Worldwide: Global verification and membership platform, I-PRAC, has reached a significant milestone in securing the registration of 2000 companies for its “I-PRAC Travel Desk” service, which launched in 2018 to accommodate corporate travellers.
Among the leading brands that have registered are the likes of Amazon, Nissan, Google, Spotify, Fox, Disney and H&M, as well as a number of construction and contractor companies.
I-PRAC launched its internal department two years ago in a bid to introduce large corporate companies to the benefits of the short-term rental sector, given that they were often choosing to accommodate their staff in hotels over a lack of trust of rental providers, agents and owners. The platform approached the companies to provide them with a service to introduce them directly to I-PRAC members around the globe when they needed to accommodate their teams.
According to CEO and founder, Chris Maughan, the service is already proving to be “extremely lucrative” for its approved members, while companies are starting to see the “phenomenal value and potential in ‘hotel alternatives’, and the guaranteed trust and confidence that verified I-PRAC members provide”.
Though hotels have often been seen as the first choice for one-night stays, especially pre-Covid, recent reports have showcased that where there is a need for accommodation for more than one night, travellers tend to prefer apartments, houses or villas in some cases.
What differentiates these properties from hotels is the much-desired “home from home” experience, with amenities such as cooking facilities and ample space and privacy. Many of these short-term rental properties are also likely to be located in desirable areas that are within a short distance from popular meeting points and tourist spots, which plays as a key factor for consumers when they are looking to book corporate accommodation [without the additional transport expenses].
Despite short-term rental properties appearing to be the more fitting and cost-effective option for busy corporate travellers, the vast majority of corporate companies still choose to book accommodation with hotels, according to Maughan.
Corporate travellers have tended not to trust short-term rental providers due to the lack of control and verified credibility, where most short-term rental property owners are faceless names and therefore, not reliable enough to make a transaction with. Some corporate companies have openly claimed to “not have time” to do their due diligence on individual rental providers, highlighting the need for as seamless a booking process as possible.
I-PRAC’s launch of the initiative stemmed from the aforementioned points, and on top of this, the founder believes his years of experience within the short-term rental sector and wealth of knowledge in working with corporate organisations has allowed him to understand the pain points that these companies face when booking accommodation with short-term rental providers.
Maughan, who is also CEO of corporate rental agency AES Events Group, said: “Having spent over 20 years in the short-term rental sector and building a successful company in Cannes, one of the most lucrative regions in the world, I already had a portfolio of contacts of the travel desks, of these large companies [and many other small companies], as well as a thorough understanding of how Travel Desks work.
“I have understood from the offset that these companies find it very difficult to trust and book with short-term rental operators, due to a lack of verification, credibility, and payment guarantees. I-PRAC has now solved this problem; and we are taking it one step further by actively introducing rental businesses to the corporate market by providing the aforementioned trust, confidence and payment guarantees, that these corporate companies require; and are absolutely entitled to.
“It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved: short-term rental businesses can boost their bookings [and profits], and these companies who are looking for accommodation for their employees will make sizeable savings in costs, as well. This is yet another way that I-PRAC is providing value to our sector at large.
“We are helping short-term rental providers jump over that barrier of entry to corporate business – and myself and the I-PRAC team couldn’t be more excited,” he added.
Businesses seeking corporate accommodation are being asked to contact I-PRAC Travel Desk with their specific enquiries, after which the team introduces them to the relevant I-PRAC members, with whom they can book directly. In addition, the platform is providing a Search, Trust, and Book service, where the team will take care of due diligence on non I-PRAC members to ensure that all bookings are safe, secure and legitimate.
The concept is reported to be helping businesses to appreciate short-term rentals as an alternative to more costly hotels, without needing to worry about the issue of trust. I-PRAC itself suggests that it has built a “credible reputation” for acting as “the bridge of trust” between consumers and accommodation hosts; and with the addition of the Travel Desk service, an even wider market will be able to reap the benefits of short-term rentals.
Despite the challenging times facing the industry, it was claimed that one I-PRAC member had signed a £120,000 accommodation deal with Amazon, a deal which involved housing corporate employees in Aberdeen for twelve months.
Sarah Mcbride OMDIA, a registered member with I-PRAC Travel Desk, said: “We have been opting for hotels around the world for our team when they travel, and short-term rental accommodation has never been an approved option for us. This is mainly because our travel insurance does not cover cancellations nor fraud on short-term rentals.
“However, since joining I-PRAC Travel Desk, we have approved seven I-PRAC members as nominated suppliers of our company, to welcome more cost-effective options to our business. We are absolutely delighted to see first-hand what the I-PRAC logo represents; and how all members can be wholly trusted because they provide a 100 per cent guarantee.
“I-PRAC has certainly filled a gap to help corporate companies like ours use short-term rentals, as a viable and trusted accommodation option,” she added.
Maughan urged short-term rental operators to become I-PRAC Approved in order to “get their foot in the door of the growing corporate market and start making more money by providing the bridge of confidence and payment guarantees”.
The Travel Desk initiative is currently “free”, with an expected annual charge to customers by 2022.