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Presented by Shannon Hiller-Webb, Host2Host representative on the Travel Portland Board at Host2Host’s Annual Members Meeting – Nov 17, 2021
Let me start by stating that it has been a privilege to serve as your Host2Host representative to the Travel Portland board of directors. For those of you who may not know, we earned the Travel Portland board seat through our testimony to City Council in 2018 about being a voiceless part of our industry as decisions were being made that impacted us. The criticism that had been levied vilified our portion of the travel industry. In reality, the blame often belonged to the platforms and bad actors and did not reflect good hosts who support local businesses, create meaningful experiences for travelers and allow many hosts to invest in their homes and age in place.. We found much about our sharing community was largely unknown. City Council agreed and advocated 2 new board positions from our industry be created at Travel Portland - one for platforms and one for hosts.
My time on the Travel Portland board has allowed me to inform travel industry leaders and decision makers about our slice of the travel pie - Short Term Rentals. Travel Portland exists to attract conferences, promote the uniqueness of our city that drives demand for heads in beds in overnight stays and supports the local economy. Travel Portland also intersects with major travel organizations, political stakeholders and political decision makers, locally and internationally.
Travel Portland experienced their most difficult years in recent history given the COVID pandemic. Travel Portland very early on determined to take proactive measures to preserve savings and conserve the limited income, as most of their funding comes from taxation to travelers staying at hotels and short-term rentals. They did so by laying off 34% of their staff, canceling media contracts, advertising campaigns, postponing programming and renegotiating infrastructure costs. That time was used in large part to aid coordination of Top Chef, recognizing that investment would launch later in the pandemic and put Portland in the limelight highlighting some of what is best about our city - food and people to inspire travel here.
Leading into summer, Airbnb & Travel Portland launched the first of its kind $25k Promotional Collaboration. Airbnb engaged key feeder markets like San Francisco and LA with several e-newsletter emails, paid social media and PR highlighting seven Portland Neighborhoods in a “Cool Portland Neighborhood Guide”. With an average 7.4% open rate, it was the best performing Airbnb email campaign in North America and provided a lift in local bookings. We are encouraging more collaborations between Airbnb and Travel Portland as an investment in our success.
The resiliency of short-term rentals in this pandemic has revealed to Travel Portland the importance of the funds we generate to support their staffing and marketing. While 18 hotels closed in Portland for months last year, short-term rentals remained open and thriving, giving travelers confidence to travel with a sense of safety, privacy and sanitation. This has been noted several times by Travel Portland CEO, Jeff Miller to the board of directors and City Council reinforcing our financial contribution as important.
Travel Portland is working with the City of Portland to encourage investments in addressing houseless issues and cleaning up the city to welcome guests back. Funds generated from short term rental taxes have contributed nearly $5 million a year to the Housing Fund, confirming we are part of the solution.
While my main role continues to be building relationships, education and advocacy, I am also focused on expanding STR representation on the Travel Portland board and committees so that we can have more proportionate representation.
I regularly attend meetings with public officials and have been expanding our relationship with City Council Commissioner, Mingus Mapps who is a former Airbnb host and someone we hope can advocate from the dais on our behalf when issues we care about are raised.
We don’t know of another organization like Host2Host in the nation who has a seat at the table with their Travel Portland equivalent. We hope that by modeling the work, others will follow to give hosts a voice as responsible contributors to the travel industry and the prosperity of their cities.
Your support as members of this organization makes certain hosts are recognized, validated, listened to, and acted on behalf of. You should feel proud to be a part of Host2Host. And we look forward to having you stay connected.
A great time was had at Host2Host's first virtual fun(d) raising party on December 15, 2021. Thank you to our participants who helped Host2Host raise nearly $3,500!
And thank you to our donors who so generously supplied a wonderful array of goodies for our raffle and auction:
Submitted by Carol Wise, host of Marguerite's Cottage Multnomah Village Portland OR
Our panel of tax experts shared their knowledge of Short-Term Rental (STR) tax preparation and recommendations with us.
We were joined by:
Some highlights of our discussion included:
Our panelists shared their insights during robust Q&A about a wide ranging subjects.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording (along with other material shared at the meetup) here.
