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Submitted by Jill Palamountain, founding member of Host2Host and long-time host in NE Portland. Jill is also the Business Outreach Committee Chair, Membership Committee Chair, and contributor to the Marketing/Communication & Meetup Committees.
We're proud to announce new Host2Host Excellence in Hosting badges for members. Let your guests and community know that you belong to a professional organization of hosts and take pride in providing a superior guest experience.
We Host2Host members learn from each other each time we connect, keeping pace with this ever-evolving industry and striving to provide memorable experiences for our guests and ourselves.
Members, add this badge to your short-term rental listing photos, your guest book, business websites, social media sites, etc. Basically anywhere you want to let others know you are part of a host community dedicated to being great hosts.
Right click on the badge to download the image to your computer or access the Members Only Resources page for file download options. Upload the badge as an image wherever you want to share Hosting Excellence.
The oval image works best where images are in landscape, like Airbnb. Find a round option on our membership resources page.
Submitted by Charity Kuahiwinui, Host2Host charter member and founder of Ensourced, a STR consulting firm
As Tyann Marcink, Host2Host member points out, a rental property that is intended to regularly host large groups requires an entirely different approach than those which are designed to host couples or small families. At her Branson Family Retreats properties, the focus is on hosting large gatherings, so she knows what people are looking for in a rental. That's why she was surprised during a recent family stay to find the rental lacking in amenities for large groups. Read more to find out what you can do to improve guest experiences who wish to book your listing.
Understanding your audience is the key to effective selling no matter the industry or product. Who is your potential buyer? How will they use your rental space? Answering these questions will help ensure you provide the best possible experience for them. Guests who are thrilled with their experience will tell at least three friends, and those who are unhappy will tell the world! Consider these five tips for ensuring large groups are satisfied with their stay.
Submitted by Robert Hertert, Board Member and host in Portland and the Oregon Coast
The Host2Host event on July 14th imparted loads of good information to our members on creative solutions to Build a Better Booking Strategy with StayFi. Be sure to watch the full recording of the presentation and take advantage of the Host2Host discount promo code below.
SPECIAL! StayFi is offering a 50% off for the first three months - use promo code host2host.
SPECIAL! StayFi is offering a 50% off for the first three months - use promo code host2host.
Meet the Host & Sponsor Speaker
Our techie, entrepreneur, Host2Host board member and property manager, Anthony Rallo did it again! This time, Anthony brought us Arthur Colker from StayFi, who sponsored the Meetup. Arthur gave us a great presentation about this WiFi tool to help with communications and marketing. Anthony, who uses StayFi in his business, highly recommends it.
Connecting Hosts with Guests
StayFi was founded in 2018 to help facilitate direct bookings with repeat guests. Most initial bookings come from an Online Travel Agency (OTA) like Airbnb, along with the fees and controls meant to keep future bookings under the OTA’s umbrella. The host may not even have the booking guest’s email address.
Uplevel Your Wifi Offering with StayFi
StayFi creates a new WiFi network in the host’s property that resembles guest experiences at hotels and other places where access to the WiFi is granted only after providing an email address. This applies to all the guests in the home, not just the person who made the booking, so there is a great opportunity for future connection with multiple individuals in the group.
The StayFi product is a combination of hardware, called an “access point” and software that allows guests to opt-in or opt-out of various offerings the host may have. These options are presented on what’s called a “splash page” when the guest first logs into the WiFi. Most hosts will only need a single access point, but more can be added if the space requires it.
Driving Guests to Your Website
Much of the presentation focused on the value of direct booking. Arthur strongly recommended creating our own websites, and driving traffic to them. One way to do that is to make sure the StayFi splash page includes the host’s branded website. Further, your direct listing site needs to have a pop-up to gather email addresses.
Email and Text Messages Produce Results
Personalizing the email is powerful. Having email addresses for people who have stayed at your property allows you to make the connection personal. In fact, 80-90% of guests provide their email addresses during a stay. StayFi is beginning a similar process for gathering text message numbers. The percentage of guests who opt in for text is small, around 20%, but has a 90% open rate. As a point of illustration, Anthony only activated text in one of his houses a month ago and instantly, a guest uploaded pictures to a Google Review page expanding reach and potential future guest reservations.
