Are you working 9 to 5?

Are you working 9 to 5?
By admin

Salaries in the retail travel industry might pale in comparison when compared to those of doctors, lawyers or financial workers but flexibility and working hours (as well as those timely famils) clearly are a relevant factor.

The 2013 Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey revealed that part time workers comprised 21% of travel agents, a relatively high figure compared to other industries. And of these part timers, over 60% worked a flexible 25 to 30 hour week.

For the 79% of retail travel workers who identified as full time agents, the eight hour workday, or close to it, was sacrosanct. Roughly 37% of full timers put in 35 to 40 hours a week, while 22% worked 45 hours a week. A further 17% toiled for 50 hours a week, while an industrious 11% slogged it out for between 50 and 60 hours each week, all in the name of providing stellar customer service.

It should come as no surprise either that with vocational prestige comes longer hours. On average, rank and file consultants had the shortest working weeks, working a touch under 40 hours, while senior consultants and agency managers averaged between five and 10 hours of extra labour a week. The same trend of additional hours applied to most agency owners or directors.

The appeal of working as a home-based consultant was again tested and, as in past years, the prospect divided agents more or less evenly. Some 54.5% of agents were amenable to the idea, while just under half, 45.5%, were happy remaining in a bricks and mortar shopfront. 

“Developing caring, informed relationships with clients is a key to a long term future in our industry, and that is much more readily achieved when working flexible hours and not tied to an office desk,” Mobile Travel Agents managing director Roy Merricks said.

TravelManagers’ chairman Barry Mayo also pointed to other advantages. “Another area of growth… has been travel agency owners who want to concentrate solely on travel consulting and eliminate normal business overheads including liabilities for office and equipment leases, recruitment and management of staff and general administration,” he said.

When asked what it was that made home working appealing,  flexibility came out a clear winner among the preferences. Nearly two thirds of those surveyed (64%) cited this as the most appealing factor, while 16% liked the idea of not answering to a boss. There were roughly 12.5% who liked the idea of home working because they felt it offered an avenue to greater earnings and 7.5% were simply eager to run their own business.

“Flexible hours are very important for a lot of agents as they can work around family commitments and still have a serious career,” Travel Counsellors Australia manager Tracy Parkinson said.

Agents in the 2013 survey were also asked to state to the nearest 10% the amount of bookings they made through commissionable websites. And if the results are anything to go by it seems the concept is taking time to gain traction. A whopping 88% said that no more than 10% of their bookings were made via these sites. Domestically, it seems it’s still a very traditional retail travel market, with agents largely wedded to booking through established wholesalers.

In terms of charging a service fee for bookings, the results were diverse. The largest percentage, 18.5%, claimed that 100% of their bookings attracted a service fee in 2013. Some 17.5% said that 90% of their bookings attracted a service fee, but interestingly, the exact same percentage said that no more than 10% of their bookings attracted a fee. When it comes to charging service fees, agents – by and large – take an all or nothing approach.

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