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September 27, 2016

Statistics and Trends: U.S. Travel Buyer Compensation Up


A new study by the GBTA Foundation on travel buyer compensation is the highlight of this week’s stats and trends for the meetings and events industry. 

GBTA: Compensation Up for U.S. Travel Buyers

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers has increased 1.8 percent year over year in 2016, according to a new study by the GBTA Foundation. 73 percent of travel guyers are satisfied with their compensation, while 7 percent are dissatisfied, results which are in line with the past two years and down from 2013. 

The findings are from the GBTA Foundation’s 2016 Compensation and Benefits study, which shows that GTP Certification holders earn $125,000, 9.6 percent more than their peers without it. 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.

Other factors that affect income: 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).

In terms of other benefits, denied contribution plans, such as 401k, are much more common than defined benefit plans offering a fixed payout (92 percent versus 33 percent). 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, with a majority offering mileage reimbursement (75 percent) and 31 percent offering public transportation discounts and 26 percent offering parking discounts or reimbursement. 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).

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.

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