Holidaysplease is to offer struggling travel agencies the opportunity to ‘lend’ their staff to the homeworking firm to avoid them being made redundant and leaving the travel industry.
The bid to stop the sector’s ‘brain drain’ follows the end of furlough this week and comes as fears grow of large-scale job losses in the travel sector.
The scheme would mean travel agents could work for Holidaysplease over the winter but return to their old jobs when their employers are in a more healthy financial position, estimated to be in six months’ time, or stay with the homeworking firm if they prefer.
Holidaysplease director Richard Dixon said the homeworking firm had already floated the idea of ‘borrowing staff’ with some agencies and is hopeful the move would help to stem further redundancies as a result of the end of funding from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The six-month scheme would also help Holidaysplease to meet higher enquiry levels from customers following the recent easing of travel restrictions and potentially help the firm to recruit more homeworkers longer term.
Dixon said: “The idea is about helping the industry to avoid the brain drain, doing something positive, and from our perspective, the possibility of picking up some new homeworkers from agents that have been involved and decide that homeworking is an option they’d like to stick with going forward, rather than returning to retail [shops].”
Holidaysplease would retain agents’ commission earnings but pay £10 an hour to the agent’s employer, who would pay the agent as normal using this funding while the agent is dealing with its website enquiries and making bookings for the homeworking firm from home. During this period the agent remains employed by their original travel agency.
As well as stopping agencies and the sector from losing experienced talent, the scheme would also avoid employers having to pay out redundancy costs where they are being forced to make job cuts, added Dixon.
Holidaysplease is keen to hear from agencies interested in the scheme, which requires staff to have more than three years’ experience in a travel sales role and have earned at least £250,000 in sales per year in those years.
Ideally, the firm is keen to take on agents who have experience in selling long-haul, luxury holidays and are “strong minded and customer service focused”.