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Written by Alan Colley, Host2Host Founding Member, former President & co-host of the Summit Prairie Fire Lookout Tower in Tiller, OR
Over the years of our work in the welcoming business we find a common theme among the entries our guests have written in the journal we have for them: Coming here feels like coming home.
Different folks put it differently, of course.
Talia wrote, “As someone who hasn’t had much of a home or a family most of their life, being able to come here and get to know the two of you has felt like a refuge, a return, and a beginning all at once.”
David mused, “Anyone can put a house up in the air, but not everyone can make it a home. That’s what you have done - made one sacred place a home for countless strangers. Strangers who now call you both friends.”
For many it seems that this place has surprised them, calling it magical, and opening them up to possibilities hidden or newly discovered in their lives.
Isn’t that what home can be? A belonging so sure and safe that the whole, wide world opens up.
In a world usually so fraught with fear, disconnection and displacement, yearning for the peace and power of home may be the best gift we have to give.
I suppose many who read this may be tempted to dismiss my ramblings as frivolous to the serious work of hosting. That is their privilege, naturally.
I am inspired to think and write as I do about these ideas of home and belonging by a statement made by Chip Conley when he was being interviewed to become head of global hospitality for Airbnb. He said that the best way to measure the success of Airbnb would be when they were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Whether you agree that Airbnb, or any booking platform for that matter, lives up to that ideal, for me it shifted everything about why we host and continue to welcome strangers into our homes. This is where I want to live, with the idea in my heart that each person we welcome into our home serves to dissolve the separation and alienation we see so prevalent in our world.
Isn’t this a concept worth our embrace and pursuit as we offer the gift of our homes to strangers?
Written by Host2Host Executive Assistant, Charity Kuahiwinui, former co-host in North Portland and co-founder of Ensourced
I moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i at just 18 years old. I was new to the world, but old enough to experience the true meaning of `ohana. My (now) wife’s family took me in and, with few exceptions, made me feel like I belonged, like I was a part of something larger than myself. They taught me the true meaning of aloha and as trite as this Disney soundbite may be, that “`Ohana means family and family means that nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
It wasn’t always or even often sunshine and surf life for us. We managed to scrape together enough for a studio apartment in the worst part of Hilo and drove 1.5 hours one-way through windy roads up mountains and around horseshoe turns to work at five-star resorts on the other side of the island. This was our first exposure to the hospitality industry. We worked hard, often pulling double shifts, hitchhiking to work when the car was broken, and sleeping on the beach to save gas.
Non-Profit Experience Runs Deep
Eventually, we made the leap to the smaller but more commercially viable island of O`ahu for better job opportunities. It was there I began working in administrative roles for now-defunct bookstores, law firms, and eventually a non-profit - the esteemed, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawai`i. Because of the general lack of quality healthcare options on nearby and far-flung islands, we cared for families during the most difficult times of their lives - from neonatal urgent care to pediatric cancer treatment, attending funerals and mourning together. The work was emotionally tough but rewarding, and the children always managed to make you smile. While there, I had the opportunity to travel to Maui to assist with a fundraising event.
Our First Real Vacation
My wife, Maylene, joined me, and we took a few extra days over the weekend to tour the island and have a mini-vacation (our first). We woke up in the wee hours of the morn to catch sunrise on Mt. Haleakala. We drove our rental car exactly where the official agency maps told us not to but where the local shuttle bus driver said it would be fun – over dirt roads through up-country, around the eastern part of the island, then onto windy Hana Road. Later that day, we had the most terrifying drive of our young lives when we drove from Kahului to Ka`anapali on the one-lane road with two-way traffic, blind turns, a steep mountain on the left, and sheer cliffs with no guard rails on the right. I’ll never forget how we had to honk around every blind corner to make sure the way was clear and the time Maylene had to reverse up the steep road because a line of locals was coming the other way. We paused at that turnout, studying the crashing waves hundreds of feet below, caught our breath, and steadied our nerves before continuing onto Lahaina town.
Arriving in Paradise
When we got there, it felt like an absolute paradise after that harrowing experience. Peaceful and serene - with much of the town preserved from whaling days in the late 1800s and as the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawai`i, history was all around us. We cooled ourselves under the nourishing banyan tree and took in the sites and sounds of the city. Barely old enough to drink, we greedily guzzled every last drop of that very special place. Maybe you have too.
