Travel buyers play an important role in ensuring the safety of workers who travel for business and ensuring that costs don’t skyrocket, particularly in periods of increased business travel growth like the last few years.

The Global Business Travel Association polled 305 U.S.-based travel buyers earlier this year on their annual compensation and benefits received from their employer for their 2018 Compensation and Benefits: A Survey of Buyers in the Business Travel Industry report. The results show modest year-over-year gains, particular in bonuses for more junior travel managers.

Compensation of U.S. Travel Buyers in 2018 Compared to 2017TotalBase SalaryBonus
1st Quartile$72,000 (+2.9%)$71,000 (+2.7%)$6,000 (+43.7%)
Median$100,000 (+6.4%)$95,000 (+6%$11,000 (+22.2%)
Mean$108,000 (+0%)$101,000 (+.5%)$17,000 (+2.7%)
3rd Quartile$132,000 (+1%)$125,000 (+3%$21,000 (+23.5%)

Source: GBTA (Note: Not everyone received bonuses, so totals don’t add up)

Overall, 30 percent of those polled earned $75,000 or less in 2018 while 32 percent earned between $100,000 and $150,000. A staggering 17 percent earned more than $150,000.

“Compensation can vary considerably based on a variety of factors, such as career level, years of experience, and region,” found the report. “On average, managers earn 49 percent more than entry level/experienced staff; directors/executives earn 24 percent more than managers.”

Diving deeper into the research, there are serious benefits to having a professional certification for travel management. Those who have received the Global Travel Professional Certification from the Global Business Travel Association earned 8 percent more than those who haven’t earned the certification.

While 85 percent reported that their compensation had increased in 2018, the average increase in compensation was just $10,000, which seems low especially considering how much the high-earning travel managers already earn. A higher percentage of those who have been in the industry for less than five years reported an increase than those with 20 or more years of service.

There is also a wide variance in what travel managers earn depending on where they are based in the U.S. Men also tend to earn more than women regardless of experience.

“On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) than in the West/Pacific ($108,000), South ($109,000) and Midwest ($102,000),” the report found. “… On average, male buyers earn an average of 13% more than their female counterparts.”

Despite all this, three-in-four travel managers are satisfied with their compensation and benefits. In 2010, in comparison, just 63 percent were satisfied or very satisfied.

Photo Credit: Travelers examining flight information at an airport. The people who manage business travel saw big bonus increases in 2018. Bloomberg