Submitted by Jaime Johnston, H2H Member & owner of Goddamn Man, premium products for body & beard care.
On November 10, Host2Host convened its fourth annual conversation with a panel of accounting and tax experts to help us get our taxes in order. Expert panelists included Stephanie Solomon, a licensed tax preparer from Block Advisers, Lorilyn Wilson, CPA and owner of Collective accounting firm, and Kim Boaz, owner of Back To Basics Bookkeeping. All of our experts are H2H members. Alanna Schroeder, also a H2H member and owner of The Distinguished Guest, moderated the discussion by asking panelists frequently asked questions submitted by members. Below are some highlights.
Hire a professional or use Turbo Tax?
The answer boils down to what the experts can do for you versus what you can do for yourself. Stephanie posed the analogy of building a deck. Would you build your own deck or hire an expert to make sure it is built safely? The benefits of hiring tax professionals are many. For example, they:
Schedule C or a Schedule E?
Panelists often get asked by short-term rental hosts whether they should use a Schedule C or a Schedule E. In short, use a Schedule C when you are a “sole proprietor” and your rental is set up as a business. As a sole proprietor, you will pay 15% self-employment tax. If your rental is not a business, income is treated as passive and you can use a Schedule E. To help you prepare your Schedule E, Lorilyn shared a handy tool - Schedule E Template.
Potential changes to tax laws?
Tax laws change every year. We discussed potential changes with the new Biden administration taking office in January. Lorilyn explained that real estate taxes are historically “favored” in tax law, meaning they are generally low relative to other types of taxes. However, with a new administration, panelists anticipate changes may increase the amount of taxes hosts pay, especially related to depreciation (it’s complicated). On the bright side, they hope the new administration will forgive Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans awarded to small businesses because of the pandemic.
If you would like to hear the answers to all the tax questions and related discussion, you can view a members-only recording here. Not a H2H member yet? Become one to view the Tax Meet-up, plus all our Meet-up videos. Join Host2Host.
Not registered yet? Click the link below:
Bon Voyage 2020! Happy Hour & Gift Giveaway - Free!
Our generous community has donated some amazing gifts! All of which will be given away at the Host2Host Happy Hour – Bon Voyage 2020! Must be present to win. Here are the goodies under the tree:
Dear Fellow Members of Host2Host and Hosts everywhere
Baby steps. It’s okay if that’s the best we can do right now. I have to remind myself of this nearly every day. How can we help each other as we try to make our way through a landscape that has become unfamiliar, the terrain shifting, where what we once relied on as predictable and steady seems to have disappeared beneath our feet?
Great strides, grand plans, bold gestures - all worthwhile and often noble - sometimes begin with baby steps. Remember (I say to myself) baby steps are learning steps.
I remember watching my kids learning to walk. At first they were hesitant. They held onto me or the sofa. And they fell down a lot. (I have a picture of my daughter with a big scab on her little nose after a notable face plant on the sidewalk.) What did we do after these things happened? We comforted them. We praised them for trying. And we cheered them on.
Maybe that’s what we are being called to do here and now. Learning to navigate this changed reality, how to walk into this new world of hosting, may feel so awkward that we need just baby steps right now, something or someone to hold on to and to cheer us on.
I like to think that one wonderful benefit of Host2Host is that together we are building a community which recognizes the value of baby steps in this shifting terrain. We are willing to hold out our supportive hands, and to cheer each other on.
This we know: hosting is in our blood. We are working together to find our way to be resilient and successful in this new world of hospitality.
Remember, those children who began with hesitant baby steps, soon were showing off how fast they could run.
Here’s to your baby steps - and running.
Alan Colley, Host2Host President
Written by Jaime Johnston, Host2Host Member
As many of you have observed, the global pandemic has had a significant impact on the short-term rental industry. While many hosts have stopped hosting or shifted to longer term rentals, others continue to welcome travelers and have adopted new safety practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the pandemic has created new trends in travel. Guests are traveling closer to home, staying longer while working, and many more people are traveling with pets.
To catch up with Airbnb on these and other changes, Host2Host organized a meet-up with the Airbnb Global Hosting Team on October 12th.
During the conversation, Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell and members of Airbnb’s Community Team, Dorothy Kilroy, Danni Zheng and Dominique Ng, responded to questions submitted by H2H members. They also discussed Airbnb’s efforts to support hosts during the global pandemic. While many topics were discussed, hot topics included Airbnb support to Super Hosts, guest reviews and COVID-19 safety practices. We share highlights from the conversation below.
Airbnb support to Super Hosts
Most Host2Host members are Airbnb Super Hosts. Catherine Powell confirmed that Super Hosts are Airbnb’s strongest ambassadors. They are always seeking ways to elevate, listen to, and support them. H2H shared that members are concerned about being able to maintain Super Host status despite higher cancellation rates and closed listings during the pandemic. Dorothy Kilroy responded that Airbnb has waived the number of stays and cancellation requirements to help Super Hosts maintain their status. Airbnb will continue to monitor how Super Hosts are impacted during the pandemic.
