The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

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.


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

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