There is no question that travel has been one of the hardest-hit industries throughout the pandemic. With travel contributing over $1.1 trillion to the US’s GDP news of a vaccination provides welcome relief. The demand to travel is still high and according to CNBC “more than half of U.S. consumers say they will travel on vacation later this year.” So travel agents get ready and expect a booking boom.
How much money do travel agents make?
This comes down to certain factors such as the type of clients, level of expertise and the ability to offer specialized services. According to Indeed, the average salary of a travel agent in the US is $49,608 but there are many making up to six-figure incomes. Different types of employment for a travel agent:
- Working as an employee,
- Working through a franchise
- Setting up an independent business
Whichever employment bracket you fall into there are multiple ways to generate income, so let’s break down the most common ways to make money as a travel agent:
Whatever service you book for your client will earn a commission; this works on a percentage basis and can come from booking hotels, cruises, restaurants, tours or car hire, etc. When you work as an employee the commission is usually paid directly to your employer and will be recorded and paid to you at the end of the month.
Pre-1990s a huge chunk of income was made through airfare, but this commission was abruptly cut when technology evolved and customers were able to book their tickets online. Now it is common practice to charge clients a service fee when booking flights. The same charge can be applied when booking vacations, hotels or cruises. As you are offering a professional service, it therefore requires a fee. Service fees can be charged at an hourly rate or as a flat fee, all dependent on your preference.
Many other industries charge consulting fees, so why should travel be any different? By marketing yourself as a travel consultant you are sharing your expertise and should charge accordingly. Creating itineraries requires time and research, so a consultant fee will be applied. Group bookings can be a logistical nightmare so having someone manage the process for a fee will also be welcomed.
A travel agent can purchase private fares in advance from a vendor: you buy the fares low, mark them up and sell high. This will prove particularly lucrative around the holiday period and also for business travellers who are willing to spend more to stick to their schedule.
Today travellers want to explore new and unique places so you might choose to specialize in a specific area. For example, destination weddings involve large groups offering a larger revenue opportunity. Also, couples are more likely to spend big money on their honeymoon with far off and exotic destinations being the preference, you will be working with bigger budgets resulting in a higher travel agent commission.
Other areas to consider specializing in are:
- Adventure holidays
- Specific age groups.
- Corporate travel
- Solo travel
- Sustainable travel
- Specific destinations and regions.
Specializing will make you stand out from the crowd meaning clients will pay for your knowledge and expertise.
Customers booking their travel independently can result in huge savings. It can, however, leave the customer unprotected should anything go wrong. During these uncertain times safety will be paramount, so booking through an agent provides reassurance.
Therefore, this is the perfect time to promote travel documentation services with your packages. From visas to health declarations, third-parties can provide all the information needed to ensure a successful entry to the destination. At iVisa.com, we provide to our partners a competitive commission rate, allowing them to earn more.
This is also the perfect time to promote travel insurance plans. Travel insurance is one of the highest commission products you can sell. By forming a partnership with a Travel Agent Program it allows you to offer the right travel insurance plan.
For extra self-marketing, you can form partnerships with local businesses, charities, or trade shows and ultimately promote your business and attract new clients.
If your website generates a lot of traffic you may want to consider selling advert space on your site. This could be other way to make money as a travel agent. Many travel companies will pay extra for a premium listing, as statistically, it can increase their exposure by up to 50% and will also generate you an additional source of income.
Travel agents over time build relationships with vendors, cruise lines, hotels, and airlines, etc. By utilizing these connections you will be able to not only offer your clients a competitive price but tempting extras such as business class seats and room upgrades.
With constant restrictions and travel bans, this has resulted in an unprecedented amount of cancellations. The larger vendors have been swamped with refund requests leaving many customers unable to get through to an actual person and resolve their issues. With customers prioritizing security for future travel, this is where travel agents will have the advantage. Agents provide a personal point of contact should a situation change and will result in building long-lasting relationships with clients.