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You may have seen some recent news about the 2018 Travel Agent Income Survey from Host Agency Reviews. The headline story from the survey is that the average income for full-time advisors with three or more years of experience who are affiliated with a host agency is $40,377, which is 16 percent higher than last year.
One apparent reason for this increase is that business is booming, relatively speaking. In the 2018 survey, 83 percent of agents report higher sales, versus about 58 percent the previous year.
Of course, these numbers vary depending on years of experience (more years equals more revenue); certifications (agents who hold certification through The Travel Institute have higher incomes); types of customers (agents specializing in upscale travel make more, on average); and other factors.
So how does this compare to other fields? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, the median wage for full-time workers in the U.S. was $44,564 per year. And, if travel agents were listed in the 2018 ranking of the 100 best jobs from “U.S. News and World Report,” their average revenue would fall between the salaries of massage therapists and substance abuse counselors.
While this survey is encouraging, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Ambitious travel advisors can see that there are several steps they can take to start increasing revenue — including more education, charging fees and specializing in luxury travel. But beyond these individual steps, I believe the entire industry would benefit from a public relations campaign that aims to substantially increase the profile of the agent industry. Only when consumers understand the value and expertise of travel planners will the profession see major revenue gains.
In the meantime, one piece of good news for agents is that 11 percent of Host Agency Reviews’ respondents report income in excess of $100,000. That’s definitely a goal worth working toward.