The new managing director of The Travel Network Group’s homeworking division has predicted the industry will see a “shift” from retail to homeworking.

Addressing delegates, former Super Break sales boss Gary Gillespie said the recent demise of Thomas Cook would have made some agents “re-evaluate their careers”.

Gillespie, who joined Independent Travel Experts (ITE) earlier this month, said prior to Hays Travel announcing its acquisition of Thomas Cook’s retail estate, ITE had been contacted by a lot of affected agents considering homeworking.

“It was probably a knee-jerk reaction,” he said.

But he added: “This has brought homeworking to the forefront again.

“A lot of these agents who have taken the olive branch with the shops reopening again are re-evaluating what they want from the future and from their careers. Then we’ll see a shift to homeworking and a move away from the traditional high street agent to a self-employed homeworker.”

The group’s chief executive, Gary Lewis, said: “There’s an opportunity to grab a bigger slice of the homeworking market and demonstrate key reasons why people should come to us rather than go elsewhere.

“When we talk about growing, we must keep in mind that adding more homeworkers will never be to the detriment of our existing network.”

ITE members were told they would have access to more focus groups and development workshops to help boost their networking abilities, social media skills and customer service. Workshops about mindfulness and mental health have also been introduced.

Weekly sales and commission reports are to be introduced, allowing agents to compare and forecast better, according to chief operating officer Lisa Henning.

Henning said ITE’s average booking value had increased from £2,798 in 2018 to £3,021 this year. Margins had also improved, increasing from 8.4% in 2018 to 8.9% in 2019, she said.

Group to help homeworkers open pop-up shops ‘to raise brand profile in the community’

lisa-henning-headIndependent Travel Experts (ITE) has identified 150 locations for its members to open their own pop-up outlets.

The pop-ups, in markets, shopping centres and inside shops, will be supported financially by ITE, which also plans to offer them as incentive rewards to members.

The first pop-ups will be centred around Birmingham, London and Manchester, and will open in January.

They will be open for one day or possibly two days at weekends.

Numerous suppliers had already expressed interest in sponsoring some, according to Lisa Henning, chief operating officer for parent The Travel Network Group.

“We want our homeworkers to be more involved in the local community, and help them raise their brand profile,” she said.

“This has involved more than four months of research to ensure we had the right locations, and we’ll be supporting our homeworkers every step of the way.”

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