Submitted by Kristine Batra, host of South Tabor Stay in Portland.
Currently, Portland’s Accessory Short-Term Rental (ASTR) registry lists a total of 2,197 type A permits and 92 type B permits. To assist in boosting short-term rental revenue and occupancy, AirDNA sponsored a Host2Host event to provide a demonstration of their products.
As hosts, we look at comparable rates and booking trends to help set our nightly fees. The presentation from Ryan Young and Dillon DuBois (of AirDNA) helped to explain the inner workings of their service and algorithm, MarketMinder, which they stated ensures a 96.1% accuracy.
Hosts can register with their site for free, to review general insights or to use their Rentalizer tool, which compares up to 100 comps. A subscription would provide greater access to market guide, average daily rate, occupancy rate, revenue, customer support, and much more.
Their MarketMinder also provides 3 years of historical data for comparables. Their standard pricing is based solely on market size, ranging from $19.95 (less than 100 active listings), $39.95/mo (100-1000 active listings) and $99.95 (1,000+ active listings).
This was a great presentation on the functionality of AirDNA and they are offered a 10% discount through 10/30/2021 to Host2Host members.
Users can choose an annual paid subscription or month-to-month. For me, this tool has greater appeal to multi-site hosts, tourism, and large enterprises, as it seems there is a focus on specific host sites more than others and cleaning fees are not part of their data collection. I would encourage fellow hosts to go to their site and try their free features.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here.
Here is a great little Travel Portland video to share with guests (and yourself) when visiting the Mississippi Neighborhood in North Portland. Enjoy!
Submitted by Ann Kopel, Host2Host Charter Member and host of Hawthorne/Belmont Retreat
The Oregonian (9/29/21) reported that 180 refugees are expected to arrive in Oregon in the next few months, and Host2Host invited Katrina Boratko of Airbnb to educate us about ways that hosts can help.
Katrina shared that since 2015, Airbnb and Airbnb.org (their 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm) have helped 25,000 refugee and asylum-seeker guests worldwide by working with non-profit organizations globally to provide housing and unrestricted grants. Airbnb hosts can help by hosting for free, at a discount, or by donating to Airbnb.org to cover the cost of stays. She said that Airbnb is committed to covering the cost of 20,000 stays worldwide during this crisis, but donations to Airbnb.org can help cover even more. Of course, Airbnb waives all service fees for these stays.
To host, you need to be a current host on Airbnb and offer a private space. Refugee guests will be arranged in advance and come with a case worker who will help with orientation and arrange for next steps at the end of the stay. Refugee stays will show up on your calendar and regular paying guests can still book your free dates. Refugee stays average a family of four and range from a few days to a few weeks with an average stay of 7-14 days.
Opt in using your existing listing or sign up as a refugee only host on Airbnb.org/refugees. You can also register directly with one of Airbnb's 3 nonprofit partners. They are:
The second part of the program covered a few of the more than 100 updates to the Airbnb website. It was presented by engineer Rakesh Soni and Airbnb product representative, Collin Ronan.
They recommended especially that everyone revisit the amenities section of their listing because there are quite a few new options and some are quite detailed. For example, you can now list the kind of soap and shampoo provided and whether you have a Keurig coffee maker, to name only a couple.
There is also an option under your WIFI amenity to photograph Airbnb's speed check of your system which you can choose to post on your listing (or not). They point out that suggestions are offered for ways to update your listing every time you log on.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with other material shared at the meetup).
Submitted by Susan Lawson, Host2Host Member and host of Retreat in the Heart of Vancouver/Portland area
Hosts gathered for a peer to peer discussion of Airbnb's recent 103 platform changes.
David Boe and Pamela Jeanne moderated. After a brief introduction, we broke into small groups to discuss concerns, questions, likes and dislikes about these changes. Then reconvened with the entire group to share our small group findings. Here is a summary:
Pamela Jeanne talked about Hosting Tips that were helpful in updates.
David Boe talked about how to use the new Schedule Messaging features where you can automatically have messages sent with a new booking, check-in guide and welcome, wifi info etc. David created a 7 minute video that is available on Host2host.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with David Boe's video on scheduled messaging).
Submitted by Rob Hertert, Host2Host President 2021.