Everything Changed in an Instant
That’s why our hearts ache for the fire that recently struck Lahaina and engulfed it in the worst possible way, roaring through paradise, and resulting in utter destruction. Livelihoods were lost. Homes were lost. Pets were lost. Lives were lost.
The extent of the damage will not be known for some time, and we are left wondering how the area will ever begin to recover from the damage, intrinsically understanding it will never be the same.
So, while you can, hug your loved ones (even if virtually) and tell your `ohana just how much they mean to you. Tomorrow is not promised.
Be Responsible Hosts with Guest Safety at Heart
Then, think about how you can help keep your guests safe in the case of an emergent situation. Do you have adequate carbon monoxide, smoke, and fire detectors? Do you test them regularly? Each bi-annual time change provides a memorable testing cycle so you don’t forget.
Do you provide fire escape ladders for multi-story buildings? How about fire extinguishers or even fire blankets that are easier to use in the kitchen?
Do you provide emergency evacuation information and phone numbers for guests? International visitors might not have that information readily at hand.
Do you have ways to communicate with your guests when urgent situations arise? The plans you put into place now, when you’re not faced with an emergency can truly save lives when one is happening.
Send Your Aloha to Maui
And, if you’d like to help the good people of Maui, consider a monetary donation to one of these reputable organizations:
Oh my gosh! Hosting is messy!
No matter how much we plan and scheme to provide warm welcome, a wild card is bound to show up. Each guest, the one we know and the new ones we are meeting for the first time, show up with all the stories of their lives coming along with them.
No matter how much we prepare, we simply have little clue as to how they will experience us and our spaces in this moment.
Would we want it any other way? Isn’t the excitement our getting to greet and to get to know this wide spectrum of humanity we have offered to welcome to our doors? Of course it can be intimidating on some level. I totally understand this! But if we are serious, this is part of the reason we have decided to be a host in the first place - to expand our sense of hospitality, to open our hearts to the wider humanity.
I advocate that we recognize our guests as potential friends who may enrich our lives. I am advocating that we dial down our fears and suspicions enough to see the wonder of others, and, yes, to admit that no matter how much we want to nail down the perfect place and experience, hosting is a messy conversation that just might be worth celebrating. Thank you for being a host!
Written by Alan Colley, Host2Host Founding Member, former President & co-host of the Summit Prairie Fire Lookout Tower in Tiller, OR
At one time I was unsure of what the difference between covenants and contracts really was. What any of this had to do with hosting and welcoming guests was not something I gave thought to, until lately.
I had relegated “covenant” to the realm of religion and God. However, Max O. Depree*, who once led Herman Miller, Inc. as its President and CEO, wrote extensively about covenants in business relationships. I paid attention.
He said many times how important it was that we give earnest consideration to how we carried on our business in a “covenantal manner.”
It may seem like a reach to speak of contracts and covenants in the context of hosting and hospitality, but now I believe it’s entirely relevant. I have found that when I approach hosting as a kind of covenantal practice, it opens up avenues to honor my guests as worthy of my care.
Caring for their well-being is also caring for my own.
Over the years I have come to recognize how truly important covenants are with those with whom I work. Both contracts and covenants are important, but each approaches relationships from very different points of view. Real and lasting relationships are built on covenants.
I found this statement from UpCounsel to be very helpful: “Covenants are a type of contract, but they do not work like a contract. They are a trust-based promise that relies on your integrity and discipline. While contracts are enforceable by the courts, covenants depend on your values.”
● A contract is an agreement between parties while a covenant is a pledge.
● A contract is an agreement you can break while a covenant is a promise.
“Overall a covenant is a better way to build relationships both in business and in life. In a contract, if a person does not fulfill his obligation, then it gives the other party to back out as well. The same is not true in a covenant. You must hold up your promise even if others do not hold up their pledge.”
When we choose to invest in hospitality as a covenantal practice we begin to recognize that our engagement as hosts transcends the merely transactional.
Whether you agree with me or not, I simply invite you to think about this way of hosting. It might just move your engagement with your guests to a new, more satisfying, level.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, too.