With StayFi, it’s easy to set up an ongoing outreach campaign that can include a Day Zero welcome message, a Day 1 check-in message, a Day 7 encouragement to review on Google, etc. Again, the guests can opt-out of these marketing messages, but many will enjoy receiving the communications.
What Sets StayFi Apart?
It’s important to understand the difference in roles between the host’s Property Management System (PMS) and StayFi. A PMS is oriented towards only the booking guest and provides messages like directions, lock code, parking, etc. StayFi’s role applies to all guests, not just the booking guest. 90% of StayFi's messaging is post-stay marketing with a focus on driving return guest reservations and referrals.
What Does it Cost?
The access point itself is $119-$200 depending on the physical size of the property, and the monthly fee to StayFi is $6 per access point. Most properties only need one access point. Don't forget about the Host2Host special discount!
Sports have long-been an important economic driver for Oregon, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the state for various athletic endeavors. Oftentimes these visitors stay in short-term rental lodging, directly impacting host revenue. Read through the report and appreciate the eye-catching infographics used to illustrate their message that sports serve as a powerful economic engine for the state.
Teaming Up for Sports
Presenting Sponsors Portland Business Alliance and US Bank teamed up with HR&A Advisors, and Weinstein PR to produce a detailed report on the state of sports in Oregon.
State of the State
Not only is Oregon home to world-class athletic apparel and support devices like Adidas, Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Danner, Keen, Hydroflask, Looptworks, etc. We are also host to world-famous sporting events like HoodtoCoast, Pole Pedal Paddle, and even the World Athletics Championships held earlier in Eugene this month. And let’s not forget our beloved sports teams like the Trailblazers, Timbers and Thorns.
Over 50,000 jobs have been created as a result of these top-notch companies with overall higher wages than other sectors. These events and companies provide more than $29 billion in annual economic impact and result in $975+ million in tax revenue for the state. Not only that, but this sector is one of the fastest growing in the state, has a stronger impact than the same sector in similar-sized cities, and happily, a complete rebound is predicted once the pandemic is largely behind us.
What Does this Mean for Hosts?
Well, tourism is an industry that enjoys the benefit of this large and growing sporting sector. The World Athletics Championship alone was expected to generate over $50 million in direct spending by visitors. No doubt a few of you have been lucky enough to host an athlete on their way down or back from the event!
As the report points out, there are "synergies and connections between People, Place, and Program assets that create an ecosystem greater than the sum of its parts". Like any good team, these assets help each other grow and develop.
Read the full report here to learn more about how sports are impacting Oregon and how you might be able to get involved in this ecosystem even further.
Submitted by Kim Fitzpatrick, STR Consultant and Host2Host Member. You can find her at STRsource!
Ensuring adequate insurance is in place can be one of the biggest challenges a host will face when getting started and when evaluating their liabilities. The Host2Host community recently learned more about this topic from Nick Massey with charter member, Proper Insurance. Read more below!
If securing the “Proper” insurance for your short-term rental feels like an intimidating task, you are not alone. In last month’s Sponsored Event, Nick Massy from Proper insurance spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly of insurance. He also offered some great safety advice from Breezeway to keep your property and guests safe and help mitigate any potential lawsuits.
Availability and Coverage Considerations
Proper can insure in all 50 states. Their policy replaces the current home, or landlord policy, providing superior coverage for building(s), contents, liability, and income.
Nick wants STR owners to keep several important insurance-related questions in mind:
Does coverage exist?
Am I covered for what I really need to be covered for?
Am I making a decision based on price or coverage?
Does service come with it?
What kind of claims reviews does my insurance carrier have?
Limitations of Liability and Amenities
Some common concerns for STR owners include coverage for bed bugs and liquor liability. Then there are amenities like non-motorized watercraft, golf carts, exercise equipment, bikes, hot tubs, and pools. It is wise to ask your current carrier what coverage you have and to make sure it includes all your amenities. As has recently made the news, Nick mentioned that Proper Insurance has no limitation of liability when recommending activities off-premises, so if your guests get injured in a community pool, or on a hike you guided them to, Proper has you covered. Whew!
