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A traveler is within the sales of a company and in the business administration the name for a social insurance salaried clerks in the field . On the other hand, it can also be a small business owner. In addition to the traveler, the field sales force is primarily familiar with sales assistants, such as sales representatives , brokers and commission agents and sales intermediaries . In contrast to travelers, the sales assistants and intermediaries mentioned are self-employed. In addition, the traveler is a legal concept of travel law for consumers who conclude a travel contract for a package tour with a tour operator .


The word traveler is a noun agentis formed from the word travel . In the older literature, everyone was referred to as a traveler who went abroad for study purposes, in order to examine and describe the social, cultural or natural conditions (see research trip ). In business administration, especially in marketing , since the beginning of the last century a traveler has been referred to as someone who mediates or concludes business outside of his company in the name and for the account of his company in a dependent position vis-à-vis his principal . The colloquial term “representative” had an increasingly negative connotation. The name of the traveling salesman was first recorded at the beginning of the 19th century.

Legal issues

The legal position of the traveler (or salesman) is characterized by the fact that he concludes business as an assistant for his principal on his account and in his name. He can conclude, buy or sell goods , securities , contracts or insurance or other objects of trade. Sales assistants who, without being an assistant, conclude business for a merchant or dealer in his name and on his account, are commercial agents or brokers . The commission agent, on the other hand, buys or sells goods, securities or other items of trade in his own name, but for the account of another trader, also without being an assistant.

The business errands of the traveler are based on the provisions of § § 611 ff. BGB ( service contract law ). The legal status of the traveler is consequently a commercial employee within the framework of the service contract. This contractual relationship results in duties of loyalty, care and obedience for him. Furthermore, in addition to the other duties of a commercial employee, the traveler is obliged to notify his employer about business deals immediately (obligation to notify) and to draft traveler reports (obligation to report). Conversely , regardless of the turnover achieved , the employer owes wages and welfare ( social security benefits and personnel support) as well as reimbursement of expenses incurred (travel expenses) and the safeguarding of other rights of a commercial employee.

In the area of ​​the Commercial Code (HGB), the provisions of § § 59 ff. HGB ( sales assistants ) apply.

Risk to the traveler

In practice, the entrepreneurial risk for welfare and salary payments is mainly offset by low fixed salaries with a high proportion of commission on the turnover achieved. In addition, there are regulations in the capital goods sector that provide for a fixed salary without performance-related remuneration. When calculating the sales commission, the employer's right of management also allows lucrative customers to be named " management customers" by means of work instructions during ongoing customer contact and to be looked after by the management or, depending on the distribution policy , to have them looked after by other employees at any time.

The consequence in operational practice is an unenforceable overall claim to remuneration of the seller on the basis of his concrete efforts, in spite of a possibly still moral commission claim. Such regulations are accepted by inexperienced salespeople who do not exclude general reference options in their employment contracts. Employers who would like to use the right to direct, but strive for minimal costs, will, for example, offer the employed field sales force as a contractual condition to pre-finance their car , mobile phone and money on business trips for the company on a voluntary basis and against a freely negotiable reimbursement .

As a “consideration”, the traveler is offered a higher proportion of commission with a low salary based on data from “long-term top sellers”. The entrepreneur thus achieves a contractual relationship that on the one hand offers him the advantages of an employee who is bound by instructions, but on the other hand largely shifts the risk of sales success to the employee with reference to the continued payment of wages. In the automotive sector or in the supplier industry z. For example, gross salaries of less than 1,000 euros are often paid as part of the basic service and in individual cases the leasing costs for a car (also for private use) are deducted from this. In this way, small and medium-sized companies often achieve acceptable customer contact costs in their field service with higher fluctuation .

Risk to the entrepreneur

With an employed salesperson, the employer has no influence whatsoever on the sales quality in the consultation if he does not want to carry out extensive coaching and training measures or customer surveys on a permanent basis . Since the field sales force of small and medium-sized companies in particular is difficult to include in a controlling , the latent suspicion of underperformance in sales is in the room for every employed field sales person .

The employed salesperson is bound by instructions and usually has to submit daily sales reports, often in electronic form. In addition, however, experienced salespeople note the really important customer information, preferences and private matters of the customers for building a relationship level in a separate, private database in order to compensate for their dependence on the right of direction. Today, travelers are therefore mainly used by companies for which direct access to and control over the sales organs are very important.

Scope of activity

The regular work that a traveler has to do as part of his service provision (cf. § 611 BGB) includes:

The employed seller is regularly neither responsible for the provision of the work equipment (car, telephone, brochures, etc.) nor for the advertising messages of his employer. His work can, above all, be used by service-oriented companies to deal less with sales than with processing complaints or customer service in the field. The boundaries to the service technician are sometimes fluid here.


Average annual
earnings of successful travelers in 2004. The incomes of commercial agents are sometimes significantly higher

In internal sales, commissions as a performance incentive are often completely foregone as soon as the goods “turn” without intensive customer advice. The corresponding business expenses are shifted here to the area of market communication within marketing . A pure fixed salary regulation is therefore more likely to be agreed for less qualified sales activities in retail. For example, cashiers or retail salespeople are usually paid gross salaries of around 1,000 euros per month without intensive consultation. In the retail trade, the job title “shelf filler”, which is not very flattering for salespeople, has established itself for these employees. In the sale of capital goods, this form of one-sided remuneration without a variable remuneration component is not common. The average earnings here are considerably higher (see graphic).

Travel law

In Reiserecht the traveler is contractual partner of the tour operator . Traveler according § 2 para. 6 Package Travel Act (Austria) "any person that an underlying the provisions of this Act contract intends to close or be entitled under such a contract to take travel services to complete." Through the package tour contract, the tour operator is obliged to provide the traveler with a package tour ( Section 651a Paragraph 1 BGB ). Before the start of the trip, the traveler can withdraw from the contract at any time ( Section 651h Paragraph 1 BGB), the tour operator must provide the traveler with the package tour free of travel defects ( Section 651i Paragraph 1 BGB).

The traveler does not have to be a private person , because according to the regulations that have been in force since July 1, 2018, the entrepreneur is also included in the scope of travel law for business trips within the meaning of Section 14 BGB , unless he books via a framework contract . This means that “ incentive trips ” also fall under the new travel law, unless there is a previously concluded framework agreement between the tour operator and the entrepreneur.

Web links

Wiktionary: traveler  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Christian von Zimmermann, Cardanus 3: Wissensschaftliches Reisen - traveling scientists , 2002, p. 7
  2. DWDS - History curves - Basis: DWDS reference corpora (1600–1999). Retrieved July 19, 2019 .
  3. The traveler is often faced with the question of the order in which he should visit given customers in order to keep his overall route as short as possible. A whole field of similar or advanced optimization problems in mathematics and computer science are therefore examined under the heading Problem of the traveling salesman.