SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s National Travel and Tourism Week, a time to celebrate the many businesses that cater to tourists around KELOLAND. That of course includes the many national hotel brands across the state, but a growing number of small business owners are making a full-time career out of another avenue of hospitality.
“We call this the Doodle Room,” Sioux Falls Airbnb owner Elizabeth Haglund said.
With hand-painted murals, a two-story sunroom, hidden tunnels and pink pillars….
“This property is so unique, every room is a work of art,” Haglund said.
…this one-of-a-kind house has become a highly sought-after vacation destination in Sioux Falls.
“We’re looking for different and unique stays, different experiences vs. your usual hotel stay,” Haglund said.
Before purchasing their first property, Elizabeth Haglund and her family were regular Airbnb users.
“With having a child it’s just easier to have an Airbnb. To walk into a home that’s fully furnished has everything you could need for your stay. It made us love Airbnb’s and made us want to bring one to Sioux Falls,” Haglund said.
Late last year they purchased The Tree House, their first Airbnb property.
“Once we did the market research we saw that people actually are coming to Sioux Falls for recreation, for work, that we decided to jump in with two feet,” Haglund said.
But in this extremely competitive housing market, purchasing a home to use as an Airbnb has become even more of a challenging business start.
“It is a brutal market, it’s really hard,” Haglund said. “When we came for our initial tour, we were passed by somebody else as well who was going to do the same Airbnb process.”
A lot of the unique artwork and design were already in place from the previous owners who first turned the historic home into an Airbnb, but the Haglunds still had to make a significant investment to get the property ready to list.
“‘This house was built in the 1800s, so we’ve had foundational work, we’ve had electrical work, some plumbing work here and there, the backyard has been a labor of love as well. We have sunk a certain amount of money into just making the house up to code,” Haglund said.
After the necessary repairs, then there’s the next major investment…
“Usually, I just go through my own house and what am I using and what would I really miss out on if I didn’t have,” Sodak Stays owner Kayla Huizing said.
…making sure an Airbnb is fully furnished.
“A 3 bed, 2 bath house, I can see anywhere from $20,000-$30,000 in furnishings,” Huizing said.
Kayla and Albert Huizing just closed on their first Airbnb property this week and are already starting the process of filling it up.
“It’s so much work. People underestimate the amount of time it takes to furnish a property,” Huizing said.
But it’s a process the Huizing’s have learned very well over the past year with their new business Sodak Stays.
“We take care of everything from guest communications to managing the turnover, then the marketing of the property and all of that, everything in between,” Huizing said.
Right now Sodak Stays manages 13 Airbnbs in Sioux Falls, including Haglund’s treehouse.
“I always recommend to our owners to name the house or theme the house. It really helps them to stand out among all the listings,” Huizing said.
“There are 350 in Sioux Falls, it’s a big market that surprises most people to find out that there are so many,” Haglund said.
The Haglund’s say Sodak Stay’s marketing of the property has made a big difference in their bookings.
“We work on commission, we get a percentage of each nightly rate, which is a win-win for me and the owner,” Huizing said.
“You know for example July for us, we’re looking at already hitting a $10k profit, that’s just with three weeks booked,” Haglund said.
While the Haglunds expect a two-year return on their investment into this Airbnb, it’s already providing for their family,” Haglund said.
“It is our sole income,” Haglund said. “It’s how we pay the bills.”
For the Huizings, Sodak Stays has become more than a full-time job.
“I like to say I am on call 24-7/365 you never know when there’s going to be an issue with a guest,” Huizing said.
But their hard work is paying off in a big way with an incredibly successful new business venture in just their first year of business,” Huizing said.
“It has been a lot busier than I thought it would but it’s been so much fun too,” Huizing said.
This unique career field has also allowed Huizing to be a full-time mom while she runs Sodak Stays. She also contracts out all of the cleanings of their Airbnb properties to other stay-at-home moms who have also found a flexible, profitable vocation in the Airbnb industry.