Airbnb website. It was presented by engineer Rakesh Soni and Airbnb product representative, Collin Ronan.
They recommended especially that everyone revisit the amenities section of their listing because there are quite a few new options and some are quite detailed. For example, you can now list the kind of soap and shampoo provided and whether you have a Keurig coffee maker, to name only a couple.
There is also an option under your WIFI amenity to photograph Airbnb's speed check of your system which you can choose to post on your listing (or not). They point out that suggestions are offered for ways to update your listing every time you log on.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with other material shared at the meetup).
Submitted by Susan Lawson, Host2Host Member and host of Retreat in the Heart of Vancouver/Portland area
Hosts gathered for a peer to peer discussion of Airbnb's recent 103 platform changes.
David Boe and Pamela Jeanne moderated. After a brief introduction, we broke into small groups to discuss concerns, questions, likes and dislikes about these changes. Then reconvened with the entire group to share our small group findings. Here is a summary:
Pamela Jeanne talked about Hosting Tips that were helpful in updates.
David Boe talked about how to use the new Schedule Messaging features where you can automatically have messages sent with a new booking, check-in guide and welcome, wifi info etc. David created a 7 minute video that is available on Host2host.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with David Boe's video on scheduled messaging).
Submitted by Rob Hertert, Host2Host President 2021.
Never more than since the pandemic started have I valued those aspects of my life that have felt reliable. One near and dear example is Host2Host. We began four years ago with the blessing of structure mixed with the exciting experience of doing something new.
That structure has given us stability even during a pandemic. We have bylaws that spell out a defined sequence of leadership and a board that fully participates in decisions and initiatives. Our volunteers share Host2Host's vision, providing work and creativity while the H2H structure provides a stable framework.
The foundation of Host2Host, our monthly events, is solid. Their dependable presence anchors our organization. Everyone involved in creating and producing these events can feel proud of both the quality and continuity of nearly a hundred monthly meetups and almost as many weekly coffee conversations. All of these require reliable, predictable communications through the newsletter, blog, calendar, website and Facebook. Having an Executive Director, and especially an outstanding one like Jill Palamountain is in itself a reason for our stability.
And there is the “tincture of time”.. We have been in existence for four years - extremely young for an organization but old enough for us to become organizationally and financially relevant to the City of Portland government, Travel Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau.
As importantly, our membership has been stable. Budgetary structure and discipline has allowed us to remain financially sound while we continue to recruit new members and find alternate forms of income.
It has been a privilege to see all the wheels in motion that contribute to this great organization’s solid presence. My thanks to all involved. There are too many to name, but you know who you are!
Submitted by Alan Colley, Host2Host Past President and Contributing Editor
Over the past few weeks I got used to a certain rhythm of expectations, a settling down of Covid infections, and a rising level of optimism about life becoming somewhat predictable, if not exactly normal. Then August hit. The delta variant exploded all around us, and then a serious lightning storm developed in Southwest Oregon and marched right over the top of our land igniting fires, one of which is still burning within feet of our property. The tenuous hold I had had on my anxiety, evaporated.
Recently, I found this sentiment: “it’s taking a lot of stamina to hold a steady course through a global environment so pock-marked by ups, downs and ‘what-the-heck-just-happened’ moments.” No kidding. Maybe we are all feeling this right now. Maybe the best we can do is give ourselves some slack. This is hard stuff.
I have written before about moments of transition, which I called vestibule moments. It is hard to believe, that we are still in that vestibule moment. A moment where we are neither in nor out, but somewhere in-between. The door ahead seems to creak open and then slam shut again. It’s frustrating to say the least. We might feel alone in this struggle to stay even-keeled, but we are most certainly going through these times together.
So my questions to you are: How are you holding up? What is the emotional temperature of your friends, families and community? Are you finding ways to reclaim your stamina? How about a leisurely stroll? Maybe picking fruit in a U-pick orchard? Is a nap the best option just now? (I’m all for naps!)
The Hopi Chief, White Eagle, points out that in this moment, perhaps the best you can do is to: “Take care of your home, take care of your body. When you take care of yourself, you take care of everyone at the same time.”
That’s good advice for all of us who invite guests into our homes. May we all find that equilibrium again soon. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a nap.
Submitted by Suzy Kitman, H2H Member and host of the Cozy, Artsy St Johns Bungalow in North Portland
I was pleased to have signed up for this very informative evening with Ajay Date and Josie Ratnayake of Travel Portland. Shannon Hiller-Webb, Host2Host member and Travel Portland Board Member was the host for this event. I hadn’t heard of Travel Portland’s new public relations campaign, so I was curious to attend and see it for myself.
