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Podcast - Into the Airbnb

Interview with an Airbnb Host from Selden, Kansas – S2 EP35

Welcome back to another episode of Into The Airbnb, where we chat with Airbnb hosts about their short-term rental experience.

Today’s guest is Maureen Bruggeman, a super host based in Selden, Kansas; she owns and manages a small studio, which she built in a compact portion of a big barn. In this episode, she’ll tell us about her experience and journey as a host of the only Airbnb listing in town, some numbers and demographic insights of her area and how the market behaves through different seasons.

This episode is sponsored by Airbtics, short-term rental analytics for high returning comprehensive data for insights, ideas and inspiration. Go to app.airbtics.com to find precise Airbnb data such as occupancy rate, revenue, average daily rate and so on. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

Into The Airbnb Podcast S2 EP 35:
“The LQ Studio” – 100% CoC, $8K Yearly with a small rural studio in Selden, Kansas
airbnb occupancy selden kansas

You can also listen to this Into The Airbnb Podcast Episode on Otter.

Delia:

Can you please tell us how did you get started on Airbnb and short-term rentals?

Maureen Bruggeman:

When we bought our farm, I think it was in 2013, there was an old barn here and we were going to restore the barn, but it costs more to do that than to put on a new shop. So we put up a new shop and at the time, we had a hired hand, so we built living quarters for him inside the shop. Then he decided he wanted to go more over the road stuff, so he left us which was fine, you know, he left it was good. So then it sat for a little bit and we rented it long-term to somebody who was working on some wind turbines. Then it sat for a while and then I offered it to the Sheriff Department as a place for domestic violence situations where people come hide out or whatever, I just wanted it to be used. They never used it in a whole year, so then I decided, “well, what the heck, let’s try Airbnb”.

Delia:

Okay and how did you discover Airbnb? How did you decide to try it out?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Actually, our higher hand told us about it because he uses Airbnb a lot when he travels places.

Delia:

Okay, you started renting this old barn, is that?

Maureen Bruggeman:

We don’t have it in the barn, we’ve leveled the barn and built a brand new building in the place.

Delia:

A brand new building, is it inside the barn, in the barn?

Maureen Bruggeman:

The living quarters is on the east side of the building and then we got a shop that goes down the middle of it and then the barn is on the west side of the building. So there’s a shop in between the animals and the LQ and the Airbnb.

Delia:

Oh, I see now. What year did you started Airbnb with that building?

Maureen Bruggeman:

It will be two years in July, I believe, so 2020.

Delia:

So July 2020?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Right.

Delia:

In the middle of the pandemic and how was your experience starting to rent, you know, with the current situation at that time?

Maureen Bruggeman:

To be honest, we went into thinking that, you know, we’ll go ahead and list it in July because we figured that mostly we would get hunters because this is a big place where people would come hunt and immediately it started getting booked by travelers who were just traveling through. So it went really well actually, we were just so surprised.

Delia:

Also, there were many travelers still around your area around that time?

Maureen Bruggeman:

We live right on a major highway and people travel a lot, but mostly it’s truckers. But yeah, there’s nothing really around here for people. There’s no sightseeing anything here. So I’m surprised people stop.

Delia:

So they just stop to stay like night and then continue their road?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Right. Now I did have one lady come stay a whole week just because she wanted to get out of the big city and get away for a while. In fact, that was cool.

Delia:

Okay, that’s cool. So since the very beginning, it has been short-term rentals? You do one night minimums and things like that?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Correct.

Delia:

Okay, that’s great. So you told me there is a barn, so I assume there’s animals. Do you also offer like an experience with those for people who might stay longer?

Maureen Bruggeman:

We tell them if they want to meet because we do have one very friendly cow that you can pet. If they want to meet it they have to let us know and we will, we won’t let them in the pasture, but we’ll bring her up to the fence, so they can pet her because liability, when they go in the pasture, could be outrageous. And same with the chickens. I mean, I’ve had some that really wanted to hold the chickens so, yeah, okay.

Delia:

And do they just request it or you also offer it as an Airbnb experience?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I don’t offer it. They see them and they asked about them and then yeah, I’ll let them.

Delia:

Okay, so around there in Selden, Kansas, are there many Airbnbs or short-term rentals in general?

Maureen Bruggeman:

There’s getting to be more. I was the first one in Selden and now, there’s a gentleman redoing an old Victorian house in Selden. I think he’s thinking about Airbnbing it. But his nephew, bought another house in Selden. He actually lives in Colorado and he comes out here for, we have a big Fourth of July fireworks, huge and he’s part of that and so they’re out here part-time. So he thinks he’s going to Airbnb his house while he’s not there. So.

Delia:

So by now, how many would you say are there?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Right now, I’m the only one, but probably by the end of the year, there might be three.

Delia:

You’re the only one Airbnb there.

Maureen Bruggeman:

In Selden, yes, there’s one about eight miles away.

Delia:

So you told me you mostly get travelers and…

Maureen Bruggeman:

And hunters.

