Compensation for Travel Buyers Up 5.5 Percent Year-Over-Year

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase in 2017, reaching an average of $107,000, according to new findings released today. Median salaries are also up, increasing 7.5 percent to $98,000.

The GBTA Foundation’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study delves into salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. travel buyers and reveals differences in compensation based on a variety of factors including experience, region, position, company travel spend, and gender.


The largest gap in compensation can be attributed to position level. Directors and executives earn an average of $146,000, which is 40 percent more than managers’ average compensation of $105,000. Similarly, managers earn 33 percent more than entry-level/experienced buyers ($79,000).

Income also varies based on region. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) and West/Pacific ($115,000) than in the South ($99,000) and Midwest ($97,000).

Surprisingly, there is no major difference in compensation between those who have an associate’s degree or less and those who have a bachelor’s degree. This contrasts with last year’s study, which revealed a difference in compensation between the two education levels.

The study also revealed GTP® Certification holders earn an average of $112,000, which is nearly six percent higher than their counterparts who lack it. The Global Travel Professional® (GTP) Certification is designed to raise industry standards, enhance work performance and recognize individuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline.


Although nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation, satisfaction levels have remained flat since 2014. In line with the past three years, only 11 percent are dissatisfied with their compensation.


In addition to bonuses and salaries, buyers are offered a variety of benefits intended to improve the quality of their overall health and well-being. Virtually all companies provide health insurance (98 percent), dental insurance (96 percent), vision insurance (92 percent), life insurance (91 percent), and a defined contribution plan (e.g. 401k) (91 percent), though few are fully funded.

Tax-advantaged health accounts are widespread, and a majority of buyers indicate their company offers health savings accounts (82 percent) and flexible spending accounts (80 percent).

Three out of five (62 percent) companies allow buyers to work from home and even more (73 percent) are granted flexible work schedules. Additionally, more than one-half (55 percent) offer gym memberships or discounts.

During special circumstances, most buyers are permitted to take additional leave. Companies frequently provide bereavement (93 percent) and maternity leave (83 percent), and one-half (51 percent) provide paternity leave. Although this is consistent with last year’s findings, the portion of companies that offer paternity leave is higher today than in 2014 (32 percent) and 2015 (38 percent).


The study is based on an online survey of 272 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time. The survey fielded from June 21-30, 2017.

This study shows the annual change in compensation among the same sample of survey respondents. In other words, respondents were asked about their compensation both in 2017 and 2016. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2016 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2016 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.


The study, 2017 Compensation and Benefits: A Survey of Buyers in the Business Travel Industry, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected].