Key findings from a new study called ‘The Changing Face of Travel Agents’ show a dramatic 10-year shift from travel agents working primarily as employees (71% in 2008) to working primarily as independent contractors, or ICs (62% in 2017). Not only that, but 92% of ICs and 22% of employees now say they work from home.
While The Travel Institute surveyed U.S.-based agents, the study has implications for the Canadian market too as travel industry trends in the U.S. echo on this side of the border as well.
The Travel Institute says its research analyzes how agent roles and motivations have changed over the past decade and also identifies key parameters that define successful travel agents.
The study, to be released in two phases, also looks at the correlation between certification and success and the positive career outlook among travel professionals. But the most eye-opening stats focus on the “explosive growth” of the independent contractor (IC) demographic.
TTI President Diane Petras, CTIE, says The Changing Face of Travel Agents zeroes in on the four ‘Cs’ of an ever-changing agency community: composition, certification, contentment, and compensation.
“What a difference a decade makes when it comes to this comprehensive look at the changing dynamics of our industry,” says Petras. “While we certainly wanted specific certification analytics measured, The Changing Face of Travel Agents is much bigger than that. These metrics are meant for our entire industry to analyze and filter through to what means the most to them.”
Petras notes there has been “a significant change” in several key indicators related to the makeup of the travel agent community over the past 10 years.
Agents have shifted from working primarily as employees (71% in 2008) to working primarily as independent contractors or ICs (62% in 2017).
The workplace itself has also changed with 92% of ICs and 22% of employees working from home in 2017.
Although all ICs are technically ‘business owners,’ the majority (57%) identify themselves as travel agent “counselor” or “consultant” rather than “business owner.”
Analysis into the background and aspirations of the current IC community also reveals sharp differences from the traditional travel agency employee.