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    One host’s tiny houses help fulfill big dreams

    A Superhost shares his secrets to success hosting unique stays in Atlanta.
    Le Airbnb ar an Dec 18, 2020
    Léamh 4 nóiméad
    Nuashonraithe ar an Apr 28, 2021

    Highlights

    • This Superhost crafted a business plan to create one-of-a-kind listings

    • He transformed a forested property with a tool shed into a full-fledged hosting business

    • Focused on design and uniqueness, he now hosts thousands of guests a year

    • Hosting on Airbnb brings fun, fulfillment, and a steady income

    Beneath the canopy of 600 towering trees in a 2.5-acre lot off the beaten path just outside Atlanta, Darrel Maxam has found his calling: hosting unique stays on Airbnb.

    It all started in a tiny house. Darrel spent the first six years of his life shoeless in a 150-square-foot concrete box in Jamaica. Years later, after his family moved to Connecticut, he turned an insatiable lust for learning into three degrees. And he uses all of it as a host, from his art major and history minor to an MBA in project management.

    Today, Darrel is practically writing the book on how to be a successful host. He’s built five tiny houses, a treehouse, and has a geodesic dome-style treehouse in the works. A highly social person, he’s found a way to pursue his many passions, and he gets to share it all with guests.

    Darrel sees a purpose beyond his own success. A veteran who brings food into his community to help support the elderly, he believes hosting unique spaces is also a creative way to boost local economies. “Airbnb can help Main Street,” he says. “This is about reviving a community and bringing it back to its core.”

    Starting small, with room to grow

    Darrel’s vision is unique, and he’s executing it flawlessly. In 2015, after buying a house for his family on a forested lot with room to grow—and hosting his new house on Airbnb to help pay the mortgage—Darrel took the plunge to invest in his vision.

    With the help of a local builder, he transformed a personal loan of less than $70,000 into his first tiny house in his oversized backyard. It took eight weeks to build.

    Darrel was already using Airbnb as a guest who loved to travel and as a host renting out his home. His tiny house was an instant success. Within a week of listing it, three months of weekends were booked.

    Darrel is a fast learner obsessed with everything from trees and food to scientific journals and Japanese design. “I’m a thinkaholic,” he says. “I love thinking about how to make things better.” Starting small had allowed him to work fast, plan well, and get it right.

    Building for the future

    With a steady stream of bookings, Darrel paid off the loan in 18 months. “I decided not to get into a project unless I see my return in 18 months,” he says. He knew exactly what he wanted to do next: reinvest it.

    Darrel saw serious potential in hosting tiny houses, and he was eager to build more. Within four years he’d become the proud owner of the “Tiny Five,” each handcrafted tiny house looking onto his forested landscape and filled with unique decor and reclaimed materials.

    Darrel gave each house its own unique theme, and leaned on his passions to keep the projects fun and affordable. He clad the exterior of the first house in cedar preserved using the Japanese process Shou Sugi Ban, then filled it with reclaimed wood, antique pieces, and houseplants—all things he’s loved since he was a kid.

    It wasn’t always easy. Darrel and his wife, an oncology nurse, were running the bookings, raising three young kids, and working day jobs.

    But Darrel had done the math. Hosting tiny houses was going to pay off—the initial investment was small and the return speedy.

    Finding his niche in the trees

    Darrel also wanted to build one-of-a-kind spaces that would stand out for their beauty. Everything came together when he learned that the entire Atlanta region had only two treehouses.

    He figured all he had to do was build his treehouse better, and people would come. And they did; he expects to pay off his treehouse within 15 months of finishing it.

    A focus on craftsmanship is part of Darrel’s brand. He meticulously plans every detail, right down to the treehouse swing, alfresco rain shower, and cast-iron clawfoot tub. In return, his guests can marvel at the sheer uniqueness of each space—all while bonding beneath the canopy.

    “I love to meet my guests,” he says. “We hang out, and we bond at the fire pit. And I get to hear their stories, and we just build connections. That’s probably my favorite part.”

    I love to meet my guests. We hang out, and we bond at the fire pit. And I get to hear their stories, and we just build connections. That’s probably my favorite part.
    Darrel, Airbnb Superhost,
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Making the leap

    Darrel has spent a lot of time thinking about how to invest in his passions—and not just as a side hustle. “July 12, 2019, my retirement began,” he says. “That’s when I put all my cash in the treehouse.”

    He considers himself retired because he’s doing what he loves: sharing unique and beautiful spaces that allow guests to reconnect.

    Through careful planning and a lightning-speed recuperation of costs, Darrel has transformed his property into a lucrative hosting business. His strong entrepreneurial instincts, three degrees, and passion to innovate all help, but he insists that anyone can find success hosting unique stays.

    “Different personalities is the Airbnb community,” he says. “Anyone can create at any dollar amount. You don’t have to have $70,000—you can hop in with a bell tent in your backyard. Just jazz it up. It’ll work.”
    Different personalities is the Airbnb community. Anyone can create at any dollar amount. You don’t have to have $70,000—you can hop in with a bell tent in your backyard. Just jazz it up. It’ll work.
    Darrel, Airbnb Superhost,
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Interested in hosting unique stays?
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    Highlights

    • This Superhost crafted a business plan to create one-of-a-kind listings

    • He transformed a forested property with a tool shed into a full-fledged hosting business

    • Focused on design and uniqueness, he now hosts thousands of guests a year

    • Hosting on Airbnb brings fun, fulfillment, and a steady income

    Airbnb
    Dec 18, 2020
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