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  • Tue, November 29, 2022 10:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Nancy Stevens, Meetup Committee Member and Host in NW Portland

    nancy stevensWho 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!

    eve davis in or out tax servicejaydra perfetti paper investigatorpamela knudsen avalarastephanie solomon block advisors

    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.

    hand with magnifying glass reviewing symbols while writing in a notebookDid 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.

  • Wed, October 26, 2022 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Host2Host Member Renee Moog, a Host in SE Portland

    Renee MoogHaving 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. 

    Airbnb Services:  We learned more about current Airbnb services like “Pro-page" status & AirCover and shared strategies and tools to set positive and realistic expectations for guests whose opinions of Portland have been influenced by the sensationalist news coverage or the hyped showcase Airbnb properties seen in the media.

    Person cleaning a table top wearing a blue gloveCleanings 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.

    Resource Sharing:  Experienced hosts presented some creative signage to coach guests on the nuances of writing appropriate reviews and treating their Airbnb like the cherished home that it is. This type of sharing of ideas, experiences, resources, and coping strategies is why being a member of Host2host is so attractive to me. I was reminded though, that it is only one small piece of the organization’s mission. President Dabney Tomkins addressed the need for membership dues and volunteer hours to support not only the regular programming but also the important work of relationship building with the City of Portland and other stakeholders in the STR community.

    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.

  • Wed, October 26, 2022 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People looking up at tons of cameras on a buildingIt 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.
    Proper InsuranceIn 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!

  • Wed, October 26, 2022 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Michelle BoyleHost2Host 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. Unlocked Podcast Logo

    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.

  • Wed, September 28, 2022 8:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Jill Palamountain, founding member of Host2Host, Business Outreach Committee and Membership Committee Chairs & host in NE Portland

    Kim Fitzpatrick gives someone a hugWhat 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 MillerJeff 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:

    Becky Burnett chats with Robert Geller of FabstayzHost2Host also has a page devoted to Travel Portland resources to help you find exactly what you need. 

    This couldn’t have been a better celebration. Thank you Travel Portland and thanks also to Radious for the photos. But, most of all, many THANKS TO ALL OF YOU to those who joined us! We are motivated to meet in-person again, so watch for more of these types of events.
  • Wed, September 28, 2022 8:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 Alfandega Conference Center Porto, Portugalwas 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:

    • Keep the work environment engaging and organized. cleaner spraying bathroom faucetCleaners hate arriving to a chaotic rental left by a guest, but a storage space or re-supply area with the same amount of chaos is enough to drive them batty;
    • Use a cleaning checklist to make sure cleaners don’t miss anything; 
    • Give them ownership in how they do their work; don’t micromanage. The guest won’t know that your preferred pillow tuck is one way but the cleaner did it another way. They’ll just be happy the pillowcases and sheets are clean.
    • Follow the golden rule and treat people the way you would want to be treated. Reward them with extra pay and bonuses if their work is shining brilliantly in your reviews and resulting in increased occupancy.
    Improve Your Ratings
    five yellow stars on blue and pink backgroundAccurancy: The best way to improve the accuracy of your description is to periodically conduct a rental inspection and read your listing description out loud. Does the text realistically match the layout and location of the listing? Guests demand accuracy above all else. 

    Communication: Communicating with guests is key. Certain OTAs provide automated ways to streamline communications but ensure they still have a personal voice in tone and timing. If your space is frequented often by folks from other countries, translate your listing, guidebook, and house rules into your target languages to help those travelers find you using their search terms and easily get around once they arrive.

    Value: Do you have a 5-star rating for value? Turns out, AirDNA thinks this means you are not pricing your rental correctly. It’s too inexpensive. Strive for a value rating of between 3-4 stars to strike the right balance with potential future guests.

    Environmental Sustainability
    Travel is responsible for 8-10% of all greenhouse gas emissions! Now, more than ever, travelers understand they have a vested interest in minimizing their footprint.reduce reuse recycle note

    The desire for green travel is not a trend. Sustainability is here to stay and advertising a sustainable rental can increase clicks from potential renters and drive increased occupancy.

    Did you know? 
    • 90% of consumers seek sustainable options when traveling;
    • 60% of travelers have chosen a more environmentally-friendly transport or lodging option;
    • Travelers will pay nearly 40% more for authentically sustainable lodging.
    Actionable Ways to Improve Sustainability
    • Make it easy for guests to recycle;
    • Add energy-efficient bulbs, smart appliances, and water-saving tools;
    • Add energy meters to monitor usage in real-time. This can save 22-27% depending upon the type of utility;
    • Consider installing an EV charging station (minimum 120V outlet; Level 2 better);
    • Provide alternative transportation suggestions like using the local metro system, e-scooter apps to download, carshare vendors, etc.
    Improve Occupancy
    Be flexible. There are a few common ways to do that:
    • List on multiple OTAs, especially ones that cater to niche travelers like FabStayz, FairBnB, HomeStay, or;
    • Offer free cancellation policies. These not only increase bookings overall but also improve your listing’s location in the OTAs algorithm search results;
    • Allow for bookings to come in over 90 days before a guest will arrive. Folks are eager to take big trips and are planning early. If your calendar is closed, you’re missing out on them completely;
    • cute dog on bedAccept pets, or at least dogs. 53% of travelers and growing like to bring their pets along. If you do that, include amenities that will help pet owners minimize damages in the home. For example, leave poop bags, offer pet food and water bowls, provide a dog-specific blanket and ask that it be used to protect the furniture from excessive pet fur to make clean-up easier.
    Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to attend a vacation rental conference soon. Next year VRWS takes place in Barcelona, Spain at the Maritime Museum with its sweeping, arched ceilings and rich history. Hope to see you there!
  • Wed, August 31, 2022 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

    Oval Member Badge

    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.