The video ad was terrific (see it below) and Ajay had much to share about the work that went into its development and production. After almost a year hiatus, due the pandemic, Travel Portland is back bringing new perspective and new partnerships to help all kinds of people see Portland as a place they want to visit.
Josie also brought us up to speed on Travel Portland’s new website design with its visitor-friendly quick links and resources. From local events, to exploring our unique neighborhoods, to the food cart finder and the Portland patio guide, this is a great website to share with our guests.
The Host2Host website now has a Travel Portland page to help hosts find and share links with guests. There is also a Resources for You section for hosts. You’ll find the Travel Portland page under the Resources tab.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with additional material shared at the event). Stick around for the questions and answers, ranging from updates and developments on their site, to the latest market research and plenty of suggestions on how hosts can utilize Travel Portland’s information and share on social media.
Submitted by Rob Hertert, Host2Host President, co-creator of Hosting Your Home podcast and host in SW Portland and the Oregon Coast.
Our June, 2021 meetup was hosted by the Host2Host Advocacy committee. Committee speakers were Robert Jordan, chair/MC, and Melissa Wright, committee member and owner of STR Permit. City speakers included Scott Karter and Craig Doherty from Revenue Division and Mike Johnson from the Portland Housing Bureau.
Thank you Airbnb for helping to promote this event.
The purpose for the meetup was to hear more about where our guests’ STR taxes and fees are used, learn about the Housing Bureau and what impact our funding stream has, and get an update on Airbnb’s Pass Through Registration.
Robert Jordan gave an overview of the Advocacy committee’s audiences: Government officials, STR platforms, and neighbors and our greater communities. He touched on some major work including providing organized testimony at City Council, assisting Revenue with a review of their draft Pass Through Registration ordinance, sponsoring a City Council candidate forum, and inviting city officials to speak at events such as this one.
Taxes: Scott Karter of Portland’s Revenue Division gave us a chronological tax review:
2015: Scott told us that in 2015, not that long after STRs were legalized, City Council directed that most of the STR taxes should go to the Housing Investment Fund (HIF). At that time, STR guests were paying 6% to Portland (including 1% that passes through to Travel Portland), 5.5% to Multnomah County, and 1.5% to Travel Oregon. Council redirected 5% of STR’s “TLT”, or Transient Lodging Taxes to the HIF. Total STR taxes: 13%.
2018: Many Host2Host members will recall the Council Hearing in which STRs and small hotels would now pay an additional 2% Tourism Improvement District “TID” tax to Travel Portland, matching the large hotel taxes. In addition, a $4/night fee per booking would be assessed on only STRs. The $4/night fee would again be directed to the Housing Investment Fund. ( ed. note: an important consolation was made, giving Host2Host a seat on Travel Portland’s board of directors). Total STR taxes and fees: 15% + $4/night.
2021: To climb out of the tourism collapse and to help fund reputation recovery, an additional 1% TID tax was levied on all hotels and STRs. Total STR taxes and fees: 16% + $4/night.
These taxes and fees are summarized here.
Housing Investment Fund: Mike Johnson told us that the Portland Housing Bureau provides pass-through funding for all types of affordable housing in the City. The Bureau has a wide range of funding beyond the STR taxes and fees including $500 million in bonds and grants being targeted for 2,000 units between two bonds. But the STR revenue stream supplements the bonds and grants. Mike said that pre-Covid the $4/night fees alone were over $2 million per year.
An example of a Housing Fund action is the recent acquisition of 263 units of affordable housing. Some associated expenses aren’t allowed to be paid for with bonds, making the STR tax and fee revenue especially valuable. TLT will be used for affordable housing targeting residents who have an income of less than 60% of Portland’s median income of $80,000. The $4/night revenue provided over $2 million for rent assistance to the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
In 2022, the $4/night fees will help BIPOC commitments for down payment assistance, allowing first time homeowners to buy. The fees replaced the prior source of funding of this important program. View Mike’s slides here.
Pass-Through Registration: Melissa Wright told us that prior to January, 2020 the City knew those hosts who were permitted but couldn’t identify those who were not. It wasn’t possible to enforce the permitting program.
Through a legal settlement between the City and the platforms the Short Term Rental Registry was formed. No platform may advertise (post a listing) for any host who’s name and address don’t show up in this Registry.
