The current marketplace offers a “massive opportunity” for agents to become homeworkers but is not a job for the “faint-hearted”, says Designer Travel boss Amanda Matthews.

Luxury homeworking agency Designer Travel has just taken on a further five homeworkers, bringing the total number in its portfolio to 95.

The agency is likely to top 100 homeworkers by the end of 2020, according to Matthews, managing director.

The increase comes as increasing numbers of agents explore different ways of working after being forced to work from home during the UK lockdown or because they have been made redundant or shut their high-street businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Matthews said: “I think there is a massive opportunity for those who are not faint hearted. It’s a really good time if you want to be a homeworker.

“Some people will have a taste of what working from home is like, they will either love it or hate it.

“We have had a few agents come to us after they have closed their doors on the high street; we have not had one that doesn’t love it.”

But she urged agents to do their research before taking the plunge and to make sure they understand what different homeworking companies offer in the market.

She said: “You have got to have your eyes open and do your homework. Some companies provide leads, some have no joining fees but you have to pay if you leave, some pay commissions upfront, others on departure. It’s a massive decision.

“There is already a lot of competition, and a lot of companies have very different offerings. There are so many questions agents should be demanding of companies.”

She claimed homeworking companies were not always honest in the current climate about how difficult homeworking can be.

“People are making out it’s utopia for everyone but it’s not. A lot are not honest about how hard it is. We would tell people if we thought it was not the right opportunity for them. The people who join us very rarely leave,” she added.

Designer Travel “cherry-picks” homeworkers to ensure the candidates are right for the job and will stay long term.

She said: “Homeworking is not the answer for everyone. It’s really hard and that’s why we are very careful. We put them through their paces about how they will need to generate their own enquiries and ask them how they will stand out from the crowd.

“If you get it right you can earn a lot of money but that comes with working 24/7 days.”

She urged agents to think about their “brand” and profile on social media sites and forums before applying for homeworking roles as future employers will take this into consideration.

She said: “You have to think about how you are perceived by others.”

Matthews is confident the number of Designer Travel homeworkers will grow but based on “quality over quantity” and said market conditions were improving.

The agency’s sales have been 30% down year -on-year since May but late bookings for departures within six weeks were up year-on-year for during July and August.

She said: “We are working our socks off to keep our homeworkers one step ahead and to help them develop their businesses ; that’s paid off.

“It will be a matter of time and things will improve. The interest is there. Since the kids have gone back to school we have seen more families book for next summer.”