Updated August 2023 – The global tourism industry has proven to be a lucrative sector, contributing 7.6% to the global GDP in 2022. Travel agents, with their expertise in connecting customers with unforgettable experiences, play a vital role in this industry. However, the income potential for travel agents can vary significantly based on various key factors.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how much travel agents make per booking and explore their different revenue streams.

Working in the travel industry

Working as a travel agent offers countless rewards, including researching global destinations, helping people create lifelong memories, and enjoying travel perks during downtime. All these benefits often leave people wondering: do travel agents make good money?

The answer to this question is complex as the actual income earned can fluctuate greatly depending on various factors, including experience and location. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much travel agents make, the potential for a lucrative career definitely exists for those who excel in their roles.

Types of travel agents

how much money do travel agents make

In order to determine how much money travel agents make, you’ll first need to consider the different types of travel agents and how this might affect your income in the industry. The three most common types are retail travel agents, wholesale tour operators, and inbound tour operators, so let’s explore these a little closer.

Retail travel agents

Retail travel agents are those who deal directly with travelers – that is, people who want guidance and assistance booking their travel experiences. The income for retail travel agents can depend on expertise level, training, accreditations, and any specialist knowledge.

Retail travel agents represent a large amount of all travel agents, so the average figures above likely reflect typical salaries for this group. That is, an average of:

  • $44,000 AUD per year in Australia
  • $39,700 USD in the United States, and 
  • £28,015 in the United Kingdom

Tour wholesalers

Tour wholesalers don’t work directly with travelers, but rather link individual tourism operators with retailers. They’ll often put together packages or itineraries including accommodation, transport, and activities, and then sell those packages or itineraries to retail travel agents. In turn, they typically receive a commission from travel agencies. Find out more about how to sell tour packages here.

ZipRecruiter data shows that work from home wholesale travel agents earn an average of $49,568 in Australia and $56,094 in the United States. However, the more specialized and in-demand your expertise, the more you could earn. If you specialize in, let’s say, safari tours or travel in Russia, then that specialist knowledge and your local networks could improve your earning potential.

Inbound tour operators (ITOs)

Inbound tour operators, also known as ITOs or destination management companies, are locally-based businesses that serve customers coming from other regions or countries. They’re involved in the planning, coordinating, and processing of travel arrangements, typically for customers who are wholesalers or retail travel agents. ITOs are very familiar with their local area and its tourism products, as well as what is in demand by overseas travelers. 

If you’re a travel agent working with an ITO, you might expect salaries similar to the above. Once again, specialization and experience can increase your total income.

Travel agent revenue streams

How much do travel agents make from different streams of income

So, how much do travel agents make?

Travel agents typically have a base salary supplemented by commissions, fees, and bonuses, contributing to their overall income.

Base salary

The base salary for travel agents varies depending on location and experience. For instance, the median base salary in Australia is $44,000 per year, while in the United States, it’s $39,700 USD, and in the United Kingdom, £28,015 as of 2021. 

Booking commissions

Commissions give travel agents a portion of every booking that they help make happen. As a travel agent, you earn and deserve commission, because you may bring in significant bookings for a tour or activity operator, accommodation provider, or transport provider. For example, if you recommend a hang gliding experience or tour for a customer you will receive a certain amount of the booking rate as agreed to by the operator.

You might agree to either a Percentage or Net Commission with each operator. It’s also worth being familiar with common commission rates according to best practices, so you can agree to competitive terms.

Service fees

Many travel agents around the world charge a fixed service fee to their customers. These are typically in the form of a per-booking or per-itinerary fee, or as an hourly consultation fee for specialist knowledge. These fees go some way to covering the cost to research, arranging, and personalizing someone’s travel plans. 

Host Agency Review’s 2021 Travel Agent Survey showed that 68% of US travel agents did not charge fees in 2020. However, working with a fixed service or consultation fee could have an influence on a travel agent’s income. HAR’s 2020 Travel Agent Fee Survey indicated that travel agents charging consultation fees earned 40% more than those who didn’t charge, and those who charged service fees earned 46% more.

Other sources

Here are some additional avenues that travel agents can pursue to boost their earnings:

  • Upselling and Cross-Selling: Travel agents can increase their revenue by upselling and cross-selling additional services or upgrades to their clients. This could include offering premium accommodations, extra amenities, travel insurance, airport transfers, special tours, or dining packages.
  • Group Travel: Organizing group travel can be a lucrative opportunity for travel agents. Group bookings often involve larger numbers of travelers, leading to higher commissions and more significant profits for the agent.
  • Affiliate Programs: Travel agents can join affiliate programs and earn commissions by promoting and selling products or services from partner companies, such as airlines, hotels, or travel gear providers.
  • Travel Insurance: Offering travel insurance policies to clients is not only a valuable service but can also generate additional income through commissions from insurance providers.
  • Consultation and Trip Planning Fees: In addition to service fees, travel agents can charge separate consultation or trip planning fees for clients who seek expert advice but may not end up booking a complete package.
  • Exclusive Deals and Partnerships: Travel agents can negotiate exclusive deals with certain providers or establish partnerships with local businesses to offer unique experiences or benefits to their customers. 

Has COVID-19 affected travel agent revenue?

future of tourism industry

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the travel industry, affecting travel agent incomes due to border restrictions and decreased travel demand. However, as the industry recovers, the figures mentioned earlier may rise in the future, offering renewed earning potential for travel agents.

The bottom line

So how much money do travel agents make? The answer of course will depend on your location, your partnerships, and your agreements. One thing is sure: tourism is a fantastic industry, and it rewards those who put plenty of effort, energy, and passion into what they do.

If you’re a travel agent or reseller, Rezdy Channel Manager is your gateway to a wide range of global tours and activities. Our tour operator-focused distribution platform streamlines real-time bookings and lets you easily manage commission rates, all in one place. It simplifies your path to delivering exceptional travel experiences by centralizing these key functions in an intuitive interface.

Book a demo with us to find out how you can broaden your distribution channels with Rezdy Channel Manager, regardless of your booking software.

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