Travel Agency Employment Hits Five-Year High

According to ASTA’s recent report on labor and compensation, the demand for professional travel agents is increasing By: Melissa Karlin
2014 saw an increase in average salaries within travel agencies. // © 2015 Thinkstock
2014 saw an increase in average salaries within travel agencies. // © 2015 Thinkstock

The Details

American Society of Travel Agents

According to the American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) “2014 Labor & Compensation Report,” 74 percent of member agencies had at least one employee or independent contractor, which is the highest percentage since 2010.

Member agencies have, on average, seven employees and 11 independent contractors. At corporate agencies, the average number of employees has increased, while their employment of independent contractors has remained low. Eighty-one percent of corporate agencies have employees, and 19 percent have at least one independent contractor. 

There has also been an increase in average salaries within agencies: 19 percent for experienced agents and 18 percent for new hires. Managers involved in sales experienced an average compensation increase of 20 percent.

“Strong travel sales have necessitated increased hiring among agencies,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA. “The pressure on the labor market will continue because agencies are forecasting strong 2015 demand.”

Agencies that hired in 2014 said that referrals and newspaper advertisements were the chief sources for interested parties, with fam trips, travel discounts, flexible hours and a relaxed company environment as enticing factors. 

However, one-third of independent agents — who once had employees or independent contractors in the past — do not plan to hire in the future and intend on staying a one-person business model.