London-based agency Swords Travel is recruiting four ‘associates’ after changing its business model in light of the pandemic.

The agency, located in Wimbledon and owned by Mark and Stuart Swords, will take on four self-employed team members on a commission-split basis. The associates will be able to work remotely but will also have the benefit of using the agency’s shop, should they need a place to hold meetings or attend training.

The duo said they hoped to have four associates in place by September, with plans to take on an additional four next year.

The agency will provide admin support, marketing collateral and technology, including access to the firm’s quoting system and CRM.

Mark said the move ensured the company would be more resilient for the future.

“The pandemic has been tough for all travel businesses,” he said. “It’s been challenging and we want to make sure we’re set up to be able to handle a potential second wave.

“Moving to a self-employed associate model means we’d have all staff working if that time comes and it means we’re best-equipped.

“We could be all doom and gloom about the industry but we’re looking to the future and believe the associates model is the best option for us to ensure the business is in the best position possible for the future.

“We’re offering a commission split of 60:40, but if sales reach a certain level we would look to decrease our percentage.

“There have been a lot of brilliant sales people who have sadly lost their jobs in this time, so being able to offer these associate positions hopefully helps get some people back into action.

“We want people that like working in a small, friendly and sociable team who have passion and are keen to deliver the best for their clients.”

Mark said the pandemic had hampered his ambitions to expand his retail footprint in the short term; however, he still has plans to open a second store, in Surrey, within the next two years.

Stuart said his role would be dedicated to supporting the associates, overseeing the agency’s marketing support and financial operations.

He said the aim was that the four associates would already have their own client base, but Swords Travel will assist with generating leads if needed.

“We want the associates to feel comfortable coming into the shop to work if they want,” he said. “It’s all very flexible but we think it’s a big benefit to have a shopfront and a base which they can utilise as much as they like.

“We’ll be supporting them with marketing collateral and use of our systems, and the set-up fee is only £250, which is really low compared to others.

“The industry has had such a tough time over the past four months – there have been redundancy announcements all the time – but we see this as our way of being able to give some of those people affected an opportunity.”

Stuart paid credit to The Travel Network Group for the support it had given during the pandemic and as Swords Travel prepares to roll out the new business model.