Why travel agent salaries are lower than national average

When the BBC last week asked the question: “Does your job pay less than it did five years ago?”, I was intrigued to check out travel agent salaries and immediately set off to use the nifty salary calculator included on the website.

To my dismay, I discovered that travel agents in the UK are very much the job market losers, earning a salary of nearly £8k less than the national average in 2016.  Interestingly in travel, the roles of air traffic controllers, pilots and flight engineers were touted as the big winners of 2016.

You don’t need to take a flying leap to know that travel agent salaries haven’t been what they should be for many years. Although the profession is undervalued, I’ve seen first-hand how hard travel professionals need to work – seven-day weeks, late nights, etc. Despite the adverse conditions and poor pay, they remain passionate about travel and their clients.   

The travel agent profession has become increasingly demanding, not only in terms of work hours, but also knowledge. The use of several GDS systems and greater access to technology means they need to be skilled in multiple technological platforms, while at the same time delivering sound travel product and destination advice to their end customer.

In an age, where customers increasingly want to “do it themselves”, the travel agent has had to evolve into a travel professional, providing and demonstrating true value through exceptional service.

So why would you remain in the industry if you’re being paid travel agent salaries that are so much less than the national average?

Well, if your success revolved around the transaction, you wouldn’t. Today’s successful travel agents are passionate about the industry, travel and their customers. They invest in their continuous professional development and delight in providing a superior service for their customers that goes beyond booking a flight ticket for a customer, because let’s face it, in many cases they can without your expert help.

If you want to earn more as a travel agent in future, you’ll need to reinvent yourself as a consultant and show your employer how successful you are. No more hiding from the limelight. Your loyalty, good customer base and shared success stories will help you to convince your employer of your value.

But it starts with you. Take the passion you have for travel and sharing travel with your customers and put it in to developing yourself so that you can command the salary you deserve as a travel professional.

What are your views? Connect with me on LinkedIn or contact me with your comments.