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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.

COMPENSATION DISPARITIES

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.

BENEFITS

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.

GTP CERTIFICATION

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.

METHODOLOGY

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.

MORE INFORMATION

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 pyachnes@gbta.org.


Average Compensation for U.S. Travel Buyers Gets Moderate Year-Over-Year Bump

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a moderate 1.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2016 reaching $114,000, according to an annual study released today by the GBTA Foundation. Despite only a modest increase, almost three-quarters (73 percent) of travel buyers are satisfied with their compensation, while only 8 percent are dissatisfied – in line with the past two years and a dramatic decrease in those dissatisfied since 2013.

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The 2016 Compensation and Benefits study reveals GTP Certification holders earn $125,000, 9.6 percent more than their peers without it. The 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. In addition to a higher salary, buyers with their GTP are more likely to have at least one decade of industry experience, work at the manager level or higher and work for companies with travel spend of at least $10 million.

Income also varies on a variety of factors. Buyers with a bachelor’s degree earn roughly $20,000 more than those without one, and those holding a master’s or other advanced degree earn an additional $20,000. In the West and Northeast, average income is considerably higher than in the Midwest and South and income also increases with company travel spend, ranging from $88,000 at low spend companies to $147,000 at high spend companies.

The largest disparity, however, comes from the buyer’s position level. Directors earn an average of $161,000, 61 percent more than managers ($100,000), while managers earn roughly one-third more than experienced/entry level buyers ($74,000).

Benefits
Compensation deals purely with the financial side of things – salaries and bonuses. When it comes to total compensation though, both tangible and intangible benefits may be difficult to quantify, but that certainly doesn’t diminish their value to an employee.

So, what types of benefits do travel buyers typically receive? Companies almost universally offer travel buyers medical, vision and dental insurance, yet rarely cover the entire cost. Large majorities also offer life and disability insurance, with one-fourth to two-fifths covering the entire cost. Defined contribution plans (92 percent), such as a 401k, are much more common than defined benefits plans promising a fixed payout (33 percent).

Beyond insurance and retirement benefits, large majorities of companies offer healthcare (82 percent) and flexible spending accounts (77 percent). Seven in ten companies offer flexible work schedules (71 percent), about two-thirds offer the option to work from home (63 percent) and just over half offer gym discounts or reimbursements (55 percent). Only a small share offer childcare discounts (20 percent).

Transportation benefits are offered less frequently than other types of benefits. While a large majority offer mileage reimbursement (75 percent), only one-third (31 percent) offer public transportation discounts and even fewer (26 percent) offer parking discounts or reimbursement. On the flipside, companies often subsidize education and professional development for buyers with large majorities offering conference attendance reimbursement (80 percent), tuition reimbursement (79 percent), professional association dues reimbursement (73 percent) and continuing education opportunities (69 percent).

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If a salary increase or bonus were not possible, what perk or benefit did travel buyers say they would value most from a company?

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What sets apart the “very satisfied” buyers from the others? On average, these “very satisfied” buyers earn 31 percent more than other buyers and are more likely to receive some benefits including conference attendance reimbursement, continuing education opportunities, grants of company stock and childcare discounts or reimbursement. They are also much more likely to work for organizations that cover the entire cost of various benefits.

This study is designed to allow individuals to easily compare their compensation level and benefits with their peers. While no two individuals will view a compensation package in exactly the same way, the study reveals benefits appealing to many very satisfied buyers providing a helpful guideline for companies as well when designing their benefit programs.

Methodology
The study is based on an online survey of 303 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time, and was fielded from June 7-16, 2016.

More Information
The study, 2016 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 pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.


Travel Buyer Satisfaction with Compensation Packages on the Rise

Last week, GBTA released its annual Compensation and Benefits study. If you haven’t already seen my post on average incomes for travel buyers increasing 5 percent over 2014, read it here.

Last year travel buyers were noticeably more satisfied with their compensation after a four-year plateau. The trend continues this year as three quarters of buyers are either very satisfied (27 percent) or satisfied (49 percent) with the compensation packages provided by their companies and a shrinking number of respondents report being neutral or dissatisfied.

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Time Away from the Office
Travel buyers are split almost evenly between receiving a specific amount of time off for pre-determined uses (51 percent) and a lump sum of paid time off (PTO) (49 percent). Regardless of what type of leave is offered though, 79 percent of buyers report being offered bereavement leave, 71 percent receive maternity leave and 38 percent receive paternity leave.

