Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Tue March 31 2015

ASTA Reports Five-Year High in Agency Employment

Travel Agent | American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) | Claudette Covey | March 31, 2015

ASTA Reports Five-Year High in Agency Employment

An ASTA report has confirmed what anecdotal evidence has been suggesting for quite some time: Demand for the services of travel agents is on the rise.

According to ASTA’s 2014 Labor & Compensation Report, 74 percent of the Society’s members employed at least one staff member or independent contractor (IC) last year, which represents the highest percentage of agencies with employees or ICs since 2010.

“Strong travel sales have necessitated increased hiring among agencies,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s president and CEO. “The pressure on the labor market will continue because agencies are forecasting strong 2015 demand.”

On average, the number of agency employees – seven – has remained steady, with the average number of ICs – 11 – rising just slightly. Conversely, the number of employees at corporate agencies has risen, while the number of ICs remains low. Eighty-one percent of corporate agencies operate with full-time employees and only 19 percent are affiliated with ICs.

One-third of independent agencies, or one-person agencies, said they employed a staff member or IC in the past but scaled back in 2009 and 2010 because of the recession. Going forward, two-thirds of these agencies reported they have no plans to hire employees, having adjusted to their smaller business models.

Those agencies that added to staff last year reported that referrals, coupled with newspaper ads, reaped the richest rewards for finding employees. Agencies reported that new hires were primarily attracted to the travel industry by the prospect of fam trips, discounted travel, flexible hours and a laid-back work environment.

There was also some good news on the compensation front. During the past 10 years, full-time salaries for veteran agents have risen by 19 percent and 18 percent for new employees. Salaries for sales managers, meanwhile, have seen increases of nearly 20 percent.


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