* You can read more. Max Depree has written three books on various issues about leadership: Leadership Is An Art, Leadership Jazz, Leading Without Power
We’d like to invite you to apply to join the Host2Host Board of Directors.
As a member of the Board, you will join a small, active, and involved group focused on developing an organization that serves the evolving needs of our host community. Your voice and your participation are needed.
This year we have two positions open. Please review these documents for more information, then apply!
Benefits and Responsibilities of a Host2Host Board Member
Code of Conduct for Board Members
Board of Directors Application
Applications will be accepted until August 31 and interviews held the week of September 11th. New members will be elected by General Membership in November with a brief orientation held in December for terms beginning in January 2024.
Contact Committee Chair and President, Dabney Tompkins if you have questions - we hope to hear from you and receive your application soon!
Host2Host offered an incredible raffle for $300 in goodies to create the Perfect Portland Picnic Basket!
This delectable summer prize offered gift cards from Ruby Jewel Ice Cream, Heroes American Cafe, Caffe Umbria, Blue Star Donuts, and Escape from New York Pizza! The winner of that raffle was Craig Thiry and we are so stoked he’ll be able to enjoy these awesome prizes.
If you have something to donate to our raffle, just email us - we’d love to be able to advertise your business or rental listing while supporting an organization committed to enhancing the hosting experience of our members.
Did you know Travel Portland opened a brand new Visitor Center to invite the public to learn more about our beautiful, bountiful city?
“The visitor center will provide access to friendly travel experts who can help visitors plan their itineraries, recommend restaurants and attractions, and provide information about events and activities in the area,” says Michael Cavanaugh, Director of Community Engagement and Visitor-Facing Services for Travel Portland. “It’s an excellent resource for anyone already in Portland or planning a trip, whether they are a first-time visitor, a Portland fan who has visited many times before, or a Portland resident expecting friends and family for a visit to our great destination."
Located at 1132 SW Harvey Milk St. in Spencer Court, visitor services staff will be onsite, excited, and ready to serve visitors and locals alike to facilitate memorable experiences exploring the city.
I've heard there's even a very Instagram-worthy mural to share with friends! PLUS, don’t miss downloading (and encouraging your guests to download) the Near Me Now app for Apple and Android users.
It’s absolutely FREE and it’s a resource for all of the best, curated locations and events that visitors (and even residents!) might be interested in. Check it out!
Do your guests love checking out magazines and local guides to help plan their trips as much as I do?
Well, you’re in luck because Travel Oregon offers a variety of magazines, maps, and guides targeted to different areas of the state.
As a host, you are welcome to order several of them for your short-term rental. Order yours today!
We are thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity for you to show your support for a worthy cause while having a chance to win some fantastic prizes! Host2Host is organizing a raffle giveaway based on the Perfect Portland Picnic to raise funds to support our goals.
By entering our raffle, not only will you be contributing to the sustainability of Host2Host, but you also have the chance to win these fantastic prizes valued at $300:
Imagine the delicious indulgence of these delectable treats, discovering new dining experiences, or savoring the perfect cup of coffee – in denominations perfect for your own use or to give as a gift to friends or even guests - all while knowing that your participation is directly contributing to the advancement of Host2Host's mission.
To enter the raffle, simply purchase one or more raffle tickets. Each ticket you buy not only enhances your chances of winning but helps Host2Host continue to provide valuable resources, educational programs, and networking opportunities.
Share this raffle opportunity with your friends, family, and colleagues - you don’t need to be a member to join the fun!
In June, we hosted another terrific meet-up and were delighted with the recommendations provided by our panelists, Board Members Kim Fitzpatrick with STR Source and Anthony Rallo with A+W Projects, Lorinda Taylor with Innstyle, and Kristy Olsen with Radious.
Thanks also to moderator Carlos Camarena for keeping the conversation light and the good recommendations flowing.
We talked about some of our favorite amenities to offer, those that guests really seemed to appreciate, and easy wins we could add to our rentals to keep the algorithms slurping up our listing improvements and serving us up in top results.
Check out our lists of recommendations from a variety of sources, including Amazon for which we may receive a commission:
If you want to watch the helpful video, check it out on YouTube. Host2Host members can always access all past meetup recordings anytime on the members-only section of our website.
Host2Host® is a registered trademark of Host2Host.org, a member trade association for the short-term rental community.