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New Survey From American Marketing Group Reveals Travel Agencies Struggling to Find and Hire Qualified Advisors

New Survey From American Marketing Group Reveals Travel Agencies Struggling to Find and Hire Qualified Advisors

Demand Is High, But Agencies Have Trouble Finding Prospects with Realistic Expectations


OYSTER BAY, NY (May 1, 2024): Most agencies affiliated with American Marketing Group networks are considering hiring advisors in the next year but are not confident they can find the right candidates.


In conjunction with Travel Advisor Day, a new survey of TRAVELSAVERS and NEST consultants provides insights into one of the profession’s biggest current challenges: an advisor shortage. While 69 percent of agencies plan to or may hire advisors in the coming year, only seven percent say it’s easy to find qualified applicants.


High Demand


Of the agencies hoping to hire advisors this year, two-thirds are looking to fill more than one position. About one-third of the agencies that are hiring report that they would like to bring on as many good candidates as they can find.


“The travel industry is facing a perfect storm,” said AMG Chief Sales Officer Kathryn Mazza-Burney. “Veteran advisors are leaving the field at the same time that travelers are eager to partner with them. As an industry, we have an obligation to attract new talent to get ahead of the huge demand our agencies are facing.”


Advisor Crunch


The cause of the shortage is twofold. As more travelers seek the expertise of a consultant, the market for travel agency services is increasing. It is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade to $1.3 trillion, according to Future Market Insights. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that travel advisor positions will rise by three percent annually until 2032, with 8,600 openings each year.


Simultaneously, experienced advisors are leaving the business. The Travel Institute says 36 percent of agencies lost staff during the pandemic, and 56 percent of those haven’t replaced them. Also, two-thirds of advisors today are over 50, with retirement nearing. Only six percent of advisors are under 35. 


Recruitment Methods


In their often-challenging search for advisors, agencies report using a variety of methods to locate candidates. The most common are referrals from others (64 percent), networking (35 percent), job listings (28 percent) and social media posts (24 percent).


Another issue hampering the quest for talent: lack of awareness. Nineteen percent of advisors surveyed say people don’t know the profession still exists.


Candidate Issues

When agencies do locate interested prospects, misconceptions about the field often disqualify candidates. Many underestimate the amount of work required to build a clientele while overestimating earnings. Some believe they will journey the world for free. Yet others lack the talent and background to be successful.


About half of the advisors surveyed say applicants don’t have the right combination of skills and abilities. Forty-four percent report applicants only want to travel for free. Forty-one percent say the pay isn’t high enough to attract qualified candidates, while the same percentage state that prospects aren’t willing to work hard to establish a book of business.


“We need to shout from the rooftops that travel advisors are thriving,” said Mazza-Burney. “We also need to educate prospects about the realities of the career. Yes, they need the right skills and training. Yes, they will work hard to establish themselves. But those who are a fit will enter a wonderful community of talented people in an industry with unlimited potential.”


Survey results are as follows:


Agencies planning to hire advisors over the next year

  • 34% yes
  • 35% maybe
  • 31% no


Number of advisors agencies plan to hire 

  • 33% one
  • 33% two or three
  • 2% four or more
  • 31% as many good ones as we can find


Ease finding qualified candidates

  • 7% say it’s easy
  • 3% say it’s often easy
  • 32% say it’s sometimes easy
  • 29% say it’s rarely easy
  • 30% say it’s not easy


Problems with finding candidates

  • 49% don’t have right combination of skills
  • 44% just want to travel for free
  • 41% not willing to work hard to establish themselves
  • 41% pay not high enough
  • 19% people don’t know the travel advisor profession still exists


Methods for finding candidates

  • 64% referrals
  • 35% networking
  • 28% job listings
  • 24% social media posts
  • 17% leads from consortium


Advisors from TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and Affluent Traveler Collection affiliate agencies in the US and Canada took the survey from March 21 to April 14, 2024.