Insurance Consultation and Peace of Mind
Friends of Host2Host can receive a free insurance consultation! Proper Insurance will help you understand your current coverage and spot any gaps. Nick encourages you to reach out to Proper at their website and arrange to work with one of the staff to review your current policy. And NOT just the two-page summary, but they’ll critically evaluate the whole 50+ page policy! They will let you know how well covered you are and where you might have gaps. Ideally, that can provide some peace of mind.
Safety Considerations and Saving Opportunities
The second part of the presentation focused on safety and the things you can do to improve your guests' safety at your property to avoid needing to go through insurance at all. Based on standards by Breezeway, which has a certification program, if you qualify for their certification you can save 5% on your Proper Insurance coverage. Having this certification on file has helped hosts defend their properties against lawsuits.
This is not an exhaustive list, but I tried to capture as many safety considerations as I could during the talk:
Depth markers, Rules, and Safety equipment are present at the pool and no inflatables are provided
Smoke detectors are present in all bedrooms and are not over 10 years old
Carbon monoxide detectors are onsite and functioning
Fire extinguishers are adequate for the space and function the way they are supposed to perform
Continuous handrails are present on all stairs, inside and out
Deck hangers, lag bolts, and screws are present, ensuring the deck is commercially rated
Grills must be a minimum of 4 feet from the house
Make sure you have tempered glass doors
Do not use glass patio tables
Rugs that aren’t non-slip are a trip hazard and all rugs need to have corners secured so they don’t roll at the corners.
Insurance Horror Stories
Nick gave examples of how having safety considerations in place has saved owners significantly and provided examples of how owners have dealt with big challenges that could have been prevented by ensuring the safety of guests at the property.
It was a very worthwhile and thought-provoking presentation and one worth watching on the replay.
If you're interested in contacting Host2Host charter members, Proper Insurance to see how they can help keep you covered, their main line is 1-888-631-6680 and the website is www.proper.insure
Travel Portland's been hard at work on behalf of our city. Read about some of their efforts in the quick write-up below.
Connecting Visitors to Authentic Experiences
Travel Portland provides an important marketing component that drives tourism and, therefore, economic impacts on the city and surrounding communities. Their work in promoting our city to tourists, conference, and business travelers helps supplement the hospitality economy and fills our short-term rentals. In their words, Travel Portland does this by “promoting the destination in bold, innovative and collaborative ways that harness Portland’s personality and values and that connect visitors to authentic experiences.”
Videos Promote Portland’s Neighborhoods
Proponents of the transformative effects of travel, Travel Portland creates engaging content to grab the attention of potential visitors, sharing with them every quadrant of the city. In addition to their in-depth perspectives on each of Portland’s twenty neighborhoods, they have created videos that really tell a story, giving potential travelers a taste of what they will experience when they visit.
Hosted on YouTube, these videos are high-quality, and at just two-and-a-half to three minutes long, they’re beatifically bingeable, easily shareable on social media, and super engaging. Share them with guests coming out to explore and take a look yourself.
Even the most seasoned Portland-er could learn a thing or two about the city or even their own neighborhood!
Submitted by Robert Geller, founder of Fabstayz and Host2Host Member (he/him/his)
Pride Month is an excellent time to reflect on the concept of inclusion in hospitality and how we can all help foster a more equitable and welcoming environment for travelers. In this article, Fabstayz founder and Host2Host Member, Robert Geller, offers actionable ideas for making your listing more inclusive towards the LGBTQ+ community.
June is Pride Month
Around the world June is recognized as Pride Month, a time to celebrate the equality and equity achieved by the LGBTQ+ community with companies and corporations big and small waving rainbow flags high in the air and pumping out rainbow themed everything! Do more rainbow flags flying mean there’s equality, equity and inclusion? Do more rainbow stickers, T-shirt, baseball caps, koozies and key chains result in diversity and a welcoming environment?
You See Where This is Going, Right?
From the outside it may appear all glitter and rainbows; however, the lived experiences of some members of the LGBTQ+ community are not so joyous. Transphobic hate crimes have quadrupled over the last six years.
