The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Jessica Collison
Jessica Collison
Jessica Collison's Blog

Average Compensation for Travel Buyers Remains Stable in 2018

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers remained stable between 2017 and 2018 at $108,000, according to new findings released today. GBTA’s annual Compensation and Benefits study reveals salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. buyers and identifies disparities in compensation based on a variety of demographic traits like gender, education, region and position.

Although average compensation remained stable, the vast majority of travel buyers (85 percent) report higher total compensation in 2018. In line with the past four years, over three-quarters (76 percent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation levels.


When it comes to gender differences, male travel buyers earn an average of 13 percent more than their female counterparts. The largest gap in compensation, however, can be attributed to position. Directors and executives earn an average of $174,000, which is 24 percent more than a manager’s average income. The jump in compensation from entry-level/experienced buyers to managers is even more noticeable, with managers earning nearly 50 percent more than their less experienced counterparts.

Not surprisingly, regional differences in income also exist. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) than in the West/Pacific, South and Midwest. Educational attainment also plays a part. Buyers with a bachelor’s degree earn approximately $12,000 more, on average, than buyers with an associate’s degree.


Companies offer travel buyers a variety of benefits intended to improve their health, well-being and overall quality of life. Virtually all organizations provide health, dental and vision insurance, and over four-fifths cover a portion of the cost. Life insurance is also largely offered, with 30 percent of organizations fully subsidizing the cost.

On the retirement front, the vast majority (90 percent) of companies offer defined contribution plans (e.g. 401k), while 34 percent offer defined benefits plans that guarantee a fixed payout. Given that defined benefit plans have become relatively rare, the percentage of employers offering this benefit is actually quite high.

With the lines between personal and work lives blurring, companies are taking steps to improve the work-life balance of their employees. Two-thirds of travel buyers can leverage a flexible work schedule (66 percent), and 57 percent have the option to work from home.

In certain scenarios, buyers are permitted to take additional paid leave. The vast majority of buyers are offered bereavement (90 percent) and maternity leave (84 percent), and over three-fifths are offered paternity leave (63 percent). Compared to previous years, the prevalence of paternity leave has increased substantially.

If a salary increase or bonus were not possible, travel buyers would value vacation or PTO-related benefits, remote work opportunities and health insurance-related benefits the most.


Travel buyers with a GTP Certification earn $115,000, which is 8 percent more than their peers who don’t hold the certification. The Global Travel Professional (GTP) Certification is designed to facilitate professional growth and development, enhance work performance and recognize invidiuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline.


The study is based on an online survey of 305 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full-time. It was fielded from July 24 to August 3, 2018.

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 2018. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2017 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.


Download a complimentary preview of the study here with key highlights from the research. The full report, 2018 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 GBTA by emailing

Mobile Payments among Travel Buyers and Suppliers Still in Early Adoption Phase

Most travel buyers and suppliers are familiar with both mobile wallet and contactless payment solutions, however, 49 percent of travel buyers are still unclear on the benefits, according to research released today by GBTA, in partnership with U.S. Bank. The results signal more work needs to be done to grow adoption of these payment methods in the business travel community.

The research shows opportunity as many organizations within the business travel industry are receptive to new technology adoption, but as with any emerging product, there will be some hurdles before it is fully embraced.

The study reveals chip cards are widely offered by issuers (82 percent) and organizations (87 percent). Mobile payments are still relatively new to both parties. Only 18 percent of organizations currently offer mobile wallets as a payment type to their employees, while even fewer (11 percent) offer contactless cards as an option. Mobile wallets, such as ApplePay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, enable users to make payments by holding a mobile device at a terminal. Contactless cards are physical cards with features allowing them to be tapped at a terminal, replacing the need for swiping or inserting cards at point of sale systems.

Challenges and Opportunities

For organizations that have already adopted mobile payments, the challenges they encounter are cardholder education (47 percent), incorporating organizational travel and expense policies (33 percent), and complications with the card setup process (27 percent).

Those who have adopted mobile and contactless technology found benefits including increased employee satisfaction, a reduction in lost or stolen cards and better adherence to travel policy. 

The Future of Mobile Payments

It will be important to watch consumer trends and adoption of mobile wallets for personal purchases, as use of fast, easy and convenient consumer-grade technology and innovations tends to eventually spill over to growing demand for the same experience on the business side.

“GBTA’s research results confirm what we have long believed, which is there is great potential for added convenience and security by using mobile payments. In fact, the impact of these features is why U.S. Bank was the first financial institution to offer a mobile payment solution for Visa and Mastercard corporate card transactions,” said Jennifer Swenson, vice president of Corporate Payment Systems at U.S. Bank. “These benefits, combined with growing consumer use of mobile payments, are positive indicators for greater mobile payment adoption among business travelers in the future.”

More Information

Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. An Executive Summary for Business Traveler Payment Solutions: Perceptions, Pain Points, and Payoffs for Adoption is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here.


GBTA conducted an online survey of 311 travel buyers and suppliers based in North America. Fielding took place from February 21 to March 2, 2018.