Readers’ Lives: Antonia Simcock

Readers’ Lives: Antonia Simcock

The Co-Operative personal travel advisors, Stoke

Within a year of becoming a homeworker, Antonia Simcock was ranked as one of The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors’ top 20 sellers nationwide. She explains how she has social media to thank for getting her business off the ground

Q: You left your job as a high street travel agent to become a childminder before returning as a homeworker nearly two years ago. What made you come back to the travel industry?
A: I wanted to get back into travel because I love it. I hadn’t left because I didn’t enjoy it, it was more for financial reasons. Having been self-employed for a while as a childminder I wanted to work for myself, so I looked at homeworking. I like my own space and can’t imagine working in an office now.

Q: What was your biggest fear when you became a homeworker in January 2014?
A: I had gone to CPTA because I knew them and the Co-op was a well-known brand in the area, but I was apprehensive because I didn’t know where my business was going to come from.

Q: So how did you build up a client base from scratch?
A: I set up my Facebook page and that was it. I got a booking in my first week and it just went from there, through recommendations on Facebook. I asked everyone who booked if they would share my page. I have now got a bank of repeat clients but new clients still come from Facebook or from customers recommending me to friends on Facebook. I was going to send out leaflets to market my business but they are still all boxed up at home.

Q: You are one of CPTA’s top sellers. How do you manage your work-life balance?
A: If someone had said to me I would be a top-selling homeworker two years ago I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s quite overwhelming when I think about it. It is hard work and constant: I get messages in the middle of the night. I used to work while cooking tea and putting my son Rory to bed but I found myself not giving him the time he needed so now I work mainly school hours. I am stricter with my time but often get the laptop out after Rory is in bed.

Q: What has been your most rewarding experience since doing this job?
A: As a Disney specialist homeworker, I benefit from dedicated marketing support. I decided to complement the Free Disney Dining campaign with a prize draw to win some extra spending money to use at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The lady who won was so overwhelmed she cried on the phone. I took the gift card to her house and when I got there she threw her arms around me and said this meant so much to her as a year earlier she had lost her three-month-old baby girl. She showed me a photograph and we were both in tears. She said she felt winning this prize would help her to turn a corner, knowing that her other little girl could have anything she likes on holiday next year. That was the best moment in my career.

Q: Have there been situations where you have helped clients in ways you couldn’t as a high-street agent?
A: When flights stopped recently to Sharm el-Sheikh I was able to let my client know about it first thing in the morning. I had been watching the news and checked the Thomas Cook website at 6am. She was due to travel that day and I had found her an alternative holiday by 8.30am – before any of the shops opened. She really appreciated my work and it made my job feel worthwhile.

Antonia’s CV

2014 to date: homeworker, The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors

2008-14: Took time out of the industry to be a mum and did various jobs, including childminding

2005-08: travel adviser at three stores in Staffordshire: Going Places in Longton, Thomson in Hanley and The Co-operative Travel in Meir

Antonia’s tips

Keep in touch with clients: I send a short message before and after the holiday.

Have confidence in your product knowledge: Tell clients what you can offer them.

Manage your time well: Be realistic about when you can work and when you can’t.


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