My news feed might look a little different from yours. Mine is filled with ‘Don’t Say Gay’ in Florida, Rebel Wilson outed by newspaper, Virginia preacher tells congregation gays should be shot in the head, Texas official wants to ban teen gender-affirming care, and on and on. While I’m not all doom and gloom, these news headlines do have a direct connection to STR hospitality, and more specifically, inclusive hospitality.
Hospitality is About Anticipating Needs
Hospitality is about anticipating guest needs, a comfy workstation for our digital nomad guests, a pack-n-play readily available for family travelers, and romantic dinner recommendations for anniversary-celebrating guests. Have you anticipated the needs of LGBTQ+ guests?
LGBTQ+ guests come to your listing, not just your front door, carrying the baggage of the above headlines and often question whether your destination is welcoming. Also, contained in that baggage is their own coming out experience and not wanting to relive it in travel. These potential guests scour listings for clues of welcoming and unwelcoming signs. Yes, LGBTQ+ guests actually read your listing looking for signals of inclusion.
How Can We Foster Inclusion?
My mission in creating FabStayz has been to educate hosts and promote welcoming, inclusive spaces so all members of the LGBTQ+ community can travel with less anxiety; no wondering, no guessing, and not having to come out to strangers. As a host, you can take steps to bring a kind, welcoming voice to your inclusive space.
First, review the language on your listing or website; is it inclusive and devoid of outdated language? Next, this should be obvious, yet I’ve seen a property manager’s website include religious scripture… leave out politics and religion as it sends mixed messages left to the interpretation of the guest. Other tips include adding your pronouns to your host profile on your listing as this sends a subtle message of, “I’m telling you who I am so you can feel comfortable being yourself.” You may want to craft your own inclusive statement for the listing description or even add an ‘all are welcome’ type image to your gallery. If your property is popular for weddings, be sure your imagery and language are inclusive of diverse individuals since not every wedding party has a bride and a groom. And lastly, in your guidebook, there is an opportunity to include activities and events that will resonate with LGBTQ+ guests.
For more in-depth LGBTQ+ inclusive hospitality education and marketing, check out FabStayz soon to launch FabStayz University and Certified Fabulous!™ badge.
Submitted by Robert Jordan, Host2Host Advocacy Committee Member and Short-Term Rental Host
Hosting refugees can be rewarding and fulfilling. Short-term Rental (STR) Host and Host2Host Member, Robert Jordan, reflects on his family’s personal experience and provides helpful suggestions for improving your own refugee-hosting outcomes if you choose to offer your rental in this kind and generous way.
We have all seen the images coming out of Kabul last August and now Ukraine and have been deeply moved, wondering how we can help. For many of us with short-term rentals, I expect one thought that immediately comes to mind is, “Can and should I offer my space to house those fleeing from violence in their homelands?” Having decided to take our Airbnb unit off-line this year anyway, we committed to offering it up as temporary housing for people waiting for something permanent (our unit, with no kitchen, is not suited to long-term living). I am writing to reflect on our personal experience, and perhaps you can decide if it’s something you, too, would like to consider.
What is Airbnb Doing to Help?
You will perhaps have seen articles about Airbnb itself setting up a non-profit platform, airbnb.org, where hosts can offer space sandwiched in between “normal” paying customers, with resettlement agencies booking space for their clients via the host’s regular web page. Check out the conversation where Airbnb representatives discuss their system with Host2Host. At least one of our Host2Host members listed space this way and got not a single taker after many months of availability. Two problems I see with the Airbnb.org system:
the resettlement agencies don’t know about it or how to use it
the agencies can rarely simply book someone for specific dates weeks or months in the future - too often they are working on short notice with a great deal of uncertainty.
Instead, we got involved by direct communication with one of the resettlement agencies, Lutheran Community Services Northwest.