  • Wed, August 31, 2022 7:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

    1. Regionalize your RentalPeople sharing food around a dining room table
      Deciding on where to take a large family or group trip can be like pulling teeth. Everyone seems to have an opinion about their idea of the perfect location and what the perfect vacation looks like. Give potential guests a feel for what they will experience when they arrive. What works for a mountain-top cabin won’t work for a beachside getaway so consider how your marketing and decor reflect your local area. 
      If you know the weather will be ideal for outdoor seating, make sure you provide enough outdoor chairs and that you check them regularly for wear and tear. If you don’t, expect guests to take indoor chairs outside which could impact their longevity for the worse. If guests will be cozier by the fire, offer plenty of board games and jigsaw puzzles, as well as a place for the entire group to gather. If you host twelve people, there should be twelve seating options in the main gathering space. Don’t make anyone feel left out!
    2. Manage Expectations
      Managing guest expectations is critical during the marketing phase of your rental management business. No matter the selling platform, whether your own personal website, Airbnb, VRBO, FabStayz or another online travel agent (OTA), your listing description and photos should accurately reflect the experience a guest will have when they arrive.
      If there are any potential negatives, mention them. Be honest. Set expectations appropriately and don’t worry if you think it could be a detractor - there’s a place for everyone and what is problematic for one person, won’t be for another.
    3. Communicate in Advance
      If you’ve ever coordinated travel for groups larger than four or multi-generational travel, you know it can feel like herding cats. Everyone will have questions about what to bring - will the rental have enough towels, will there be a hairdryer, do you need to bring your own sheets? 
      Group of friends toastingSince the point person who is renting the place will be coordinating for a larger group, give them plenty of time to plan and disseminate essential details like these. I’ve known a few super-organized folks who like to pack their suitcases several days in advance of their trip so they can feel comfortable and begin to relax as the travel day approaches. Make it easy for them to do this. Larger groups should have these kinds of details on packing planning at least a week in advance of their stay. Consider including rental amenity details in a digital guidebook like TouchStay offers to make communication easy.
    4. Right-Size Appliances and Utilities
      Your appliances and utilities should scale with the maximum number of occupants. If you are hosting a space for fifteen people, install a water heater with capacity for that size group. Think about whether you need to provide two refrigerators or even two dishwashers. And make sure you tell guests the proper way to use those appliances. Don’t assume everyone knows what the symbols on the washer/dryer units mean. Give guests the tools to be successful.
      Group of people gathered around the table looking at someone's phoneThe same goes for your internet. Plan on 80% of  guests accessing the wifi network simultaneously. Make sure your download speeds can support their gaming, Tiktok, and Netflix needs. Additionally, you know at least one person won’t be able to leave work behind (sadly, I may have been that person), so test your upload speeds too. The free app, Speedtest can give you a sense of your rental's wifi speeds and this blog with its handy chart will give you an idea of how fast the wifi should be to create creature comfort.
    5. Equip the Kitchen
      When a large group gathers, they are generally not visiting your rental with the primary purpose of checking out the surrounding area. They’ve made a focused intention to spend time with friends and family that may live far away from one another and converge together in your special space. They are not looking forward to checking out the trendy local restaurant, they want Grandma’s best casserole, Aunty’s to-die-for chocolate chip cookies and Uncle’s ribbon-winning barbecue ribs. 
      Make it easy for them to cook together safely. Equip the kitchen with every tool you think they might need and then some. Over the course of a busy season, equipment will inevitably get destroyed or grow feet and walk-away. Make sure your cleaning crew is instructed to periodically inspect the items in the kitchen cabinets to ensure they are clean, neat, and well-organized.
    It is easier to control outcomes when a group is smaller. A solo traveler has no one to ask, “Hey - does it seem odd to you that this guest house is missing silverware?” Add a second person, and they have a sounding board. Add thirteen more people, and you’ve got a cacophonous chorus of opinions that will inevitably magnify any potential negative quality of the rental, providing them with lots to laugh about and a chance judge you with derision. Don’t give them that opportunity

    Follow our tips and tricks to create the best possible guest experience for your large group listing. Inspire them to write a glowing, positive review and recommend your home to a few friends instead of writing a funny blog or Twitter string about why it was a less-than-ideal experience.

    Tyann Marcink, Host2Host member, short-term rental industry thought leader, Queen of Guest Experience at Touchstay, co-host of Podcast The Guest Cast and veteran STR host recently had direct experience with her own family’s stay at a remote rental location. Check out her Twitter post for more pointers.
  • Tue, July 26, 2022 2:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

    Meet the Host & Sponsor Speaker

    Arthur ColkerOur 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 logoStayFi 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!

  • Tue, July 26, 2022 2:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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

    Trailblazers Logo

    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 ThornsThorns Logo

    Economic Impact

    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!

    Synergistic Interreliance

    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.   

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