One In Five Travel Agents Is Home-Based, New ASTA Survey Says

by Richard D’Ambrosio


The most common operating travel agency model is still brick and mortar, outside the home, employing regular staff or Independent Contractors (IC)—but one in five agents works from home, according to a new benchmark report from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).

Retail operations outside the home accounted for 46% of ASTA member locations in 2016, the organization reported in a press call yesterday, followed by home-based agencies with no employees or ICs (20%), home-based agencies with employees or ICs (19%), and agencies with multiple locations (12%) in 2016.

In 2016, 36% of ASTA agency members with multiple employees reported compensating their employees on an hourly basis, followed by salary (23%) and hourly plus commission (17%). Salaried plus commission came in at 14%.

The information is part of ASTA’s wide-ranging annual Labor and Compensation report, tracking current employment trends and compensation models.

ASTA is using the Insights to better understand its programming needs and respond to government initiatives, like last year’s Department of Labor (DOL) overtime regulation that is seemingly on hold right now.

At the time of the survey this past summer, two-thirds (66%) of the respondents indicated they had heard about the new DOL regulations, originally scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016. A Texas judge temporarily suspended the rule after a group of plaintiffs filed suit.

The rule would have raised the minimum salary threshold for salaried workers to $47,476. But only one-third (34%) of respondents were either very concerned or somewhat concerned. Another 32% said the new regulations will not affect their business model.

However, if agency owners and managers are required or have decided to begin tracking each salaried employee’s work hours every week, 39% felt the extra work would either be “very burdensome” or “somewhat burdensome.”

Meanwhile, about one-third (32%) of agencies that responded to the ASTA survey have one or more employees who were paid a total annual compensation (including bonuses and commissions) of less than $47,476. If the overtime rules were to go into effect, these agency owners and managers would have to make decisions and changes to comply with the DOL’s overtime regulation.

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