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

Podcast: Live from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018 Part 2

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel once again revisits GBTA’s 50th Convention that just took place earlier this month in San Diego. Last week you heard our Monday Center Stage sessions and for today’s episode, we bring to you Tuesday’s industry sessions.

First, up you’ll hear from Kurt Ekert, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, who led a panel of experienced travel buyers in a shift from typical GBTA Convention Center Stage sessions, which often put a supplier on the hot seat. Their discussion centered around the growing responsibilities for travel buyers and technology’s increasing role in travel management as buyers work to ensure duty of care responsibilities and cost-savings measures are in place, while also balancing individual traveler preferences and convenience.

Next up you’ll hear our final Center Stage panel which saw Guy Langford return as a moderator to GBTA Convention – he is Deloitte’s Vice Chairman of U.S. Transportation, Hospitality, & Services Leader and asked a panel of executives covering various sectors of the business travel industry if bigger really is better in the travel sector, prompting a discussion of advantages and disadvantages of industry consolidation.



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Breaking Through to Connect with Corporate Travel Buyers

Generating appointments with in-demand travel buyers can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Since 80 percent of GBTA Convention buyer attendees are decision makers in managerial, directorial, executive or C-level positions, CMO Ed Barrett recently led a webinar entitled Breaking through to Connect with Corporate Travel Buyers – Keys to Success.

Travel buyers partake in a range of activities when attending the largest gathering of business travel professionals in the world. Aside from professional education and development opportunities and networking with industry peers, 64 percent of travel buyers come to Convention to meet new suppliers.

So, how do you stand out in a sea of competition? Here are just a few ways you can break through to connect with corporate travel buyers:

  • Connect your solution to travel buyers’ key issues. Whether it be ensuring traveler duty of care or improving policy compliance, determine the issues that matter most to the buyer and construct messaging that conveys how your solution can help solve their challenges.
  • Offer value to non-customer travel buyers through free tools, reports, or evaluations that would better enable them to overcome complications in their program.
  • Seek to serve first and sell second. Be a resource and connect your travel buyer to other suppliers who can help them achieve their program objectives. You will be viewed as a genuinely helpful individual and a valuable resource.
  • Educate, don’t sell. Make your products easy to adopt, not easy to sell. Understand the buyer’s pain points and how your product can alleviate them. Buyers are more receptive to being helped and educated than being given a salesy, run-of-the-mill pitch.
  • Stay continually connected with the people you’ve interacted with over the course of your career. Continue to stay connected with those in your circle by simply checking in and seeing how things are going year-round, even when you are not needed. Since people frequently transition into different positions, someone who is your customer now can be your boss later, or vice versa. By proving yourself to be helpful year-round, people will think of you when an opportunity arises.
  • Ask for introductions. If you are on good terms with someone who knows a specific travel buyer you are trying to reach, ask for help. People are usually willing to accommodate you if you simply ask for assistance.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.