© Stone

SINCE Travel Weekly published a letter from a disgruntled Co-op homeworker (January 27), there has been a deluge of correspondence on the issue of working from home.


Love it or loathe it, homeworking has split the views of agents with plenty of arguments for and against.


Your own hours, your own business and the potential to earn more than on the high street from the comfort of your own home all sounds too good to be true – and for some it is.



WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY…

“I work at least 45 hours a week. I have little time with my daughter and husband and I am only earning around £350 per month.”
Name withheld, homeworker for 10 months

“I have earned far more money than I ever could have working on the high street, but it has been hard.”
Name withheld, homeworker of nine years, Future Travel

“There have been times when I have been in tears, but the support has been outstanding.”
Name withheld, homeworker, Instant Holidays

“They can fire you after three months of not making your targets, so you are always in fear of losing your job.”
Name withheld, homeworker, Instant Holidays

However, homeworking is booming with Travel Counsellors reporting sales for last month up 18% on last year and Hays Travel hoping to build on its homeworking division.


But not all agents who make the switch are finding it the best career move. Some complain of earning as little as £50 per week and feeling isolated with no support.


Steve Norris is a success story. He joined Travel Counsellors’ telesales department in April 2004, and although it took time, he said, by January 2005, he had achieved £100,000 in sales with 60% repeat or referred clients.


In May that year, he decided to concentrate on his own client base by becoming a personal travel counsellor.


He said: “Over the last eight months, I have achieved more than £460,000 in sales, I am earning more than I was in 2004 and I have been rewarded with gold status by Travel Counsellors.


“I now work extremely hard during the week but do not have to work every evening and my weekends are quieter. I can also take the occasional holiday as my customers are loyal to me and work with me.”


Dawn Adams, sales support manager at Co-op’s Future Travel Group, Holiday Now division, said: “Telesales is tough and competitive and you need to invest time and build a rapport with your caller to become a successful sales person, rather than an order taker.


“Homeworking offers a fantastic opportunity to everyone to create substantial earning power – that is everyone who puts in the proper effort, has a good telephone manner, selling skills and a determination to succeed.


“Many Co-op homeworkers earn substantially more than the £50 per week mentioned by your reader, with bonus commission and other generous incentives.”


Earlier this month Travel Weekly ran a poll on its website asking agents if they would prefer to work from home or from an office.



PROS AND CONS

PROS
Working from the comfort of your own home
Flexible hours to suit you, choosing how little/much you work
Not having to travel to work
Building up a repeat customer base

CONS
Having to work unsociable hours when busy
Not having a fixed salary, relying on commission only
Feeling isolated and missing out on face-to-face interaction
Not having sufficient working area

Of those who responded, 59% said yes, 34% said no and 7% said they did not mind either way.



Case Study


CARLY Ford worked for Lunn Poly in Colchester, Essex, for five years until her shop was closed. She decided to join Instant Holidays, part of Future Travel’s homeworking division.


“One of my colleagues had done really well with it and I thought I would like it too,” said Carly. However, after only one month she decided it was not for her and went back to the high street, joining First Choice in Colchester where she is now assistant manager.


After she was recruited by Instant Holidays, Ford went on a three-day training course. She said: “I was promised a specialist area but I was only on overflow calls. In one week, I didn’t receive a single phone call.”


Ford returned to the high street having earned nothing, she said, because she left the company before the commission was paid. She said: “I was just at home on my own and I didn’t like it. It is great to be back and have the interaction of customers.”



Companies









Travel CounsellorsSalary: based on setting own commission as personal travel counsellor.
Experience required: must have five years’ experience.









Hays TravelSalary: commission with minimum 20 hours a week.
Experience required: at least two years’ experience in the past five years.









Kwik TravelSalary: between 30% and 33% commission; 30 to 35 hours a week.
Experience required: two years in past five years.









Co-op’s Future Travel
(Incorporates five brands: Instant Holidays; Instant Cruise Holidays; Holiday Now; Travel Now; and Personal Travel Advisors.)
Salary: varies depending on division – some are based on a 10-hour week contract while others earn up to 30% commission working a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Experience required: two years’ experience in the past five years.