Although there are several different types of booking agents, the most commonly known one is also called a talent agent. A talent or booking agent finds work for live performers such as musicians. The artist earns a portion of the ticket sales a venue such as a club or stadium takes in when he or she performs. Booking agents negotiate with the venue owner the amount the artist will earn for a performance. The agent takes a percentage of the artist's amount that the artist agrees on ahead of time as a fee for booking each performance gig.
Talent booking agents must understand contracts, as this is a big part of the job. He or she must also know where to find gigs for the type of performing artist they represent. They must also be extremely persuasive as venue owners often get a lot of agents trying to sign artists to perform. A booking agent usually has a demo tape, which is a recording of the performer that he or she shows to try and get performance gigs. The gig may be performing at clubs and concert halls or it may be at an event such as a fundraiser or festival.
Movie booking agents work for theater managers. They locate and lease movies from film distributors for the theater to show. A contract specifies a certain percentage of sales that the film company will receive from the tickets the theater sells to movie goers. Theater ticket sales are called box office sales. A movie booking agent must negotiate the box office sales contract so that the theater makes some money.
It's been said that movie theaters can make more of their profit from selling snacks such as popcorn and soda than from selling movie tickets. This can be true because the film companies may try to negotiate up to 90 percent of box office sales. A film booking agent tries to keep this amount down so that the theater owner can make some profit from the tickets they sell.
Travel booking agents work for clients and book airline flights, hotels and attractions. They help clients plan trips and work within a time frame of when the trip is to be taken to find accommodation and transportation. A travel booking agent may put together a "package deal" that includes airfare, hotel accommodations and some attractions. Clients get a lower price on package deals but must take the trip within the dates the agent lists in his or her advertisement. A travel booking agent earns income from charging booking fees as well as from commissions from hotels and other companies.