Rarely do businesses come by that take on an entire industry and rock it to its very core. But when Chris Maughan founded I-PRAC in 2014, the short-term rental space was desperately unregulated – at the expense of travellers, and legitimate property managers.
In 2018, Action Fraud claimed that an astonishing £7 million was lost to holiday rental fraud, with an average of only 3 out of 10 scams being reported.
But it hasn’t stopped there. Last month, April 2021, two UK based YouTubers (Josh Pieters and Archie Manners) listed a doll’s house on Airbnb – one of the world’s largest online travel agencies; and the fake listing was approved within 24 hours.
Of course, the well-meaning YouTube duo have only shed light on a problem that has been crippling the short term rental industry for decades already. However, now thanks to I-PRAC and its vigorous verification process, there is certainly hope for a brighter future.
But how exactly does I-PRAC guarantee trust, for travellers and legitimate property owners, alike? To understand this, we need to revisit the year 2014, which tells the harrowing story of an innocent family.
A Non-Existent Property, and a Crippling £15k Loss
On one unfortunate day in 2014, a devastated family contacted Maughan’s short-term rental agency in Cannes. The family – which included 3 young children – were stranded in the South of France, without a place to stay, nor any money. To their horror, they had become victims of holiday rental fraud.
It soon came to surface, that the beautiful-looking property that the family had supposedly ‘booked’, did not even exist – leaving them with a massive fifteen thousand pound loss.
While Maughan helped the family find accommodation with his own agency, he could not forget the trauma caused to these innocent holidaymakers. So the entrepreneur decided to delve deeper into the issue of rental fraud; and was aghast with what he found.
No Regulations: A Breeding Ground for Fraudsters
It’s no secret that the rapid growth of Airbnb and other Online Travel Agents forever changed the short-term rental industry from the mid-noughties. All too quickly the idea of renting out properties for a ‘side income’ seemed so easy – and there was next to no barrier-to-entry in the short-term rental market.
Maughan realised that while the industry was open to lucrative growth, it was also open to numerous risks for both legitimate property owners, and travellers – just like the family who had approached him in Cannes.
With not a single industry regulating body in place, the entrepreneur realised how simple it was for fraudsters to claw their way into terrifying opportunities – with fake websites, fake holiday listings, and fake reviews, to con people out of their hard-earned money.
Trust in the short-term rental industry was non-existent; and travellers were practically playing a vicious lottery game every time they booked a holiday.
I-PRAC: Guaranteeing Trust in the Short-Term Rental Industry
Maughan was keen to salvage the industry that had served him so well for over two decades. He put his knowledge, skills, and resources to good use and launched I-PRAC; the industry’s only verification and membership platform – which guarantees 100% trust for travellers and legitimate property managers.
To date, the experts at I-PRAC have spent years perfecting their verification process for short-term rental operators. Unlike some of the other smaller companies (who claim to do the same thing), I-PRAC understands that it takes a lot more than a simple internet search and word-of-mouth reviews, to mark a short-term rental property as ‘legitimate’.
Believe it or not, property rental frauds go to extreme lengths to convince travellers to part with their money. They follow industry trends, pay for Google Ads, employ professional copywriters, and target unsuspecting holidaymakers during peak times of the year, such as Christmas. They have meticulously studied the consumer market and only a verification process as thorough as I-PRAC’s, can catch them out.
Fortunately, the launch of I-PRAC has introduced a much-needed solution for the short-term rental industry. In fact, as a result of being I-PRAC Approved (which in many ways, is a badge of honour for industry professionals) – agencies and property owners have reported that their conversion rates have sky-rocketed. Most importantly, guests are finally booking into properties with confidence – knowing that their money and emotional welfare is 100% protected by I-PRAC.
Entering a Landscape of Trust; an Absolute Necessity for Travellers and Property Managers
Over the years, every mention of ‘I-PRAC ‘ has become synonymous with the word ‘trust’ – because above anything else, this is what it guarantees.
For travellers and property managers alike, trust will remain the most important commodity within the short-term rental landscape. Maughan himself is a huge ambassador of reiterating trust within the hospitality space, as it far supersedes expensive marketing and flashy PR. Trust is what gives travellers the confidence to book their holidays – and I-PRAC is the only vehicle that drives this.
Needless to say, those who are looking to book short-term rental properties once the world re-opens, should keep their eyes peeled for the I-PRAC Approved logo on the property managers’ websites. At the same time, legitimate property managers are urged to become I-PRAC Approved in the interest of their business growth and adopt what Maughan refers to as a Trust Marketing Strategy.
Surely, with the incredible work of I-PRAC as well as the support of trust ambassadors across the globe, we can forever-rid the short-term rental landscape of con-artists and fraudulent activity. Now that’s a future, we would love to look forward to.
To find out more about I-PRAC and read their industry reports, visit www.i-prac.com
Connect with Chris Maughan on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org