How Much Does a Travel Agent Make per Booking?

May 23, 2024

Ever try to calculate in your head how much a travel agent makes per booking? I do, so I wrote a blog on it using HAR's extensive travel agent research!

Whether you're curious about starting a career as a travel agent, or wondering how much your travel agent makes on each booking, this blog has answers for you.

How Much Does a Travel Agent Make Per Booking?

A travel agent earned approximately $438 in commission per booking in 2023.

There's no easy answer to this question. Why? How much a travel agent earns per booking is going to depend on factors such as travel agent commissions, fees, overrides, and what type of travel the agent is booking.

But if you were to press me for an answer to how a travel agent makes per booking, I'd say this: A very general rule of thumb is an advisor will earn an average of 10% commission on a booking. In 2023, the average sale amount per booking was $4,3751, indicating a travel agent earned approximately $438 in commission per booking.

Again, sale per booking has huge ranges, and that number doesn't include travel agent fees or overrides. Why is there such a range in how much a travel agent earns per booking? Let's go over it.

Travel Agent Commissions & How They Impact Income Per Booking

Commissions, by far, make up the biggest portion of a travel agent's income. But don't take my word for it! We have a homegrown stat right here from HAR's annual travel advisor survey!


But, like sales per booking, there are a lot of factors that go into how much commission an advisor will make. The thing is, travel agents make commission on most products, but not all. Commission can range from 0% to 20% with different vendors. (Travel insurance can be up to the 40% range for their Cadillac policies.)

Commission can range from 0% to 20% with different vendors.

Here's a few factors that will determine how much commission a travel agent makes per booking:

1. A Travel Agency's Cumulative Sales

A travel agency's cumulative sales with specific vendors can dictate the commission level a travel agent earns. Here's an example:

Two travel agencies are booking the same $10,000 tour.

Agent A: Earns a 10% commission ($1,000) because they don't sell many packages with that vendor. Even though the cost will be the same for the traveler, one travel agency could be earning $1,000 in commission for the booking (10% commission) because they don't sell a lot of that vendor. The other travel agent that is at the top commission tier could be making $1,600 on the booking (16% commission).

It's tough for a solo travel agent or single travel agency to reach a high volume of sales. This is why many travel agents align with a host agency. Check the resource to see how aligning with a host can beef up your commission.

2. varied commission levels for different trip segments

Here's the icing on the cake. A travel agent may make a much lower commission or zero commission on some portions of your booking! Here's another example:

Through a travel advisor, you buy a vacation package with multiple components. Let's say:

1. Air

2. Car

3. Lodging

4. Cruise (maybe, just an example here)

Different parts of the package may have different commissions levels. For example, even if the travel agent earns 15% on the lodging or cruise, the air may not be commissionable at all (or much lower.)

The car may be commissionable at 10% and cruises often have something called non-commissionable fees (NCFs) which are—you guessed it—non-commissionable portions of the cruise. 2

So how much is a travel agent making on your $10,000 booking?

If a good portion of it is non-commissionable air and there are NCFs involved, it can lower the commissionable amount by thousands of dollars. Which means that even if the agency is at 16% commission with the vendor, it isn't 16% of $10,000. Instead it's more like 16% of $6,000—or about 10% of $10,000—once we take out $4,000 for the non-commissionable air and cruise NCFs.

And that, my friends, is where we get our answer of 10% to the question of how much travel agents make per booking. :)

Want more details on commission? Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about travel agent commissions.

3.Commission earnings based on travel agent type

There are different types of travel advisors out there, namely hosted, independent, and travel advisor employees. (Read up on different types of travel agents.) The two main types are:

  1. Independent travel agents (or travel agent entrepreneurs/self-employed travel agents)
  2. Travel agent employees

If the travel advisor you're working with is an employee, they will likely have set hourly wages or annual salary. Our 2023 Travel Advisor Employee Report found that roughly half of employees earned some type of commission but the agency takes the majority of the commission.

Independent travel agents, on the other hand, will pocket all that commission if they have their own accreditation. If they're hosted, they may split the commission with their host (commission splits can be 50%-100%).

Unsure if you're better off hosted (higher aggregate sales with a commission split) or getting your own accreditation (lower commissions, but 100% take-home)? Check out HAR's commission comparison calculator.

