ASTA, NACTA Study Found Independent Agent Business Increased in 2010

28 March 2011

The results of ASTA's 2010 NACTA Independent Agents Report, which profiles the independent agent population, found that even with the country in the depths of an economic recession, 57 percent of respondents saw increased business in 2010.

"Travel agents are continuing to evolve and transform their business models to stay successful, and independent agents are just one piece of the puzzle," said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. "The traditional travel agency model is changing and from a supplier perspective, understanding what this new breed of travel agent wants and meeting those needs will be critical to their future success. Studies such as this provide insight into this growing demographic."

Most home-based agents, the study found, have between 10 years and 19 years of travel experience. They are heavily cruise-dependent, although most sell a full spectrum of travel products. The majority sell under $250,000, although an elite three percent sell more than $1,000,000 in travel products.

Among the survey's other findings were:

* Seventy-five percent of respondents have a cruise niche and earn an average commission of 14 percent on those sales.

* While most averaged 33 hours a week selling travel in 2010, only one-third say travel is their only source of personal income.

* Thirty-three percent of respondents have employees and/or independent contractors.

* Forty-six percent of agents consider themselves a hosted independent, and of those, 91 percent split commissions with their host.

* Sixty-seven percent of independent agents do not use a Global Distribution Service (GDS).

* Among suppliers, Royal Caribbean was the top cruise supplier, Globus the top escorted tour supplier, Marriot was the top hotel supplier and Sandals was the top resort supplier.

* The Caribbean and Mexico were top destinations.

The report profiles independent agents and provides data on their experience in the travel industry, looking specifically at how they book travel and split commissions, as well as their revenue share across travel segments, and more. It indicates a 95-percent confidence with an error rate +/- 3.5 percent.

ASTA members may purchase the entire report for $99. Non-members pay $299. For additional information, please contact [email protected] or visit the research page on