Last Updated: August 13, 2021

How Much Do Travel Agents Make?

Curious about travel agent salaries and commissions? You’re certainly in the right place! This detailed guide covers everything you need to know about travel agent salaries, from how commissions work to whether it’s better to be independent or work with an agency.

Whether you’re just curious or considering becoming a travel agent yourself, this guide is all you need to know what to expect from the job. Read on to learn how much travel agents make on average, and all the juicy details about commissions and fam trips!

What Does A Travel Agent Do?

Travel Plans

A travel agent is someone who helps clients make travel plans. You just need to tell them when and where you want to travel, and they do all the other work – book flights, accommodation, arrange tours, etc., depending on what you asked them to do. Travel agents will consult with their clients before they book anything, to ensure that everything is exactly how the client wanted it to be.

They will also inform clients of any visa requirements, rules they need to know about, currency exchange rates, and other things. Using a travel agent is a great idea if you’re planning a special trip and you want everything to be perfect. You’re paying for their experience, connections, and vast knowledge of various international destinations, so you can be almost certain that the trip will turn out exactly how you want it to. Using travel agents for short trips to close destinations is not recommended, mostly because it’s just not worth it.

Travel Agent Salary

Travel Salary

 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of travel agents is $42,350 per year or $20.36 per hour. However, that’s just the average recorded salary – the actual amount of money travel agents make depends on a lot of different factors.

Travel agents earn most of their money through commissions, meaning that they take a percentage of everything clients book through them. It also depends on whether they’re an independent travel agent or if they work for an agency – if it’s the latter, there are even more factors in play.

Some travel agencies will give their agents base salaries, and then all the commissions are split between the agency and the agent – usually, it’s either 70/30 or 80/20 in favor of the agency. Other agencies will let their agents keep the entire commissions, but they don’t get a base salary, meaning that they earn all their money through commissions.

Travel Agents Commissions


Commissions are extremely important for travel agents because that’s how the vast majority of them earn money. In most cases, the minimum commission a travel agent takes is 10%, but again, this varies from supplier to supplier. Cruises will often offer higher commissions (16-18%), while Disney has a flat commission rate of 10% for their theme parks, but tiered commission rates for their cruises and adventure packages.

Tiered commissions usually start at the minimum rate, and then they increase the more sales an agent (or agency) makes. The Disney Cruise is a good example here – a new agent will get a 10% commission for every sale, but someone who has already made thousands of sales for the cruise will likely have a top-tier commission of 18%.

Let’s say you book a trip through an independent travel agent, and the total cost of everything is $5000. The minimum commission is 10%, so the travel agents will earn at least $500 from that trip. This is where all talk of average salary goes down the drain – if an agent can do two of these sales per week for an entire year, they’ll get paid around $52,000 just on commissions. Double the bookings, double the money, and that’s how some travel agents manage to earn six-figure salaries.

In addition to that, some travel agents will charge a consulting fee. Say you want to travel but you’re not ready to book anything just yet, you just want to talk to a travel agent to discuss the logistics of the trip. Some will talk to you for free, and others will charge you a consulting fee to give you all the information you want.

Independent Vs. Hosting Agents

What’s the difference between an independent agent and someone who is hosting through an agency? In terms of the work they do, there’s really not much of the difference – the job description is still the same.

An independent agent is someone who doesn’t have an agency to fall back on in case something goes awry, but they get to keep 100% of their commission. If you’re hosting or using the credentials of a travel agency, you need to give a percentage of your commission to that agency. The exact percentage varies from agency to agency, and it depends on a few other things.

Is it better to be an independent agent or work for an agency? It depends – independent agents have the luxury of working from wherever they want and keeping all of their commissions. But they also must do all the work themselves and take all the responsibility. Independent agents also need to purchase omissions and error insurance, which can get pricey but is ultimately worth the money.

That’s the main advantage of working for an agency – when the plans fall through or something unexpected happens, the agency takes the blow instead of the actual agents.

Do Travel Agents Travel For Free?

Work Trip

Yes, but it’s not as glamorous as it looks. Travel agents go on “fam” trips every few months, for the sole purpose of familiarizing themselves with a specific destination. They’ll also go on plenty of discounted trips to luxurious destinations, but they’re expected to work while they’re there. A travel agent needs to know a destination inside and out, in order to be able to book the best hotels, experiences, recommend restaurants, etc.

Hotels, tour operators, restaurant owners, and others see travel agents as giant talking advertisements. They want them to recommend you their hotel and their restaurant, and not anyone else’s. That’s also why most travel agents stop traveling for fun – if a hotel rep sees on your Instagram you’re in Dubai or Singapore, you can bet they’ll contact you to come to check out their brand new remodeled suite.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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