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ASTA, NACTA Release Study on Independent Agents

November 20, 2009 By: George Dooley

The percentage of National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) member agents who consider the sale of travel as their primary source of income has dropped from 51.6 percent in 2003 to 33.8 percent in 2009, according to a joint-research report of ASTA and NACTA. The report, the 2009 NACTA Independent Agents Report examines the ins and outs of the rapidly changing independent travel agency market and identifies shifts in the independent agent population. 

“With an increasing number of travel agents striking out on their own and working from home, it is essential that we have an in-depth knowledge of what drives this market segment,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “For suppliers especially, understanding what motivates this group and what their needs are is critical.”

The ASTA/NACTA report also found that the average number of hours worked has stayed fairly constant during the same time period suggesting that the respondents are working the same hours for less income. Another shift uncovered by the report saw an increasing number of independent agents who work out of their home, a figure that has grown from 77.9 percent in 2006 in to 85.1 percent in 2009.

Among the survey’s other findings were:

*    The average NACTA independent agent has been in the travel business for 11.9 years and spends 33.8 hours a week selling travel.

*    57.2 percent of respondents indicated that at least 15 percent of their agency is dedicated to cruises.

*    In 2008, the average NACTA independent agent had gross sales under $250,000, and most had revenues under $50,000.

*    The primary booking channel for cruises by NACTA members remains the telephone at 45.9 percent, down from 50.1 percent in 2008

*    Royal Caribbean and Carnival were the top cruise lines used by respondents, which was also true in 2008.

The report profiles independent agents and provides data on their experience in the travel industry, looking specifically at how they book travel and split commissions, as well as their revenue share across travel segments, and more. 

The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The report indicates a 95% confidence with an error rate +/- 3.9 percent.

ASTA members may purchase the entire report for $159. Non-members pay $299. For additional information, please contact [email protected] or visit the research page on

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