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Our little organization-that-could is growing up! As a result, we’re continually evaluating our practices to make sure they still make sense. At the Board Retreat in January, we discussed the committees, which are the engines that keep the organization running. In an effort to streamline communications and return to our roots, we will be reorganizing the committee structure under a simplified format that honors past contributions while allowing us to grow more easily.
Committees and Task Forces
Returning to our fundamental values, there will be four primary committees and taskforces may work underneath them on specific projects.
Join a Committee
Joining a committee requires a commitment of 1-3 hours per month, depending upon your level of interest and availability to take on special assignments. You do NOT need to live in the local area and folks from all backgrounds are welcome to contribute. We are welcoming new committee members anytime, so reach out to join the fun!
We are also accepting volunteers to Chair the Advocacy, Community, and Education committees. You will direct the focus of the team, interface with the Board of Directors, and strengthen your bonds within the Host2Host community. Not-to-mention, it’s an excellent resume-builder!
Let us know you’re interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idea submitted by President Dabney Tompkins and written by Charity Kuahiwinui
More and more activities are returning to some semblance of “normal” these days and at Host2Host, we would love nothing more than to see all of your bright, cheery faces in person again. That said, we understand that some folks are unable to or uncomfortable rejoining in-person activities so we’ve been experimenting with ways to offer a hybrid experience to be as inclusive as possible.
Our Board of Directors has been trying a few ways to make our meetings engaging to both in-person and remote participants. At our multi-day Board retreat in January, we tried a few different approaches to including those who couldn’t make it “live” to the event and found it to be a resounding success. By having plenty of laptops set up to capture the in-person activity visually, the remote-based folks were able to feel as though they were in the room. With one computer showing video of all participants and a few others focused expressly on the remote joiners, plus only one computer picking up audio, in-person guests were easily able to be heard and feel connected to everyone in the meeting.
We are excited to be able to offer a return to in-person events more regularly in 2023 and are hopeful for at least a handful of get-togethers from April - October. Most of these events will include an online component, so if you can’t make it in person, you can still participate and contribute your ideas. I’m sure our approach will continue to be refined, and we look forward to your suggestions after each event to help us get even better! Hope to “see” you there!
Idea submitted by founding member Rob Hertert, and written by Charity Kuahiwinui
Smart hosts focus on their properties with an eye toward minimizing any liabilities that could put them out of business. Proper Insurance made an update to one of their blogs to help hosts do just that. Besides the obvious purchase of an umbrella policy covering up to at least $1,000,000, hosts should also take a few other important factors into consideration.
If you only carry a landlord policy, you may still have exposure since that only covers the property itself. If you don’t have a business umbrella policy and rent bikes, kayaks, canoes, or have a dog, you could be at risk. Other, more troubling issues that could arise include assault & battery, muggings, theft of guest property, invasion of privacy, and even sexual misconduct accusations. Make sure you are protected, let Proper Insurance evaluate your current policy, and let you know where the holes are.
Speaking of holes, did you know that pesky insects can infiltrate a space, unbeknownst to hosts, and wreak severe damage to property, even attacking guests and causing them egregious personal injury? Bed bugs can cost hosts hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims, so make sure your policy doesn’t have an exclusion against these types of injuries. And use a fully-zippered mattress encasement to minimize the potential of infestation.
There’s one more type of liability that’s commonly excluded in most insurance policies that can cause serious liability if triggered and that’s liquor liability. You want to be seen as a generous host and maybe even boost your ratings, but if you leave a local beer or wine for guests, you are putting yourself at risk.
If they consume it and are subsequently injured, they can make a claim. Make sure your policy either protects you against these types of claims or be sure to completely remove all alcohol from the premises after every guest checks out. For more tips on protecting your assets, check out the blog from Host2Host business affiliate, Proper Insurance.
