The average travel agent earns between $47,000 and $55,000 annually.

Most travel agents’ income is made up of their salary, but they also earn from commissions, service fees, and markups.

Generally, the more experienced and niche a travel agent is, the higher the commission and other fees they charge.

They are also multiple types of travel agents, with some specializing in leisure travel, others in business travel, and some offer niche travel services, like adventure or eco-tourism. 

3 Different Types of Travel Agents

These are the three main types of travel agents. 

1. Leisure Travel Agents

Leisure travel agents specialize in vacation and leisure planning for both individuals and families.

They can book flight tickets and hotels and arrange tours and activities for travelers. 

2. Business Travel Agents

Business travel agents specialize in business travel for businesses and their employees.

Their services include booking flight tickets, hotel rooms and coordinating ground transportation. 

3. Niche Travel Agents

Niche travel agents specialize in niche types of traveling, like adventure travel or eco-tourism.

Each niche travel agent specializes in a specific niche, and use their niche travel knowledge to plan customized trips for niche travelers.

How Much Commission Travel Agents Make on Flights

Travel agents commonly receive commissions for selling travel products and services.

For flights, a travel agent can make 5% commission on domestic flights, and 10-20% for international flights.

For instance, a travel agent could sell an international roundtrip flight for $1,000. And if their commission rate is 15%, they’ll receive $150 for the sale. 

When it comes to cruises, travel agents can expect to make approximately 10-15% of the pre-tax price on a cruise.

4 Ways Travel Agents Make Money

Besides commission, travel agents make their money through the following four ways.

1. Markups

Travel agents sometimes add a markup to their travel products and services to earn extra income.

For instance, a travel agent could add a $10 markup to a hotel room that costs $90.

They’ll charge the traveler $100 total for the hotel room, with the $10 being their fee for finding and booking the room. 

The exact markup an agent charges depends on the products they’re selling and their arrangement with their supplier.

The most experienced travel agents naturally have the highest markup. 

2. Service fees

Travel agents also sometimes charge a flat or percentage service fee.

For example, they could charge you a flat $200 for arranging your trip, or they could charge 5% for the total cost of your trip. 

The service fees are charged for providing you with their services, including booking your flights and hotels, arranging for tours and transport, and filing your visa applications. 

The exact fee depends on the agent’s experience and reputation.

The most experienced and well-reputed travel agents charge the highest fees.

Inexperienced agents may not charge any service fees at all. 

3. Package deals

Travel agents often create and sell packages, which contain a group of products or services given at a discounted price.

These packages can be customized to specific travelers or designed to decrease costs for them. 

There are four main types of package deals. 

  1. Flight and hotel ticket packages: This package will have discounted flight and hotel tickets. 
  2. All-inclusive packages: This will include everything from flight and hotel tickets to meals and activities – all at a discounted price. 
  3. Tour packages: This package will include guided tours and activities in addition to flight and hotel tickets. 
  4. Cruise packages: This package includes a cruise vacation along with pre-cruise and post-cruise flight and hotel tickets. 

The agents earn from packages by adding markups, service fees, and commissions to their packages. 

4. Incentives

Travel companies often provide incentives and bonuses to agents for selling a specific number of services.

The incentives range from cash rewards to complimentary trips and other benefits.

Travel agents often earn additional income from these incentives. 

How Travel Agents Get Paid

Travel agents are paid via the following three ways.

1. Commissions

The travel agent receives a percentage of the sales they make for a product or service. 

2. Service Fees

Travel agents sometimes charge the traveler an upfront flat or percentage service fee directly. 

3. Salaries

Travel agents earn a base salary of $39,770 according to

Travel Agent Commission Rates

Most host agencies provide between a 7% and 8% commission. 

These are the usual commission tiers for annual sales:

  • $0 to $49,999: 10% 
  • $50,000 to $249,999: 13% 
  • $250,000 to $499,999: 14%
  • $500,000 and higher: 15% 

These are the normal commission tiers in terms of passengers:

  • 0 to 20 passengers: 10% 
  • 21 to 49 passengers: 11% 
  • 50 to 199 passengers: 13% 
  • 200 and more: 15%

Travel Agents Make Good Money

Most travel agents earn between $47,000 and $55,000 annually, including their salary and other payments.

The exact income of a travel agent depends on their skills, experience, and relationship with suppliers. 

Experienced travel agents with a high number of sales and a good relationship with suppliers can earn substantially more than $55,000 per year, though. 

All travel agents receive their salary every month. But the rest of their payments depend on the specific business arrangement with their clients and suppliers.

Most agents receive commissions after a customer finishes their travels. Most also receive their service fees upfront.

Travel Agents Don’t Expect Tips

Travel agents sometimes receive tips from wealthy customers.

But it’s not particularly common for them to receive tips, nor do most travel agents depend on or expect tips as part of their job. 

Who Even Uses Travel Agents Anymore?

Many people still use travel agents today because they provide a personalized service, such as luxury travelers looking for a luxurious vacation that exactly matches their tastes and needs.

Travelers with complex trips that involve multiple destinations may hire travel agents to better manage their trips. 

In conclusion:

  • Most travel agents earn between $47,000 and $55,000 annually.
  • This figure includes a salary of around $45,000, with the rest of their income coming from commissions, service fees, and markups on goods and services.
  • The exact income for a travel agent depends on their skills, experience, and relationship with their suppliers.
  • An experienced travel agent with a large number of annual sales, a good relationship with their suppliers, and high commission rates can earn more than $55,000. 

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).