How Travel Agents Are Paid
Travel agents, like me, and booking services like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, and even in-house agents like those you book with when you call suppliers directly, are paid by your trip supplier only after our clients have completed travel. The commission amount is already included in the price of your trip, so it does not matter which route you take to book your travel arrangements. Many travelers are unaware of this. So, if we work together and I build your awesome vacation for next year, and you place your deposit to book that package today, I will not receive any payment from your trip supplier until 4-8 weeks following your return from that trip. GASP!!! (And sometimes it can take longer!)
It all really boils down to this: If clients do not book AND complete travel, agents are not paid for their hard work. Sometimes, extensive research and planning is involved, multiple quotes presented, countless emails between concierge at a hotel or resort in another country, struggling to break down language barriers, hours, days, and even weeks of proposing different options until a client is ready to place their deposit and book their trip, and even 3, 4, 5, or 6 A.M. (yes, I said A.M.) alarms to wake up to make a phone call for specific reservations for a client. And sometimes, clients will take the information we provide to then book themselves via an OTA (over-the-air or online) booking engine, like those I mentioned above. DOUBLE GASP!!! *DRAMATICALLY PASSES OUT* …But they won’t receive dedicated service, or feel the effort of a caring, personal travel advisor, nor will they have readily available help or a personal advocate in the event that something goes wrong.
If clients book, but later cancel their trip, the agent will not be paid for his/her work. Clients may be compensated by way of pre-purchased travel protection plan/insurance if the reason for cancellation is covered, however, the agent still is not paid. The key is that travel must be completed.