When the global pandemic hit, many people turned to Airbnb to supplement their dwindling income. For many, this side hustle paid off handsomely. In fact, a report released by Airbnb in February stated that since the start of the pandemic, new hosts with only one Airbnb listing had collectively earned over $1 billion. The average host earned $3,900 in the first year of the pandemic. Imagine what they could have earned if they had multiple listings.
Now, more than ever, people are yearning to travel and looking for safe, comfortable places where they can spend time with family and friends. Airbnb properties are appealing because they give travelers a home away from home and an authentic living experience in their destination of choice. For hosts, the platform provides potential long-term economic opportunities.
The average Airbnb host has one or two listings that they typically use as a secondary source of income. However, there are others who have utilized the platform to create wildly successful full-time Airbnb businesses with multiple properties and earnings in the millions. That’s all well and great, you may say, but the only way to do that is to own multiple properties, right? Actually no. Meet Chi Ta, an Airbnb entrepreneur who grew his multi-million dollar business without owning a single property.
Starting With Nothing
When Chi Ta started with Airbnb, it was out of desperation. His reverse mortgage company had recently crumbled when a new law was enacted that changed the way people qualified for the loan, and he was left with barely a penny to his name. It was November 2017, and Ta knew he wouldn’t be able to make his rent the next month, so he decided to list his place on Airbnb just to try and cover the rent.
Ta managed to get an Airbnb booking for his small three-bedroom house and went to live with his parents in the meantime. As the first two weeks went by, he realized that he was making more money through Airbnb than what he was actually paying for rent.
“Those first two weeks, I earned $2,500, and I was renting the house for $3,900,” Ta says. “All of a sudden, a giant light bulb lit up and I realized that if I could keep the bookings up, I could actually be making about $1,000 profit a month. I didn’t know if it would actually work out, but I knew I had to go for it. The next step was then getting more money so I could rent more properties and buy furniture.”
Ta had inadvertently stumbled across what would become a wildly successful Airbnb arbitrage business. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the basic idea is to lease an property and then list it on Airbnb with the landlord’s consent. You, the host, pay the rent and utilities and take the Aribnb earnings as profit. The other option is co-hosting, which involves working with a landlord to manage their property for them and taking a percentage of the Airbnb earnings in return.
While you don’t have to own property to create an Airbnb arbitrage business, there are costs involved. For example, you will probably have to do minor renovations, buy comfortable furniture and attractive decor, and pay for cleaning services. As your list of properties grows, you may need to hire staff to help you manage the operations and maintenance. A good photographer is also a sound investment.
Despite the initial outlay, one of the great things about Airbnb arbitrage is how quickly you can see results and grow your business. Ta says, “I scaled quickly. In just nine months, I was hosting 30 properties. My monthly earnings went from about $20,000 from two properties in January to over $200,000 in August. I just skyrocketed.”
The Learning Curve
Ta makes Airbnb Arbitrage sound incredibly easy, but he’s the first to admit that there is a steep learning curve. He says, “When I first started, I had no experience, so I naturally turned to YouTube. The problem is everybody has a Youtube channel and you don’t know if they’re credible or not. In addition, most Airbnb ‘experts’ on Youtube are doing it as a side hustle and not an actual business, so their information is very basic.”
Location is a major factor when it comes to an Airbnb property. “You need to do your due diligence on the front end,” says Ta. “Do the research and find the areas where average people are already making a ton of consistent money. I figured out a system that would allow me to identify the most profitable area around you no matter where you’re at. Now it’s easy for me to find a property that will generate at least $2,000 profit a month regardless of the city.”
Psychology also plays a key role in how many bookings you can get. According to Ta, you have to get inside the mind of the Airbnb guest and think about what will make them stop to look at certain properties. What will make them pay you over someone else? Going even further, it helps to think about what platform they are using and how your listing will appear on their screen.
Over the years, Ta has managed to automate his Airbnb business to the point where it basically runs in the background, allowing him to travel, work remotely, spend time with his family, and basically enjoy life. Now he focuses his energy into helping others do the same with the BNB University, his Airbnb masterclass that teaches students how to create their own successful Airbnb arbitrage businesses.
The BNB University is designed for everyone, from people who have never hosted on the platform before to veteran hosts who want to scale their current operations. The course includes actionable tips on how to find profitable properties, how to have your listings show up on the first page, and how to out-earn your competition. Ta also offers one-on-one mentoring for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to scale their business fast.
“With teaching I go through the growing pains again with my students,” says Ta. “I’m challenged with different hurdles that I didn’t have in my market, and I have to solve their hurdles, which is interesting for me. I feel like I’m now very well-balanced and can help anyone create an Airbnb business that will thrive. At the end of the day, I want to teach others how to do the same thing I did because it’s truly transformed my life.”