9 Questions with iTRIP's Franchise Developer Vickie Storm ~ Vice President of Business Development
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
I recently visited Nashville, home of the franchise iTrip Vacations. I had the chance to meet with Vickie Storm ~ Vice President of Business Development to discuss their franchise opportunity. Enjoy our Q&A to learn more about this fantastic franchise.
iTrip Vacations is a short-term vacation and urban rental property management company that is revolutionizing the way rental guests book and use rental properties. iTrip Vacations' mission with the Franchisees that own and operate their individual franchise territories is to provide them with industry leading technologies, tools and platforms as well as comprehensive digital marketing strategies for optimal success. iTrip Vacations' goal is to become the most trusted brand in the vacation rental industry.
Q&A with Vickie Storm Oct 2019
How did you get to where you are at?
A. I had retired, but I became bored, after about 5 months. I've always worked, I love to work and that's how I started seeking that next chapter in my career. I found iTrip Vacations, conducted my due diligence on the company, the industry, met with the co-founders of the company and loved the business model. Before that I had spent a majority of my career in financial services. I helped start a bank in Nashville, TN, where I built out retail, private banking, and wealth management. I helped manage those divisions. Subsequently, I was recruited away from the bank to become the President of an identity theft and data breach risk management company.
Why a franchise vs. a startup or existing business?
A. So many reason, many are obvious and some are esoteric. The obvious reasons are, why invent the wheel when somebody has put in all their time, money, other resources to create that model. They have already provided for you (the buyer) the guide rails to follow and launch and run your business. You get systems, processes, marketing; you get the opportunity to work with other franchisees, networking with them. You receive training. The list is really pretty endless in terms of all of the considerations that you would need to create on your own or find a vendor to do for you if you started your own business.
What are you goals for iTrip Vacations in the next 5 years?
A. We have 85 active markets in the country and will be expanding in a couple of different ways. You will see some expansions both laterally and vertically. With iTrip Vacations, we are focused on growth and investment in the company. We just received an infusion of capital this summer and the timing of that was absolutely right. When you are a high tech company like we are, it costs money to continue to conduct research and development. We create some of our own technology and other elements we purchase and we had grown to the point that we were ready to go to the next level of operation and performance.
What is the best thing about being a part of iTrip Vacations?
A. The people . . . and I mean that in an all-encompassing way. The franchise staff is very committed to the success of every franchisee. Then you have the peer franchisee group and they work together also, a lot of sharing of information, it's a family type of environment. The property owners who are our clients are delightful. Most of the property owners won't live in the same city or the same state, maybe not even the same country as where that secondary property is located and they are looking to the franchisee to help bring them revenue and take care of their property. Then you have the rental guests, who are ready for vacation, or ready for a short-term trip and you're going to make that a good experience for them.
Can you describe a typical day of a franchise owner?
A. It depends on where they are in the tenure of running their business. Day one, of launching their business is dedicated to bringing properties under management, and we teach the franchisee about 30 strategies and activities to deploy in their market in order to attract those properties. Once they get their first property, now that needle moves into operations. They will contract with a cleaning crew, who will take care of cleaning the property and turning over the linens between rental guests. We attract all of the bookings for the franchisee and their properties. We offering one of the largest marketing campaign to get those bookings. You see it really is a numbers game. The more people that see the property, the more people book the property the more income is generated for our franchisees and property owners. We are listing that property on about 85 national and international listing sites. Once it is out there, it starts getting booked and the franchisee is managing the turn over of the property through their contracted cleaning crew between rental guests.
What is the biggest challenge to buying or owning a iTrip and what advice can you give to overcome it?
A. I think the biggest challenge on the front end of owning an iTrip Vacation franchise is people sometimes think we are a little different than what we are. That the business model is different than what it actually is, for example they think we compete with Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO or companies they have seen advertising on television, and print ad or on the internet. They don't realize, we actually partner with all of those companies and we have very strong partnerships and direct API links, so data moves in real time with those listings sites and our back office.
Once you become a franchisee, getting that first property can be a challenge because the franchisee is new to the business and in a learning curve, just like with any new business. However, after a couple of years they don't have to work as hard to get more owners because they have established a referral network in their community and among their property owners.
Can you describe an ideal owner for iTrip?
A. We look for owner/operators who live in or near their market, this would be defined as a 40 minute drive or less. We also look for owners that have 2-3 decades of professional business experience.
When you say professional experience, are there certain professions that do better than others?
A. We have successful franchisees who have been CEO's of companies, or C-suite officers or also have been managers, sales people, IT people, or Real Estate agents. There doesn't appear to be any cookie cutter to say this is the type of person that will perform well. This opportunity fits a lot of backgrounds and people.
Can you describe what a candidate will experience while researching iTrip Vacations?
A. We have a great discovery process. The franchisee candidate is in total control of how they progress through our discovery process. There are about 10 steps in the process and those steps are peppered with live conversations including conversations with co-founders of the company, along with a few pre-recorded webinars. These webinars provide them with a granular explanation of some of the drivers for success in this industry. We have a different discovery day than most franchises. One of our co-founders will travel to the market and spends a day to a day and a half with the candidate.
iTrip Vacations is a full service vacation and urban rental property management company. They serve the $30 Billion North American vacation rental marketplace.
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