Compensation for travel buyers up 5.5 per cent year-over-year

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a 5.5 per cent year-over-year increase in 2017, reaching an average of $107,000, according to new findings. Median salaries are also up, increasing 7.5 per cent to $98,000.

The GBTA Foundation’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study delves into salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. travel buyers and reveals differences in compensation based on a variety of factors including experience, region, position, company travel spend, and gender.

Compensation disparities

The largest gap in compensation can be attributed to position level. Directors and executives earn an average of $146,000, which is 40 per cent more than managers’ average compensation of $105,000. Similarly, managers earn 33 per cent more than entry-level/experienced buyers ($79,000).

Income also varies based on region. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) and West/Pacific ($115,000) than in the South ($99,000) and Midwest ($97,000).

Surprisingly, there is no major difference in compensation between those who have an associate’s degree or less and those who have a bachelor’s degree. This contrasts with last year’s study, which revealed a difference in compensation between the two education levels.


The study also revealed GTP® Certification holders earn an average of $112,000, which is nearly six per cent higher than their counterparts who lack it. The Global Travel Professional® (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.


Although nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation, satisfaction levels have remained flat since 2014. In line with the past three years, only 11 per cent are dissatisfied with their compensation.


In addition to bonuses and salaries, buyers are offered a variety of benefits intended to improve the quality of their overall health and well-being. Virtually all companies provide health insurance (98 per cent), dental insurance (96 per cent), vision insurance (92 per cent), life insurance (91 per cent), and a defined contribution plan (e.g. 401k) (91 per cent), though few are fully funded.

% Offered


Benefit Company pays for… [n=205-233]*
All Some None
98% Health insurance 12% 85% 3%
96% Dental insurance 11% 85% 4%
92% Vision insurance 12% 84% 4%
91% Life insurance 41% 54% 5%
86% Long-term disability insurance 34% 59% 7%
85% Short-term disability 45% 48% 7%

Tax-advantaged health accounts are widespread, and a majority of buyers indicate their company offers health savings accounts (82 per cent) and flexible spending accounts (80 per cent).

Three out of five (62 per cent) companies allow buyers to work from home and even more (73 per cent) are granted flexible work schedules. Additionally, more than one-half (55 per cent) offer gym memberships or discounts.

During special circumstances, most buyers are permitted to take additional leave. Companies frequently provide bereavement (93 per cent) and maternity leave (83 per cent), and one-half (51 per cent) provide paternity leave. Although this is consistent with last year’s findings, the portion of companies that offer paternity leave is higher today than in 2014 (32 per cent) and 2015 (38 per cent).


The study is based on an online survey of 272 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time. The survey fielded from June 21-30, 2017.

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 2016. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2016 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2016 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.

Venue & Supplier Profiles