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.