The 29 homeworkers are now working as part of a new division of Vertical Group. They are trading as full Freedom Travel Group members under travel agency Miss Ellies Travel, also owned by the group. Mike Russell remains managing director.
The group has bought the websites, databases, bookings and intellectual property rights of the four-year-old business, which is going into administration, said Vertical Group chief executive Peter Healey. Bookings have been transferred to Miss Ellies Travel and are fully protected.
“It is always sad when a business goes into administration. We are fortunate to be in a position to purchase Holidays Experts’ assets and protect the homeworkers, management team and clients,” said Healey.
Healey said Holiday Experts was a “good fit” for the group, which owns accommodation-only supplier bedbank.com, TARSC and a range of travel websites. The homeworkers have switched over to the group’s web-based telephone system and are fulfilling bookings for the bed bank and eight of the group’s hotel websites.
He said: “It is a great way for us to expand our bed bank business model; bookings have already increased by several 100%.”
Healey said selling the group’s website product had already increased conversions and earnings because consumers are ready to book when they phone up, having researched holidays online. Homeworkers will fulfil calls for 20 of the group’s sites by the end of the year. “Instead of taking five calls to every booking, they are getting a better quality of calls,” he added.
Holiday Experts’ turnover this year will be about £10 million, the same as Miss Ellies, creating a £20 million retail business for the group. The group is targeting a £50 million turnover in 2010, and £100 million in 2011.
Healey is already proactively looking to acquire more small homeworking groups. He said: “We have got a very clear strategy. I am looking [at potential acquisitions] at the moment.”