New homeworking agency InteleTravel has reported a rapid increase in membership during the pandemic - to 10,556 UK agents.
A focus on training and education with more than 60 suppliers resulted in travel sales of £8 million from June to August, the company said.
It added it was on target for a record £25 million in UK travel sales in 2020, up from £12 million last year.
InteleTravel founder and president James Ferrara said the figures were a "vindication of its business model" and he was proud to offer people new careers during the current crisis.
“During this pandemic we have seen an energetic enrolment of new agents," he said.
"We’ve been bolstered by travel industry professionals who have seen their opportunities limited, but we’re also bringing new people into the market from outside travel; our suppliers respect and like this strategy,” he said.
“This crisis has given people cause to reassess their priorities and opened their minds to new options. Many now want the quality of life that comes with working from home and not trudging into an office every day and that’s part of why we are experiencing a boom.”
Agents pay a sign-up fee of £142 and a monthly membership fee of £32 to access Intele’s commercial rates, booking technology and back office support.
“We offer people a soft landing, the ability to own their own business for a low cost. That’s something that should be applauded, particularly in this climate," added Ferrara.
“Over the years I’ve seen many companies in the US charge people $5,000 or $10,000 to join. Often, it’s been that person’s last $5,000 or $10,000 and often it hasn’t worked out, leading to great hardship for that individual.”
He continued: “Our agents have been called hobbyists as some kind of insult. We embrace the term. It celebrates the flexibility that allows you to choose to work on a Saturday morning or seven days a week and every shade in-between if you wish.
“Of course, you can be part-time and still be ethical, professional, have quality control and be trained. We offer the best training available in the industry.”
Ferrara said "the credibility of the company has been further demonstrated" during the pandemic as all customers unable to travel were offered refunds or were re-booked.
He also defended Intele’s recruitment policy.
In the UK, network marketing company PlanNet Marketing has an exclusive arrangement to recruit agents and anyone wishing to become one must purchase the agency through a PlanNet salesperson.
“The truth is we’ve tried direct recruitment in the past and we weren’t very good at it," said Ferrara. "We’ve spent millions on advertising over the years without much return.
“We’ve found a company that is very good at recruiting, through online marketing, word-of-mouth and face-to-face prospecting.
“Confusion can arise when some PlanNet staff are also InteleTravel agents because they value what they sell and choose to buy the part time travel business for themselves.
"But they are two separate businesses with no links other than a marketing contract; InteleTravel offers no network marketing scheme and its agents cannot recruit.
“We explained all this to organisations like Clia and Abta and they thoroughly analysed and understood it.
"We’re proud to have had Abta approval since March."