Low Unemployment Impacts Travel Advisor Hiring

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Low Unemployment Impacts Travel Advisor Hiring

In states with high travel agent populations, unemployment hovered at all-time lows this summer. Photo: Shutterstock.com. 


As the U.S. economy drives unemployment to historic lows, and Americans continue to purchase travel, it is getting ever more difficult to attract leisure travel agents to the business.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in June 2019, 47 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment. One had a decrease, and 341 were essentially unchanged.

The largest over-the-year employment increases for non-farm employees occurred in New York-Newark-Jersey City (+123,800); Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+120,000); and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California (+87,100).

In June, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 14 of the 38 metropolitan “divisions” over the year and was essentially unchanged in 24 divisions, BLS said. The largest year-over-year increase in employment occurred in New York-Jersey City-White Plains (+111,500); followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (+97,000; and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Illinois (+63,500).

The largest year-over-year percentage gains in employment occurred in Reno, Nevada (+6.2%); Idaho Falls, Idaho (+4.2%); and Asheville, North Carolina. Also coming in at +3.8% each were Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida; Ogden-Clearfield, Utah; and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida.

Over the year, nonfarm employment rose in 31 of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, while employment was essentially unchanged in 20 areas. The largest over-the-year percentage increases in employment in these large metropolitan areas occurred in Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida (+3.8%); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona (+3.3%); and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+3.2%).

In states with high travel agent populations, unemployment hovered at all-time lows this summer. For example, in California, the Department of Labor reported unemployment at 4.1%. In other states with high populations of travel advisors, unemployment was at 3.5% in Florida, 4% in Illinois, 3.8% in New York, and 3.6% in Texas.

As more private industry companies compete for employees, compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.6% over the year for the three-month period ending June 2019, compared with a compensation cost increase of 2.9% in June 2018. Wages and salaries increased 3% for the 12-month period ending in June 2019, compared with 2.9% in June 2018.

At the same time that the industry is competing for qualified employees, travel sales remain solid, keeping existing agents busy. According to Airlines Reporting Corp., total passenger trips settled by ARC for U.S. travel agencies in the first half of 2019 increased by 2.4% to 161,850,103 from 157,997,776 during the same period last year.

Corporate agents in highest demand
Corporate travel appears to be stronger than leisure currently, as ARC reported that passenger trips booked by predominantly leisure travel agencies in June 2019 were down 7.8% versus the same month in 2018. Business travel trips booked by corporate agencies were up 1% in June 2019, versus the same month last year.

“If you are a seasoned agent, you can find a job. It’s an agent’s market, especially on the corporate side,” said Gayle Walsh, president of the Travel Staffing Group, in New Egypt, New Jersey.

“The travel industry is booming,” said Jill LaBarre, vice president of business development, at Palm Coast Travel, OASIS Travel Network. OASIS has launched its New 2 Travel program for both new and second-career employees.

BLS captures wage and compensation information for travel agents, but the latest figures available covered the period ending May 2018. Then, BLS estimated that there were 69,480 people employed specifically as a travel agent, earning a mean annual wage of $42,720.

At that time, the top 10% of travel agent wage earners were estimated to have a mean annual wage of $66,080, while the top 25% were earning a mean annual wage of around $52,000.

The highest mean annual wage geographically was found in California ($47,460), followed by Florida ($41,630), and New York ($40,000).

Walsh said several host agencies are working with her to source independent contractors (ICs). “There is very high demand for ICs. It’s a big area of growth.”

“The harder jobs to fill are those where a company wants an employee in their offices. I have one client, a Pennsylvania corporate travel department, who has been looking for someone since February. It’s grueling. I have a huge database of contacts. I’m constantly networking. But everyone is working from home and making in the $60,000s, and they don’t need to make the move.”

“If you’re working and doing well, odds are you want to stay where you are. If someone wants an agent to commute into a major city, they’re going to have to pay them $80,000-90,000 to convince them to do it,” Walsh said.

High employment could squeeze off one demographic that had been a source of new agents for the industry – people in their 20s. “Hiring managers really need to fight hard to get young people,” Walsh said. “They are not knocking on the door saying I want to be a travel agent.”

  1
  0
Could not load file or assembly 'System.Net.Http.Primitives, Version=1.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a' or one of its dependencies. The located assembly's manifest definition does not match the assembly reference. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80131040)
TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=d8164dc4-58d9-e911-be17-782bcb66a2f2)

The World’s Best Events to Build Trips Around

All travel advisors can benefit from adding events to their trip-planning services, further expanding their ability to help their clients have unforgettable travel experiences - the kind that they’ll tell their grandkids about some day.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Travel Advisors Should Be Alert to Uninsured Motorists

Agents must be sure to fully explore with their clients the insurance implications of any plan to rent a car on a trip that they are selling.

Thirty Years as a Travel Agent: Tips and Tales from Seasoned Travel Advisors

Some say it’s all about sales, and some say it’s all about service. We asked travel advisors who have been in business for 30 years to share tales and tips.

Travel Advisor or Meteorologist? Agents Often Have to Be Both

Predicting vacation bliss isn’t enough. When storms appear, travel advisors are also expected to forecast the weather.

When Talking with Luxury Clients, Advisors Should Make Emotions Count

Travel advisors can differentiate themselves by prompting clients to talk about the emotional impact they want out of their travels and using the answers to design memorable experiences.

Back to School: Travel Agent Digital Marketing Benefits from Sound Testing Skills

Odds are, you won’t get it right the first time. That’s why ‘test, learn and refine’ should be the mantra for every travel advisor’s digital marketing.

California Travel Agents Protected As ICs After Getting Exemption In Latest Version of AB5

Independent advisors, host agencies and networks are hopeful as agents have been added to the list of exempted professions to be regulated by California’s proposed AB5 law in a major victory for the trade. 

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

"Most people do want to experience new things. There is a small percentage, maybe 10%-15%, who always want to do the same thing: Either return to the same all-inclusive or take the same cruise line to the same Caribbean islands."

Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer

Live Well, Travel Often

Daily Top List

Five Rugby World Cup 2019 Host Cities

  1. Sapporo
  2. Kamaishi, Iwate Pref. 
  3. Kumagaya, Saitama Preg. 
  4. Tokyo 
  5. Yokohama, Kanagawa Pref.

Source: JapanTimes

TMR Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: USTOA's Recalculating with Harrison Greenbaum – Episode 2 (Dining in Mexico City)