The Midcounties Co-operative will officially launch its Personal Travel Agents division on March 6. The group already has 10 homeworkers and hopes to have 75 by the end of the year.
The focus is on “quality rather than quantity”, according to Sheena Darby, who heads the new division, which is Abta-bonded and Atol-protected. She previously ran rival homeworking division The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors, now owned by Thomas Cook.
Darby believes there is space in the sector for a brand offering the “backing of a secure business” alongside the reassurance of an independently-owned Co-op brand. “There will be homeworkers out there who want to look at the new kid the block,” she said.
“Equally, there is a growing trend for independent high street agencies that might want to reduce overheads but have a consumer database going back years and could be very successful at transferring business to their home.”
The group’s selling points will be its independence, Co-op brand backing, and the fact its PTAs will not have to pay to be part of its popular membership scheme that offers consumers the ability to buy holidays using points earned.
Darby added: “We believe we have a model that is really workable and attractive. While we are hoping to get to 75 homeworkers, the expectation is that it could be more.”
The majority of PTAs are expected to be self-employed, earning 60% of the commission on holidays they sell. They will generate their own sales leads and pay for their own marketing, while the group will provide the administrative back-up and access to its commercial deals. There will also be the opportunity to work on leads generated by the group’s website, at cooptravel.co.uk.
Darby added: “Homeworking is not a one-size fits all. While the 60% model fits the majority, we have a robust website that provides plenty of leads and can support homeworkers who are just starting their business.”
Anyone interested in joining should go to joinpersonaltravelagents.co.uk.
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