Here are the two questions you probably came here to find:

  • How much do travel agents make? And
  • How do they make their money?

So let’s dive right in. The global tourism industry contributed a cool $4.7 trillion USD to the worldwide economy as of 2020, so it’s clear there are many opportunities for travel agents who are skilled at connecting customers and incredible tourism experiences. As you might expect, local tourism industries vary across the world. However, there are a few things in common for most travel agents.

Working in the travel industry

Working as a travel agent can be brilliant fun. You get to research global destinations for a living, help people enjoy the experiences of a lifetime and you might also enjoy serious travel perks in your downtime! But what about actual income? 

Do travel agents make good money?

The answer is: it depends. Travel agent incomes can be determined by location, local demand, your specializations, your employer, and your network relationships. But there is plenty of earning potential to be found.

Let’s take a closer look at the different ways that travel agents make money. We’ll also cover the most common ways agents work with tour and activity operators. 

Types of travel agent revenue streams

How much do travel agents make from different streams of income

How do travel agents make money? Most travel agents have a base salary that’s topped up by commissions, fees, and bonuses.

For example, base travel agent salaries in Australia range from around $32,000 to $62,000 with the median at $44,000 per year. Then on top of this, Aussie travel agents reported bonuses from $961 up to $12,000 per year. And when it comes to commissions, they could rake in anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 per year. That can add up quite quickly.

US travel agents earn a median salary of $39,700 USD, while the average UK travel agent will earn a base salary of £28,015 as of 2021. It’s important to keep two things in mind here: 

  • First, that bonuses and commissions can substantially contribute to the annual income of a travel agent on top of their base salary.
  • Second, that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many travel agent incomes due to border restrictions, so these figures may rise in the future.  

A travel agent’s income may well increase with experience, expertise, and choice of employer. For example, Business Travel News reports that the average salary for corporate travel manager or supervisor positions in the United States is $114,955 USD.

So depending on your location, network, and agreements, you can certainly bring in good money as a travel agent. It’s also worth considering the perks of the job. These could include paid or discounted travel, as well as free experiences (sometimes known as familiarisation visits) from tourism operators who want you to understand and recommend their products.

How much do travel agents make per booking? 

This depends on how you work by commission and whether you charge fixed service fees. Here are the two most common options that bring in money.

Commissions on Reselling

Commissions give you a portion of every booking that you 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.

Fixed Service Fee

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, arrange and personalize 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 be 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.

Types of travel agents

It’s also worth considering 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, tour wholesalers, and inbound tour operators, so let’s explore these a little closer.

how much do travel agents make? The different types of agents

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 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. 

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.

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 provides an easy way to make bookings in real-time and manage your commission rates in one easy place. Why not explore it today?   

If you enjoyed this article then make sure to follow the Rezdy blog. There are a lot of marketing, business & industry tips for operators and resellers.

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