Increased Education and Certification Could Increase Travel Agent Sales

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Increased Education and Certification Could Increase Travel Agent Sales

Atendees at the educational sessions during last month's Travel MarketPlace East in Toronto. Photo: Dan Galbraith.


Agents with advanced certification tend to have annual sales double those of agents who seek no certification or only a foundational proficiency, according to The Travel Institute.

In a study released this week, entitled The Changing Face of Travel Agents, agents certified with a CTA, CTC, or CTIE from The Travel Institute reported annual revenues of $554,880. Agents with The Travel Institute Destination & Niche Specialist designations reported annual revenues of $488,336; and CLIA certified agents (CCC, ACC, ECC, MCC) reported annual revenues of $446,512.

Meanwhile, agents with no certification or only specialist training reported annual sales of $215,114.

Average annual compensation was similarly weighted higher for agents with more advanced certification. According to respondents, agents with The Travel Institute Certification earned $42,953 in 2017. The Travel Institute graduates with Destination & Niche Specialist certifications earned $37,534 and agents that were CLIA certified earned $33,332.

Agents with no certification or specialist training earned $19,428.

At the higher end of the compensation scale, 22 percent of The Travel Institute certified graduates and 16 percent of CLIA certified agents earned more than $60,000 in 2017, compared to just 7 percent of non-certified agents.

The results are based on responses from nearly 2,000 U.S. travel agents to an online survey conducted in December 2017 for The Travel Institute, by Schreiner Research Services, an independent market research organization.

“I look at these results, especially compensation, as a trifecta for our industry beginning with well-trained travel professionals who are earning significantly more money than agents without advanced learning,” said The Travel Institute President Diane Petras, CTIE. Petras said suppliers and consumers also benefit from working with experienced agents with stronger expertise.

What is not clear from the study is what other attributes the agent respondents might have that impact their annual sales and compensation. For example, might agents who take training simply have more experience and thus are apt to produce higher revenues and compensation? Also, might respondents with more certifications already have more established businesses than their less-trained peers?

The survey also asked agents about their relative satisfaction with their profession, and 96 percent of agents said they are happy with their current position (vs. 84 percent in a similar 2008 survey). Also, 97 percent of survey respondents said they are likely to remain employed in the travel industry for the rest of their career (vs. 52 percent in the 2008 survey).

On the downside, 11 percent of agents said their profession produces a high level of job-related stress, though that is down significantly from 29 percent in 2008.

The online survey was conducted between Nov. 30 – Dec. 29, 2017 and distributed jointly by The Travel Institute and industry partners. A total of 1,808 travel agents completed the questionnaire.

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