Director of her own home-based business, R.G Travel in Norfolk, Rachel Garnish was among the first agents to join Protected Trust Services’ consortium six months ago. She spoke to Benjamin Coren.
Q. Why did you join PTS?
A. Protected Trust Services (PTS) has been in the industry for a long time as a Package Travel Regulations compliance service before it started the homeworking solution. I jumped ship from my previous company because of what was on offer.
I don’t really see PTS as a consortium. To me, a consortium is someone who holds your hand a lot more. It is more your own business, I earn 100% commission and pay a very small fee per booking. For example, I made a £20K booking in which I gained roughly £2.5k commission and my fee to pay was £20, so I really thought this is too good to be true. I also pay a small monthly fee for the technology and trust account.
Q. Are trust accounts a selling point given the news of Thomas Cook’s collapse?
A. PTS uses trust accounts so it protects the consumer as well as the business so if anything was to happen, like with Thomas Cook, PTS does not lose money. It has supplier failure insurance and that’s added on automatically to anything booked and paid through the system. Consumer protection is more important than ever.
PTS monitors all the payments; what goes in and out and they check the invoice that goes out to the supplier, so I can’t take profit until the supplier is fully paid.
Q. Is security a selling point for you?
A. Yes, my website says I’m part of PTS and customers can see they are fully financially protected. The model is secure and I know my business is safe. It’s an affordable and scalable solution. I have more money to invest and being independent means I can do all my own marketing, you don’t have to ask permission for anything and I can advertise where I like.
Q. How long have you been an agent?
A. For just over two years, since May 2017. I used to work for a company called Espresso Education in London, which provided learning tools for schools where I was a training coordinator. I was made redundant, so my next plan was to work on super yachts at sea for a few years. I went to the Isle of Wight to begin training, but I became poorly and was in hospital, which stopped those plans. I started the travel business as I could work from home.
Q. How will you develop your business?
A. I’m looking to approach people to work with me. I’m thinking of working with other homeworkers who don’t have their own business and want to work with other people. Although at the moment I’m quite comfortable doing everything myself.
Q. What kind of bookings do you generally make?
A. The majority of my business is high-end luxury more than package holidays, with most of my bookings made with Carrier. I had clients go to Goa this year and they were flying with Jet Airways when it collapsed. I was keeping an eye on the situation and because I was quick off the mark I was able to get them rebooked on the last two British Airways flights back home.
Q. What makes you stand out from other agents?
A. I started house-sitting and pet-sitting about 18 months ago as an added value option for my clients when they were away. It got so popular that I became really busy. I did it to bring in money when I was starting out and I really love it. It’s not something I advertise – it’s more word of mouth. It gives people peace of mind that someone is looking after their house and animals when they are away. I’m still doing it but, as brilliant as it is, my business is in a healthier position so I don’t need to do it and I’m planning on stopping at the end of December.
‘My commission has nearly doubled’
I pay myself via the system. I’m able to do everything myself and all PTS does is check it. I pay my suppliers, there’s no admin support and it’s easy. Because you are earning more money and not having to pay the consortium you can expand your business by employing someone or getting your own office.
You are not tied to anything. I also sign up with my suppliers independently. You can also have your own Atol licence. I haven’t done that because I’m on my own and I like the security of having suppliers there in case anything goes wrong and I like to speak to experts.
In my previous homeworking role I was paying 40% back. I felt like I was working hard for not very much. My commissions have nearly doubled now and the proof is in the pudding with the figures.
You can dynamic package and they have Package Travel Regulation compliance in place, it adds a peace of mind and it’s affordable. PTS owns all its software and it’s constantly evolving. I don’t need to rely on an accounts department. I can see my turnover for the year using the reporting tools. It’s great and I feel like it’s really mine now.
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