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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.
New members joining in 2023 include Diana Gladden, Kate Simer, and Kim Fitzpatrick. Elected to serve a two-year term, they will join Anthony Rallo, Becky Burnett, Dabney Tompkins, Laura Angyus, and Ryan Tigner on the Board of Directors next year.
Hearty THANKS to the new and departing members!
Richard Sima recently contributed an interesting article to The Washington Post called, “Showing gratitude is good for all of us, so why don’t we give thanks more?“ Based on a 2018 study by Amit Kumar, professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, the study was published in Psychological Science.
Researchers found that saying “thanks” can make a world of difference. It builds stronger social bonds helping us feel more connected to other people. And, in this often challenging world full of angst and obligation, isn’t that what really matters?
Some folks are hesitant to express gratitude out of fear of judgment or imperfection, so what helps is taking the first step. Don’t overthink it. Just say, “Thanks”.
So, to the folks who have been hanging with us in 2022, we just want to say “Thank You”. Thank you for being awesome contributors to our community, for building something out of nothing, for keeping each other in your thoughts, and for helping when and where you can.
You are appreciated. That’s right, YOU. We look forward to connecting with you in a brand new year and are sending you love and light!
Who knew that tax experts could be informative and entertaining? We had plenty of both when we were Talking Taxes with the Experts on November 9th.
The expert panelists helping us navigate the complex world of taxes at the November meetup were Eve Davis with In or Out Tax Services, Jaydra Perfetti with Paper Investigator, Pam Knudsen with Avalara, and Stephanie Solomon with Block Advisors. (Stephanie is a meetup pro! She has attended EVERY ONE of our tax meetups for the past eight years! Thank you Stephanie!)
Two of the presenters even offered discounts to Host2Host members who are new clients: Block Advisors and In or Out Tax Services! Just mention that you are a member of Host2Host when you reach out to them.
This meetup has become a regular event for us because significant changes occur in the tax laws every year. Some of the topics discussed by the experts included quarterly occupancy taxes, income reporting, the difference between a contractor vs an employee, payroll taxes, the pros and cons of front loading expenses, Schedule C vs Schedule E requirements, and the Residential Clean Energy Credit (which has increased this year!)
One of the more challenging topics covered was where you file when you live in one state and have an short-term rental in another – the short answer is that you must file in both states if income is earned.
As usual, we had a lively, interactive discussion among the participants. And sound advice was offered by the experts including:
Good records are a gift you give to your future self!
Keep square footage for each property for reporting purposes.
Did we mention that the session was entertaining too? We learned that there are three kinds of accountants – those that can count and those that can’t! (haha, get it?!) and why did Sherlock Holmes get audited? He had too many deductions.
This session is so popular we’ve already scheduled our tax meetup for 2023! It'll be November 9th at 5:00 pm! Save the date!
Host2Host members who missed the event can watch a recording on our website.
Submitted by Host2Host Member Renee Moog, a Host in SE Portland
Having dipped my toe back into hosting recently after sitting it out for the last two years - the recent meetup, Re-Opening Your STR, was very timely and rich in hosting tidbits. A panel of active hosts/volunteer members fielded a discussion on topics relevant right now to those like me that are noticing post-pandemic changes such as types of guests, lengths of stays, and even how the economic and social woes we are all experiencing are affecting the general mood of guests.
Cleanings for Longer Term Guests: Most hosts reported having longer-term guests of two weeks to 3 months who are working from STR’s rather than tourists coming for long weekends. This indeed was my recent experience, and I asked the group for ideas on how to handle cleaning and cleaning fees when guests were staying longer and settling in more. We discussed updating house rules to let guests know there would be interim cleaning and discussed options of whether to charge extra or just absorb the extra cleaning cost in exchange for longer occupancy rates.
We ended the night with the exciting news of in-person meet ups on the horizon…. I look forward to even more sharing of ideas and hosting tidbits!
Host2Host members can watch the meetup recording on our website.
It can be tempting to install security cameras to ensure a rental is securely maintained and appropriately treated by guests. However, before doing so, make sure you fully understand the limits, state statutes, and best practices guidelines. Don't accidentally create serious liability or a violation of privacy claim.
In its blog, Airbnb Security Cameras & Surveillance is a Bad Look for the Vacation Rental Industry, Host2Host business affiliate, Proper Insurance explains how to add cameras without introducing the risk of costly liability. Chock full of industry guidelines and links to regulations and even lawsuits, you’re sure to find the article interesting if you are considering the installation of a surveillance system or even just wondering if what you have in place is compliant.
Make sure you understand the pros and cons before it’s too late!
Host2Host member, Michelle “MJ” Boyle is a patented inventor, Hostess of the Tiny House Podcast, founder and creator of My Tiny House Village, Oregon Teardrop Rentals, and My Tiny Creekside Retreat. Recently she was interviewed by industry thought leader Matt Landau on his podcast, Unlocked.
Together they explore the rushes and reversals inherent in Homerunning… from hitting a niche market at just the right time to the very real adversities that can shut you down.
Tune in for loads of validation and thoughtful reflection on Michelle’s truly special tiny house community.
Submitted by Jill Palamountain, founding member of Host2Host, Business Outreach Committee and Membership Committee Chairs & host in NE Portland
What a joy to meet in person again! After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, Host2Host members gathered together; sharing hugs, elbow bumps, stories and laughs at the beautiful Cooper’s Hall on Sept 8. While many had seen each other frequently on Zoom, it was delightful to meet in-person.
Host2Host’s coming back party was hosted by our partner, Travel Portland, who generously provided the venue, an open bar, and some tasty bites. We also were treated to a brief presentation by Travel Portland.
Jeff Miller, President & CEO shared Travel Portland’s mission, the state of travel, consumer sentiment and the changing perception of Portland. The most damaging message potential visitors hear from Portlander’s is that the city is not safe. Jeff urged us all to change the narrative.
There are so many really good things happening in Portland. Events have returned. Businesses are back. Sure, we have a ways to go, but together we can turn the tide.
Ajay Date, Vice President of Marketing, discussed Travel Portland’s approach to marketing; the messages and methods they use to attract visitors from awareness to engagement to conversion. The primary message: Portland is Always On. Ajay also shared some of the videos that are currently running on Travel Portland or YouTube.
Josie Ratnayake, Tourism Manager, shared the many tools and resources Travel Portland offers visitors - great to provide to guests:
Submitted by Charity Kuahiwinui, charter member of Host2Host, former North Portland host and co-founder of Ensourced, a rental consulting firm. Charity lives in Lisbon, Portugal.
The ninth annual Vacation Rental World Summit was held in Porto, Portugal at an old-world charm conference center that used to be the city’s customs house. The seminar was chock-full of useful guidance for short-term rental hosts with plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow hosts, vendors, and property managers.
Here are some of the key takeaways and how you can leverage them.
Cleaning Quality is Key
Industry leaders pointed out again and again that quality is critical. The biggest driver of quality is the cleaning crew hired to take care of your space (or your own trusty hands, of course). Even if you think you’ve found the dream clean team, personally inspect the property at least quarterly to make sure it is being properly maintained and to identify any areas of improvement.
When you find a good cleaner, keeping them is crucial. There are a few ways to retain these key players:
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