The Elite Travel Group is to roll out a new managed agents’ scheme as it grows its number of homeworkers.

For an annual £250, plus Elite membership, the scheme offers agents additional support such as back-office systems and Abta membership.

Wayne Darrock, JTA Travel Group managing director and chairman of Elite, said: “The demise of Thomas Cook, for example, means there are many store managers and assistant managers who want to stay in travel.

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“How can they do it? This is an opportunity.” He said the concept had been trialled by former Elite chief executive Neil Basnett, who has been developing a new travel agency, Holiday Inspirations.

The agency began as a homeworking business and now has premises in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Elite’s number of agency members has remained steady at 48 over the past year, but the consortium has added 24 homeworkers.

Combined annual sales have reached £120 million this year, up from £100 million in 2018.

“It has never been about getting to bigger levels of membership – it’s about the quality of members that you bring in,” added Darrock.

“As Elite is smaller, members have a voice, which is a key thing for independent travel agents.”

The consortium has expanded its head office team to six, recruiting Lauren Poole as marketing and digital executive in September, and hiring Abigail Shelton as business development manager last month.

Shelton plans to visit all current members and aims to tempt agents at other consortia to join Elite.

Paul Riches, who works with JTA Travel Group as a consultant and head of specialist sales, has been recruited as a consultant to advise on PR and commercial deals.

Next year, Elite plans to hold more networking events, with more options for members beyond its traditional heartland in the Midlands.

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