Online franchise group Explorer Travel is offering a six-month trial to attract experienced retail and online travel agents laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm aims to augment its 120-plus franchisees with agents that have found themselves out of work.

Managing director Steve Wood said: “We are keen to recruit newly available travel professionals but understand that the uncertainty of the current crisis will, understandably, make recently redundant agents nervous and cynical about investing in a franchise.

“Therefore, instead of our normal franchise offer, we are offering interested agents six months free of charge to ‘test drive’ our opportunity before fully committing to it.

“If agents decide that Explorer is not the right choice for them, they are free to leave.”

The normal franchise fee is £12,000 plus VAT.

However, interested agents will pay a set up fee of £250 including VAT to build their personal website and provide training on the firm’s systems followed by a monthly management fee of £49 including VAT.

“The package will include all the ‘bells and whistles’ and will not be a watered down version,” Wood added.

Successful applicants will earn 70% commission, the company claimed.

Wood said: “Explorer was the first 100% online franchise travel agency, founded in 2005 and we have always strived to offer the support expected by our franchisees with the minimum of overheads meaning that we are well placed to survive the current travel crisis.

“At the beginning of the crisis when cancellations started and agents’ commissions had to be repaid we offered all franchisees three months repayment holiday and also suspended the monthly fee.

“Agents that struggled to repay commissions earned from cancelled bookings were given a repayment plan.

“By assisting franchisees to navigate successfully through this crisis we have retained their loyalty and support.

“Of course, we are losing money but we have a strong business model and are making enough bookings for the winter and summer 2021 to recover them.

“I am personally funding the current losses knowing that this crisis has to end and when it does there will be less competition and a far greater respect for online agents like ourselves that have assisted clients obtain their refunds and can provide the security offered by Abta. While we are suffering now, the future looks very bright.”