Additionally, Super Hosts receive priority queuing for customer service calls. Hosts can escalate a customer service issue by asking. Once escalated, it will be reviewed by a supervisor. As many of you know, Airbnb restructured in response to the pandemic, causing staffing issues and a backlog of customer service calls for several weeks. Catherine and Dorothy confirmed that Airbnb has caught up on the backlog and is now able to address issues as they come in.
The guest review process is a hot topic for many hosts. The H2H community shared several ideas to reduce the impact of one poor review on a host with five-star status. Meanwhile, the Airbnb team acknowledged the challenges of creating a review system that is fair to both guests and hosts. While it works for most people, there are still outliers.
Dominique Ng shared that the review process is continuously evolving as Airbnb data scientists analyze and interpret data and receive input from the Airbnb community. They have learned that while reviews are universally understood, it is difficult to define what a five-star review means and to balance both sides of the review process. While the team is applying data to continuously improve the review process, they are also looking at how to better share guest reviews to hosts so that hosts can make informed decisions about whether to host a particular guest.
Higher cleaning standards due to COVID-19 safety practices
In June, Airbnb implemented voluntary enhanced cleaning protocols for hosts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These practices became a requirement for all hosts in October. The Airbnb team has compiled several resources to make the enhanced five-step cleaning protocol accessible to hosts. Resources include videos and materials summarizing the steps, appropriate cleaning supplies, tips on how to communicate the new protocol to guests, and a handbook that provides greater detail. These resources and more can be found at Airbnb.com/cleaningresources. Additionally, Catherine describes Airbnb’s comprehensive community standards for guests, hosts and safety in her new video.
Dorothy shared that hosts who have implemented the enhanced cleaning protocol receive considerably more bookings and guests report they feel safer staying in an Airbnb compared to staying at a hotel. If you have not yet confirmed your agreement to Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocol, you have until November 20th. Hosts that do not agree may not be able to accept new reservations. For more information, visit Airbnb.com/progress/cleaning.
Other topics discussed include new guest education, damages caused by pets, emotional support vs. service animals, travel insurance, and cancellation policies.
Host2Host members can watch the entire event here, along with all recorded H2H meetups. If you are not yet a member of Host2Host, consider joining us. Annual dues are nominal and monthly Meetups and Wednesday Conversations are free. Join us here.
As hosts, we are in this business together. And together we will thrive.
I am a word nerd. I like to know the underlying meanings of words, especially those that grab our current attention. Resilience is one of those words. So when I looked up definitions, I found this one from the Oxford dictionary particularly helpful: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.”
As hosts we are particularly impacted by all that’s going on here in Oregon. The pandemic with its need for distancing, smoke from our wildfires and the disturbing protests that seem endless in Portland, just one of these would be enough, but all combined really mess with us!
So Resilience looks like something we might all want to explore, and bring into our lives and in our hosting businesses more. It was a relief to me, thankfully, to learn that we can all learn to be resilient.
While I am speaking here of our ability to learn and to practice resilience for ourselves, I also recognize that many of our guests these days are also yearning for some form of relief. Our welcoming can be a respite and give them space to reconnect, to re-energize, to find their own ability to face challenges and to “spring back into shape.”
In my research I discovered a great article published in March 2020 in Psychology Today which I commend to you for a deeper dive into this wonderful topic.
Seven Skills of Resilience | Psychology Today
And, for another spin on Resilience, check out this art exhibit produced by The Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen, Colorado. They bill it as “a multidisciplinary exhibit that speaks to the moment.“ I learned of this exhibit when my son, Brian, told me several portraits he painted were included. The exhibit overview reminded me that resilience applies to each of us as hosts.
May you all find your resilience and put the spring back in your step!
How do you measure success? By the number of nights you have booked? By the size of your bank account? By the number of times you have been awarded SuperHost status? Or by some other measure?
This letter is a shout out to Chip Conley, the former Head of Global Hospitality at Airbnb and now Founder of Modern Elder Academy in Baja Sur, California, Mexico. When the founders of Airbnb were interviewing him to join their organization, they put this “success” question to him. They were not expecting his answer: “Airbnb will be successful when we are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
When I heard his response it completely shifted my view of what hosting could actually mean. Sure, it is important to see our hosting bring us income so we can pay our bills, and in some cases, remain in our homes. Yet it’s not too far fetched to acknowledge that welcoming guests to our communities does break down fear and barriers.
I know in our case, greeting and welcoming people from all over the globe, watching them share experiences and laughter with our local neighbors, we know something special is happening. When we notice these encounters, Dabney and I have often looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Nobel Peace Prize.”
There is no denying that the world we live in is in turmoil. The whole hospitality industry is severely challenged. Yet as we strive to reimagine and create new ways to welcome guests, there is something quite wonderful about lifting our sights above the turmoil to see that at its heart, hosting is about connection, building community and creating a climate that deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
Thanks for being an important part of Host2Host!
Alan Colley, President Host2Host
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