SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Maybe 15 or 20 minutes or so from the full roar of the Sturgis Rally are two houses along a county road back in the woods.
Bikers who come for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally each August have found their way to these two houses at the invitation of the host, Lang Termes.
Termes, along with some family members built two geodesic houses on family property about three miles from Spearfish.
Termes is a musician who travels for his work. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the work started drying up when the pandemic hit in 2020. Termes splits his time between Bozeman, Montana, and Spearfish but in 2020, he was worried about income and wanted to be around family.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. I wanted to be around family for sure,” Termes said.
His parents had a home, art studios and a gallery on the property in the woods where he grew up.
If he was going to stay in Spearfish, he needed to a place to live. So, the family started with a geodesic structure called the Turtle House. But there was still the question about income and paying for this small house.
“So one thing led to another,” Termes said.
“I’d heard great things about Airbnb and I had stayed in them over the years…,” Termes said.
Haven Thorn Airbnb’s communications manager for North America, said multiple Airbnb hosts choose the option as a way to generate income.
Airbnb rentals expand available lodging options and give hosts the chance to earn extra income, Thorn said.
Thorn said local Sturgis area hosts collectively earned about $400,000 in August of 2021. The typical host earned $4,000 during the Aug. 6-15 rally alone, Thorn said.
Termes advertises both units through Airbnb. The Turtle House has been rented for three years and I-Casa, about a year. Both have drawn guests during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Termes said there were those who worried about him renting to bikers during the rally.
“I think what surprised me more than anything is, because you always get people that are worried for you, People talk like ‘aren’t you worried people are going to burn your place down and aren’t you’… and I think I did have some of those worries coming into it, like ‘what am I getting myself into’ so I guess what’s surprising to me is that people have been wonderful. Very respectful. They want to grill outside, they want to hang out,” Termes said.
The rentals aren’t for everyone, Termes said, but they’ve become popular with those who want a quiet option in the woods.
“We actually tend to get the older crowd, that actually want to go to Sturgis during the day, they want to go ride and do all that stuff but they want to come back and just mellow out,” Termes said.
Thorn said Airbnb rentals also offer guests the chance to live like a local as they check out local businesses and other opportunities.
The popularity of staying in Airbnb and Vrbo rentals has been increasing since 2017, according to 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally report from the city of Sturgis, The report said Airbnb and Vrbo rentals accounted for 8% of all stays in 2021.
Thorn said the surge in searches for Airbnbs during the rally dates are a way to track interest in those rentals.
Because of the demand for lodging during the Sturgis Rally, motels, campgrounds and similar are able to raise rates during the rally.
“We increase a little bit (during the rally) just because I don’t want to undercut the market either. I don’t want to hurt my fellow hosts out there. (But) it is a business,” Termes said
“We do try and keep our pricing down with the I-Casa too,” Termes said. “Because it’s just so hard to find a place in the Hills now without having to spend a fortune. We do our best to keep things affordable.”
Rates are set by hosts but the demand in the market can drive up prices during peak or demand times.
“If there is a surge in pricing for a big event it’s because it’s what the market demands and what guests will pay,” Thorn said.
The I-Casa geo-glamping rental has earned a unique designation. Thorn said the designation means the rental is off the beaten path and offers something special for the renter.
The I-Casa is smaller than the Turtle House but each have its place in the woods.
“I-Casa is more for couples,” Termes said.
“The (Turtle house) is more like a cabin-type feel to it,” Termes said. “It’s all wood in the inside.”
The listings with Airbnb are increasing including in rural areas and smaller towns, Thorn said.
Airbnbs in Lawrence County, where Spearfish is, are growing, said Amber Vogt, the director of planning and zoning in the county.
The county does not have any zoning ordinances that ban or govern rentals for Airbnbs or similar, she said. But it does limit property to one house per lot.
Vogt said owners will often break a several acre property into lots to accommodate rentals. “It happens all the time and it has been for years,” Vogt said.
“The pie in the sky idea is we want to build two more of the I-Casas that will be spaced out enough to give people privacy,” Termes said.
That would create more opportunities for families or groups who want to stay in the same area, he said.
And since his father, Dick Termes, is an artist, more rentals could also create places for students and teachers to stay during workshops.
“These are all just ideas but it’s fun (to think),” Termes said.
As travelers consider options, “…there’s likely to be an Airbnb that can accommodate you and meet your needs…,” Thorn said.
Termes said he rents his houses out up to three months in advance.