At the Not Just Travel conference last week, I chatted to a newly recruited homeworker who is a qualified accountant, but – keen to move into a field she is more passionate about (and who can blame her) – she decided to start up her own travel franchise.
And at the Travel Counsellors conference last month, it was interesting to hear of the success of both its Academy programme for people with no travel experience and its more recently launched Travel Trade scheme for professionals who have been in travel for years but never sold a holiday.
I’ve lost count of the number of conference sessions I’ve heard over the years where we’ve bemoaned the dearth of talent coming into the industry, and its lack of appeal as an employer.
And yet right now, the routes into becoming a travel seller are more varied and accessible than ever before – with the merits of running a home-based business (balancing work and lifestyle) proving particularly popular. Indeed, delegates at last week’s Aito conference heard homeworkers could outnumber high street consultants within the next couple of years.
Experienced agents might lament the relative inexperience of such newcomers, though it’s not much different to a young travel agent who’s barely left the country selling their first few holidays.
That said, it is, of course, imperative that new entrants into the travel agent sector play by the same rules and offer consumers the same level of protection as everyone else, and it will be interesting to see what pans out for one particular newcomer who was this week the subject of a story on Radio 4’s You & Yours programme.
But in the meantime, I think it’s rather wonderful that plumbers, policemen and accountants who love to holiday and have a great service ethos want to make a career in travel.
I know which I’d rather do.
Pippa Jacks is group editor of TTG Media