If you love Disney, know an impressive amount of theme park trivia, and consider yourself an expert vacation planner, you might have what it takes to become a Disney travel agent. A dream job for some Disney fans, these travel agents spend their days talking about all things Disney and helping guests book unforgettable trips.
Sue Pisaturo, owner of Small World Vacations, a top Disney vacation travel agency, has watched the industry grow over the last 25 years, so we asked for her best tips on how to become a Disney travel agent. Here's what you should know before embarking on a magical new career.
How to Become a Disney Travel Agent
There isn't just one way to become a Disney travel agent, and the requirements and expectations vary depending on your goals, the agency's standards, and your location. Some aspiring agents want to work part-time to plan trips for their friends and family, while others pursue this as a full-time career. Either way, most agents work remotely instead of reporting to a physical office. States have different laws impacting travel agents, and many work as independent contractors, so it's important to educate yourself on the applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations to ensure that you and your agency are compliant.
There are learning programs, like the College of Disney Knowledge and modules on Disney Travel Agents, the help agents deepen their knowledge of Disney destinations, but Pisaturo says that the best preparation is first-hand experience. Go to the Disney theme parks, stay at the resorts, eat at the restaurants, go on a cruise with Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney, and visit Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. It's important to familiarize yourself with the offerings and experiences, so you can effectively advise future travelers.
Disney travel agents spend their days helping guests plan magical experiences, so they need to stay up-to-date on Disney news and trends. Needless to say, most Disney travel agents choose this career path because they love all things Disney, and they want to help other guests have those magical moments you can only find on a Disney vacation.
Finding the Right Agency
To be a successful Disney travel agent, you'll want to find the right agency fit, and there are a few basic things to know before you get started. Disney travel agents provide a service to travelers by booking their trips, and Disney pays the agency a commission. The agency negotiates the commission split with agents, so you'll receive a portion of the earnings. Some agencies expect agents to find their own clients (many agents utilize social media to market their services), while others provide leads directly to agents. Travel agencies vary in size and practice, so Pisaturo provided some helpful questions that people should ask their potential agencies.
Fees: Do they charge upfront fees, and if so, what are they? Find out about any other fees the agency charges agents, including any for training and education.
Contracts: Are there any mandatory sales goals or hours? Is there an independent contractor contract, and how long does it last?
Agency Support: How long have your agents been with the agency? (This can be a good indicator of satisfaction with the agency.) What support does the main office provide to agents? Does the agency provide leads, or are agents responsible for generating their own sales? Does the agency provide assistance with social media marketing, including information about Disney's rules and restrictions? How often are agents paid commission, and what method does the agency use to pay them?
Agency Information: Is the agency an Earmarked Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, and if so, at what level? (The levels are Bronze, Silver, Platinum, and Diamond.) Does the agency belong to Universal's U-Preferred program? Is the agency accredited by the Better Business Bureau? Does the agency belong to other professional associations? Has the agency been involved in any lawsuits with agents, guests, or vendors?
These are critical questions you'll want to ask before starting with an agency. Of course, it's always helpful to search the agencies you're interested in online and check out their social media pages.
Becoming a Disney Travel Agent During the Pandemic
Across the industry, travel agents are helping customers navigate pandemic travel regulations and restrictions — an incredibly valuable service, especially for Disney travel, which can be complicated even for frequent visitors. Fewer people are traveling right now, but they are beginning to plan for post-pandemic trips, and once they're ready to go, they might need an agent's expertise. From dining and theme park reservations to new health and safety procedures, there's a lot to consider. Disney travel agents should be up-to-date on all new developments, so they can prepare guests for a magical experience amid the changes.
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