Turn your hospitable nature and underused space into extra cash this fall.
Everyone knows doling out parking spaces in Morgantown during football season can be a lucrative venture—but have you thought of making a little cash off of your living space?
Airbnb hosts in the Morgantown area collectively earned about $100,000 during the 2018 football season by opening up their homes, apartments, and spare rooms to Mountaineer fans looking to enjoy game day, according Airbnb. Each home game brought in many dozens of out-of-towners who sought an alternative to hotels.
Ready to get in on it? We asked some experienced Airbnb hosts in the area to share their tips and tricks of the trade.
Near the Action
Kimberly Cameon, an Airbnb “super host,” decided to rent out a spare room in her riverfront townhome in Star City three years ago. Her property has garvnered dozens of positive reviews—a direct result of the location, amenities, and comfort it affords her guests.
“I attempt to greet every guest at check-in. I may not see them the rest of their stay, but it’s a good opportunity to answer questions and introduce them to my two cats,” she says. “The first time a guest made a return trip to stay at my home, I knew I was doing something right.”
Cameon’s guests use a “smart lock” to gain entry to the Airbnb. They like her thoughtful touches. “High-end sheets, towels, and bath or shower washes are nice to keep on hand, and I like to display local artisans’ work in my home to create a local flavor.”
The services of a professional house cleaner keep the space in pristine condition. “She takes care of laundry, makes the guest bed, and handles general cleaning. She does a great job—guests often comment on my ‘sparkling’ home.”
While Cameon’s townhouse books year ’round, she can always count on Mountaineer fans to show up in the fall. “I had reser-vations for every home game weekend last season,” she says. “Both October game weekends are booked so far this season, so I’m sure all home games will book.”
The Airbnb experience has given Cameon a new take on the city she calls home. “Guests may discover something that I haven’t seen or done. It’s an unexpected bonus,” she says. “International guests typically see the area with a fresh perspective and have wonderful stories to tell. It’s been a worthwhile experience.”
photos courtesy of Kimberly Cameon
Some guests like to stay a little farther from the action—like at Frank Yuvancic’s peaceful cabin retreat in Cheat Lake. Just 20 minutes from Mountaineer Field, the bungalow is an easy drive from football festivities while still affording visitors a rural setting.
Yuvancic manages several properties of his own in the area, including a tiny home, while also representing the owners of three other properties as a co-host. According to him, your space doesn’t have to be conventional to attract guests. “If you have a beautiful porch with a daybed, I’d tell you to list it on Airbnb,” he says. “As long as you accurately describe your space, you’ll be fine. I recently stayed in a tent on a beautiful beach through Airbnb. The tent space had private, albeit outdoor, showers, and I needed to walk 30 feet to the restrooms. I knew these facts when I rented and thought I’d enjoy the experience.”
No matter the nuances of the space, Yuvancic says one thing will make or break your rental. “First and foremost, a clean space makes the best impression. Make sure the corners of every room are vacuumed, and pay special attention to the bathroom.”
He provides his guests with “morning essentials.” “Coffee, tea, milk, sugar, orange juice, and soaps and shampoo if needed,” he says. “Even though I state that these are available, people are pleasantly surprised and, most importantly, happy.”
Communication and accessibility can usually solve any problems, Yuvancic says. When it comes to pricing, he says Airbnb offers resources to help hosts determine just how much to charge. “Airbnb suggests prices based on local activity and, more importantly, you can look at similar offerings on Airbnb,” he says. Airbnb also offers smart pricing—a tool that adjusts prices according to demand—which is particularly helpful during high-influx times like football season.
As for Yuvancic’s place last fall? “It was booked solid,” he says.
Beyond football fans, he also frequently hosts parents of WVU students, out-of-towners looking to explore Coopers Rock State Forest, and people who simply love Morgantown. “I’ve met some great folks I would never have met otherwise,” he says. “People are kind if you are kind. It feels good when you get a useful review and people want to come back.”
photos courtesy of Frank Yuvancic
Sharing a Rental
Owning a house isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for putting a listing on Airbnb. Busra Agcayazi, a Ph.D. student at WVU, for instance, rents out her one-bedroom apartment when she’s traveling to visit family and friends. “Sharing my place during weekends helps me make some extra money and benefits many visitors,” she says.
Conveniently located between downtown and Suncrest Towne Centre, Agcayazi’s apartment offers complete privacy and plenty of space. “I minimize the furniture and maximize the space for guests,” she says. “Decorating the apartment with vivid, bright-colored accessories make the place attractive both on the pictures and in person.”
Agcayazi’s guests enjoy a self–check-in process, providing them flexibility when it comes to travel. “Sometimes guests come from other states, and they arrive in Morgantown at midnight; knowing they can check in whenever they like provides convenience to guests,” she says.
In order to get her apartment Airbnb-ready, Agcayazi says she spent around $600 on items such as a bed, office chair, and table. The popularity of her accommodations has more than made up for those up-front costs.
“Even though I only rent during the weekend, my apartment was rented around 36 days during last year’s football season,” she says. “What I charge is similar to hotel prices in the area; however, a clean and cozy one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen filled with food and a washing machine is always more convenient and comfortable for guests.”
Being an Airbnb host has proven rewarding for Agcayazi, who enjoys doing her part to make her visitors’ time in Morgantown a positive experience. “Guests leave thank you notes around the house, and it makes me very happy,” she says. “My goal is to have all my guests enjoy their time and look back on their stay with fond memories.”
photos courtesy of Busra Agcayazi
written by Kaylyn Christopher