The Franchise Chatter Blog’s List of 27 Things Every Prospective Franchisee Needs to Know about MyDestinationInfo.com, an Online Franchise Opportunity
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Business Model
1. MyDestinationInfo.com is an online franchise opportunity where franchisees own and operate local travel websites featuring information on local destinations and businesses, under the MyDestinationInfo.com brand. Franchisees generate revenues by selling advertising and business listings on the site, as well as earning commissions on hotel bookings.
2. Each MyDestinationInfo.com website features original content and reviews written by local franchisees, as well as users. Other features of the websites are: a hotel booking system, virtual tours and videos, and exclusive travel deals for each destination.
3. What distinguishes MyDestinationInfo.com from other big names in the travel guide industry (such as Trip Advisor, Expedia, and Lonely Planet) is the franchise business model which makes it possible to have a local presence in each destination that it covers. This is a substantial advantage because franchisees are able to build relationships with the local businesses featured on the site, resulting in the most up-to-date and relevant content available on the Internet.
4. Each franchisee is awarded sole rights to a territory that is clearly delineated in the franchise contract.
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) History and Growth
5. MyDestinationInfo.com was created in 2006 by two young entrepreneurs, James Street and Neil Waller, while studying for their degree in Business Administration at the University of Bath. In the summer of 2006, they launched their first website, www.marbellainfo.com.
6. After a period of just four months, the site had attracted more than 33 advertisers and was receiving a steady increase in website visitors month after month.
7. After being a finalist in the (European publication) “BusinessWeek” Young Entrepreneurs Competition, James and Neil began to expand the business to new destinations and a business team of graphic designers, website programmers, and Internet marketers were recruited.
8. This is when the MyDestinationInfo.com franchise model was created. It was a way for the technical team of MyDestinationInfo.com to partner with franchisees who had the local knowledge and connections.
9. MyDestinationInfo.com is now a network covering over 100 destinations around the world including the likes of Barcelona, Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, Hawaii, Kenya, Kuala Lumpur, London, Mallorca, Malta, Munich, Oman, Panama, Phuket, and Sydney.
10. MyDestinationInfo.com has two offices that support the network. One is based in Marbella, Spain where MyDestinationInfo.com first started and the other is in London. Around 25 developers, graphics and support staff are based in Spain, while the company’s writers, designers, and in-house SEO team are based in London. MyDestinationInfo.com currently has a staff of around 40.
11. Some of the plans of MyDestinationInfo.com for 2011 include the introduction of global advertisers (to supplement local advertising), further development and marketing of the hotel booking system, introduction of a mobile friendly version, as well as a smartphone app.
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Unique Selling Proposition
12. MyDestinationInfo.com’s website template was designed to be extremely user friendly (providing users with the ability to find the information they require in just a few clicks) and extremely search engine friendly (so that it can be easily accessed, crawled, and indexed by the search engines).
13. A typical listing for a company is written first hand by the franchisee and includes photos, logos, maps, virtual tours, videos, and user comments. This is an important factor for advertisers who prefer having a local point of contact.
14. Registered users gain access to a trip planner feature, which allows them to browse any of the sites in the network, to save their favorite companies, and then to drag and drop these favorites into a trip. MyDestinationInfo.com is working on a system for providing recognition and incentives to users for writing reviews on the sites.
15. The Client Interface makes it possible for the companies listed to view real-time statistics on the results of their promotions and allows them to interact with the users by posting replies to user reviews. More importantly, businesses can instantly publish special offers/deals/discounts on their listing page.
16. MyDestinationInfo.com provides each franchisee with the relevant equipment and support needed to produce 360 virtual tours and videos (which are free to produce).
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Role of Franchisee
17. The franchisee is responsible for writing and publishing unique content, selling advertising space and business listings, establishing strong relationships with local businesses, and contracting hotel deals. It is important for a franchisee to understand that this is not a job that can be done from behind the desk. To succeed, a franchisee must be constantly networking, discovering new businesses, and writing content for the site.
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Support:
18. For each local destination, MyDestinationInfo.com creates a fully functioning website along with the backend control systems needed to operate the site and manage the business.
19. Day-to-day ongoing support includes:
- website hosting and management on industry leading infrastructure
- implementation of all new website applications and upgrades
- search engine optimization (SEO) & Internet marketing
- design & creation of all banner advertisements and processing of virtual tours and videos for companies on the website
- coaching, mentoring, and support from a dedicated franchise support manager and the rest of the team
- a helpline for advice on all technical aspects of the business
- access to Franchisee Forum, a communication tool for franchisees to share tips with each other and ask for advice
- access to the intranet and support forum for full control of the site
- a full set of marketing and sales materials (presentations, business cards, contracts, stickers, flyers, posters etc.)
20. MyDestinationInfo.com has a team of 7 in-house SEO’s which are led by Paul Reilly, one of the top SEO experts in the UK. Their aim for 2011 is to increase traffic from 8 million to 24 million unique visitors which would equate to around 2 million unique visitors a month (This is about half the traffic of Lonely Planet).
21. As part of the franchise package, MyDestinationInfo.com does a substantial amount of SEO and Internet Marketing work (including a Google Adwords campaign) for the local franchisee . A large part of this is done behind the scenes and has to do with the framework and structure of the website, making sure it is always in-line with what the search engines are looking for.
22. Each franchisee is assigned a dedicated point of contact in the company’s graphics design team who will be on call to design and create all the advertising and artwork for the franchisee.
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Training
23. MyDestinationInfo.com has a structured training program covering every aspect of the business, designed to fast track the franchisee through all the operating procedures. The Franchise Operations Guide also covers all aspects of the business and will act as a reference point to guide the franchisee through the start-up phase of the business.
24. In addition, MyDestinationInfo.com gives a brief training course for writing keyword rich content and the basics of on-page SEO.
MyDestinationInfo.com (Online Franchise) Investment and Fees
25. There is an initial franchise fee that ranges from $20,000 to $100,000 (depending on the destination’s size, market potential, and level of competition), a set monthly management fee of $550, and a monthly royalty fee of 10% of local ad revenues and 50% of online hotel bookings.
26. The term of the franchise is 5 years and the renewal fee is 10% of the revenue earned in the 5th year.
27. All of the franchise fee eventually gets spent back on the site in marketing over the course of the 5 year franchise. As a rule of thumb, the more competition the destination has on Google, the more MyDestinationInfo.com has to spend on Google Adwords and SEO to get the site into a top position — therefore, the higher the initial franchise fee.
Click here to read my exclusive interview with James Street, Co-Founder of MyDestinationInfo.com.
Click here to read my exclusive interview with Fay Jones, MyDestinationInfo.com franchisee (Marbella, Spain).