Background Gives Perspective
Please allow me a bit of a flashback. I have personal experience with these issues, having assisted with Kosovar refugees in Bosnia when I was assigned there by the US Army in the late 1990s. But that “refugee camp” situation is just the first phase of relocation dynamics – by the time people arrive in this country, they have been through all of that, have been health (and security) screened, and had some basic introduction to American life (in the case of the Afghans, mostly at US military bases). Going into this now and based on my Bosnia experience, I was determined to keep our involvement at arm’s length as best I could, offering the space but not letting myself get too personally involved.
You will see stories on TV about American families forging lifelong bonds with people they have helped in this way (great feel-good segments on the news!), and might get the idea that it’s all a positive experience for everyone. Don’t count on it. Personally, I try to keep my expectations low and sometimes be pleasantly surprised than seeing it all through rose-colored glasses and being disappointed. But maybe that’s just me!
Make Your Hosting Experience a Positive One
For whatever it’s worth, I have a few ideas for how you can optimize your refugee-hosting experience:
Do this because it’s the right thing to do, because you can afford it, and because you’ll be setting a good example for your kids, not with the expectation that you’ll be showered with gratitude. But if you do get it, accept it graciously and move on.
Understand that this is different from hosting regular visitors. You probably need to simplify and relax your house rules (and maybe get them translated). For example, we prohibit smoking anywhere on our property for Airbnb-type visitors, but we relented for smoking outdoors in the case of refugees. Smoking is near-universal among adult men from places like Afghanistan, and telling people who have been through all that they have experienced that they also have to quit smoking seems like a big ask.
Garbage and energy use can be issues. The idea of recycling can be incomprehensible (even to some Americans!), and we notice lights left on all the time and the heat pump working with the windows wide open. We didn’t clarify these things at first and decided just to let it go, but we will be much more explicit up front for later guests.
Have some kind of written agreement (even if it’s just e-mails) with the resettlement agency, and check with your insurer. Get some assurance that you haven’t inadvertently made yourself a “landlord”, especially if a stay extends beyond a month. A city official told me that as long as there is no exchange of anything of value (including work like mowing the lawn, etc.) there is no risk of a “landlord-tenant” situation coming into effect, but you should do your own research.
We have hosted two Afghan refugees, both young men. Both were very polite, grateful, and friendly (one of them had minimal English, so our interaction was limited). Each of them stayed around six weeks with us before their apartments were ready. We have now taken back our unit for the summer, as we have family and friends visiting – but do plan to offer it again in the fall. There is a never-ending need, and by sparing the assistance agency the cost of paying for motel rooms as their clients wait for housing, we have done our small part to help.
If you'd like to engage with Robert about his experiences hosting refugees or to find out more information, email Host2Host.
Submitted by Angela Dorsey-Kockler, Host2Host Board Member, Marketing & Communications Committee Chair and Short-Term Rental Host in Southeast Portland.
Short-term Rental (STR) Owner/Manager and Host2Host Member, Angela Dorsey-Kockler, has found an easy and proactive way to engage with neighborhoods to help build supportive relationships for the future. Here she describes how she came to do this outreach, why it’s important and some key tips on how to begin your own efforts.
Short-term Rental Environment
As a member of Host2Host, and a consumer of various STR forums and podcasts, I began to hear more and more stories about municipalities around the country taking the ax to STR rental permits and opportunities, and that started to shift how I was thinking about my own next moves regarding a second investment property. It no longer became a question of whether or not I could finance it, but where in the world would I even be allowed to have one.
I currently own/manage a STR on my own property here in Portland, OR. Our city allows two types of permits - A or B. Both require the owner to live onsite at least 270 days out of the year, and the difference between A and B are simply how many bedrooms you list for the STR (A: 1 or 2, B: 3-5 bedrooms).
Portland, OR was one of the first cities in the country to develop a permit system like this (and share permit details with the OTAs), and as such, our city has a way to responsibly regulate the number, type and behavior of STRs. So, on the whole, regulations can be a very good thing - they make sure everyone is playing by the same rules, minimize adverse impacts to our direct neighbors, and city programs can share in the wealth that we generate.
Many STR operators here support and appreciate these basic regulations as they raise the tide for all of us to have a well-functioning STR economy and minimize impacts on our direct neighbors, housing inventory, etc.
