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With so many travel options available, more and more consumers are turning to travel agents to simplify the process. Although tasks can vary depending on a variety of circumstances, most travel agents:

  • Research destinations, resorts, and accommodations for individuals, businesses, and families
  • Negotiate savings and discounts on travel packages for customers
  • Plan specific trips or excursions for clients
  • Help clients determine what type of travel documentation they need, including passports or travel visas
  • Make hotel, airfare, or resort reservations for clients in their care
  • Advise clients on the details of their chosen destination including weather, local customs, and what to bring
  • Make changes to customer's itineraries based on changing needs or travel plans
  • Fix problems that may arise during a customer's trip and negotiate solutions on their behalf
  • Help customers find their way home in the event of a travel emergency

Fast Facts for Travel Agents in South Carolina

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 490 travel agents worked in South Carolina in 2014. Collectively, these professionals earned an annual mean wage of $32,970. That works out to approximately $15.85 per hour. In 2014, the following South Carolina regions employed the bulk of these workers:

  • Charlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill, NC-SC: 290
  • Greenville - Mauldin - Easley: 110
  • Charleston - North Charleston - Summerville: 110
  • Columbia: 100
  • Myrtle Beach - North Myrtle Beach - Conway: 40
  • Low Country South Carolina nonmetropolitan area: 40

Because of advances in technology and the ease at which consumers can plan their own vacations online, employment for travel agents in South Carolina may decrease in the coming years. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor's Projections Central predicts that job openings in this field could decrease -13 percent from 2012 to 2022. However, as the BLS notes, clients who was customized travel experiences will continue to rely on travel agents for their vacation and travel needs. Further, travel agents who specialize in group events or popular destinations may have an edge when it comes to finding employment - and keeping it.

Travel Agent Salaries in South Carolina

Through 2014, travel agents in South Carolina earned an annual mean wage of $32,970. On a national level, the annual mean wage for this profession was $37,730 that same year.

While annual mean wages are indicative of usual pay for this profession, some industries paid travel agents higher than average wages in 2014. Here are the five top-paying industries for these workers that year, plus the average reported wages for each:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services: $45,200
  • Office Administrative Services: $44,340
  • Scheduled Air Transportation: $42,830
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $40,120
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: $38,710

Metro Areas Rated for Salary and Popularity

Region

Employment per 1,000 Residents

Annual Mean Wage in 2014

Charlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill, NC-SC

0.32

$41,130

Greenville - Mauldin - Easley

0.35

$29,260

Charleston - North Charleston - Summerville

0.36

$36,610

Columbia

0.27

$31,900

Myrtle Beach - North Myrtle Beach - Conway

0.36

$34,120

Low Country South Carolina nonmetropolitan area

0.34

$41,980

Expert Q&A

To learn more about the travel industry in South Carolina, we reached out to Wayne William Smith, Chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Department at the College of Charleston. Mr. Smith's responses provide a broader view of the tourism and hospitality industry in South Carolina and beyond.

What are some of the unique issues that the travel industry in the state of South Carolina is facing?

Right now, the economy is booming in South Carolina. Charleston especially is facing major expansion. How we manage tourism here is a big issue. We need to find a balance between keeping the community happy and being overrun by tourism.

What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of South Carolina?

The biggest benefit is that this place has a built-in culture of hospitality. Southern hospitality is a real concept. Customer service here is high quality and the lifestyle is truly beautiful. The thing about it is, you're living in a place where you're surrounded by friendliness and good will.

How will the tourism and travel industry change in the next 10 to 20 years?

One of my biggest worries is that the personalization of the industry will disappear. As technology improves, we can book a lot of travel on our phones without talking to people. In an industry where relationships matter, that worries me a lot. It's hard to build a relationship with a computer. You need real people that are engaged with the community. Trying to find that balance between productivity and relationship management is difficult.

What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in the travel industry in your state?

Go to a place where you can balance getting internships and job experience with your education. Be in a place where it's almost an immersion program. Be somewhere where tourists are. If you want to learn hospitality, you have live in a place where it's important. It makes a big difference when you're talking about hospitality programs. This is such a tactile industry -- you have to feel it and come to understand it from a holistic perspective.

Sources:

  1. Interview with Wayne William Smith, Chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Department at the College of Charleston, November 3, 2015
  2. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  3. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Carolina, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sc.htm
  4. Travel Agents, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm
  5. Travel Agents, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes413041.htm
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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Travel Agents

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for South Carolina. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Travel Agents

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Travel Agents relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Greenville 70 $25,980
Anderson 70 $25,980
Mauldin 70 $25,980
Hilton Head Island 60 $33,560
Bluffton 60 $33,560
Beaufort 60 $33,560
Charleston 60 $40,470
North Charleston 60 $40,470
Columbia N/A $28,510

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