Back in the year 2000 I decided to up sticks and move from the UK to Cannes. It was a massive change for me, but having fallen in love with the town a few years prior, I knew it was somewhere I would feel comfortable living.
Before moving to Cannes, I had been working in the health and fitness sector, firstly for Marriott Hotels and then as a Regional Sales & Marketing Director for Bannatyne’s. Eager to work for myself, I began to explore opportunities in Cannes and discovered there was a gap in the market for high-quality rental accommodation for corporate travellers, including those attending the annual Film Festival and the other big festivals that take place in the town every year.
Almost 20 years later, my wife and I have established our corporate rental agency as one of the most trusted in the region – offering high-end apartments, villas and yachts in luxury locations including Cannes, Monaco and St. Tropez. We are fortunate to work with a number of high-profile clients such as Google, Twitter, Spotify, Fox, Disney, Nike and Universal Pictures.
To this day, I still take a lot of joy from wowing customers with amazing properties and providing a first-class guest experience. After all, everyone deserves to be treated like royalty when taking a break. That’s why my first experience of rental fraud had such a lasting impact on me – and ultimately led to the creation of I-PRAC.
The Inspiration for I-PRAC
In 2014, our rental agency was contacted by a distressed woman who had arrived in Cannes with her husband and three young children, only to find that the luxury villa they had rented for £15,000 did not exist – leaving them stranded roadside with all their luggage.
Very concerned, we sent our driver to collect them and bring them back to our office, where they explained to me what had happened. I felt it was my duty to help this family, so I offered them one of our villas for their holiday. As a father of three myself, it disturbed me to see the confused faces of three young children.
More importantly, however, it made me realise that this probably wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Seeing the devastation it had caused this family – and the effect it could have on an industry I care deeply about – I was determined to put a stop to it.
After further investigation, I discovered that the problem of rental fraud was huge, with fraudsters creating fake listings on online marketplaces, convincing people to pay via wire transfer, and then disappearing without a trace. However, there was nothing to protect people from it.
Following 18 months of research and personal investment, I-PRAC was launched as a viable solution to this ever-growing problem.
How Does I-PRAC Work?
Through sophisticated verification technology and our team of industry experts, I-PRAC is able to validate the identity and credentials of anyone who rents out accommodation for holiday or business use. This gives peace of mind to travellers who are spending significant amounts of money on a holiday or business trip – as well as the confidence to book directly with a property owner or rental agency.
We have invested heavily to develop a unique platform that builds trust between accommodation providers and travellers. To become an I-PRAC member, a property owner or rental agency must pass our rigorous approvals process, which can often take up to three weeks. We leave no stone unturned in ensuring an applicant is exactly who they say they are – from verifying property photos to working closely with governments worldwide to check passports and proof of property ownership.
The I-PRAC website offers a seamless experience to anyone looking to check the credentials of their chosen property owner or rental agency – but despite the simplicity of the platform, there was a lot of complexity involved in building it. As such, I-PRAC is very much the first of its kind, and will prove instrumental in ensuring less travellers fall victim to property rental fraud.
A Passionate and Experienced Team
My vision for I-PRAC is shared by our managing director, Emma Mills, who joined us in 2016. Her operational skill set and experience of launching her industry-leading PA business made her the perfect fit, and it was an easy decision for her to get involved, especially after she saw the heartache that rental fraud was causing families.
Emma’s key role is to grow the company operationally, with a specific focus around the applications department which now has 25 team members, -many of whom are bi-lingual; speaking over 14 different languages. As a result of Emma’s contribution to the management team, we have created a strong, committed and passionate team, who are eager to end holiday rental fraud.
“Short-term rentals is an incredibly exciting industry as it is so fast-moving, and there is continual growth and development in the market size and technology. We know that customer confidence in bookings is key to this market expanding even further, and I-PRAC will be a key player in contributing to this confidence.”
For the rental industry to grow in the right way, it’s essential that legitimate operators can easily distinguish themselves from fraudsters. Not only does I-PRAC help property owners prove their credentials to travellers, but it also gives them a competitive advantage over anyone who isn’t I-PRAC approved. This means it’s a win-win for travellers and accommodation providers alike.
If you’re a holidaymaker, traveller, property owner or rental agency, and you want to discover more about how we’re helping individuals and businesses just like you, visit our about page or contact a member of our team.
Looking to find out more about I-PRAC and our story? Please get in touch with us via our press page.