Homeworking agencies have been quick to target Cook staff whose jobs are under threat, but it is not for everyone. Amanda Matthews, managing director of Designer Travel, offers advice for those considering their next move
When you've been used to doing the same job at the same place for a long time, it’s a scary moment when you find your world is turned upside down.
This is the situation that many of our colleagues find themselves in at Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel, with the latest round of proposed job cuts.
Deciding what to do next can be daunting and it is very easy to jump into whatever opportunities present themselves. Instead, don’t rush, as making the right decision will save you time and money in the long term.
Many businesses have already said they have vacancies for home-based travel agents. This option may sound like an easy one but working from home has its ups and downs.
When Karen Pocock and I left The Co-operative Travel we set up a homeworking business – and spent a lot of time researching what would make a good one. Here is a list of things to consider that will hopefully help you decide if homeworking is right for you:
Pros of working from home
- Flexible hours and no travel.
- You are your own boss and you make most decisions.
- You get the chance to build your own business and get involved in lots of local activity.
- You can earn much more if you put in the effort.
Cons of working from home
- It can be lonely, especially when you are used to a team around you.
- Income in most cases isn’t guaranteed and can be a rollercoaster, especially in your first year.
- It is tempting to always be on call for your clients, so you may find you are working longer and strange hours.
- You need to be confident in business development and it isn’t as easy as it might appear.
If you still think that homeworking may be an option, here is a list of things to consider when choosing which company to work for:
Do you need leads? Some companies work purely on leads, feeding you enquiries but paying you less commission. Find out how many leads you would get, and of what quality, and ask about the current conversion rates.
What is the start-up cost? Most companies charge a set-up fee, so find out what is included, how it works, how long it takes to get set up and what extra monthly operating costs there may be. Also find out whether there are any offers on joining fees or targets to help get your upfront costs back.
What is the support network like? Check out-of-hours procedures, business development support, training and conferences.
Check employment terms
- Compare reward packages, including commissions on bookings, cancellations, staff incentives and vouchers. And, most importantly, find out when you get paid your commission.
- Ask about commission if you leave. Many companies tie you into a contract that makes it all-but impossible to leave without losing out.
- Marketing materials – what is free and how much are extras?
- What technology is used, for booking, for social media and for online web enquiries? Do you have your own web page?
- What are the commercial terms like? What suppliers are available for you to book? And do you decide the discounts?
These are just some of the areas you need to consider, which is why doing your research is vital before you jump into homeworking.
Deciding to work from home can be a brilliant career move, but it could also be the wrong one for many people if it hasn’t been thought through properly.
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