The job market for new travel agents is looking up, according to a new Virtuoso report.
67 percent of Virtuoso-affiliated agencies are planning to hire advisors over the next year, and another 22 percent are possibly hiring, Virtuoso said. With CareerBuilder’s 2016 Jobs Forecast reporting that only 36 percent of overall employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees over the same time period, that makes the travel agent market much stronger than the job market overall.
These findings are based on 179 responses to a survey from U.S.-based Virtuoso travel agencies, completed in March 2016. Half the agencies surveyed sell more than $10 million annually and 82 percent of agencies predict sales growth in the coming year.
In terms of compensation, 62 percent of Virtuoso agencies report their top sellers earn at least $75,000 a year, while 36 percent report their star advisors make $100,000 or more. Additionally, advisor compensation has been growing over the past five years, particularly due to the practice of charging fees. 96 percent of Virtuoso agencies charge client fees, a practice that establishes the value of their professional services, time and insider connections. The path to compensation is also fairly rapid, with the majority (53 percent) of new advisors taking three years to reach an earning level parallel to established staff.
While the jobs are available, 43 percent of agencies report it is too difficult to recruit qualified new advisors. The vast majority of them (84 percent) say finding people with the needed professional skills is challenging. The most common skills cited are a passion to serve clients, enthusiasm for travel, comfort with selling luxury product beyond their personal budget and an aptitude for problem solving.
Other challenges to recruiting new agents include overcoming concerns about compensation, which 51 percent of agencies citing as a roadblock. Additionally, 44 percent of agencies said many potential applicants do not even recognize travel advising is a viable career.
In terms of career longevity, 84 percent of advisors have been in the profession for more than 10 years and 24 percent have had a career spanning over 20 years. 90 percent of agencies have been in business more than 10 years, and 84 percent predate the Internet boom, with histories spanning more than two decades.