Should You Become a Disney Travel Agent?

Although I have worked for a travel agency, I am no longer affiliated with one, so I’m not here to recruit you; I’m just here to give you insight on what it’s like to become a travel agent/vacation planner.

As a Disney Travel Agent, you are not employed by Disney nor can you call yourself that. You are employed by a host agency that is an authorized Disney vacation planner/agency [ you are only a travel agent that specializes in Disney]. With most agencies, you are an independent contractor. This means an agent’s source of income is commission from their client’s travel. The agent will not be paid until the client’s travel vacation has been completed.

The split between agency and agent varies by company. Further, some companies charge yearly and/or monthly dues that include your errors and omission insurance, branding and administrative fees. Some agencies will
require you to pay for their training programs and for their resources/selling methods.

Most agencies further require you to bring in quarterly quotas to remain employed. Some agents make enough to cover a basic Disney Trip, while others make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Truly think about the people you know that go to Disney, the type of Disney vacations they take (resort, 3+ days, dining plan, etc.), and whether it is worth it for you. Anywhere you are exposed to people that spend a significant amount of money on Disney or other vacations, this is an opportunity to make a substantial amount of side money if your market is not already oversaturated with agents/planners.

I would not advise people to quit their day job to pursue this career full time until they have seen 2-3 years of stable clients and income. Most agencies start agents with a 60/40 cut of the commission (which is 10% of the total trip). This means the agency gets 40% or 4% of the trip total and the agent get 60% or 6% of the trip total. For example if you book a $4,000 trip, your initial cut will be $240, while the agency will take $160.

Other out-of-pocket expenses to consider: most travel agents send thank you gifts ranging from autograph books to gift baskets to onboard credits at your discretion.

Most agencies require you to sell $50,000 (varies) before you can qualify for any travel agent discounts, and the inventory for discounts is limited. In most cases, you are better booking the trip through your agency and collecting your cut of the commission– and your trip goes towards your sales.

While most agencies will provide with training, and give you the use of their logo and certain resources, most do not provide leads; therefore, be prepared for cold-calling type self promotions.

Certain times of year have more bookings than others, especially the months from January until March is known as “Wave Season”. For example, Release Day and Promotional releases give agents a great boost, while other times an agent may go an entire month without booking a trip.

An agent must be prepared to always be on call for their clients, especially when they are traveling. If something goes wrong, the agent needs to fix it. It does not matter what is happening otherwise, the client must come first at that moment. And you really are on call for your clients, especially when they are traveling.

I loved being a travel agent specializing in Disney, but it did take several months before I even had my first booking. This is to be expected, and the later months provided much more income. However, by then it had become a full time job for only several clients; only you will know if you can book the type of trips that will make it worth it.

Should I Use a Disney Travel Agent?

Because I am no longer booking Disney vacations, I am can offer more real insight than many others blogs.

Booking any vacation, but particularly a Disney vacation, is often overwhelming, for both the first-timers and the seasoned-professionals.

To really stay on top on the new attractions, upgrades, etc, you would need to star your favorite blogger page, preferably mine, Or you can book your vacation with a travel agent, who specializes in Disney, and they will keep you in the loop. Getting Disney tips is easy–with blogs such as this, and several others–in addition to the many veterans.

Booking either directly online or through an app, or through a travel agent are all easy enough. However, by booking through a travel agent you are not charged a dollar more but receive the benefit of having them do much of the legwork for you. If you don’t have the time, it is certainly worth it. They should take care of your Fast Passes+, restaurant/character dining reservations, and more, in addition to what should already be their Disney-planning knowledge.

The two larger benefits in using a Disney agent are the dining and Fast Pass+ reservations, because at 180 days out they should be up at 6 am to secure your dining, and and again at 7 to get your top priority attractions. For many people, this alone makes it worth it.

Some people enjoy planning, and you can certainly request that your agent does not make your reservations.

There is one downfall to using an agent, which is when a big, rare promotion is released. If you are just as on top of the promotions/releases as an agent can be, it is ultimately quicker for you to modify the promotion yourself. While the travel agents have their own phone line, the agents (because they are some of the first to know about the promotions) are often immediately trying to book and/ or modify the promotions for their clients, but because there are so many agents calling at once, there are longer phone line holds. While an agent may spend hours on the phone, a direct call to Disney may only take a few minutes. They Disney Travel Agent phone line is different than the standard consumer/retail line, and surprisingly the travel agents will crash the system during a big promotion, meaning very long hold times and slow-moving Disney agent computer services.

Your travel agent is working effortlessly to save you money even if it means reducing their commission. This applies only to Walt Disney World, as DisneyLand, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney have different promotional structures.

You can not modify your reservation, only your agent can. You can rebook on your own, if you are able to snag a better deal, cancel your existing reservation/itinerary, but know it can take up to 10 days to see a refund. You can then transfer your reservation over to an agent that previously helped you.

I strongly encourage that you ultimately transfer your reservation to an agent, because you pay $0 dollars more for their services, and this is the only way that they are paid. Vacations can be transferred up to 30 days of booking.

Also most agents, as a thanks for booking with them, will give you goodies as such as gift baskets at check-in, or on-board credits for the Cruise Line, so there is a perk for going with a small business instead of booking directly. You not only get their time and direct number instead of a 1-800 line but you are genuinely appreciated and get more than just the standard welcome button.

Most agents will help you with every component of your trip (tickets, resort and dining) you bought through them, because that’s what they are getting paid for. You can turn to our blog to learn how to handle the “unhandled” areas.

Travel agents really do a lot to make your vacation magical. I just wanted to point out the benefits and disadvantages that can and do arise when booking with an agency. Also check to see what level of earmarker the travel agency is, as you want a gold or platinum level producer that has planned hundreds of vacations to give you more expertise.

When you book with a travel agent their commission is already built into the overall price, even if you opt out of their planning services, so why not give a small business a try?