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The country’s leading homeworking agencies were put through their paces in a series of video interviews conducted by TTG’s features editor Abigail Healy and Club Med’s Phil Shipman


First up is Sheena Whittle, who heads up Midcounties Co-op’s homeworking brand, set up just five years ago. She tells the judges that this part

of the business has been built around its “co-operative values and quality agents”. This approach is obviously working as there are now 140 PTAs on its books with 70% of new recruits being through referral. Homeworkers’ performance is

tracked by a “steering wheel” system to measure key performance indicators with an emphasis on the “quality of sales” rather than just numbers, with metrics such as average margin and profit per passenger being viewed as more important than overall sales. Customer satisfaction is monitored

through the steering wheel platform with the number of compliments from clients going up by 35% to some 2,300 in the past year. The

Personal Travel Advisors heard Sir Trevor McDonald speak at the recent Freedom/CPTA conference

TTG’s Abigail Healy with Club Med’s business development manager Phil Shipman

group has also developed its own diploma focusing on personal service, which have already passed 100 homeworkers. Agents develop close relationships

with clients; Sheena describes how one agent who booked a wedding abroad for a customer also arranged for the ceremony to be shown by live video to a relative who was too poorly to travel, while a group of PTAs also arranged a theatre trip to London for a terminally ill girl.


Offering a level of service that is above and beyond the norm is “so part of agents’ DNA that they don’t realise they are doing it”, says CPTA’s interim head Matthew Harding. The agents must enjoy working

with the Thomas Cook-owned brand as nearly 50 of the 125 have clocked up at least 10 years’ service, and there is an annual trip to reward those reaching this milestone. Strong customer service is reflected

in a Net Promoter Score of 85% while weddings and honeymoons is another key focus, with a league table of best performers ensuring there is healthy competition to get the most bookings. CPTA keeps its

homeworkers up to speed with the latest developments through quarterly focus groups as well as an annual conference, while star performers are rewarded with a coveted place on a four-day VIP trip to New York to celebrate their success. The brand saw sales grow by 4%

The team at Midcounties Co-op 42

in 2016 followed by a bumper January when business increased by 21%. This momentum is set to continue when CPTA relocates to a new office in Manchester in April giving it “more space to grow”.


Taking on “nice people” has been the main priority in the growth of luxury- focused homeworking brand Designer Travel, says co-founder Amanda Matthews during her Skype call. The company, which also has a

high street agency in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, now has 51 homeworkers across the UK and is growing by around 10 new agents per year. But getting the right people is far

more important than setting targets for new recruits and aiming to have “hundreds” of homeworkers, stressed Amanda. Examples of exceptional levels of

personal service include one Southampton-based agent who allows cruise customers to park at her house, with her husband then driving them to their ship, while

Designer Travel’s Ramsbottom store and (inset) cuddly owls

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