Demand for Agents Exceeds Supply ASTA Reports

While the economic slowdown has dampened the hiring crisis for the travel agency industry, there is still a strong demand for qualified agents, ASTA reports in its 2009 Labor and Compensation Report released today. The report is designed to give travel agencies tools to improve and update their operations. One example: the average salary for a travel agent is $29,022 whereas the average starting salary is $19,299.

“As the recovery continues, it’s expected that there will be more demand than supply for travel agents, whether they are new to the industry or have years of experience,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “The data contained in this report can help agencies determine where they stand with respect to the other agencies when it comes to the salaries and benefits they offer and make sure they remain competitive in order to attract the best talent.”

Among ASTA’s findings:

*    While 2008 saw an increase in commission-only employee compensation that trend reversed in 2009 with approximately 30 percent of respondents reporting that they offered employees compensation based on both salary and commission. Commission-only compensation dropped to 19 percent in 2009 from 29 percent in 2008.
*    Seventy-five percent of responding agencies still have employees or independent contractors (ICs). Of those currently operating without employees, more than half plan to re-hire when the economy rebounds.
*    Most agencies expect both the number of employees or ICs and their salaries to remain steady.
*    Thirty-seven percent of full-time agents at leisure-focused agencies receive medical insurance, while at corporate travel agencies that percentage jumped to 84 percent.

The 45-page report includes benchmarking data on compensation packages, hiring practices, salary ranges (broken out by region, company size and business model), and benefits.

Survey data was collected through the 2009 ASTA Research Family. The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The reply level for this survey indicates an error rate of +/- 4.3 percent representing the total ASTA agency membership.

The full report is available for purchase for $549 to non-members. ASTA Allied members pay $349 while Premium members receive the full report at no cost as part of their membership. Travel agent members receive a complimentary three-page summary of the report; those interested in receiving the full study receive a substantial discount and pay only $99.

Visit or contact Melissa Teates, ASTA’s director of research, at [email protected].


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