Status of City Regulations
Unfortunately, some municipalities are getting into the regulations a little late and are more focused on damage control. These cities around the country (especially in destination locales), that haven’t been actively managing STRs with regulations, are now playing catch-up and trying to reign in the problems of outsized/loud parties, strains on long-term housing inventory and lack of contributions to social programs.
Regardless of which city you live in, I believe there is great value in engaging with and conversing not only with your direct neighbors, but neighborhoods as a whole. There are many perceptions out there regarding STRs, and not all of them are positive (surprise!). However, by engaging in proactive conversations, we help our broader neighborhoods better understand this industry, learn about constructive regulations, appreciate the value that STRs bring to our little neighborhoods (vs. some large hotel, for example), and how we can contribute to social programs of our cities (for example, in Portland, OR, we have a $4/night fee - not paid by hotels - that goes directly to the city’s houselessness fund).
Reaching Out to Neighbors
Since I feel like STRs have a lot to boast about regarding impact to our neighborhoods, I decided to reach out to neighborhoods in southeast Portland and inquire about being added to their agendas to share a presentation about our industry. We have a great slideshow created by Robert Jordan and Robert Hertert, (fellow Host2Host members) that I was able to adapt and personalize with my own story and examples. I just did a simple search online to find the contact information for our many neighborhood associations in the area, and reached out to ask to be added to their agendas.
In my initial e-mail, I humanized myself. Not only did I present myself as an STR owner, but also an engaged community member - mom, PTA president, neighborhood emergency volunteer, etc. I’m not just a nameless, faceless, greedy STR owner - I am an engaged neighbor wanting to facilitate a discussion and answer questions. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that truly, a lot of these neighborhood associations are volunteer-run, and are usually eager to have speakers/topics to offer to their attendees. Because most of these associations hold monthly meetings on Zoom, it is quite easy to “show up” for a presentation and provide a positive interaction between the STR world and our neighbors.
I can’t underscore enough how positive these presentations have been. It doesn’t hurt that our city has strong regulations in place so STRs don’t cause as much concern here as they may in less-regulated jurisdictions, but people are generally interested and curious about this industry and how it operates. I truly believe that getting out in front, building those positive relationships, making attendees aware that we even have professional membership associations (hello, Host2Host), ensures greater comfort with this nascent industry and encourages a friendliness and cooperative spirit that would be hard to imagine otherwise.
If you would be interested in approaching your own neighborhood to initiate some similar conversations and want our help, please reach out to Host2Host or even myself, and I’d be happy to discuss the ins and outs. Being proactive can oftentimes be so much easier than being reactive.
Get involved and start a new friendship with your neighborhoods now! You, and your fellow STR hosts, will be glad you did.
Submitted by Joel Selling, co-host of Savinar Selling Beach House. Their beautiful property is only rented to people they know, so reach out to Joel or Nancy and say "Hello!".
To catch up on what you missed at the event, members can watch the video here and read through Joel's recap below.
The person most familiar with your rental other than you is your cleaner – which is why this webinar called them a partner. They do SO much more than merely clean!
The event, Cleaners: Your Most Valuable Partner, was presented by three experts, Rachel deHaan, Melissa Bishop, and Kelsey Sweat who work with (not “for”) several H2H members. They provided insights that you and I, as hosts, might never learn on our own.
The most important thing – all 3 cleaners agreed – was that a good relationship was based on:
An associated discussion, that had no final answer, was how we refer to these professionals using something other than “cleaner”. “Assistant” and “Domestic Engineer” were two offered alternatives. I, personally, am going to start using “GPA”: Guest Preparation Assistant. It focuses on the guest’s needs, addresses more than cleaning, and includes the term assistant. Plus we all know how important a good GPA is!
The discussion about which apps were best led us to several recommendations from the speakers, notably:
For me, relatively new to H2H, there were a number of other findings that make my job easier, higher quality, or less expensive. As with every H2H event I have attended, two characteristics of the attendees come shining through: generosity and professionalism. I’d like to thank everyone who has built the culture of H2H into what it is today: generously sharing applicable wisdom.
... and thank you, Joel, for your insights and generosity. We're so glad you're a part of our community!
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