Breaking it Down: What’s in A Travel Agent’s Salary?

December 21, 2023

So, you have a passion for travel. You love helping friends and family plan their vacations with cool tips and recs, and you’re thinking about turning this passion into a career (or side hustle). But you may be wondering how to monetize, and asking “where does a travel agent salary come from?”

We’re breaking it all down below. Plus, you might be surprised to learn that earning a salary as a travel agent is seamless, especially with the support and tech tools of a modern travel agency like Fora.

(Just getting started? Learn how to become a travel agent.)

The 2 most common ways to earn a travel agent salary

The vast majority of revenue a travel agent pulls in comes from two sources: commissions and service fees. Let’s break it down.

1. Commissions: the bread & butter of a travel agent’s salary

Commissions are paid by suppliers (such as hotels, cruises, tour companies) to a travel agent, for booking their services on behalf of a client. The commission is a percentage of the sale. 

Here’s some behind-the-scenes. Travel industry suppliers pay advisors commission, because booking with a travel agent directly delivers a higher quality, more reliable client, as compared to big travel sites like Additionally, the supplier is able to keep more of the profit than they would if the client booked through an online travel site, which are known to take a much higher distribution fee. More importantly, if your clients are happy with the service, you’re more likely to send future clients back to the same supplier, setting up a potential revenue stream for them. 

This transaction model is also far less expensive than what the supplier might have paid for traditional advertising, so it’s an easy expense to incorporate the travel agent in.

What’s commissionable? Hotel bookings, travel insurance, car rentals, tours… (hint: a lot)

All sorts of travel experiences are commissionable, not just hotel reservations. Car rentals, chauffeur services, event tickets, cruises — the list goes on. Check out Fora’s guide to the types of bookings you can make as a Fora Advisor (that aren’t hotels) for more details.

It’s also worth noting that the best travel agents earn their salary smartly, and sometimes that means avoiding less valuable commissions. Booking economy airline tickets for a client, for example, can often be more trouble than it’s worth. The margins are slim and the complexity of air travel — delays, cancellations — means booking flights for a client can introduce more problems than it solves.

2. Planning & service fees: the icing on the cake of a travel agent salary

Planning and service fees account for how travel agents make money from just about everything that’s not commissionable. It’s the money (aka travel agent salary) clients pay you to provide something of value, such as building a custom itinerary or making a reservation for a travel experience that isn’t commissionable — you should still be compensated for your time and expertise, after all. 

Why do travel agents charge fees for things like custom itineraries? 

Again, this goes back to being paid for your efforts. 

The cool thing is, many clients are happy to pay for your expertise. You’re adding value to their trip they likely wouldn’t have received otherwise, whether it’s the convenience of not having to do the legwork themselves (freeing up their time), highlighting some sort of experience they wouldn’t have encountered or providing your insider intel and expertise honed from personal experience or research.

How much money do travel agents make?

In addition to the question, “what’s in a travel agent’s salary?” you’re probably wondering “how much do travel agents make?” 

We can’t speak for other agencies, but Fora travel advisor salaries vary wildly, depending on whether it’s a full-time focus or side hustle. At the end of the day, how much you earn is correlated to how much you book. For instance, if you book a family cruise in the tens of thousands of dollars, your commission will be substantial. You could also get the same commission by handling individual hotel bookings, but at a higher amount. 

Top travel advisors can make well into six figures. Meanwhile, some advisors focus on booking travel for their friends and family purely as a side gig, and may earn an extra $10k each year, for example. There’s no wrong way to make money as a travel agent (with Fora, at least).

And remember, building your book of business is an entrepreneurial journey. It takes time; you'll start smaller but can grow over time. And at Fora — between our resources, tools & community, – we're here to support you every step of the way.

How much do travel agents make per booking? Do travel agents get paid hourly?

While rare, some agencies do pay their travel agents an hourly rate as part of a travel agent salary. At Fora, we prefer flexibility, meaning our advisors work whenever they want, and as much as they want. A lot of Fora Advisors are part-timers who enjoy careers in other fields.

Fora Advisors make their travel agent salary via commission, which is split between the advisor – Fora collects a small percentage. Our entry-level commission split for Fora Advisors is 70%.

As for how much travel agents make per booking, traditional commission rates hover between 10 and 15 percent, however, they can be as low as 7% and even as high as 28% (we see you, cruise companies).

To break it down with some easy numbers, if you’re booking a hotel room that costs 1k per night. With an average commission of 15%, the total amount earned is $150. Fora Advisors would keep $105 of that. Fora keeps $45 as the host agency.

And remember: unlike many other host agencies, Fora handles all commission tracking and payments (thanks to our all-in-one, integrated booking platform), so you get paid without lifting a finger. 

How do Fora Advisors maximize their commissionable revenue?

There are a lot of ways Fora Advisors boost their travel agent salary. Here’s how.

(P.S. Looking for more reasons to become a Fora Advisor? Hear what existing Fora travel advisors have to say.)

Enticing travelers with premium incentives (like hotel perks) is one of the best ways Fora travel agents earn their salary

Through a variety of supplier partnerships (as of publish date, over 4,500), Fora Advisors offer awesome perks to their clients that sweeten their travel experience. 

For example, some of the perks at the coolest hotels in Downtown NYC include complimentary hotel credits that can be put toward spa treatments or meals. This means the client is getting much more value out of their stay (complimentary meals, upgraded rooms, VIP status, etc.), so it’s a win-win.

Perks and incentives aren’t limited to hotels, by the way. Virgin Voyages travel agents, for instance, can score early ship boarding and onboard credits for their clients.

Some Fora Advisors have a niche, like group, corporate or other specialized types of travel

A niche can be a great way for travel agents to make a higher salary.

Luxury travel agents cater to discerning explorers who might prefer to stay at world-class hotels (like ritzy hotels in Dubai or Grand Cayman resorts). Disney travel agents earn commissions on entire vacation packages. And travel agents who specialize in group bookings can pull in substantial commissions for booking event venues, whole hotel floors and so on (read more about mastering the art of group bookings).

As a host agency, Fora provides a ton of support to help travel agents make money, from training to lead generation

With rookie-to-advanced travel agent training, and a suite of tools ranging from lead-generation opportunities to custom marketing collateral to a seamless in-house booking platform, Fora is committed to helping our advisors succeed. We’re with them every step of the way.

In other words? We take care of the logistics (invoicing, commission payouts) and provide all the groundwork for how to be a successful travel advisor, so you can focus on the fun stuff.

… and offers super-fast payments

Fora makes it clear that they expect speedy payments from suppliers, and Fora Advisors are often paid before we receive a check. Likewise, our payments are the fastest in the business. You can expect commission payments twice monthly, via direct deposit.

(For the exact process, learn how travel agents get paid.)

Ready to start earning a travel agent salary? Become a Fora Advisor today

Want to find out how travel agents make money firsthand? Become a Fora Advisor and start your career — or side hustle — in travel today.