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How to fill the travel agent income gap

How to Fill the Travel Agent Income Gap

Stephanie Lee, the founder of Host Agency Reviews noticed a gap that travel agents need to fill–the income gap. Job satisfaction is not usually an issue with travel consultants with 81% reporting being “happy and satisfied” or “super happy and satisfied.” However, eventually earnings could get in the way of job satisfaction.

How much does a travel agent make?

The average travel agent makes $37,730 per year. Now there are a lot of different types of travel agents out there. ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) reported experienced agents booking corporate travel earned $40,677 per year while an experienced leisure travel agent earned an average of $32,249. However, the 2017 Business Travel Network (BTN) survey found the average manager salary to be $99,906 and the average corporate travel coordinator to earn $61,628. Home based agents earn $31,056 per year–much like the industry average.

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to travel agent wages–ASTA created a travel agent salary tool to help you decipher an average salary based on your agency size, position, business type, and state.

With travel agent compensation generally on the low side, many agents have to rely on other income to fill the gap.  Others charge service fees and consultation fees.

How can I make more money?

Service Fees

In other words, a transaction charge. Whether it’s booking air, rail, car, hotel, or a package–you charge a fee for everything you book. Bookings with no commission can be compensated with a service charge.

However, few clients will see the benefit in processing a transaction for them, when they could very well do it themselves.  

Consultation Fees

A consultation fee is a charge consulting an individual’s travel plan. It involves  researching or planning a trip using your expertise as a travel professional. A consultation fee pays you for the research, your expertise, client preferences, supplier relationships, planning the trip, and most importantly: being the advocate amidst client travel issues.

Types of consultation fees:

  • Flat fee
  • Per person fee
  • Hourly fee
  • Per transaction fee

In 2017, agents who reportedly charged consultation fees increased by 5%. Of the different types of consultation fees, 66.7% used a flat fee–a charge covering everything.   Agents must transition from a transactional fee model to a consultancy structure to continually grow their income. However, a lot of agents don’t charge fees for their services at all, most are afraid of losing clients or missing out on new business.

Charge what you’re worth

Be confident. If you have a loyal customer that keeps coming back or get referrals, YOU ARE WORTH THE FEE.

When you start out, you take any business you can get. However, you can make more money by focusing on serving your high end clients and your faithful ones. Some will leave you for a fare that is $5 lower. Let them go. Focus on the clients that are looking for service and serve them well.

As many experienced travel agents know–it’s not always about the money. You have the chance to help people build the vacation of their dreams, while also getting some travel perks yourself!

However, your knowledge and expertise is your product. Customers are not just paying for travel–but for your experience with travel. Own your craft! Discover which fee is best for you. Maybe a service fee makes more sense with what you sell or maybe a consultation fee is best? You decide. You are in control of your business.

How do you fill the income gap? What types of fees do you charge?

Greg Rholl

Greg is Vice President of Business Development and has been employed with Centrav since June of 1991. He serves as an integral part of Centrav's leadership team with a focus on client relations and sales.

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