The company, which also runs a high street agency in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, now has more than 50 homeworkers based across the UK and is currently growing at a rate of between 5-10 new agents per year.
Designer, which started business nearly 10 years ago, also uses the shop as an administration centre for the homeworkers.
Getting the right people is far more important than setting specific targets for the number of new recruits – Designer Travel has no plans to take on “hundreds” of homeworkers in the next few years. Most newcomers join the agency “through word of mouth and recommendation”.
New agents are put through a training programme when they join and are mentored by business owners Amanda Matthews and Karen Pocock. Designer also organises an overseas conference for its homeworkers, which will be held in Mauritius this year.
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 another provides leather-bound photo albums for her customers’ holiday snaps.
This kind of service means 80% of Designer Travel’s clients are repeat and recommended business. Clients also benefit from a new online rewards system using cashback firm Quidco for customers who recommend their friends to book with the agency.
Inventive marketing is also important, such as Designer’s recent Wise Owl campaign, which included sending out cuddly owl toys to customers and emphasised all the advantages of booking holidays through an agent.