PHOTO: Airbnb. FILE
The mention of a vacant, luxurious apartment above her neighbor’s weathered red barn caught Jamie Inlow’s attention. It was June 2019, and Inlow, alongside her husband and redheaded toddler, had recently settled in Scottsville, Virginia, not far from the University of Virginia where she worked as a student program director. Curiosity piqued, she embarked on a tour of her neighbor’s property, which included the barn, a flock of 150 merino sheep, and an unfurnished apartment that had been previously rented out.
Her neighbor had no interest in managing rentals himself, which inspired Inlow to devise a plan. Returning home, she drafted a business proposal and approached him with an enticing proposition: If he invested $2,000, she would furnish the apartment using items sourced from Facebook Marketplace and list it as a short-term rental on Airbnb.
Taking charge of the listing and establishing a company named Be Still Getaways, Inlow formed a partnership with her neighbor, sharing the profits equally. As their first rental unit began generating income, they decided to collaborate on a second listing. Inlow also found another partner for a third rental unit, employing the same profit-sharing arrangement.
Presently, Be Still Getaways boasts an impressive portfolio of 119 vacation rentals throughout Virginia. According to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, the company generated $2.28 million in revenue last year from Airbnb and the rental platform Eviivo. Inlow estimates an additional $600,000 was earned through a third platform, Hostify.
During the initial growth phase, Inlow maintained her full-time job while dedicating herself to Be Still Getaways as a side venture. She often worked over 80 hours per week, occasionally with her toddler strapped to her chest. Inlow acknowledges that sustaining both jobs was essential for scaling her business effectively.
Here’s a glimpse into Inlow’s remarkable journey and the strategies she employed:
Harnessing the Power of SEO and Influencer Marketing Before launching Be Still Getaways, Inlow worked approximately 30 hours per week, earning a modest $50,000 annually from her university job and consulting work. Her goal was to reduce her workload or transition to remote work to spend more time with her son.
However, everything changed when her neighbor granted permission to list the apartment. Inlow swiftly conceived the name “Be Still Getaways” and enlisted a former student to design the company’s logo.
To attract new customers, she delved into search engine optimization (SEO) and created an Instagram account and website. Inlow sought assistance from a company to optimize her online presence through effective hashtags and strategies, all centered around a single Airbnb property.
Recognizing the influence of local social media personalities, Inlow identified Julia Randall, a prominent figure who frequently engaged with Be Still Getaways’ Instagram posts. In exchange for a complimentary stay, Inlow proposed that Randall promote the Airbnb listing on her “Stays and Getaways” page.
Within two months of being listed, the apartment was booked consistently, propelled by this collaboration.
Seizing Momentum for Growth Eager to capitalize on the rising momentum, Inlow approached her neighbor-turned-investor for additional funds, this time requesting $110,000. The purpose was to purchase, construct, and furnish a tiny home found on Craigslist.
The established business model remained intact: Inlow’s investor financed the venture, while she managed the listing on his property, splitting the profits evenly. The tiny home went live on Airbnb in March 2020 and achieved regular bookings despite the challenges imposed by Covid-19 restrictions.
When a former classmate sought Inlow’s Airbnb expertise, she proposed a redesign and management offer for $10.
READ MORE VIA CNBC