Agents big winners in 2013 Salary Survey

Agents big winners in 2013 Salary Survey
By admin

If 2012 was a year to batten down the hatches in the wake of industry wide austerity, 2013 at least represented an improvement in the financial wellbeing of Australia’s travel agents.

Figures from the 2013 Travel Weekly Salary and Job Satisfaction survey revealed that the average travel agent’s salary jumped nearly $4000 on 2012 levels, rising from $42,500 to $46,500. This pleasing result can mainly be attributed to positive domestic trading conditions and the ongoing resilience of the Australian economy. Another factor has been the strong Australian dollar over the past 12 months. It’s robustness has clearly encouraged a greater number of consumers to visit foreign shores, and by extension, their travel agent. An increase in full time workers in agencies also contributed to the overall rise in earnings.

In terms of individual agency groups, there were rises on last year’s average salaries for Harvey World Travel, Travelscene American Express, Travelworld and STA Travel. Jetset and Flight Centre saw drops in average salary year on year, however Flight Centre’s figures are harder to cite with exactitude owing to some anomalous results from 2012.

In terms of total take home packages, independent agencies paid an average of $50,500, while Flight Centre salaries were an even $50,000, the heftiest of the major domestic retailers. Travelscene paid its employees roughly $45,000, Harvey World Travel shelled out $43,500 and Jetset handed over $42,500 per annum on average. Despite the improvement on 2012 numbers, Travelworld paid the lowest of major agencies, with an average package of $37,000.

In terms of job titles, it’s the employees at the lower end of the hierarchical pyramid who are celebrating in 2013. Base salaries of the humble travel agent headed north in a big way over the last 12 months, with 2012’s average figure of $34,500 jumping to $40,500 in 2013. Senior consultants also have reason to collectively smile, with their average salaries rising from $42,000 to $45,000 per annum. Agency managers meanwhile have seen their overall remuneration levels slip in the last year, down slightly to an average of $55,000 per annum from last year’s figures, while agency owners or directors jumped fractionally to an average figure of $58,000.

In terms of working sectors, there’s still a healthy earnings disparity between those who sell corporate travel and those who sell to the leisure market. Data from 2012’s survey revealed corporate agents raked in an average of $49,500 compared to leisure agents’ $40,500. This year’s survey showed both sectors have jumped, but corporate agents are the bigger winners, with average salaries of $54,000 compared to $44,000 for those selling leisure travel – a full five figures separating the two sectors.

When it comes to gender, there’s some good news for the fairer sex, but in the main the results align with surveys conducted over the last five years. The 2013 data set revealed 81.5% of respondents were female, meaning less than a fifth were male; more or less in line with gender skew within the retail travel industry. But while it might be chiefly a womens’ domain, it seems it’s men who yet again walk away with the larger pay packets. Last year’s Salary Survey revealed a strong disparity in earning potential, with women earning a skinny average of just $40,000 compared to the $53,500 that men took home. This year the average female agent is banking $44,500, while males reap $55,000 on average.

Both genders have seen rises in salary, but it’s women who have jumped by a larger percentage. Bias in salary in the retail travel industry is largely attributable to the fact that more women occupy junior positions and the reality that the average consultant is female, aged around 35 and mother to dependent children. More women therefore work part time reducing their gender’s average salary. But the fact remains, men are consistently outstripping their female counterparts salary-wise in this industry and it’s a trend unlikely to change any time soon.

As for whether agents feel valued, the results this year correspond with the collective industry-wide rises in salary. This year 28.5% of agents agreed that their salary was fair, up 3.5% from 2012 and 12.5% said they strongly agreed, which was 1% higher than the year before. Dissatisfaction also fell 2% with 41.5% of agents disagreeing that their salary was fair, compared with the 43.5% who said the same last year. Those who felt most unloved, strongly disagreeing that their salary was fair, dropped 3% from 20.5% in 2011 to 17.5% this year.

With dissatisfaction comes the inevitable quandary of whether to seek greener pastures. This year, a financial inducement of $4000 or less (around a 10% pay rise for most agents) would see 7.5% of agents’ chairs spinning. The same inducement last year would have seen 10.5% of the industry walking out the door.

But fidelity has a price and the exodus would begin in earnest if agents were offered an extra five figures. A $10,000 raise would see 40.5% of travel agents departing this year. Scary as it sounds, agency owners and managers can rest a little easier knowing that this time last year just under half the workforce – 49.5% – would have walked for the same inducement. And when a $20,000 carrot is dangled there’s a hypothetical stampede. Last year 76.5% of agents would have left for this sum, while this year the number has dropped to 69%.

But there’s one thing that is perfectly clear in 2013. Travel agents are better off, and consequently, feel a little bit better about their jobs and the industry in general.

Do you agree? Tell us what you think about travel industry remuneration or your salary in the comments section

*All salary figures have been rounded to the nearest $500, while all percentages have been rounded to half of one percent

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