While brick and mortar travel agencies are somewhat of a dying breed since most people now book vacations online, the travel agency business is still a huge marketplace worth 34.64 billion dollars in 2021 according to Statista.
Travel agents are now generally used for more complex, expert-led, and personalized trips rather than quick getaways to common destinations.
Given that travel agents are now used more for expert guidance, you may be wondering what to tip your travel agent if they exceed your expectations by arranging a trip of a lifetime for you.
With that in mind, we’ve done some digging and looked at what the customary practice is for tipping travel agents in this day and age. We’ve looked at what travel agents earn, what the customary etiquette is and when you should or shouldn’t hold back a tip.
Keep reading to find out more…
Do You Tip Your Travel Agent? The Short Answer
It is not customary to tip a travel agent. Travel agents are paid a reasonable salary and can earn a commission on sales they generate. If you are going to tip your travel agent then a simple gift or positive review will usually suffice in lieu of money.
How Much Do Travel Agents Make and How Are They Paid?
If you’re thinking about whether to tip your travel agent, then you might be wondering what their average yearly income is.
Most people consider yearly income as a relevant factor when deciding if and how much to tip as they acknowledge that some professions make up their income by receiving tips.
However, this is not the case for travel agents who according to Salary.com earn $35,537 to $45,425 a year on average in the USA.
Travel agents can earn commission by selling separate parts of the vacation to you such as excursions, extra baggage for the flight, and transfers.
According to PolicyAdvice, the median yearly income for a person in the US was $51,480 in 2021.
While travel agents receive below this on the above figures, they still earn a fairly decent salary and certainly aren’t expected to supplement their income with tips.
This is in contrast to other industries like grocery delivery where a tip is usually justified and expected as a means of supplementing below-average wages.
How Much Does a Travel Agent Cost?
According to Thumbtack, the average cost of a travel agent is $75-$150.
It is commonly accepted in the US that tips should be in the region of 10-20% of the value of the goods or services, meaning that if you apply this figure to the average cost of a travel agent, you should be tipping around $7.50 to $30.
If you are adamant about offering a monetary tip to your travel agent, then we think these sums are reasonable and within the realms of what you might offer in other industries.
You should remember that a travel agent can often save you money in the long run as they often know how to find the best deals and have relationships with third parties like excursion providers, airlines, and hoteliers. Their services can often save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
A travel agent’s expertise can be a huge help when it comes to planning your trip and directing you to the best resorts, and hotels, and creating an awesome itinerary for you while you’re away.
Alternatives to a Monetary Tip
It’s important to note that most travel agents will not be expecting a tip. It certainly isn’t customary to offer one and you’re unlikely to be looked upon unfavorably if you don’t dig into your pocket.
However, if you do want to show your gratitude without offering a monetary tip then here are some suggested alternatives that will certainly be well-received:
- A thank you card;
- A thank you gift such as flowers, chocolates, or vouchers;
- A positive review or testimony;
- A referral to a friend or relative.
There will be a number of things to consider when deciding whether and how much to tip and we’ve made a list to help you decide.
We’d suggest tipping if:
- The travel agent provides good value and secures your vacation/trip at a reasonable price;
- The travel agent is particularly helpful and informative or goes the extra mile for you;
- If you have any unusual requests which require more effort and planning on the part of the agent;
- It’s the holidays;
- Your vacation or trip exceeded your expectations.
We’d suggest not tipping if:
- The agent was unprofessional, discourteous, or rude:
- The vacation or trip fell below your expectations;
- The service provided was below par.
It isn’t customary to tip a travel agent and they will not look down on you if you don’t offer them one.
However, the expertise and guidance a travel agent provides can be a massive help when you’re planning your trip and you can actually make good savings by using one.
If you decide to offer a tip, then we see no reason to depart from the 10-20% that is pretty much standard across the US.
Given the average cost of a travel agent is $75 – $150, then you should expect your wallet to become up to $30 lighter if you stick to the normal tipping guidelines.
If you’d rather give a non-monetary tip, then flowers, chocolates, or a simple thank you card will usually be more than most other people offer.
If a worker’s salary is your main consideration when deciding whether to tip then it’s important to remember that travel agents earn a fairly reasonable wage, albeit one that is below the median annual salary based on the data we have considered.