Luxury specialist travel agency consortium Elite is looking to offer homeworkers who miss office life the chance to have the best of both worlds.

A new concept is being developed under the working title Become HIP (Homeworkers In Placements) and could be launched in the new year, according to current plans.

The consortium says it has had positive early feedback from members that they would be interested in such a scheme.

A number of possibilities are being envisaged including agents renting spare space in their premises or even members taking serviced offices and offering them to homeworker.

The scheme could also be used to allow agents to supplement head count in busy periods or create, in effect, a branch office. How it works will ultimately depend on how members want to work, said Wayne Darrock, Elite chairman.

“We have asked our members how much spare space they have in their offices and, in reality, how many would be interested if they got approached by homeworkers who want to be back in an agency environment but still want to still work for themselves,” he said.

“If we were to do this it will be out for the New Year. It’s a great concept homeworking for a certain type of person, but for people who have worked in agencies for years in a team environment it can be a struggle.”

Bob Grinsell, Elite director, said he has spare office space above his agency in Wolverhampton which could accommodate up to eight agents.

He said many travel agents will have large rooms in which they used to store brochures but, due to the way brochure deliveries are more targeted these days, is not being put to use.

Elite currently has 59 members covering 89 branches but sees potential in growing numbers by adding affiliate members. This would be offered to members of other consortia but who want to attend Elite events but will not benefit from commercial agreements  – the consortium currently has some TTA members in the category  – or non-Abta members.

The latter option is due to become available from February next year when the group is expected to drop its requirements to be in Abta from its constitution.

Darrock said the move had already been discussed by the Elite board and there were no dissenting voices. He said the consortium has had approaches from people seeking an alternative to Abta. “We have to be in a position where we look at alternative schemes,” he said.