Airbnb’s solution to getting a host in the Registry was their Pass Through Registration program (PTR). The computer interface between the City and Airbnb is not yet functional but the process is in place, whether it’s by paper or electronic. Melissa shared the details of that process with meetup participants through this set of slides. Contact Melissa at STR Permit for more information.
Q&A included dealing with the bad reputation of the city, allowable use of STR funds, whether there is an ongoing building maintenance fund for affordable housing projects, criticism about building too nice of buildings, and more.
Robert Jordan wrapped up with a note about the regressive nature of the $4/night fee. We’re seeing the effects of the fee as being positive for the affordable housing, but regressive for the host with low rental rates. A conversion to an equivalent percentage would be better for hosts.
Host2Host dues-paying members can view the meetup recording here.
Submitted by Alan Colley, Host2Host Past President & Contributing Editor
Our society loves glamour. It seems that everything we read aims to glorify the dramatic and extraordinary. I admit it makes great copy. We are always reading about the most popular destinations, the number one places we must add to our already overfilled bucket lists. I get it. Our own place has been featured in many media outlets. But like fame in any arena, it’s fleeting, and actually to my mind, misses the point.
When I think about what it means to be a host, though perhaps not popular and glamorous, it’s really about whether we enable our guests to feel genuinely welcome. In our harried and often existentially worried and anxious society, finding a place that offers rest, welcome and comfort is a real gift.
While the media pours its attention on the extraordinary locations to book a stay, let’s hit the pause button for a minute and focus on what we might describe as the “ordinary”, the bread and butter locations where “ordinary” hosts are offering the extraordinary gem of a warm, comfortable welcome.
These hosts may be tucked into quiet neighborhoods rich with comfortable yet unheralded jewels. These hosts and their places offer a sense of home and belonging. No fanfare. Just the kind of “comfort food” to soothe your mind, heart and body.
People who provide welcome to guests do so because they love it. Yes, it provides income, but doing so also enriches them in many other ways, too. Potential new friends. Shared experiences. Introducing the specialness of their own neighborhoods. And, yes, even the genuine hospitality that “coming home” can give.
Take a moment to reflect on just how these “ordinary places” and the quiet hosts who open them are truly extraordinary. You are the vital backbone of the short-term rental segment of our travel industry.
Host2Host members, if this speaks to your hosting style, share your listing to this blog post via a comment.
Anurag Verma, founder of PriceLabs, and Andrew Kitchell, founder of Wheelhouse gave great presentations at our Host2Host May meetup. If you couldn’t attend, you will want to watch the video (available to Host2Host dues-paying members).
Our moderator Ryan Tigner noted that dynamic pricing is critical to hosts being able to maximize their revenue. He is certain that hosts will see a positive return on investment in either of these software products.
Both companies provide multiple products and no long term contracts. You can pay for what works best: a percentage commission on bookings or a flat rate per month. Both vendors can do pricing for home-sharing and listings for more than one space. And both have access to very large data sets.
We learned in the presentations that setting your STR price is just one factor. Just as important are the availability settings which allow you control how far in advance your space should be made visible to rent.
Both companies are offering Host2Host members a 50% discount for the first two months after any free trial period. See the link at the bottom of this article.
Anurag began as a graduate student renting out a spare bedroom. PriceLabs now has a presence all over the world. Their dynamic pricing product allows a host or VR manager to adjust rates and availability easily and frequently based on various factors including events in the area, lead time, seasonal factors, and other pricing in the area.
Just select the platform your listing is on, click to connect and you can see proposed pricing, very dependent on the base price that you will select. PriceLabs allows you to adjust all kinds of other settings like what discount to give for a last minute booking, how high to charge for a one night booking in case you don’t want them but would accept one for a high enough rate. You also set availability choices such as one day gap between bookings etc.
We saw Portland’s “market summary” which is the PriceLabs market dashboard. The graph showed the distribution of booking windows, with 1-2 months ahead being the current highest window. The main length of STR stays currently is 3-4 days. There is a lot of valuable data here.
Anurag emphasized that nimble pricing adjustments require both human input and automation. In other words, you can “set it and forget it” but you won’t see the best return unless you spend some time learning the product and interacting with it.
Wheelhouse founder Andrew Kitchell actually started as the co-founder of Beyond Pricing before starting Wheelhouse. They are now in 50 countries, 600 markets and over 2,000 cities.
Their brand new product “Wheelhouse Pro” contains dynamic pricing, market reports, and “comp sets”. Their dynamic pricing product allows a great number of settings but Andrew says they are known for being easy to set up. And just as Anurag stated, Andrew agrees that effective dynamic pricing depends on human involvement as much as automation.
