Published On: Tue, Mar 31st, 2015

ASTA: Employment at travel agencies is highest in five years

ASTA-logoIncreasing demand for the services of a professional travel agent is causing employment at travel agencies to rise, according to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). ASTA’s 2014 Labor & Compensation Report finds that 74 percent of members had at least one employee or Independent Contractor (IC) in 2014, the highest percentage of agencies with employees and/or ICs since 2010.

“Strong travel sales have necessitated increased hiring among agencies,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “The pressure on the labor market will continue because agencies are forecasting strong 2015 demand.”

On average, agencies have seven employees, a number which has remained steady over the past few years and 11 ICs, a number that has gone up slightly. For corporate agencies, the average number of employees has risen, while their usage of ICs remains low—81 percent have employees, 19 percent have an IC.

Many agencies saw their average salaries increase over the past decade for almost all positions. Full-time travel agent salaries have increased 19% for experienced agents and 18% for new hires. Salaries for managers with sales responsibilities increased the most at 20%.

Agencies that hired in 2014 said referrals were the strongest source of new hires followed by newspaper advertisements. Agencies found that FAM trips, discounted travel, flexible hours and a relaxed company environment appealed most to potential hires.

A third of Independent Agents (one-person agencies) had employees/ICs working for them in the past. Most changed their business model due to industry changes or the economic slowdown in 2009-2010. Two-thirds do not plan to hire in the future and plan to stay a one-person operation having fully adapted to their current business model.

Survey data was collected through the 2014 ASTA Research Family. The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The survey data was collected online via in September 2014. There were 325 respondents out of the pool of 449 family members. This reply level indicates a minimum of 95% confidence with an error rate +/-5% representing the total ASTA agency membership.