Submitted by Esther Saulle-Simek, H2H member and host in SE Portland & Switzerland
Amina Moreau was an Airbnb host during the pandemic but she and her partner quickly realized they did not feel comfortable hosting anymore. They brainstormed, bought a desk, upgraded their Wifi, and started Radious. Kristi and Jules joined the team shortly, and in no time they had listings in Portland, OR and Milwaukee, WI.
Many companies no longer have in-house offices, yet they benefit from meeting in person. Radious has the platform for them. Amina and her team are very helpful in setting up the listings, providing a photographer, helping with the listing description, and are very nice to work with.
Listing with Radious means you don’t have to do laundry, and it is less wear and tear on your property. Radious renters are professionals who come work on projects, have meetings, take phone calls, etc. The team does suggest offering a whiteboard, having fast, reliable Wifi, providing a desk, and perhaps even a projector and a screen.
I, personally, have been lucky enough to host a few Radious bookings last year and it was a breeze. The renters left the space clean, and they all observed our house rules. If you want to learn more about Radious, check out their website or contact Amina. Watch the video from the meeting on our Members Only Resource page.
Written by Alan Colley, founding member of Host2Host and Fire Lookout host in Tiller, OR
Hello fellow hosts!
At the founding of Host2Host, we committed to keeping our eyes on upcoming trends that likely would impact your short-term rental business. Here is some information that you may not have seen.
First off, just what is a “weak signal”? My good friend and futurist, Rebecca Ryan, founder and president of NEXT Generation Consulting, Inc. puts it this way. “A weak signal is the first indicator of a change or an emerging issue that may become significant in the future. Monitoring for weak signals is critical to preparing for the future.”
Have you listened to the winds of change? Ever put your ear to the proverbial ground and predicted some of the changes coming around the bend? Futurist Rebecca Ryan and her cohorts do just that for a living. She tunes into the news and murmurings from the broader business community and predicts the future.
Of the five weak signals Rebecca and her panel of futurists have identified for 2023, there are two which I believe have particular bearing on those of us who have short-term rentals - the environment, and the shift in work patterns. Dig deeper into their observations here.
Labor - Unionization, talent shortage, work patterns
From Rebecca’s post: The permanent adoption of work-from-home programs decreases central business district (CBD) office occupancy rates by 30% or more. (Gulp) This reduces tax revenues and creates downtowns that are bustling only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as well as the Donut Effect, which drives up suburban home prices around large cities.
This has planning, zoning, and redevelopment implications. Will downtowns become neighborhoods? Can Home Owner Associations (HOAs) prohibit residents from working full time from their residences? Will employees who injure themselves while working from home be able to file Workers Comp claims?
In Portland, we are definitely seeing the fallout from these policies. Our vacancy rate in the Central Business District now stands at 26%, the highest in recent history. Businesses, declining to renew leases in the central district combined with those employees choosing to work remotely have big impacts on the future of cities as we have come to know them. It’s distinctly possible that permitting and tax regulations will be given new scrutiny as the revenues begin to dry up. Like many cities across the country, Portland is making efforts to draw folks back by reframing the CBD as an entertainment district through events like the Portland Winter Festival of Lights from February 3-11th.
Environment - Protection, quality, pollution, waste disposal
There are a number of sub-signals under this one. Climate change is a high priority, of course, but waste and pollution get serious attention, too. Regarding extreme weather events, the best thing hosts can do right now is to be prepared. Do all in your power to keep guests safe and comfortable if and when they happen. Create an emergency plan, stock up with the essentials both for yourself and for the folks staying at your rental. Communicate with guests when bad weather is in the forecast to be sure they know the best way to be ready during a severe weather event should it come your way.
These days it makes sense for all of us to pay attention to consumables and how we dispose of waste. We may not be perfect at it, but anything in that direction can only benefit us all.
These signals may not sound like good news on the surface, but I believe that being forewarned is good forearmed, right? As advocates for good regulations for short-term rentals, we are committed to paying attention!