The Wheelhouse pricing engine is built on 6 years of data and continuous A/B testing. Andrew says that 90% of their methodology is available from their website blog. All their data points allow them to discover the true value of your listing.
They have a new partner in Key Data Systems which brings a vast amount of new data to the software. Andrew stated that the average listing earns 20% more through using their dynamic pricing product and some have earned 100% more. They rely more on booking patterns versus being too heavy on historical data.
Market Reports are Wheelhouse’s 2nd product, giving users a comprehensive view of pricing, booking, availability and other data in the geography of interest.
Their 3rd product is the “Comp set”, allowing you to select nearby listings that you want to continually watch, up to 100 listings. All the info is exportable with a click. They have lots of online courses to help you along.
Q&A: Watch the video to get the full presentations and to hear answers to having multiple listings (like Airbnb and VRBO), how to set up those listings, customer service, training videos, on-boarding, webinars, setup time, and other questions. Also see the special H2H member pricing listed below the video recording.
Submitted by Nancy Stevens, Host2Host Charter Member, Meetup Team Chair and host in NW Portland.
The first business affiliate meet-up was such a fun event. Thank you to all our Business Affiliates who joined us to showcase their services as well as their special offers to members:
Breezeway ~ Carlos Rafael Photography ~ Descansa Property Management ~ DueNorth Pdx ~ Fix Linens ~ Golightly ~ Guest Hook ~ Health Markets ~ HostGPO ~ Hosting Your Home Podcast ~ Houfy ~ InnStyle ~ iTrip Vacations Portland ~ Kim Gordon Cumbo ~ PriceLabs ~ Proper Insurance® ~ Radious ~ Rose City Interiors ~ Short Term Rental Permits ~ Sweet Haven ~ The Distinguished Guest ~ TouchStay ~ Travel Portland
It was wonderful to get to know each one of our businesses. We learned a little about them personally, what their business is about, how they service the host community and many shared a special offer just for Host2Host members.
If you weren't able to join us on May 11th, take the time to review the recording - you will be amazed at the variety of business leaders we have among our members! Not only are there some amazing deals available to you for just being a member of Host2Host, but you will be supporting our local, small businesses - contact information is available on the Host2Host Business Directory. Check it out!
Host2Host members can view the event recording here.
Submitted by Shannon Hiller-Webb, Host2Host representative on the Travel Portland Board, owner of Prosparus, and host in SW Portland.
Travel Portland is a pre-eminent marketing DMMO (Destination Marketing Management Organization) that is nationally and internationally recognized for the impact of their innovative marketing.
This marketing is what brings "heads to beds" in Portland which is their sole mission. They do this by highlighting what makes us unique and doing so in targeted markets with informed metrics.
They book venue space to conferences near and far to drive bookings which STR's benefit an average of 20%. Beyond conferences, they are innovative in their approach to reaching targeted audiences that benefit hotels and STR's.
Travel Portland recently invested $10k in an Airbnb promotion and by doing so Airbnb increased their contribution to the promotion of Portland for a total investment of $25k.
Airbnb ran a Portland targeted campaign to sell neighborhoods to travelers and book the STR's in each neighborhood through their site. Airbnb has run these promotions in other cities throughout the world however, this was the first time a DMMO had ever invested in an Airbnb campaign EVER in the WORLD. See the Airbnb Press Release.
So, an initial $10k Airbnb promotion became a $25k promotion due to Travel Portland. Travel Portland would have invested more if Airbnb could have shared metrics due to requirements on how TP monies are spent.
In addition, there are dedicated links to STR sites on the new Travel Portland website and further promotions by neighborhood on their site such as Alberta Street District.
Finally, I want to recognize that while our industry has been hit hard by COVID, Travel Portland was truly hit hard as their primary source of income is taxation. I believe revenue was down 85%.
That said, I want to praise the leadership of Travel Portland who have saved for a rainy day, took early and aggressive measures to reduce staff significantly, preserve resources, changed tactics, pivoted and canceled promotions to run lean so that when Travelers are ready so are they to invite them back to Portland.
TP will initially be doing a "Reputation Recovery" campaign to locals and travelers to invite people to re-engage with our city; bruises and all because we remain unique. They are storytellers and they do their jobs well. Most important, we are lucky to have them and I whole heartedly support the temporary City of Portland tax increase to see us all through the tricky bits. https://www.hereforportland.com
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