A new home-based travel company set to launch next year is targeting people who have lost their jobs in the economic downturn – even if they have no travel experience.

The Personal Travel Company expects to recruit 10,000 agents across the UK by the end of 2009 and add another 10,000 each year after that.

Agents must pay £12,000 for a franchise, for which they receive their own website with Personal Travel Company branding and a prepaid credit card.

The website allows access to the company’s own global distribution system, Pro Travel Solutions, which has XML feeds from all the major suppliers and product sourced by the Personal Travel Company. Bookings will be covered by Pro Travel Solutions’ ATOL, in some cases at an extra charge.

Special offers at very low prices are sent by e-mail each week to the agents, who can then sell those and other holidays using word of mouth.

Customers make bookings themselves using the agent’s website and pay with their own credit card. Agents then receive 70% of the commission available, and the rest goes to the company. There will be an 80-strong call centre to help with enquiries or take bookings.

Personal Travel Group business development manager Martin McCafferty said: “The model is based on word of mouth, because you’re more likely to believe your next door neighbour than a travel agent.

“We expect people who have lost their jobs or have taken a career break and want to get back to work to join up. People can do this as a full-time business or just build up commission to pay for their own holiday.”

Agents can also earn money by referring a friend to the company. If they become an agent, they earn £3,000 and 20% of the commission from all bookings their friend makes.

Special offers include a week in Murcia, Spain, in a self-catering two-bedroom apartment for £29 per week.

More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008