A recap on how commissions impact how much a travel agent makes per booking

Phew that was a lot. Here's a summary of key components on why the amount a travel agent makes per booking can vary so drastically:

  1. Vendors have varying commission levels based on agency sales
  2. Some products are completely non-commissionable
  3. Some packages have parts that are lower commission than others
  4. Cruise lines may have non-commissionable fees (NCFs) on portions of the fare

And commissions are just one piece of the puzzle! Up next? Let's take a look at how fees affect how much travel agents make per booking. :)

Travel Agent Fees & Their Impact on Earnings Per Booking

Let's add in the next most common source of income, travel agent fees.

When it comes to air-only tickets, expect an advisor to always charge a fee because those are generally non-commissionable.

The majority of travel advisors do charge some type of fee—a consultation or service fee—which is a large shift from the past when it was rare for a travel advisor to charge a fee for anything other than an air-only ticket. Here's a look.

If you're wondering why travel agents charge fees, they work CRAZY hard for their clients. Learn more about what travel agents do.

Fee Data Summary

HAR's research report fee data can be boiled down to this:

  1. 49% of travel advisors with a host agency charged some type of fee
  2. 67% of independently accredited travel advisors charged some type of fee (more on accreditation)

How do these fees impact how much a travel agent makes per booking for those who charge? Here's some data-backed examples!

  1. Air-only booking fee: When it comes to air-only tickets, expect an advisor to always charge a fee because air-only bookings are generally non-commissionable. A travel agent charges roughly $60 per international air ticket booking and $40 per domestic air ticket booking through their ticketing fees.
  2. Planning fees: For that vacation package or cruise, a travel agent may charge a fee for the planning and management of the booking. You might be thinking they're double-dipping by charging a fee AND getting commission. Here's the thing to know about that. If travel advisors didn't charge fees, they would get absolutely nothing for their work if:
  3. A booking is non-commissionable or low commission
  4. A client cancels the booking
  5. A world-wide pandemic hits and their entire livelihood is decimated in a matter of weeks
  6. A volcano erupts or a hurricane hits and travelers' bookings are cancelled
  7. A traveler calls for a quote, the agent spends time researching and sending options, only to have the traveler not book

That's why they charge fees. :) When it comes to vacation packages, cruises, and tours, travel agents make about $100-$250 per booking from fees.


Let's go over things one more time. Here's the scoop:

  1. As a very rough rule of thumb, a travel agent makes about 10% per booking
  2. Travel advisors make money on each booking typically in two ways: fees and commissions
  3. For air tickets, travel agents typically charge around $40 for domestic air tickets and $60 for international tickets
  4. For packages, tours, cruises, and more complex travel, travel agents typically charge a booking fee of $100-250

But there are plenty of advisors that buck that trend including Courtnie Nichols, who works with one destination wedding group a month and charges a $5,000 group planning fee. She also has up to 25 clients on an $6,500 annual retainer with a minimum travel spend of $50k/yr, not including air.

Hear and watch more stories of successful travel advisors by subscribing to our Travel Agent Chatter podcast!

Looking to Learn More?

We're up to our eyeballs in all things travel agents here at HAR! And you landed on this article because you're likely curious about how much a travel agent makes per booking.... which has me thinking you might be thinking it could be a cool career?

You've landed in the right spot! Your first stop should be our how to become a travel agent article, which goes over the different paths you can take as a travel agent, including starting your very own agency. :)

If you know you'd like to become an entrepreneur and want the guidance, support, and accountability from an experienced team, check out our Accelerator course with just the right sized modules to keep you motivated and moving towards your goal!

7DS Accelerator

Questions? We've got answers.

Have questions on how much travel agents make per booking (and beyond)? We'd love to help!

Drop us your questions in the comments or submit them for our next Friday 15 podcast, where we answer your industry questions every Friday at 12pm CT!


  1. Source: Hosted Advisor Report 2023
  2. Side note: Non-commissionable fees are a very opaque and unpredictable entity for travel agents. The amount varies and no one really knows what they are beyond vague words like port charges and fees, maybe throw in a surcharge or fuel tax in there for good measure?
About the Author
Steph Lee - Host Agency Reviews

Steph Lee

Steph grew up in the travel industry, helping on and off with her mom's homebased travel agency. She has worked with thousands of agents in her role as a former host agency director before leaving in 2012 to start HAR. She's insatiably curious, loves her pups Fennec and Orion, and -- in case you haven't noticed -- is pretty quirky and free-spirited.

If you’re looking for Steph, she leaves a trace where ever she goes! You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (her fav) and Pinterest as 'iamstephly'. 🙂 You can also catch her on her Substack, Bumblin' Around, where she writes on things outside the world of HAR.