More than 50 Apollo Travel Direct staff are expected to move across to work for Future Travel where a ‘virtual community’ will be created for them.
Staff were told last week The Co-operative Travel Group-owned business in Rotherham is to close on April 3, 2009, with up the loss of up to 150 jobs because there is no longer a sustainable market for agents offering third-party fufilment.
Apollo is one of the few remaining large call centres offering fufilment business, a model which thrived just five years ago and helped tour operators shift leftover stock to third-party businesses, such as travel clubs.
Distribution director Alistair Rowland said staff had been offered “very generous terms” to move to the homeworking business. He added that Future Travel, which has around 500 homeworking agents, would benefit from Apollo’s experienced, high-quality staff.
“Not only will it significantly add to the numbers of homeworkers, but also to the quality because these are agents used to working on the phone,” he said.
The company will create a virtual community for the agents, who all live in Yorkshire, to ensure they keep in touch with colleagues in the new environment.
Rowland said it was no longer possible to keep Apollo open because the market for third-party fufilment for agents has disappeared. There is no longer the range of stock to sell following capacity cuts by major operators and an increased focus by operators on inhouse sales channels.
He said: “The market has all but disappeared and the third-parties have got hungrier for a positive return, but there is not enough money left. If you ask the operators for exclusive deals they say no as they can sell the product through their own distribution.”
Meanwhile, Sheffield-based Alpharooms.com has offered a lifeline to Apollo staff. It is on a recruitment drive for sales, accounts, product, commercial and customer service staff to meet it expansion plans for 2009.
Managing director Jason Fry said: “Apollo Travel was a great business and it’s such a shame to see a group of highly talented people being made redundant. We’re encouraging those passionate about their jobs and who want to remain in the travel industry to get in touch as we have positions available in all departments. We are happy to interview those who can demonstrate that they will add value to our business.”
Those interested have been urged to send their CV and a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.