Delia:

Travelers and hunters. So is there any seasonality really, for you?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Yeah, I’m really busy from like September through the first of February because it is hunting season and I do offer some pretty good amenities for hunters. We’ve got a hanging game gambrel, so if they shoot a deer, they can bring it into the shop and clean it and cut it up and package it if they want or keep it out or whatever they want to do. Same with peasants. We’ve got a place where they can clean them and then we’ve got, you know, warm water and whatnot in the shop. And they’re not putting it down my sink in the oil in my Airbnb and they’re not, you know, the one guy says, “oh, I’ve cleaned the deer in a hotel bathtub before”. Let’s not do that. So I just have the amenities for them to be able to do that. So.

Delia:

Okay, it’s great that you offer those amenities. Do you think about getting those just along the way when you started doing Airbnb? Or did you already have it before for personal use?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Not the gambrel. I mean, we did have the sink in the shop for cleaning birds because we do have regular pheasant hunters that come out once a year. So yeah, the gambrel was something else and it’s been used a lot. It’s okay.

Delia:

Okay, that’s great then! And can you tell me, how much would be your occupancy rate during, you know, these high seasons?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I generally try to keep it about the same. It’s about $85 at night.

Delia:

And you get booked during all the month?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I get booked frequently, yes, as much as I want to. A lot of times, I’ll go in and block off dates because I know I’m working and I don’t want to have to deal with turnover a room or whatever. Or when my mom was going through cancer treatments, I would be taking her to and from Hays, which is like a two hour and 50 mile round trip, something like that. So, you know, on those days, I would rock things off, so I didn’t have to worry about people. Our community is only 200 people, so finding somebody who come and clean to my standards.

Delia:

Yes, that’s right! Okay, so for the days you have opened your monthly book during the high season and during the low season, how would you say it’s the occupancy rate?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Probably once or twice a week.

Delia:

And you get the calendar open during all the months if you don’t have, you know, anything to do?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Right. Yes, yes.

Delia:

That’s great. So you talked about cleaning, you just do it yourself. Right?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Correct.

Delia:

Okay, so is it, you know, a hard work, is it a big place or is it easy to read for you?

Maureen Bruggeman:

It’s 15 by 15 foot square and then it got an attached nine by eight bathroom or something like, I can’t remember the size of it, so it’s fairly small, but I wash everything. I wash the beds all the way down to the mattress cover, I wash the curtains, I wash the shower curtains, I wash the rugs, I wash everything, every turnover, you know and then I have an ozone machine that I run to kill off any germs. Then I run an air scrubber and then I, you know, wipe everything down with microbiome just to be safe because, you know, COVID.

Delia:

Cleaning, even cleaning the curtains in between stays.

Maureen Bruggeman:

Yes, I clean all everything because you don’t know what people touch.

Delia:

That’s right. I agree with that. So you told me about your average daily rate being $85, you keep that during all year?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Pretty much yeah.

how much can you make on airbnb

Delia:

Okay, so, in the past years, can you give me like, an estimate of your annual revenue?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I could not. I just let my accountant deal with all of that stuff because money is just like, it goes in the account and my husband deals with it. So.

Delia:

Okay, so can we do a quick calculation just to keep it?

Maureen Bruggeman:

A weekly calculation is probably, let’s see about two nights, 180 because they take their taxes and whatnot out. 180 a week, I would guess.

Delia:

180 per week. I’ll do the calculation later to get the monthly minimum.

Maureen Bruggeman:

I don’t have a pen here. I would try to do it for you.

Delia:

So $180 x 4 weeks would be 720 per month, would you say is it okay?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Roughly. Yeah, yeah.

Delia:

Okay and x 12 months… 8000 a year?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Roughly, yeah, roughly.

Delia:

It’s still a good number, really good number.

Maureen Bruggeman:

We do it as a part time thing, yes because I don’t want to be that busy. So it’s mostly because I don’t want the space to deteriorate because when you don’t use a space, like a house or whatever, it goes downhill fast. Our long-term goal is with this space, when we get too old and we don’t want to do the mowing and we don’t want to have to fix things or whatever, feed the cows, we will let a young man or woman stay here for free in exchange for that. That’s your long-term plan.

Delia:

Okay, so you’re not planning on continuing with the Airbnb business?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No, not forever. I mean, probably until we retire, which is another 10-15 years.

Delia:

And during this time, are you planning on doing something more with Airbnb adding, you know, some more locations, doing some renovations? Anything you have planned for this Airbnb business, part time business you have?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No at the moment because we live in a small community and if there’s going to be two other ones, I don’t want to have that much competition around here, you know?

Delia:

Yeah, I fully understand. So for now, you’re pretty good. It’s like passive income, right? You don’t use it  or rely on the money to do anything, right?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No, I use it to upgrade things here in the LQ. Like, I bought a towel warmer and I bought robes. I’m just trying to make it more high end and good value for your dollar, you know?

Delia:

Yes, that’s right. That’s right. Okay, yeah, that’s great to hear! And usually, like most kinds of guests you get, would you say it is like travelers or hunters?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I would say 50/50.

