Luke Scates had a double celebration last week. He turned 25 and was recognized in Airbnb’s 30 Under 30 class of 2022.
The list featured successful young Superhosts around the country with a high share of five-star reviews, including Scates for his Baker Creek Retreat in South Knoxville.
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“Oddly enough, this was my childhood home,” Scates said of the single-family, two-story rancher. “My parents built up in Blount County. I was planning on going with them, but for whatever reason I suggested I stay here so that the house was not empty.”
Scates’ parents had planned to eventually sell, but after 20 years the house definitely needed some updating.
“I asked what they were looking to get out of it, we settled on a fair deal and I purchased it in June 2020,” Scates said.
The South-Doyle High School alumnus has an MBA in project management and a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus in accounting. “It is definitely good information to have, although not necessary,” Scates said. He took carpentry for three years in high school and said he has always loved working with his hands.
Shortly after he purchased the home, a couple of issues came up.
“The water main sprung a leak, and that is really where it started. I had to fix it and repair the damage, replace the sheetrock and tear out the carpet,” he said. “Originally, I intended to fix it up while I was living upstairs and either rent or sell it.”
The renovations took four to five months because Scates was working at a full-time job and attending college.
“A friend of mine started doing Airbnb in Seymour and suggested I give it a go,” Scates said. “At that point I had spent all of my money doing the basement. I thought I would try to make money to renovate the upstairs later.” Working side by side on the house with his dad taught Scates a thing or two and gave them some quality time together.
“I classify it as a basement apartment to be as transparent as possible,” he said of the Baker Creek Retreat. “I have guests that call it a studio, but it is listed as a guest suite.”
Scates kept his future guests in mind while preparing the Baker Creek Retreat. “I wanted to provide everything that they could possibly need,” he said. “Good curtains, a quality bed, to make it as great as I could, spending a little bit more money in places others would not…
“Not long into it I started getting requests for things I didn’t think were necessary, but I listened and took their advice within reason,” Scates said.
The subsequent additions and modifications led to an improvement in the customer experience. For the past year, Scates said he has not received any complaints or suggestions.
“The biggest lesson I would say is just listening to your customers and acting,” he said.
The Baker Creek Retreat is less than a mile from the preserve and the Urban Wilderness. “I get plenty of people coming to mountain bike,” he said. “They will just ride their bikes down to the park.”
The suite also attracts a good mix of guests who want to be within easy reach of the Smoky Mountains and downtown Knoxville.
“I had a couple on their honeymoon, which was odd,” Scates said. “It says a lot for someone to spend an important life event here.”
“Airbnb’s 2022 30 under 30 class is a good achievement,” said Scates, who had to keep it under wraps until the list was unveiled. “My co-workers and friends have become aware of what I do, and I’ve been getting lots of questions from people who are thinking of doing Airbnb too.”
Scates’ ultimate goal is to build a real estate portfolio and to one day turn it into a full-time career.
In a June 15 media release, Airbnb said hosts under 30 in the USA earned approximately $200 million in the first three months of 2022, and in 2021 they earned approximately $775 million. According to Airbnb, “The desire to create passive income streams was a common theme as we connected with this year’s 30 Under 30. The average rating of the Hosts featured on the list is 4.95, and collectively the hosts have had over 3,600 check-ins.”
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: This South Knoxville Airbnb earns 'Superhost' a top honor