Benefits
While a number of valuable benefits are offered to buyers by their companies, few are fully funded. Almost all companies offer health insurance (99 percent), dental insurance (99 percent), vision insurance (96 percent), life insurance (93 percent), a defined contribution plan (e.g. 401k) (93 percent) and short-term disability (90 percent). A majority of employees say their company only covers some of the costs of each benefit. Four out of five buyers say their companies pay in full for conference attendance reimbursement, professional association reimbursement and professional publications reimbursement.

What Drives Satisfaction?
Very satisfied buyers earn an average of 15 percent more ($130,000) than buyers overall. They are also more likely to receive certain benefits when compared to buyers overall, including cell phone reimbursement, flexible work schedules, the ability to work from home, gym memberships and reimbursements for professional publications. In addition, they also work for companies that cover the full cost of grants of company stock, cell phone reimbursement, parking, long-term disability insurance and gym memberships.

While this study is not intended to provide a strict set of rules for what qualifies as the best total compensation package, understanding what drives satisfaction for the buyers who fall into the very satisfied category helps demonstrate which elements of compensation and benefits packages are most valued.


Compensation for Travel Buyers Up 5 Percent Year Over Year

The GBTA Foundation released its annual Compensation and Benefits study today that looks at salaries, bonuses, and benefits for U.S. travel buyers. In good news for travel buyers, salaries are up year over year increasing 5 percent to $110,000 for total pre-tax compensation in 2015. Median salaries are up, as well, increasing 6 percent to $103,000.

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What Factors Impact Salary Level?
Average salary size is directly correlated to company spend size, however, there is a 30 percent increase in average salaries between those working at companies with an annual spend of less than $10 million ($82,000) and those at companies with an annual spend of $10 million to less than $50 million ($117,000).

The study shows GTP Certification holders earn 8 percent more than those without it. Their median incomes were also 17 percent higher.

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Compensation rises with career level as well with the largest increases seen from experienced/entry level staff to manager (+37 percent) and director to executive (+37 percent). Not surprisingly, compensation also rises with education level. There is a much larger compensation increase between having an associate’s degree or less and a bachelor’s degree (+18 percent) compared to having a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree (+8 percent).

Salaries also vary by company type and region, with those working at a for-profit company ($111,000) earning higher average compensation than those at non-profit companies ($95,000). Those living in the Northeastern ($118,000) or Western ($114,000) regions of the United States earn more than those in the Midwest ($105,000) or South ($96,000).

Stay tuned for more info on benefits buyers receive and satisfaction levels with overall compensation packages.


A Look at Compensation & Benefits for Travel Managers

With the New Year coming quickly, it is a time of year where many reflect and set resolutions or goals for the coming year. While a lot of resolutions focus on losing those extra pounds so many of us inevitably gain over the holidays, it can also be a great time to think about your career path.

There are many elements to career growth including education, training and new responsibilities. Compensation and benefits are also an important aspect of every job. The GBTA Foundation does an annual survey designed to allow individuals to easily compare their compensation level and benefits with their peers.

The study showed that average compensation for travel management professionals climbed six percent over 2013 to $112,000 and that the vast majority (72 percent) of travel buyers are satisfied with their salaries.

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Average compensation tended to rise with an increase in travel spending, highlighting a relationship between total travel spend of the employing company with total compensation (includes base salary and bonus). For example, respondents whose total company has a total travel spend of $10 million but less than $50 million reported an average income of $105,000, while those companies spending more than $50 million, reported an average of $143,000 -- a 27 percent increase.

We also found that on average, those with a Global Travel Professional (GTP) certificate earn more than those without one, 12 percent more in 2014. One in five buyers has earned their GTP certification. The 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.

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When it comes to benefits, while a number of valuable benefits are offered to buyers by their companies, few are fully funded. Most companies offer health insurance (98 percent), dental insurance (98 percent), life insurance (95 percent), vision insurance (95 percent), and a defined contribution plan (i.e., 401k) (95 percent). A majority report their company only covers a portion of the costs of each benefit and most employees must pay for a portion of their insurance coverage.

However, three-quarters of buyers say their companies provide full reimbursement for all of the following benefits: conference attendance (90 percent); professional association dues (85 percent); professional publications (82 percent); and mileage (78 percent).

Large majorities also indicate that flexible work schedules (67 percent) and work-from-home policies (58 percent) are now offered as part of the benefit package.

We are encouraged that salaries and job satisfaction remain high in the travel buyer profession, further highlighting the importance of the overall travel management industry.