Never more than since the pandemic started have I valued those aspects of my life that have felt reliable. One near and dear example is Host2Host. We began four years ago with the blessing of structure mixed with the exciting experience of doing something new.
That structure has given us stability even during a pandemic. We have bylaws that spell out a defined sequence of leadership and a board that fully participates in decisions and initiatives. Our volunteers share Host2Host's vision, providing work and creativity while the H2H structure provides a stable framework.
The foundation of Host2Host, our monthly events, is solid. Their dependable presence anchors our organization. Everyone involved in creating and producing these events can feel proud of both the quality and continuity of nearly a hundred monthly meetups and almost as many weekly coffee conversations. All of these require reliable, predictable communications through the newsletter, blog, calendar, website and Facebook. Having an Executive Director, and especially an outstanding one like Jill Palamountain is in itself a reason for our stability.
And there is the “tincture of time”.. We have been in existence for four years - extremely young for an organization but old enough for us to become organizationally and financially relevant to the City of Portland government, Travel Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau.
As importantly, our membership has been stable. Budgetary structure and discipline has allowed us to remain financially sound while we continue to recruit new members and find alternate forms of income.
It has been a privilege to see all the wheels in motion that contribute to this great organization’s solid presence. My thanks to all involved. There are too many to name, but you know who you are!
Submitted by Alan Colley, Host2Host Past President and Contributing Editor
Over the past few weeks I got used to a certain rhythm of expectations, a settling down of Covid infections, and a rising level of optimism about life becoming somewhat predictable, if not exactly normal. Then August hit. The delta variant exploded all around us, and then a serious lightning storm developed in Southwest Oregon and marched right over the top of our land igniting fires, one of which is still burning within feet of our property. The tenuous hold I had had on my anxiety, evaporated.
Recently, I found this sentiment: “it’s taking a lot of stamina to hold a steady course through a global environment so pock-marked by ups, downs and ‘what-the-heck-just-happened’ moments.” No kidding. Maybe we are all feeling this right now. Maybe the best we can do is give ourselves some slack. This is hard stuff.
I have written before about moments of transition, which I called vestibule moments. It is hard to believe, that we are still in that vestibule moment. A moment where we are neither in nor out, but somewhere in-between. The door ahead seems to creak open and then slam shut again. It’s frustrating to say the least. We might feel alone in this struggle to stay even-keeled, but we are most certainly going through these times together.
So my questions to you are: How are you holding up? What is the emotional temperature of your friends, families and community? Are you finding ways to reclaim your stamina? How about a leisurely stroll? Maybe picking fruit in a U-pick orchard? Is a nap the best option just now? (I’m all for naps!)
The Hopi Chief, White Eagle, points out that in this moment, perhaps the best you can do is to: “Take care of your home, take care of your body. When you take care of yourself, you take care of everyone at the same time.”
That’s good advice for all of us who invite guests into our homes. May we all find that equilibrium again soon. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a nap.
Submitted by Suzy Kitman, H2H Member and host of the Cozy, Artsy St Johns Bungalow in North Portland
I was pleased to have signed up for this very informative evening with Ajay Date and Josie Ratnayake of Travel Portland. Shannon Hiller-Webb, Host2Host member and Travel Portland Board Member was the host for this event. I hadn’t heard of Travel Portland’s new public relations campaign, so I was curious to attend and see it for myself.
The video ad was terrific (see it below) and Ajay had much to share about the work that went into its development and production. After almost a year hiatus, due the pandemic, Travel Portland is back bringing new perspective and new partnerships to help all kinds of people see Portland as a place they want to visit.
Josie also brought us up to speed on Travel Portland’s new website design with its visitor-friendly quick links and resources. From local events, to exploring our unique neighborhoods, to the food cart finder and the Portland patio guide, this is a great website to share with our guests.
The Host2Host website now has a Travel Portland page to help hosts find and share links with guests. There is also a Resources for You section for hosts. You’ll find the Travel Portland page under the Resources tab.
Host2Host members can view the meetup recording here (along with additional material shared at the event). Stick around for the questions and answers, ranging from updates and developments on their site, to the latest market research and plenty of suggestions on how hosts can utilize Travel Portland’s information and share on social media.
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