Myths and misconcep Case studies

Mums in pyjamas and millions in the bank? These stereotypes conceal the diverse range of homeworkers and their many ways of working, says Samantha Mayling

Since the Covid crisis hit, thousands of us have become homeworkers, experiencing what a career beyond the office or shop could be like. Yet there are still many misconceptions that bosses are keen to dispel – so we take a look at some of the most commonly held assumptions about homeworking. Traditionally, it has been seen as the domain of mums, eager to balance family commitments with work, but the mix is changing. Claire Willoughby, business development manager at Personal Travel Agents, says she sees plenty of male applicants and has recruits with a range of backgrounds and ages.

Will I really earn that much? The amount homeworkers can earn is also often overestimated, especially early on. Alistair Rowland, chief executive of Blue Bay Travel, urges homeworkers not to get “carried away by marketing hype”. “Some do really well, perhaps the top

20%. Many earn a nice living with a good work-life balance. The more serious you are, the better results you’ll get,” he says. “The £1 million sellers had to start somewhere; they didn’t earn £60k in their first year, they were building their database.” Ivrie Cohen , business development

manager at Inspire, warns: “The first 12 to 18 months are definitely the hardest and a lot of people give up as they can’t see immediate returns.”

Do I have to work from home? Meanwhile, Travel Counsellors is on a mission to show that agents don’t have to work from home. “I prefer to use the term ‘flexible

working’ as you can do it anywhere,” says 6 29 OCTOBER 2020

Kirsten Hughes, UK managing director. “Our business has evolved over 26

years: some people work on a laptop at home but others work as pairs or teams, in an office, employing staff.” Paula Nuttall, The Holiday Village chief

executive, says some workers are even based overseas in countries such as Spain or Turkey. Using 0330 numbers means agents can work anywhere. Paul Harrison, co-founder of The Travel

Franchise and Not Just Travel group of companies, is keen to allay fears about “doom and gloom” in the market. “We dispel the fear – for every 100 people a homeworker will contact [about holidays], a third will say ‘sod off’, a third might think about it but a third may well book,” he says. “Get out there, engage with people, make business happen. We had someone making a £16,000 booking for travel this weekend.”

Will it be too quiet? Another myth is loneliness, says Gary Pridmore, chief executive of Aquilium Travel Group. “They say it can be soul-destroying and lonely,” he says. “So, what can you do? Do a pop-up shop with a hairdresser once a week or in a Tesco store, or a travel clinic in a staff room once a month.” Jacqui Cleaver, head of communications

at Protected Trust Services, warns agents not to rely on selling to friends and family: “Don’t worry if they don’t book – build your own client base and it’s a nice surprise if they come to you.” Gary Gillespie, managing director of Independent Travel Experts, says the public too have misconceptions, adding: “The public perception is that you’re on holiday a lot and get paid lots of commission.”


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.

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