If you want to hear more from Rebecca and NEXT Generation Consulting, please check out this link. I think - no - I know you will be energized and inspired.
Quotes and comments from “Signals”: Copyright © 2023 by NEXT Generation Consulting, Inc. Used with permission.
Idea contributed by founding member Jill Palamountain & written by Charity Kuahiwinui
Let Me Tell You a Story
Did you know folks are still being discriminated against on the major booking platforms both for the color of their skin and the person they love? Imagine, you’re getting super excited about your vacation. You spend hours scrolling through so many awesome rentals debating about which one will suit your needs and finally choose the perfect spot for your getaway.
Getting to Know You
You are bubbling with excitement as you draft your initial outreach to the host. The rental is on a platform like Airbnb or VRBO, so you know how important it is to provide a good overview of who will be staying in the unit. You introduce yourself and your spouse and let the host know you’ll be the delightful couple staying there. After your uplifting outreach, you definitely don’t expect the response you get!
A Slap in the Face
Instead of welcoming you with open arms, they trash your relationship and deny your request because they realize you are in a queer relationship. You are devastated. This exchange will undoubtedly sour not only your vacation but your view of other short-term rental hosts making it hard for you to rely on these types of services again.
Creating a Safe Space
Robert Geller, FabStayz founder, is hoping to change this experience and help create happy memories. His booking platform of 5,000+ properties and growing supports the LGBTQ community and upends this narrative by providing a safe space for renters.
Portland Roots Shine Through
Originally launched in Portland, join dozens of other local hosts and expand your marketing approach to target this niche, lucrative community. Host2Host members who join before February 14th, can share the love and get 50% off your membership fee.
It’s great too because Host2Host members receive special designations on the site to highlight our enhanced hosting standards! You’ll also find their handy Fab! Food Cart Finder is the perfect tool to increase satisfaction by including the QR code in your house manual or sent to guests when they arrive. Linking to the Travel Portland website - it’s an excellent resource for visitors to the city.
It’s time to diversify your marketing efforts with Fabstayz -- offer a safe place of your own!
Your opinions are very important to us and we want to make sure they are factored into our decisions. Last year, our Marketing & Communications Committee requested feedback to help direct organizational efforts in the coming years. Joel Selling, Host2Host member, MarCom committee member and host on the Oregon coast, provided excellent organizational and analytical support to this effort. Members can check out his analysis here.
Members were incentivized to respond with the offer of a free annual membership and we’re proud to announce that Esther Saulle-Simek, was the lucky winner! Thanks to everyone who responded.
Our 2022 FUN(d) Raising event could only be successful because of the kindness of our community of donors and the happy participants.
Our sincerest thanks goes to A+W Projects, LLC, Airbnb, Around Portland Tours, A Serious Production, Back to Basics Bookkeeping Service LLC, Becky Burnett, BLOCK ADVISORS, Blue Star Donuts, Boostly, Carlos Rafael Photo, Chris James Cellars, David Boe, Descansa Property Management, Deschutes Brewery, Ensourced, FIX LINENS, Frances Meyers, Grace Vacation Rentals, HostGPO, InnStyle, iTrips, Jill Palamountain, Kim Fitzpatrick, Laura Angyus, Nossa Familia, Oregonshearwater, Pamela Jeanne, Pizza Kat, Portland Bottle Shop, Por Que No?, Proper Insurance, Radious, Ruby Jewel, Slumber Cloud, StayFi, Sweet Haven Rentals, TheJerkyHut.com, Tiny Digs Hotel, TouchStay, and Travel Portland.
Thanks also to folks who gave direct, monetary donations to Host2Host like Adam Windham with Host Financial, Alanna Schroeder, Carlos Camarena, Dabney Tompkins, Joel Selling, Kym Gordon-Cumbo, Linda Elliott, Liz Crowe, Tracie Robinson, and Charity & Maylene Kuahiwinui.
