Travel Weekly Guide to Homeworking: Case studies

Travel Weekly caught up with homeworkers about what prompted them to make the move, here’s what they had to say.

More: Travel Weekly’s Homeworking Directory

‘A homeworker I’d recommended confirmed a £26k cruise booking – that commission could have been mine’

Graham Bishop, GoCruise & Travel

Graham-Head-shot-200200I’ve been in travel for more than 20 years, working with Virgin Holidays then in account management with P&O Cruises, Cunard and most recently G-Touring until June.

A homeworker I’d recommended to a friend last year confirmed a £26,000 cruise booking, which got me thinking that that commission could have been mine.

In my account management roles, I worked with the team at GoCruise. Their way of ensuring the customer is at the heart of everything was a real positive.

The business model suited my long-term ambitions, and having your own postcodes where you can market yourself was a real selling point. I could see gaps in the market, so we took the big decision to relocate to Cornwall from Hertfordshire. Now, I live in a village near Truro closer to my family.

People said ‘Are you mad?’ for setting up a travel business in the middle of a pandemic, but it has given me a good few months to advertise and create that database of customers for when the market picks up. The support has been amazing.

I have more than 700 page likes on social media and recently got a £12,000 enquiry from guys in the village watching rugby.

I respond to queries outside office hours – even while sitting by the pool in Turkey – and I’m planning to reach new customers with home visits and pop-up shops in the local pub.

‘We started homeworking at the strangest of times during the Covid crisis – but now we’re nicknamed The Dynamic Duo’

Keeley Cullen (pictured, right) and Linda Bushell (left), Holidaysplease

keeley-linda-200200We were made redundant after 50 combined years of service with Tui. We’d worked together for 17 years as a very successful management team in Ramsgate, Kent. Our customers were devastated and told us to go for it, so we did, in April 2020.

A fellow Tui manager recommended Holidaysplease and the company was willing to have us as a pair, which was not the norm. It was a no-brainer to stay together. We work brilliantly as a team and we have always been called things like Morecambe and Wise or Laurel and Hardy. Now we’re nicknamed The Dynamic Duo at Holidaysplease.

We started at the strangest of times during the Covid crisis, but we soon fitted into the Holidaysplease family after being made so welcome. It is a wonderful experience and we should have done it sooner. It is far more personal.

Because of Covid, we are focused on next year. We pride ourselves on being ‘The Memory Makers’ and we hit the ground running with a beautiful luxurious honeymoon in Crete. Other bookings include a 40th‑birthday family holiday to Mexico, a tailor-made honeymoon in Canada, a Celebrity Cruises sailing in the Caribbean, a 40th birthday to New York and more.

We can take enquiries from the [Holidaysplease] pool, but we do most of our own advertising on Facebook and via flyers.

Holidaysplease made our training fun, and head office communicates every day with news, offers and client incentives.

‘Made redundant in the pandemic – now I’m ready and raring to to’

Lyndsay Hayes, Travel Counsellors

I worked for Thomas Cook for 19 years, then I was northwest regional sales and engagement manager for P&O Cruises, but was made redundant because of the pandemic.

My friend and I created a ladies’ clothing boutique, and while I was delivering clothes, my old Thomas Cook customers said I needed to sell holidays again – even though I’d left Thomas Cook four years ago.

At P&O Cruises, I’d been impressed with the professionalism and passion at Travel Counsellors. I was reassured by their global network and had seen the 24/7 duty office and support team in action during the pandemic.

I’ve used this time wisely to get my business ready and raring to go for a travel upturn. I’ve been meeting Travel Counsellors and customers via Zoom. Developing my social media presence is enjoyable – even if customers aren’t booking now, they’re getting to know me and what I offer.

Everyone is craving something to look forward to, which bodes well. In my first few days, I booked a holiday to Turkey worth nearly £15,000.

I’ve joined local networking groups and, when lockdown eases, I plan to work from coffee shops and shared office spaces.

I wish I’d done this sooner.

‘I wanted a job that could work around my singing career’

Samantha McGarrigle, Personal Holiday Advisors (part of Constant Travel)

I worked at Jet2 for 17 months in pre-travel services and worked in sales in other industries.

I wanted a job that could work around my singing career – I have a Shania Twain tribute act, and do cabaret singing. I saw the Personal Holidays Advisor advert online and joined in April 2019. They were positive, upbeat and supportive, and I got a good vibe.

They usually take on people with more experience, but I had a big Facebook following, plus sales and other skills, so they were happy.

It’s commission-based, so difficult at times, especially with Covid, but in the grander scheme of things I can see massive potential. I have lots of repeat customers, thanks to helping them with refunds. I work late nights, even to 11pm, as I like to return messages straight away.

We had training in the Leeds head office, plus regular updates, and I educate myself with webinars from suppliers such as Sandals, Palladium Hotel Group and Jet2.

I built my client base via word of mouth, and have an advert on my car which is a good promotional tool when I am out singing. With bars and pubs affected by curfews around County Durham, it is hard. I had hoped to do a pop-up stall but can’t now. But I’m managing to keep afloat and hope to get through winter.

‘We started as homeworkers – now we’re in an office employing other agents’

Garry Butcher (right) and Alistair Stewart (left), Merlin Travel Group

Alistair and I became homeworkers about seven years ago and then four years ago we opened office premises. Together with Cath Mills and Jim Grahame – a couple with their own homeworking brand – we formed Merlin Travel Group and now have 12 homeworkers.

Protected Trust Services’ trust fund, bonding, supplier failure insurance and systems are a great fit for us. Their people are experienced professionals and a pleasure to work with.

We’re based in Glasgow and our members are all over the UK, from Inverness to Essex. We’re office-based but our business is portable as everything is in the cloud.

We’d advise homeworkers to specialise in a destination or holiday type: work with specialist suppliers and create your own unique packages. Our homeworkers have their own brands and specialise in specific destinations, as well as selling general travel.

We offer business development support and work with them to secure the best suppliers. Our homeworkers generate bookings on social media, by networking with target markets, and through referral. We also generate enquiries from our marketing activities and assign these to the best member to fulfil the booking.

More: Travel Weekly’s Homeworking Directory

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