UK: I-PRAC, which describes itself as the short-term rental industry’s only accreditation and membership platform, has appointed Neely Khan as its new managing director, with CEO Chris Maughan officially passing on the baton.
At the same time, Maughan has made a fresh £5 million investment in the company to pave the way for a new era of growth and positive change.
Founded in 2016, I-PRAC verifies short-term rental hosts and agencies via a “rigorous” application process before providing them with an I-PRAC-approved logo that is entirely unique to them and cannot be replicated.
The ‘Badge of Trust’ shows travellers that the short-term rental operator has been verified and can therefore guarantee 100 per cent trust and protection against holiday rental fraud and poor hospitality standards – something that I-PRAC believes online travel agencies [OTAs] have never been able to do.
Maughan previously invested €500,000 of his own money to set up I-PRAC, in a bid to “clean up the industry”.
The entrepreneur was approached by a stranded family in Cannes back in 2014, just after they had realised that the short-term rental property they had booked for a holiday did not exist, leaving them €15,000 out of pocket. Following the family’s ordeal, Maughan decided to create a solution for the industry, which has seen travellers lose millions [collectively] to fraudulent operators.
Since its inception, I-PRAC says that it has approved “thousands” of legitimate short-term rental hosts and agencies across 28 countries, thereby eliminating guest uncertainty, improving the overall experience, and helping operators garner more direct bookings.
With Maughan increasingly busy with his own luxury short-term rental business in the south of France [AES Events], he has made the decision to bring a new leader into I-PRAC’s senior team in Khan.
Khan, a UK-based hospitality writer who first met Maughan in the early stages of I-PRAC’s growth, has progressed from being the company’s lead writer / reporter to head of content and senior research journalist, and now to managing director. The pair have since launched a number of projects together, including the growth of I-PRAC’s Resource Hub, a Covid-19 initiative for hosts struggling during the pandemic, a high-production short film / advertisement, and most recently, the launch of the industry’s first Rental Fraud Awareness Week.
Through her own hospitality content and storytelling business, Khan has collaborated with a number of high-end, global hospitality brands, authored books and fiction podcasts, and spoken on stage about the importance of storytelling, trust and authenticity for short-term rental business growth. She is expected to lead with “fresh, innovative and creative” ideas for I-PRAC’s ongoing growth, while maintaining the ethos and identity of the brand.
In recent years, traveller demands are rising all the time and more hosts are looking to scale their short-term rental ventures. As a result, the need for accreditation is greater than ever, according to I-PRAC.
Khan said: “Expect content. Lots of content! Over the years, Chris has worked hard to ensure that I-PRAC is known for its commitment to education and value – and that’s something we’d both like to build upon. Because that’s where honest growth starts. We don’t do shortcuts at I-PRAC, they simply don’t exist. Everything is detail-oriented, quality-driven, and in the genuine interest of our members, travellers, and the industry at large.
“As we continue to showcase the real threat of holiday rental fraud, the importance of trust psychology, and how STR operators can build a trusted brand that will outlive trends and shoddy schemes, we certainly have our work cut out for us! But I’m incredibly excited to get going.
“Not only am I professionally [and personally] invested in I-PRAC, I’m thankful to Chris for trusting me with this opportunity. He was my first client in this industry many years ago; and the support he’s become over the years is second to none. I’m very fortunate to now be able to play a part in nurturing his baby, I-PRAC,” she added.
Maughan will continue to play an active role in the business, through podcasts and articles, and via his networking in the short-term rental community. More news is expected soon on the launch of several upcoming initiatives that are designed to have a positive influence on the industry.
Maughan said: “Neely not only understands I-PRAC as a business, she has a thoughtful insight of the brand’s values and core mission – which is the most important part of working with I-PRAC. Her taking on the role of managing director [with me stepping into more of a board position] is perhaps one of the most important decisions we’ve made at I-PRAC since our launch in 2016.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Neely as we’ve grown the brand with a plethora of trust-related reports, articles, and research; and a very focused content marketing strategy. I’ve seen her grow as a writer and evolve into a true short-term rental industry leader.
“Watching Neely embrace the challenges of taking I-PRAC to new heights, with our additional investment, is going to be very exciting. I’m thoroughly keen to see the new I-PRAC come together, under Neely’s creative direction,” he added.