Wondering what it’s like to be a corporate travel agent? We’re breaking down all the details, including the typical corporate-travel-agent salary, perks and more.
Ready to start your career in travel? Apply to become a Fora Advisor today.
What’s a corporate travel agent?
No surprises here: corporate travel agents — or corporate travel advisors (we prefer the contemporary term) — help their clients with all aspects of business travel, from finding business-friendly hotels to planning itineraries around conferences, meetings and so on.
(P.S. Not sure what a travel agent does and need to back up? Our guide has you covered.)
How is a corporate travel agent different from an ordinary travel agent?
Of all the different travel agent job niches, corporate travel advisors often face the highest stakes because their clients’ performance (or even their job) may be on the line. Luxury travel advisors are often expected to deliver a similar high degree of white-glove service (learn how to become a luxury travel agent).
Otherwise, the only major difference between corporate travel agents and “ordinary” travel agents is the type of travel they’re booking, easily categorized into business and leisure travel.
(What does it take to become a travel agent? See our guide.)
Here’s an example of corporate travel
There aren’t any surprises as far as what counts as corporate travel.
Here’s an example: a client is attending an expo in a neighboring state and they wish to make the process as convenient and efficient as possible. A corporate travel agent would find accommodations that balance budget and proximity to the event, handle rental car reservations or transportation arrangements (if applicable) and, depending on the client, make recommendations for downtime. The latter might take the form of restaurant and bar suggestions or local sights.
(Wondering about jobs where you travel? Read our guide.)
Is becoming a corporate travel agent harder than becoming a leisure travel agent?
It can be. Corporate travel is often less flexible than leisure travel because it’s usually necessary to book hotels and transportation around set events and within a predetermined budget.
If you’re coming from a corporate background, the adjustment may be fairly minimal. But if you’re new to the corporate world, starting off with these types of parameters can be difficult.
In contrast, leisure clients are often more accepting of itinerary and hotel substitutions.
On the other hand, many of the same principles apply, and learning how to become a travel agent doesn’t change significantly because of the niche, especially when you train with Fora. We offer tons of expert-led travel agent training courses that cover a variety of niches, including business travel.
What are the benefits of booking through a corporate travel agent?
There are many reasons companies book trips through corporate travel agents, but here are three of the most notable.
1. Companies get to outsource their travel planning to an expert
The simplest reason companies book through corporate travel agents is the same reason companies use consultants for any other field: they’re trusting an outside expert to give them the best value and experience. A corporate travel agent can handle all the hassles of planning and booking so the company’s staff can focus their efforts elsewhere.
For instance, Fora Advisor Lauren Cherney says, "travel advisors can help pick or narrow down the perfect location for a company-wide event. This has been a big selling point when I have helped companies plan large events. They will give me a large list of needs and wants as far as location, and I am able to help them find their unicorn!"
2. Corporate travel consultants bring efficiency to travel itineraries (& reduce unnecessary spending)
In addition to handling the hassles of planning and making reservations, corporate travel agents can offer more bang for a company’s buck. This can take many forms, from finding deals that might not be publicly available to throwing in VIP perks that keep traveling employees happy.
Moreover, corporate travel agents — occasionally referred to as corporate travel consultants — can often streamline itineraries in a manner that eliminates unnecessary expenses.
3. Corporate travel agents can maximize safety
It’s an unfortunate reality, but some destinations are safer than others. And some destinations aren’t safe at all outside of designated areas. Oftentimes, this isn’t mentioned in the brochure, and an underrated benefit of using a corporate travel agent is their ability to plan itineraries that avoid more dangerous districts of a city.
Good travel advisors know the destinations their clients are heading to inside and out, and can advise travelers on areas and things to avoid. Fora Advisors have the added ability of being able to tap into a community of global travel experts, further ensuring their clients’ safety and well-being.
This also applies to lower-stakes concerns. Perhaps the client wants to know how far the nearest coffee shop is or where to grab a great meal. It's the job of the corporate travel agent to know these things and convey them properly.
What’s the appeal of selling corporate travel?
For some corporate travel agents, the appeal comes from familiarity with the professional world (i.e., they come from a corporate background). That being said, most people who become corporate travel agents do so for the prospects of repeat business and lucrative commissions. Corporate clients love travel advisors they can rely on (see the reasons below), and will often return after successful trips.
Love the idea of selling corporate travel? Become a Fora Advisor who specializes in business travel today.
The average corporate-travel-agent salary is higher than ordinary travel-agent salaries
A lot of factors go into this, but the average corporate-travel-agent salary does have a slightly higher ceiling than the typical leisure-travel-agent salary. We can’t offer accurate specifics on other host agencies, but Fora travel advisor salaries peak at six and seven figures, and many of our top earners specialize in corporate and / or group travel (read why group bookings are great).
Many corporate travelers visit major destinations like New York City or Tokyo (check out the coolest hotels in Downtown NYC or find out where to stay in Tokyo), staying at hotels in pricier business districts for convenience and efficiency. Moreover, business clients often require rental cars and other bookings along with itinerary planning that can boost non-commissionable revenue.
(BTW: you can totally operate your corporate-travel-agent business as a travel side hustle.)
How do corporate travel agents get paid?
Corporate travel advisors are paid no differently than leisure travel advisors. Our guide to how travel agents get paid covers the topic in detail. But here’s a simplified snapshot of how Fora pays travel advisors who work with us.
A Fora Advisor — regardless of niche — books a hotel for their client. The client’s trip comes and goes, and we advocate on behalf of our advisor for the supplier to send commission payments. Advisors are then paid via direct deposit. (It’s worth highlighting that many host agencies still use paper checks to pay their agents.)
Do you need a host agency to sell corporate travel?
Not necessarily, but working with an A+ host agency can make a world of difference for the corporate travel agent — and the benefits and resources Fora offers help make the booking process all the more seamless (and fun).
Fora is an excellent home for corporate travel agents
Our article on the best reasons to become a Fora Advisor covers these perks extensively, but here’s the quick version.
Fora Advisors, regardless of whether they sell corporate or leisure travel, have access to comprehensive travel-agent training, a bevy of contemporary marketing tools and an incredible lineup of supplier partnerships that, in turn, attract even the most discerning clients — and that’s just to name a few of the awesome tools at our advisors’ disposal.
Fora travel advisors can use our in-house booking platform to make reservations at an increasing number of hotels around the world (28,000+ and counting) as well as share tips and wisdom with their peers in our cooperative community, via our app Forum.
Interested in becoming a corporate travel agent? Join Fora today
Ready to start selling business trips as a corporate travel agent? Why not join a host agency that’s ready to go to bat for you? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor today.
Or check out these travel advisor resources for more intel if you’re still on the fence:
This article has been fact checked by Fora Advisor Lauren Cherney, an expert on corporate travel planning.