Meet Franci Edgerly, Founder & CEO of Savannah-based ITI Digital
Franci Edgerly has been at the forefront of the destination marketing industry for over 25 years. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, she’s been all over the globe working in the hotel and travel industries. Her titles have included Director of Marketing at Hyatt Regency Hotels and National Sales Manager for Disney. Her longest role to date has been as the Founder and CEO of ITI Digital, a company providing innovative software solutions in the travel industry.
I spoke with Edgerly recently about the history of ITI Digital, including how the company has survived the ups and downs of a changing economy and evolved to meet industry needs. She credits a strong team of experienced marketers, designers, software engineers, and managers, as well as their proprietary software and forward-thinking strategy.
Originally a consulting firm, ITI Digital got its start in 1992 when Edgerly made the entrepreneurial leap from her corporate job. The company offered traditional print media marketing services until 9/11, when the travel industry took a hit. “That’s when I had to shut down our international offices because all my contracts were canceled. Within a month that business was gone,” says Edgerly.
Not one to give up, Edgerly began focusing on how her company could make a strong comeback. “I could see the ways technology was taking off, and that really captured my interest and passion. I realized that I needed to pivot…to reinvent myself,” she shares.
By 2006, Edgerly relaunched with a focus on digital marketing in the tourism industry. Today ITI Digital offers services such as creating, implementing and managing content and marketing strategies such as SEO/SEM and social media for destination marketing organizations (DMO) and vacation rentals. They also provide high-quality website design and development and distribute a monthly newsletter with travel industry insights to help their subscribers stay informed with the latest trends.
During the transition to digital, Edgerly says she was inspired by a friend who encouraged her to create a product she could sell to her clients. “I’ll never forget the conversation, my friend Cheryl asked me, ‘What product do you create that you can sell? You cannot be the product.’ So the product that I wanted and created was technology. It is our code,” says Edgerly.
Over time, ITI Digital began to offer a number of individual and packaged SaaS solutions that DMOs across the United States could integrate into their websites to attract visitors to their cities. These include an Events Calendar, a Google Places & Reviews widget, an Itinerary Library, an Interactive Trip Planning Tool, and User Generated Content. Edgerly shares that their products are really what sets them apart from their competitors as they strive to offer one-stop-shop solutions that their clients cannot comprehensively get elsewhere.
ITI Digital’s ImGoing Virtual Visitor Center bundle has been especially useful during the pandemic. It allows DMOs to offer travel consultation and services digitally using the SaaS offerings and a customized resources guide with videos, digital brochures, and an official destination travel guide.
Another area of their focus has been on vacation rentals, which has been their bridge to international markets. “Vacation rental companies want more direct bookings just like hotels so in order to do that they need better quality content. We are entering the international market starting with Ibiza, Spain, and will be launching in a few months,” shares Edgerly.
While ITI Digital has clients like Experience Waterloo and Visit Jackson Mississippi all over the United States, they are headquartered here in Savannah, Georgia. In 2019 Edgerly moved the company’s base here as a part of a strategic move. You might think it all has to do with tourism, but in fact, she was looking for talent and ways to attract talent. “When you’re looking for the skill levels and talent we were looking for, with SCAD being here we just felt this would be the best fit for our company and wanting to grow it. Another thing, Savannah is just a fantastic city. This is a city that’s alive, vibrant, energetic, and very diverse. That’s a big draw for international interns and employees. Savannah was just a very obvious choice,” Edgerly notes.
Here at The Creative Coast, we agree!
More About ITI Digital
ITI Digital works with multiple organizations in the travel industry to promote economic development through software solutions and digital marketing.
To learn more about ITI DIgitals products and services, visit their website here.