Delia:

50/50 okay. So you try to keep it really friendly to the both audiences, right?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Right.

Delia:

Okay, that’s great. So another thing I would like to ask you is, how do you figure out pricing or how did you figure it out like at the start?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I looked at what a hotel room costs in our hotel, we do have a hotel here in Selden, but it’s a very old hotel and it’s usually booked up because of all the regular people who come through like, last year, I think, somebody went through one of her walls and took out two of her hotel rooms, but she’s backed up in business. But she doesn’t like to be very busy either because she also runs a cafe right there. She does give rooms to people who can’t afford it. I mean, I know that one time there was a lady that was walking by, a lady that I worked with salsa, which is clear out in the country and they picked her up and brought her into town and Gloria put her in one of the rooms. Then I took her to Oakley I believe because she wanted to go there because she knew somebody, anyhow, so we all work as a community to help each other out and to help others who need our help and I’ve let people stay here for free also. People traveling through that had have hard times. So.

Delia:

Yeah, I can really understand. That’s very kind of you and that’s very kind of your community as well.

Maureen Bruggeman:

We’ve got a great community.

Delia:

That’s great! And do people have, you know, if someone gets to visit you, you know, in their way to their destination, what do they have to do in the city? Is there any cafe or anyplace they can visit?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Our little town has a cafe and then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we got a bar and it has nicer food, you know. Our community has everything, for a town as small as we are, we got a chiropractor, we got a doctor that comes in for two or three days a week, we got a body shop, we got two construction workers, we got the biggest Lumberyard around, we got a furniture store, we got a grocery store, got a gym, a library, a walking trail, just all kinds of things. So it’s a really cute little community.

Delia:

Is everything close to your listing?

Maureen Bruggeman:

It’s about a mile away. I live about a mile out of town, right on the highway, though.

Delia:

Okay, so not too far away. And you told me previously about, you have a big Fourth of July event, right?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Oh, man, yes. Our little town of 200 grossed about 5000 to 6000 people. We got rocket scientists and NASA engineers that have developed a ignition system specifically for our firework show, they come out and they set it up and they put, then they set it off and it’s just amazing.

Delia:

Oh my God, that’s great! And do you usually get really busy around that time?

Maureen Bruggeman:

I do. Yes.

Delia:

Okay. Do you raise your daily rate?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No.

Delia:

You just keep it the same?

Maureen Bruggeman: 

Yeah. Well, the people that are coming in, that are renting the room are usually people that are helping with the fireworks. So, you know, because the other people that come into town, it’s just from communities around because we got like a town 20 miles north of us, there’s a town 20 miles south of us and a bigger town about 30 miles west of us. So we have a lot of people that come in.

Delia:

Okay and all those people that come in are from surrounding areas?

Maureen Bruggeman:

Most of the time, yes, unless they’re visiting other people.

Delia:

I completely understand. So big Fourth of July event, I get it. Okay, great.

Maureen Bruggeman:

Huge, huge!

Delia:

What do they have there? Just like the fireworks or is there activities?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No, they got, it’s like an all day event. They’ve got a dunk tank. They’ve got kids for games, they’ve got corn food tournament. They used to have chicken poop bingo and I provided the chickens for it. But they haven’t had that since the COVID thing. The Girl Scouts were huge in our area and they do so much.

Delia:

Okay, I see. So that’s the big event of your area. That’s great! So can you tell me, where there any particular challenges or a challenging time during, you know, all these periods you have as a host?

Maureen Bruggeman:

It’s been pretty easy I think, so I don’t know. My most complicated guest was immunocompromised, her son was, so she had me strip everything cloth out of the Airbnb.

Delia:

Yeah, you have a pretty good experience. So are there any tips that you would like to give for future Airbnb hosts, current Airbnb host regarding I don’t know, maybe your Airbnb experience?

Maureen Bruggeman:

The very specific about what they could potentially encounter at your place. Like we’re a farm stay, so you know, there’s critters, there’s bugs, we’ve had foxs in our yard, coyotes in our yard, snakes in our yard. I put all of that in the listing, so people cannot go back to Airbnb and say, “they didn’t tell me this. I want a refund”, you know, cuz I’ve heard horror stories where people get everything refunded because they saw a little bug. You know, bugs are everywhere.

Delia:

Yeah, that’s right.

Maureen Bruggeman:

Things will go better if you can relax about things.

Delia:

Yeah, those are great tips. Thank you for that! And the last thing I’d like to ask, you know, that you talked about snakes and foxes around there, people don’t have trouble with that, right?

Maureen Bruggeman:

They haven’t yet. Nope.

Delia:

Okay. So it’s not a casual thing that they’re going to go out and encounter them and be really scared or anything?

Maureen Bruggeman:

No, no, no. I mean, last night there was critters in the yard and the only way I knew that is because I could smell it this morning. You know, critters come through, it’s just part of life. So yeah.

Delia:

Yeah, I totally get it. So yeah, that would be it for today. Thank you a lot for your time and for your tips!

Maureen Bruggeman:

You’re very welcome!

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