How to Become a Disney Travel Agent
Are you interested in becoming a Disney travel agent? It seems like the ultimate job for a Disney fanatic because you get paid to talk about Disney all day long. But is it really as fun and rewarding as it seems? And how exactly do you land Disney travel agent jobs without prior travel agency experience? There are several things you should consider before searching the Disney travel agent “join our team” listings.
Main Benefit of Becoming a Disney Travel Agent
Being a Disney travel agent certainly sounds like an enticing job. Your days are filled with thinking about, talking about, and researching Disney. It beats selling insurance every day, right?! Plus, any Disney vacation you go on is tax deductible as a research expense. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Biggest Downside of Becoming a Disney Travel Agent
Acquiring new clients can be a challenge. Disney uses their huge marketing budget to advertise at-will, and they never say, “contact a Disney travel agent to book your trip.” Instead, they encourage potential vacationers to book trips through Disney’s own website. Disney also pays travel agents a lower commission rate in comparison to many other vacation spots. So, every day can be a struggle to find new clients, and Disney itself will be your best friend and biggest adversary. Ironic!
Disney Travel Agent Jobs – Considerations
Without a doubt, becoming a Disney travel agent can be fun and rewarding. However, many new Disney travel agents are unaware of the pitfalls and challenges they may soon encounter. Here are a few things you should expect when trying to become a Disney Travel agent.
Most host travel agencies categorize their travel planners as “independent contractors.” This means your sole source of income will be commissions from booking client’s travel. In other words, you will not have a salary or wages to rely on. Rather, the number (and cost) of trips you book will determine your income.
The commission split between host agency and travel agent varies with each Disney agency. Agents usually receive a higher commission on clients they find themselves vs. leads given to them from the agency. Novice vacation planners can expect to have a 50-55% split with their host agency to start off
with, and around 70-75% as the agent becomes more experienced and book more trips. The best percentage splits you can expect to find will be around 80/20 (agent/agency). Since Disney pays travel agencies a 10% commission rate on booked travel, this means that a best-case scenario on a $5,000 vacation would result in $400 commission to the booking agent ($5000 x .10 = 500 x .80 = $400). Some agencies charge their agents an annual E&O (Error & Omissions insurance) fee – as well as other fees – so be sure to research what you are expected to contribute before signing up to work with a host agency.
* For the Disney agency with the best commission splits, see our recommendation at end of the article.
When a Disney travel agent books travel on behalf of his or her client, Disney pays a 10% commission to the host agency, and then the host agency forwards the agent’s share of the commission to him or her. Be aware that the Disney does not pay out the commission until AFTER the travel has been completed. Therefore, expect a lengthy delay from the time you book a vacation until the time you get paid. In most cases, this lag time usually takes several months up to a year, depending on how far in advance your client books their vacation.
Becoming a Disney travel agent isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. While being a private contractor seems like it would provide you with lots of freedom, the truth is, successful travel agents have early mornings, late night, and “crazy” clients. So be prepared to accommodate your client’s schedule and not always your own.
Like many sales jobs, Disney travel agents jobs require good communications skills. Effective agents are calm, cool, and collected, as well as upbeat, articulate, and helpful. This doesn’t just apply to phone conversations, but also with the written word. Since much of your communications with the client will be done through email, make sure you proofread everything you write before pressing the “send” button. It’s not always easy to convey a pleasant tone via texts and emails, so avoid writing anything that sounds abrupt, angry, or unsympathetic. Be timely with your responses and helpful with your advice. Clients can be sensitive!
Clients depend on Disney travel agents to take the headaches out of planning and booking their trip. As their travel planner, these hassles now become your responsibility. You must possess excellent attention to detail when you book travel, as one slight error can complicate or even ruin a Disney trip.
Disorganized travel agents are bound to encounter confusion and mix-ups at some point. Having a good organizational system in place is key to keeping all your information in order as you juggle multiple client trips at once. Keep your information easily retrievable in case a client calls with questions. You will need an efficient system to track all the key dates, dining reservations, payments, etc. The worst call you can make to a client is “I screwed up.”
Proactive and Prompt
Not only should Disney travel agents be proactive and prompt in addressing their client’s questions and concerns, but they should also be proactive and prompt in re-booking the client’s vacation package if a new Disney promotion is launched. You will be looking out for the best interests of your client, so if a deal pops up that can save them some money, be ready to act!
Level of Knowledge
There’s a lot to know about Disney Destinations. Disney travel planner’s universe of knowledge shouldn’t be limited to just Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but also Aulani (a Disney Resort & Spa), Disney Cruise Line vacations, and Adventures by Disney. Various Disney travel agencies book Universal Studios, Sandals & Beaches Resorts, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line packages as well, so your breadth of knowledge may need to expand beyond Disney, depending on which destinations your host agency books.
To become an effective Disney travel agent, you really need to be well-versed in each destination. This means spending quality time researching not only your favorite destinations, but also the “ins and outs” of the destinations you have never visited and the ones that don’t interest you (if that’s even possible!). If a client asks you where to swim, play golf, rent a baby stroller, a great spot for a day trip, or whatever, you should be prepared with an answer.
That brings us to our next point. The best Disney travel agencies have a good support network in place. They should promote an open and friendly (i.e., noncompetitive) dialog/communication system between each of the agents. There will inevitably be agents that know more about certain destinations, while others will know less. If you are just starting out as a Disney travel agent, it’s understandable that you will have plenty of questions. The best Disney travel agencies won’t just throw you to the wolves to fend for yourself, but rather, support you along the way as you learn the ropes.
