How much commission do travel agents really make?

By having a grasp of the commission structure for various travel categories, clients are empowered to make well-informed decisions when collaborating with travel agents, and, thus, travel agents are able to establish fair fees for their services.  A travel agent’s expertise can enrich a client’s overall travel experience, ensuring that their dream vacation becomes a reality.
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

As you start or continue on the exciting journey of planning your clients’ dream getaways, you are likely to encounter the invaluable assistance of travel agents. Travel agents are experts in “all things travel” and not only help navigate the complexities of trip planning but also earn their income through commissions from various travel-related bookings.

Let us take you on a detailed tour of the commission landscape for travel agents.

Together, we will shed light on the typical and high/low range commission amounts for hotels, cruises, airfare, tours, and other avenues you may not have considered — yet.

Accessible Travel

Travel agents specializing in accessible travel have a unique niche that caters to individuals with disabilities or special needs. Commission rates in this niche can vary widely depending on the suppliers and the level of specialization they offer. For example, suppliers like Wheel the World may offer a commission rate of 3%, which reflects their commitment to accessibility. On the other hand, Kingdom Strollers, which provides specialized stroller rental services for families with young children, may offer a higher commission rate of 15%. Accessible travel agents should explore partnerships with various suppliers to ensure their clients’ needs are met.

Airfare Bookings

Airfare is a fundamental aspect of travel, and travel agents can assist you in securing the best flight options. However, commissions for airfare can be more intricate, as they often depend on the agreements travel agencies have with airlines.

Typical Commissions: Commission rates for airfare can be relatively modest, ranging from 1% to 3% of the total ticket price. In some cases, travel agents might receive a fixed fee per booking instead.

High/Low Range: Domestic flights and economy class tickets usually offer lower commissions, while international flights and premium class tickets can yield higher commissions.

Airline Consolidators, on the other hand, have a more “Build Your Own Commission” structure.  So, it is pertinent to know with you are working with as a travel agent.

commissions,calculating fees

Cars, RV, and Transfers

Travel agents can expand their services beyond traditional bookings to include ground transportation options like car rentals, RV rentals, and transfers. These services can be particularly beneficial for clients who want flexibility and convenience during their travels. The commissions offered by suppliers in this category can vary based on factors such as the type of transportation, location, and the supplier’s agreement with the travel agent. Here’s a breakdown of these opportunities:

Car Rentals: Travel agents can earn commissions when they book car rentals for their clients. Commission rates for car rentals often fall within the range of 5% to 17%. The exact rate can depend on the rental agency and the volume of bookings made through the travel agent. Agents may consider establishing partnerships with major car rental companies as well as local or specialty providers to offer a wide range of options to clients.

RV Rentals: For clients seeking a unique travel experience, RV rentals are an exciting option. Commission rates for RV rentals typically follow a similar range, ranging from 5% to 17%. Travel agents can work with RV rental companies to provide clients with options for various sizes and styles of RVs, allowing them to embark on memorable road trips.

Transfers: Transfers, such as airport shuttle services or private transportation to and from accommodations, are essential components of a seamless travel experience. Suppliers offering transfer services often provide commission rates in the 5% to 17% range. By offering transfer services, travel agents can ensure their clients have a hassle-free journey from arrival to departure.

Cruise Bookings

Cruises offer travelers an opportunity to explore multiple destinations in one trip, and travel agents are there to guide cruisers through the vast ocean of cruise options. Commissions for cruise bookings can be quite diverse, influenced by the cruise lines’ policies and the complexity of the booking.

Typical Commissions: On average, travel agents can earn commissions ranging from 10% to 18% of the total cruise fare. This means that for every cruise package booked, the travel agent has the potential to receive 10 to 16 cents on every dollar spent.

High/Low Range: High-end cruises and luxury liners like AmaWaterways may offer travel agents higher commissions, while budget or discounted cruises might provide lower rates.  Disney, Holland America, and Princess tend to typically fall in the mid-level commission range, around 10%.

Specialized transportation suppliers, such as Yachtico rentals, may offer 3 to 5%.

commissions, counting money

Excursions and Tour Packages

For travelers seeking curated experiences and guided adventures, travel agents may offer assistance in booking tour packages. Commissions for tour packages can fluctuate widely, influenced by the tour operator’s policies and the complexity and exclusivity of the tour.

Typical Commissions: Commissions for tours typically fall in the range of 10% to 14% of the total package price – and on rare occasions, up to 20%. This means that your travel agent may earn 10 to 20 cents on every dollar spent on the tour, or more.

High/Low Range: Specialized or high-end tours, such as adventure or luxury excursions, may offer travel agents’ commissions at the higher end of the scale, while budget-friendly or standard tours might provide lower rates.

Hotel Bookings

When it comes to booking accommodations, travel agents can be a treasure trove of knowledge and resources. They assist in finding the perfect hotel that suits your clients’ preferences and budget. For their services, travel agents typically earn commissions, which can vary based on factors like the hotel’s size, type, and location.

Typical Commissions: The standard commission rate for hotel bookings falls in the range of 8% to 15% of the total room cost. This means that for every dollar the client spends on accommodation, a travel agent may earn anywhere from 8 to 15 cents as a commission.

