Who is the Hosted Travel Agent in 2018?

Who is the hosted travel agent? This is what HAR wanted to find out with one of our biggest surveys of the year is our Travel Agent Income Survey. As it's name suggests, the survey provides TONS of income information from travel agents. But we didn't stop there. Beyond income data, the survey provided great info on who the hosted travel is in 2018: their backgrounds, demographics, work habits, agency details . . . all sorts of goodies!

It's not every day hosted agents are surveyed and profiled . . . and that's what makes this survey unique! So in this article, we'll give agents and suppliers a better idea of the "norm" when it comes to hosted travel agents.

And we've got loads of other data from the survey that you can dig into in these articles:

  1. Travel Agent Income Survey Report, 2018
  2. Which Travel Agent Specialties Generate the Most Income? (2018)
  3. Travel Agency Startup Costs and Earnings: What to Expect

We know not everyone loves staring at Excel Spreadsheets so we made a prettified infographic, just for you! Psst... don't forget to check out last year's 2017 Travel Agent Income Report too!

This infographic would like to introduce you to its friends! They all have great data for agents at every stage in the game!

  1. Which Travel Agent Specialties Generate the Most Income? 
  2. Travel Agent Income Survey Report, 2018
  3. Travel Agency Startup Costs and Earnings: What to Expect

Now that you've gotten a chance to ogle the eye candy, let's dive in!

Travel Agent Demographic Data

We don't have much to say about general demographic data (age, race, gender and education) except that they are eerily similar to last year's data. We're definitely happy our data is consistent, we just didn't expect it to be SO close to last year!

The biggest change? The average age of the hosted travel agent bumped up to the 50-59 age bracket from 40-49. You can tell in our comparison below that the curves are basically mirror images of each other — neat-o!

Average Travel Agent Age Increased from 2017 to 2018

Gender:

Women still outnumber the men, representing 79% of travel agents. In case you're curious, we'll be assessing any pay differences between genders in our 2018 Travel Agent Income Survey Results. (So stay tuned!)

Race/ Ethnicity:

While the majority of respondents were white, all of the non-white categories (including our newly added Hawaiian and Pacific Islander category) grew slightly. Not enough to be statistically meaningful, but it's always nice to see the industry becoming more diverse!

Education: 

When it comes to education level, the graphs from 2017 and 2018 are again almost identical, confirming that most travel agents have a bachelor's degree or some college with no degree.

>>> HAR Hint! Read more on travel agent education here!

Business Basics

This year we added a couple of new questions to get an idea of how travel agencies are set up, how they're run, and what they sell.

Of the travel agents who took HAR's Income Survey, the vast majority do NOT have employees or independent contractors working for them. This isn't too much of a surprise, but it's important to note that HAR has a strong base of newer agents which means our data might be skewed towards agents who are not at that point of agency growth . . . yet.We were also curious about the percentage of agents who advanced their travel industry education with certification(s), as well as the percentage of agents who are members of a travel association(s). (Psst . . . we'll be looking at how certifications and membership affect income levels in a later article, so stay on the lookout ;) ) 

As certifications are not required to sell travel, it was great to see that over 60% of agents are investing in their career by earning at least one certification. To clarify, by 'investing' we don't necessarily mean monetarily. Most vendor and destination trainings do not cost money but do require time — a lot of it depending on how many different vendors and destinations!

The percentage of home-based (96%) to storefront (4%) travel agents who completed the survey stayed exactly the same. However, we did see an exciting increase when it came to how 'serious' travel agents are about their jobs. We saw a 9.42% increase of agents reporting selling travel was their primary job. 

On top of that, agents selling travel full-time rose almost 4%! We're excited about this growth. It reflects our personal experiences of noticing that travel agents are more engaged in their profession and actively selling versus selling travel as a hobby. While there's nothing wrong with selling travel on the side, we definitely perceive this trend as a good sign for industry health and growth!