For the most part, Disney vacation planners are on their own to find client leads. Some of the larger, more established agencies may have a prominent social media presence or high google search ranking, in which case you may get some client leads handed to you. Some agencies pay to advertise their brand – at no cost to their agents – so this certainly is a bonus from an agent’s standpoint. However, for the most part, Disney travel agents are left in the cold to fend for themselves when it comes to acquiring new clients. It helps to have a large circle of friends and acquaintance to pitch your services to, as well as some marketing savvy to build your own brand. Since your compensation is entirely commission-based, an effective marketing strategy will be key to your success.
Avoid Disney travel agencies that a run like multilevel marketing schemes. If you encounter an agency with upfront training course fees, registration fees, etc., this should be a red flag. These types of agencies are usually more interested in making money off you from the get-go than making you a “valuable team member.” Training should always be provided by your host agency – free of charge. Legitimate Disney travel agencies will have IATA (International Air Transport Association) and/or CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) accreditation, and require their agents to complete the College of Disney Knowledge (a correspondence course for Disney travel agents to learn about different resorts, cruise line, etc.).
Finding Disney Travel Agent Jobs
If you have been a travel agent before, your chances of being hired are much greater right out of the gate, especially if you have Disney travel experience. However, since you are reading this article, it’s likely that you have no experience at all. Fear not! It is still possible to get hired as a Disney travel planner with little to no experience.
Disney travel agencies are always on the lookout for new talent. However, they are not going to hire just anyone. If you are new to the travel industry, the best way to find a Disney travel agent job that may suit your experience and skill-set is by reading each agency’s criterion for hiring. We suggest you start your online search by googling phrases like “Disney travel agent join our team,” “Disney travel agent jobs,” “Disney travel planner jobs,” etc. You may be surprised at how many Disney travel agencies exist and how many are seeking new agents to join their team.
Applying to Disney Travel Agent Jobs
What do Disney travel agencies look for?
Each Disney host agency has its own set of criteria they require when hiring travel planners. Here are some of the most common characteristics Disney travel agencies seek from potential job candidates.
It’s no surprise that Disney travel agent jobs require a passion for Disney Destinations. This isn’t just another job to pay the bills – this is a Disney job! There are so many Disney fanatics out there, so why would any agency hire anyone but a Disney enthusiast? Employers like enthusiasm, so be expressive and passionate when you apply for Disney travel agent jobs.
✓ Friends and Family
Some Disney agencies want to know if your friends and family refer to you as a Disney fanatic, and whether they seek your advice when planning their Disney vacations. If you’ve never been a travel agent before, this is where you can show a Disney agency that you at least have some related experience in doling out advice and planning Disney vacations, albeit unpaid and unofficial.
Disney travel agents must be well-versed and insightful when it comes to Disney Destinations. Therefore, agencies want to know if you have actually been to some of these places you will be promoting. Expect to be asked which destinations you have been to, and when. Some agencies may ask you to write about your favorite aspects of certain Disney Destinations.
Next, they will want to assess your commit to the job. Most Disney agencies are looking for people who aren’t bogged down with lots of commitments. An ideal job candidate would be able to devote as many hours as possible to grow their business and be highly attentive to their clients needs. Becoming a Disney travel agent may entail morning, afternoon, and nighttime phone calls or correspondence, so having this flexibility and availability is important to a host agency.
✓ Character Traits
Most Disney travel agents jobs require a strong work ethic, professionalism, ambition, positivity, independence, business-mindedness, seriousness, fun, etc. In a nutshell, they want all the good qualities and none of the bad!
✓ Customer Service Skills
Disney travel agents must possess excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, and be comfortable “meeting” new people. Travel agents should balance calmness and friendliness to put the client at ease while also having the confidence/forcefulness to make decisions and close the sale, so to speak. You do not want to alienate potential clients with a bad attitude or a sales pitch, but you shouldn’t be wishy-washy in the process.
No one wants to hire someone living in the dark ages. Disney travel agencies want you to have a quiet home office and reliable technology to work with. This means good cell phone service and a high-speed internet access. You will be using an online booking system and talking to clients throughout the day, so Disney travel agencies will make sure that your technology is adequate and your computer skills are up to the task.
✓ Social Media Presence
Social media plays a major role in marketing these days. Therefore, effective Disney travel planners should not only be computer savvy, but also be social media savvy. It helps to have a large friend-base to begin with, because the more connections you already have established, the more potential clients are just one instant message or Facebook “share” away. Successful Disney travel agents create a Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram account devoted entirely to market their Disney travel services. Every update will remind your followers that you are the go-to person for planning their next Disney vacation.
Recommended Disney Travel Agency for Job Seekers
We have been asked to recommend our favorite Disney travel agency. While there are plenty of fabulous host agencies to work for, none beat The Vacationeer, in our opinion. The Vacationeer provides their agents (appropriately named “Vacationeers”) with some of the highest payout ratios in the industry – up to 80%. They engage is a variety of marketing strategies to bring new leads to their agents, including Facebook ads, hosting Disney World vacation planning Meetup groups, and other creative marketing strategies. The team behind The Vacationeer puts a lot of effort into satisfying both their clients and their agents. For this reason, we are highlighting them as our top pick.
(The Vacationeer is currently seeking new Disney agents to join their growing team. If you would like to become a Vacationeer, visit TheVacationeer.com/travel-agent-jobs to apply.)
We hope that you found this article helpful. Good luck on your quest to become a Disney travel agent! For more Disney World information, feel free to browse through other Magic Guides pages, sign up for our free Disney e-book, and use our Disney World Crowd Calendar to book your clients once you become a Disney travel agent!