How Do Travel Agents Get Paid?

It’s the number one question I am asked…oddly enough, not by clients, but by people who are interested in becoming a travel professional.   A topic I’ve discussed via Facebook Live but feel it’s worthy of a blog post, so here we go!


There are two main sources of income for a travel advisor – commission and service fees.

Commission from the vendor: The tour operators/suppliers/vendors/wholesalers, cruise lines, hotels, car rental companies, insurance,  and airlines (this is typically only in business or first class – rarely do we see commission in economy class and by rarely I mean I can go a year without being paid a commission in economy by a major airline) pay us a percentage of the booking total. This amount varies, but is usually between 5- 27 % and in most cases, the commission amount is based on the pre-tax total. This commission arrives after you have traveled and with some cruise lines, we receive it after final payment is made.

Pretty photo to break up the somewhat boring topic!
Pretty photo to break up the post.

Service Fees: We charge our clients a fee for our services. Those services include consultation, research, pricing, confirming, arranging documents, customer support before, during, and post travel along with handling insurance claims when necessary. Some advisors actually make more money from their service fees than commission. The beauty of working in today’s world is that we can each run our business as we see fit! Fees range from $25 – $25K plus for a membership. The key is finding the advisor that is right for you!  I compare it to finding a hairstylist or a financial planner! I wrote a blog post describing why we charge fees a few years ago but it’s all still relevant.


While that little e-card may seem “harsh” I think we all agree that we can’t work for free!

Always happy to chat about the industry or answer questions about my services before getting started!

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