Special thanks, also, to the FUN team volunteers: Anthony, Becky, Carlos, Charity, David, Debi, Jill, Joel, Laura, Lorinda, Nancy, and Pamela.
Submitted by Nancy Stevens, Meetup Committee Member and Host in NW Portland
What a great time at the Host2Host Fun(d) Raiser to celebrate the close of 2022 and welcome the new year! We had an amazing array of items, valued at over $8,000 – available as raffle or auction items – everything from gift cards, food, tours, and, of course, vacation rental listings from Oregon to Florida! In the end, there were more than 30 very happy winners!
Holiday greetings were shared in at least six different languages, and guests learned about holiday drinks such as rumchata and Christmas noggin.
The biggest challenge seemed to be extending time for the purchase of raffle tickets. But, eventually, Santa brought a much-desired extension, so everyone was able to make the purchases they wanted.
While the RallyUp platform required a certain amount of flexibility, by the end of the evening, around $3,500 was raised and a good time was had by all. A few of the big winners were: Heather Goldberg who won three raffle items and two auction items. Diana Gladden, new Host2Host Board Member won a 2-night stay at Whispering Woods in Mt. Hood, graciously donated by fellow Board Member Laura Angyus. Then, we were all happily surprised to receive a special gift for everyone on the call – Alanna Schroeder’s course on starting and optimizing your short-term rental.
What a great evening! Thank you to all the donors, sponsors, members, and guests who made this a fun and successful FUN(d) Raiser! Hope to see your smiling face at future Host2Host in-person and online events!
Submitted by Charity Kuahiwinui, Host2Host Executive Assistant, Charter Member, former North Portland host & co-founder of Ensourced a STR consulting firm
Call it what you will, but global financial indicators are projecting a bit of a slump in the coming year. Forecasters predict the United States has a 50/50 chance of avoiding a major financial downturn in the economy for 2023. The rest of the world is showing even less favorable signs and will most likely experience a recession of some sort.
As we have observed most recently, during times of uncertainty, job loss, and economic downturn, travel expenditures are one of the first items to be cut from household budgets. Whether or not the R-word comes to fruition, though, it is clear that the short-term rental market has matured. Guests are seeking more from their rental experience than has been offered in the past.
Do what you can to meet those changing expectations and capitalize on your assets.
Airbnb has acknowledged that guests are tired of the onerous list of check-out responsibilities being asked of them. While departure rules vary wildly, hosts with the highest guest satisfaction seem to ask the least of their guests.
Do what you can to set your cleaning crew up for success, then trust them to take care of the things that matter. If you need to increase your cleaning fee to make the duties match the time it takes to complete them, guests seem happier to pay a larger amount with very little required of them at check-out.
Hands-On or Off
Let’s face it, there are as many different types of travelers as there are hosts eager to welcome them. Some people get really excited about engaging with their host and look forward to intimate conversations, learning the ins and outs of a new environment from their local guide, and building friendships to last a lifetime. Then there’s the introverted folks who, as VRBO has emphasized in their ad campaigns, prefer to enjoy their rental all to themselves without a host "snooping around".
Be honest with yourself about your hosting style and define your approach clearly in the listing description. Let potential guests know what to expect from their stay. No doubt there’s a guest who will click with your style.
Guests are not just looking for a place to stay, they are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What’s trendy and eye-catching will undoubtedly grab the attention of an eager traveler when they are searching through lists of potential places to stay.
Furthermore, in times of economic uncertainty, folks tend to gravitate to staying at places closer to home where they can make new memories with the people they love. Find a way to set your rental apart from others in the area, then take professional photos that capture this vibe effectively. Make good use of the captions on photos to provide listing-scrollers with a strong sense of the memories they will make. Get them excited about staying with you!
Like everything else, periods of economic downturn have a beginning, a middle, and most definitely an end. Count on it. In the meantime, take measures to maximize your opportunity for ongoing hosting success.
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