This year, more than 800 travel agents responded to the Host Agency Reviews Hosted Travel Agent Fee Report, which means the data is even more comprehensive than in previous years. A significantly higher number of independent agents and storefront agencies also participated in the survey this year—providing deeper insight into the fee structure of travel agents.
When it comes to the overall results, 47 percent of hosted agents charge a fee, the survey reported. Breaking it down, 9 percent charged consultation fees, 23 percent charged service fees and 15 percent charged both.
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When it comes to hosted home-based agents versus hosted storefront agents, the difference was stark.
Just 45 percent of hosted home-based travel agents charged fees versus 80 percent of their storefront counterparts.
Most hosted home-based agents (22 percent) charged service fees, and just over 8 percent charged for consultations. Just over 14 percent charged for both, however, the majority of home-based hosted agents did not charge any fees, nearly 55 percent.
Most hosted storefront agents reported that they charge service fees, almost 43 percent. Just 5.7 percent charge a consultation fee and 31 percent reported charging both. Only 20 percent reported that they charged no fees.
The most commonly charged service fees were for airfare bookings. FIT bookings were the next most common fee charges, followed by rail tickets and air-inclusive packages.
When charging consultation fees, 65 percent of hosted agents charged a flat fee, with a median set fee of $75 and median variable fees between $100-$325. Seventeen percent of hosted agents charged a per person fee, with a median set fee of $50 and median variable fees between $50-$150. Five percent charged an hourly fee which was around $100, and 13 percent reported other consultation fees.
Years of experience somewhat correlates with the likelihood to charge fees.
Nearly 70 percent of hosted travel agents with more than 20 years of experience were likely to charge fees. Travel agents with between 11 and 20 years of experience were around 49 percent likely to charge fees but those with between six and 10 years of experience charged fees at a higher rate, 58.6 percent. Just over 40 percent of agents with between two and five years of experience were likely to charge fees, and agents with one year of experience were slightly more likely to charge fees at 44.2 percent.
When it comes to niche versus fee, 100 percent of hosted agents booking FIT charge fees and 77.5 percent of those selling luxury travel. Nearly 58 percent of destination specialists charged fees, and more than 50 percent of agents specializing in river cruises, all-inclusive travel, groups, weddings/honeymoons and adventure travel charged fees as well. Nearly 47 percent of hosted agents selling family travel charge fees and almost 35 percent of those selling ocean cruises also charge a fee. Twenty-five percent of those selling Disney vacations also charged for their services.
While fees are growing more common, there are still many agents who don’t charge fees and the reasons vary. Most commonly, travel agents are concerned about growing their business. Thirty-two percent said that they might not be able to attract new clients. Thirty percent say they don’t have enough experience to charge fees. Twenty-nine percent simply said they don’t want to charge fees and 28 percent said they might lose clients. Nineteen percent said that they didn’t know enough about fees to charge them.