Ralph Auriemmo of Marietta is excited to share how iTrip Vacations can support local homeowners
By Lindsay Field Penticuff
When hearing the phrase short-term rental, many people’s minds often jump to beach trips or family vacation spots at the lake. But those are not the only choices, and that’s why iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta has become a viable option for anyone who has a second home or investment property right here in the Atlanta area, or is looking for one.
Ralph Auriemmo, president of the iTrip Vacations franchise location headquartered in Marietta, has learned that people don’t just need housing for holiday getaways; they may need a temporary residence between moves. And in many cases, homes are a great option for corporate housing when executives are relocating to a new area. “I’ve found that when I’m out talking to people, they don’t even know that something like this exists, he says.
Discovering iTrip Vacations
So how did Auriemmo, a resident of Cobb County since 1994, learn about the iTrip Vacations franchise? “In the past, I was a real estate investor. I bought a lot of homes, did the renovations, then rented them out, and I’d rent the homes out to long-term rental tenants,” he shared.
While still working as an IT professional full time, Auriemmo says his original business plan was to have a professional property management company manage his homes and his tenants. “I didn’t get good service, though,” Auriemmo said. “They were slow to get good tenants in my homes and I was losing money. The houses also weren’t maintained well, so when the tenants moved out, the homes were in poor shape and I’d have to go back and redo a lot of the work.”
As a result, he quit using property management companies and started his own business to manage homes. And Auriemmo’s background in IT helped quite a bit with juggling all the duties of someone who owns and manages multiple properties. “In managing long-term rental homes, there weren’t a lot of good systems out there at the time,” he added. “I was used to having some level of technology to make things easier, stay more organized and harness quality control, but I made it work.”
Ultimately, Auriemmo got out of the long-term rental business, and while looking for new business opportunities last year, he came across the iTrip Vacations franchise. “It’s a large company across the United States that manages a little over 3,000 properties. We cover the whole U.S. and market internationally. That’s a little part of our secret sauce,” he said. “We are a local company, owned by local people who have ties to the community and care about the residents, but we are able to market internationally, so we get huge coverage and great results for the owners of the homes.”
Not only did Auriemmo like the idea of managing short-term rental properties, but iTrip Vacations offers a large infrastructure of technology and great systems to help manage everything so that quality controls and checks & balances were there — something he didn’t have as a long-term rental property owner. “The automation is so good that it helps make sure things don’t drop through the cracks,” he said. “I am able to handle all the needs of a home, from having the housekeepers come out and making sure all the maintenance is correct to also making sure nothing gets missed.”
The technology alone allows Auriemmo to manage multiple short-term rental properties at one time, and with high-quality and customer satisfaction at the helm. “They have the systems I had always been looking for; all the pieces that tie together and all the technology to make sure it all happens seamlessly for the homeowners and flawlessly for me,” he said.
Launching a Business in 2021
Auriemmo started iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta in early 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem to hinder business. “Here at iTrip, we found maybe a two- to three-week lull at the beginning of the pandemic as people adjusted to what’s happening around them, but after that, vacation rentals with us had explosive growth, specifically during 2020 and 2021,” he said. “iTrip exceeded its goals for growth within the first six months of each year, in spite of the pandemic.”
He thinks this is because people have turned away from hotel stays and are more interested in having their own space for short-term rental needs. “The only problems we’ve had are keeping up with the growth during the pandemic,” Auriemmo declared.
Auriemmo’s location covers the areas north of the 285 Interstate perimeter. His office is headquartered in Marietta, but he manages properties from Lawrenceville all the way up to Lake Lanier and across to Blairsville.
Similar to VRBO, which is iTrip Vacations’ software partner, the company started initially as a traditional vacation home rental business. But over the years, it has spread into short-term home rentals in urban markets such as Atlanta. “Not every home works perfectly or well as a short-term rental, but many do,” Auriemmo said. “And I can come in and do a financial analysis for free for people to show whether it makes sense to turn their long-term rental or second home into a short-term rental.”
There are benefits to converting a home to a short-term rental, too. “We at iTrip Vacations could increase your revenue by a significant margin, and a short-term rental is maintained much, much better than long-term rentals,” Auriemmo said. “We have a maintenance and housekeeping crew that comes in every time after a guest leaves. So, two to four times a month they will flag a scuff on the wall or spot on the carpet so we can handle those issues immediately.”
The properties are also managed by residents who are familiar with the area. “You have someone who lives here in the community and cares about you and your home locally, as opposed to another national company that is just a property management company with someone on the other end of the phone or online.”
Types of Clients, Customers and Properties
With regards to the type of homeowners Auriemmo works with, there’s a range. Some are residents who may own a home, but they’ve moved out of the Atlanta area and need help managing their investment. “We can determine if their home makes sense to convert to a short-term rental,” he said. “I handle everything for them — taking care of the house, booking the property, [and] maximizing the revenue. All they do is collect the checks.”
Another type of client is someone who is a professional investor; someone who has a portfolio of homes, maybe five to seven, and they are doing the same thing. “They may be managing the homes themselves and are worn down by the minutia,” he said. “Or they are working with a property management company managing a long-term rental, but they didn’t realize they could be making almost 25 percent more in revenue by converting to a short-term rental with iTrip.”
And Auriemmo’s team at iTrip Vacations can accommodate any type of client or customer. Their properties range from a one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment on the Marietta Square, which is great if someone needs a place to stay for a festival or event, to corporate housing and five-bedroom houses on Lake Lanier. “People have options when they have a rental home or are looking for a short-term rental property, and I believe this option is the new way of doing things,” he added. “It’s a paradigm shift, and I’m excited to share that people don’t have to be stuck in the same box and with the same options.”
He’s thankful to be able to bring the ability to help people turn their traditional rental home into a short-term rental property in the North Metro Atlanta area. “I feel like I’m doing something for people, as opposed to when I was at the corporate level. I couldn’t see a direct benefit to people like I do now. I work with people directly, and I’m out shaking hands with people who own a home here in Atlanta and are frazzled because of all the work it takes to manage their home. I get to see the smiles on their faces, and I really enjoy helping people locally,” concludes Auriemmo.
iTrip Vacations Marietta-Alpharetta
Established: early 2021
Owner: Ralph Auriemmo, President
Address: 1000 Whitlock Ave. 320-269, Marietta, GA 30064
Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Weekends, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.