With 42% of agents selling ocean cruises, it was the clear leader frontrunner for type of travel product sold. This was followed by all-inclusive resorts (30%), and (trailing much lower) tours & packages at 15%. No participant indicated that car rentals comprised the majority of their sale, and a couple travel agents marked Disney (few enough that it was a statistical 0).

I won't lie. I was surprised by the Disney data ;) For all those Disney agents out there who are appalled by this, make sure you take our Income Survey next year to represent!

>>> HAR Hint! Interested in becoming a Disney agent? If so, you'll definitely want to check out our articles for tips on sellingDisney World, Disneyland and general Disney booking secrets!

Travel Agent Job Satisfaction

While "Super happy and satisfied" still won out with 38%, it was a pretty big drop from last year's landslide victory of 53%. Fortunately, the missing 15% didn't go too far down as "Happy and satisfied" was boosted to 37%

"Don't ask, it's depressing" stayed low at 3% (thank goodness!).

Travel Agent Rewards & Challenges

Based on write-ins from last year regarding rewards and challenges of selling travel, we added a few new items for each option: 

Rewards

When it came to the most rewarding part of being a travel agent, the order stayed pretty much the same. But one new entry — "I love everything about my job" — zoomed to the top as the number 1 choice! ???? "Gratitude/relationship w/clients" was a close second followed by "Job flexibility/Owning my own company." We also noticed a lot of write-ins for "making people's dreams come true." We'll definitely add that option next year!

We decided to take a look at if there was a difference between how newer agents (0-2) and experienced agents (3+ years) ranked rewards. "I love everything about my job" won out for both groups. The two groups differed in what came next: newer agents ranked "Job flexibility/owning my own company" next whereas experienced agents ranks "Gratitude/relationship with clients" as their 2nd.

Challenges

Our new additions for "most challenging" option, "Finding clients" and "Competing with OTAs", also topped the list. Coming in 3rd was "Running my own company." — a double edged sword indeed! Owning your own company can be so rewarding but the work of running that same company can be a bit overwhelming.

We repeated the process of looking at challenges by experience. For new agents, far and away the number one challenge was "Finding clients"(48%), while "Competing with OTAs" came in at distant second (14%). In contrast, experienced agents were torn between their top challenge. Both "Finding clients" and "Competing with OTAs" tied for first at 22% each. 

>>> HAR Hint! Need a helping hand with finding clients and competing with OTAs? We have resources here to help boost your client base, one on competing against Expedia, and yet another on how travel agents can save clients money vs. OTAs.

Travel Agent Outlook

Another pair of identical numbers! "Would you choose to become a travel agent again?" still registered at a resounding 97% Yes!! This year we also asked travel agents if they would stick with the same niche if they were to do it all again. A strong 93% said they would keep their same niche.

When asked if they felt fairly compensated, the percentage of travel agents responding in the affirmative dropped a couple points to only 71%. Of the 29% who do not feel fairly compensated, 61% stated they only wanted a meager 1-10% increase in income. 

>> HAR Hint! Want to boost your travel agent income? Consider charing a service fee if you don't already!

In Conclusion

Wait!!! We almost forgot the most important stat — first choice for imaginary pet! Drumroll please . . . 

An imaginary pet dragon stole the show with almost 50% of the votes! We're calling that "The Game of Thrones Effect." Oddly, a singing rock came in second with 24%. Didn't see that coming. Meanwhile, the poor jackalope and liger came in as the least-wanted imaginary pets with only 11% and 16% of the votes, respectively. (The Napoleon Dynamite heyday is over, folks).

This data isn't only fascinating in its own right, it's also the perfect appetizer to prepare you for the data motherload: the 2018 Travel Agent Income Survey Results. Get ready to have your socks knocked off by numbers--its a thing.



About the Author

Bridget Lee

Hey there, I’m Bridget!

Having grown up in the travel industry I can attest, it’s hard to get travel out of your blood once the travel bug bites you! I’ve been working in the travel industry (or traveling) as long as I can remember. My favorite thing? Working with entrepreneurs and digging deep into the data to help others get a clearer picture of our industry.

If you have any questions or are itching to connect, I’m happy to help. 🙂