High/Low Range: Keep in mind that commission rates can fluctuate. Luxury or boutique hotels may offer lower commissions, often closer to the lower end of the scale, while larger chain hotels, particularly for group bookings, might offer commissions at the higher end.  Places like Palace Resorts usually offer a 10% commission, and luxury entities such as Excellence Collection, and Belmond, offer various commission rates.  The better the relationship a travel agent forms with these luxury suppliers, the higher the probability of higher commission rates will be!

Specialized suppliers

Suppliers like Atlantis Events and VACAYA cater to niche travel markets. These suppliers often offer commission rates in the range of 10% to 14% to travel agents who bring them business. Travel agents who focus on specialized markets can develop expertise in serving this unique clientele and build strong relationships with specialized suppliers to earn competitive commissions while providing tailored experiences to their clients.

Travel Insurance

In 2023, travel insurance is more essential than ever, and travel agents can earn commissions by offering these policies to their clients. The commission rates for travel insurance can range from 10% to 36%, depending on the insurance provider and the specific policy sold. Companies like Allianz Partners and Travelex are known for offering competitive commission rates. Travel agents have an opportunity to educate their clients about the importance of travel insurance and assist them in selecting the right coverage, thus earning commissions while providing valuable protection for travelers.

commissions, travel insurance

Miscellaneous Travel

Travel agents who offer exclusive packages to destinations like C Lazy U Ranch or specialize in wine travel, such as Taste Vacations, can earn commissions of around 10% for bookings made through them. These niche travel experiences often attract clients seeking unique and personalized adventures. By collaborating with these specialized providers, travel agents can offer their clients memorable and customized travel experiences while earning commissions.

Rail Travel

Rail travel is a less common but fascinating niche within the travel industry. Suppliers like Belmond Trains may offer gross pricing that can include a 15% commission, providing travel agents with an opportunity to earn commissions while promoting rail travel options. Building relationships with railway transportation suppliers can be advantageous for travel agents looking to diversify their offerings and provide clients with alternative and eco-friendly travel options.

In addition to commission rates, travel agents have the option to earn money through service or planning fees.

Service or planning fees are a subject that often sparks debate within the travel agent community. Charging a service fee is a way for agents to compensate themselves for the extensive research, skills, and expertise they invest in planning travel experiences. It is crucial for agents to approach this aspect strategically to ensure it is well-received by clients.

  • First and foremost, travel agents should never apologize for their planning fees.  Apologizing may inadvertently communicate desperation, which can deter potential clients. Clients prefer working with successful agents who confidently stand by the value they offer.
  • Secondly, it is important to justify the service fee.  Explaining the reasoning behind the fee, such as investing in ongoing education, designing personalized itineraries, or prioritizing client needs over commission rates, can help clients understand the value they receive in return.
  • Lastly, agents have the option to introduce the fee quietly without a public announcement, particularly if they are new to the travel industry and do not have an extensive client base. Service fees can be a way for travel agents to establish their worth, maintain financial sustainability, and continue providing exceptional travel planning services to their clients.

In the realm of travel planning, travel agents are not only guides but also rely on commissions for their livelihood.

By having a grasp of the commission structure for various travel categories, clients are empowered to make well-informed decisions when collaborating with travel agents, and, thus, travel agents are able to establish fair fees for their services.  A travel agent’s expertise can enrich a client’s overall travel experience, ensuring that their dream vacation becomes a reality.

Remember that travel agents are valuable partners in creating hard-to-forget memories. Travel agents’ commissions reflect the effort and expertise they invest in planning trips, helping their clients embark on journeys filled with adventure, relaxation, and exploration.

Meet Pickles Travel Network: The Host Agency That Makes It Easy to Start and Scale Your Travel Business

Whether you’ve just started your travel agent journey, or you’ve been on it… Pickles Travel Network has the tools and resources to help grow your business. Unlike other host agencies, we believe in letting our members choose what works best for their business. Pickles Travel Network allows you to choose your commission rate, along with whether or not you want to charge planning fees. As a member, you’ll receive instant access to our list of suppliers, several marketing platforms and monthly coaching/trainings. 

IATA | CLIA Membership

PTN IATAN code: 45769253

PTN CLIA number: 00032299

When you enroll with suppliers, you must use PTN’s codes to receive a commission from us. Want to sign up for your own CLIA or IATA numbers for exclusive travel benefits? See below.

Get your own IATA/IATAN ID Card:

IATA IATAN Logo

The IATA/IATAN ID Card is the industry-standard credential to identify bona fide travel professionals. Key benefits include access to concessionary incentives from industry suppliers. Just added, the IATA MemberPerks program provides cardholders with daily savings at over 300,000 merchants across North America.

To be eligible, you must be registered with IATAN under PTN’s IATA number 45769253, working a minimum of 20 hours per week and earning a minimum of $5,000 per annum in commissions. You’ll need to send PTN a support ticket asking for approval. Once approved, we will send you a PRIN # to allow you to register with IATAN and ask for an ID card.

Get your own CLIA EMBARK ID:

CLIA Logo

Obtain a CLIA EMBARC ID for travel discounts and FAM (Familiarization) trips. Join CLIA as an Individual Agent Member, under Pickles Travel Network CLIA #00032299.

Once you’ve registered, submit a support ticket to let us know, and we will approve your registration.