The Advantage Travel Partnership has launched its first dedicated homeworking division to tap into growing demand for opportunities for travel agents to work remotely.

The Travel Specialists by Advantage is designed as a “hybrid model between a traditional homeworking organisation and a managed services consortium model”, the group said.

It will offer agents who sign up the chance to use either their own branding or the Advantage name, and is targeting both new and established homeworking agents.

Advantage said homeworking had grown in recent years, and leisure director Kelly Cookes said the Covid-19 lockdown had “accelerated the appetite” for remote working and “changed the way we engage with consumers”.

“We’ve been working on this for almost a year and feel that now is the right time to launch,” she said. “It was a gap in our offering.

“We’re all now more comfortable engaging with people remotely.

“That was something homeworkers always did, but other agents who haven’t been working from home have had the opportunity to try it. Some are really enjoying it and finding it works well.

“That, coupled with the fact that unfortunately we are seeing quite a large number of redundancies across the industry, means we will see more people going into homeworking.

“It fits for a lot of people. It’s a great entry point into the market but also suits people who have been in the industry for a number of years and perhaps want to change direction or scale back.”

Advantage will levy 2% of the turnover of Travel Specialists homeworkers as well as its share of commission. In exchange for this, homeworkers will have access to Advantage’s marketing and business development teams, commercial deals, incentives, education, administrative support and out-of-hours support. It will be operated using a trust account model.

Cookes, who was responsible for homeworking in her previous role at Freedom Travel Group, said the model would provide agents with “a richer share of commission” than the typical 60% she said was common in the industry.

She added: “All the data we’re getting, particularly since March, shows that the use of an agent is increasing – whether that is engaging with an agent on the high street or an agent at home. Some people will prefer to go into a high street branch and some to work with a homeworker. It’s about what’s right for the customer.”

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