How To Become A Disney Travel Agent – Get Started Today
How To Become A Disney Travel Agent – Get Started Today
The term “travel agent” can sound outdated at times. Who walks into a travel agent shop and books their vacation when it can all be done online? This is a valid question when it comes to travel in general. With websites like Expedia, Priceline and Google, there’s almost no reason to even speak with a person in this way. But Disney travel agents are different.
Disney knows that technology has advanced past the need of in person meetings when it comes to travel. This is why they have built a solid platform for their travel agents to use as they book clients vacations via the phone, internet and email.
This alone has sped up the process of booking a Disney vacation while keeping the personal touch of a human.
If you’ve ever tried to book a Disney vacation on your own without having done it before, it can be overwhelming. There are so many components for the theme parks and cruises that one can get lost very easily or miss out on something important.
That’s where a trained Disney travel agent comes in. Travel agents with Disney have been trained on all their vacations including theme parks, cruises, Adventures, Aulani and resorts.
This allows the trained agent to provide not just the basics of booking for a client, but inside information to make sure they get the most out of it. And when this happens, the client becomes one for life.
How To Become A Disney Travel Agent Selling Disney
To become a Disney specialized travel agent you first need to join an authorized travel agency that is registered with Disney as a seller of travel. MainStreet Travel is one of the easiest companies to join online as they typically get you started training same-day and ready for booking within 24-48 hours.
They are an approved agency with Disney and have been trained agents for over 10 years. Their program is easy to join, has friendly and helpful team managers, and most importantly, on-time with their commission payments.
Joining an agency like MainStreet takes little to no travel skill at all. This is because all your training is provided at the time of joining. The only “skill” you need to posses is a desire to book Disney vacations. A background in sales and customer service is always a plus.
The biggest thing that helps any new agent is if they have been on a vacation before to one of Disney’s resorts or on a cruise. If you have found yourself wanting to go back again and again, this job is probably right for you.
You’ll also want to have a dedicated workspace for when you do get started. Training and booking in a quiet place whether at an office or home is desirable. You don’t want to be booking a clients vacation while your dog is barking or kids are hitting you with pillows (this has happened).
You always want to sound and be professional when it comes to booking so having a place to go is something you’ll want to make sure you have.
You’ll want to make sure you have access to a computer full-time, a phone and the internet. Most of your bookings will come via email or online through websites like Facebook or Instagram. Thus being able to respond to these, even on the go, is important.
Make sure you brush up on your communication skills as well. While most bookings are not done over the phone, some guests do like to speak to you like this so be ready.
There will be guests who know exactly what they want to book when they reach out to you and there will be some who know nothing and will rely on your expertise to help book them a magical vacation. When you’re prepared for all of the above, that’s when you’ll succeed the most.
Can I become a Disney Travel Agent on my own?
You will need to join an agency in order to become a Disney Travel Agent and sell travel to clients. This is due to the need of many certificates and licenses that agencies already have in order to work with suppliers and states.
Becoming a Travel Agent During the Pandemic
It may seem like during the global pandemic, with travel slower than normal, it’s the worst time to become an agent specializing in Disney travel. The truth is, it’s just the opposite. The need for agents once travel gets back to 100% is going to be tremendous. Once airlines and resorts reopen fully, with no limitations, people are going to want to travel. Even as we write this, Summer have been selling out at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line. And the demand is only going to increase come summer/fall time.
What this means for anyone considering becoming an agent with a focus on Disney is now is the best time to get yourself situated and trained because come post-COVID, things are going to get crazy and there will be a lot of people booking Disney vacations.
Lastly, Disney has suffered through a lot during the pandemic with closures and full stops but demand has never changed. Traveling in general has become harder but now more than ever people want to get back to Disney to resume what they already had planned all along.
How Much Money Does A Disney Travel Agent Make Selling Disney?
Don’t put it past yourself to ask this question. While it’s fun to help others book their vacations, you deserve compensation for your time and effort.
Of course this question is a loaded one as there are some many factors that go into it including vacation type, how many guests are traveling, accommodation type, tickets, if they need airfare or transportation and anything else you can think of that a guest may utilize while gone.
The standard industry pay on a vacation package is 10% to the agency. This is the price before taxes are added. Some components like airfare may pay less than 10% or not at all. When it comes to Disney, you can typically expect an agency to get 10% across the board with a few exceptions.
Now as an agent working for an agency, you are going to collect a bit less than this. Why? Because most agencies take about half of your commission for themselves. This is an industry standard but does have some flexibility. Many will offer a tier program that lets you keep more as you book more.
An agency like MainStreet actually starts you out at 70% and then lets you go up from there. To date, they are the highest paying agency for new agents. What this means is, an agent working for MainStreet who books a vacation with a commission of let’s say $425 will ultimately collect $297.50 at 70%.
When an agent completes a booking, most of the time they are going to be paid after the travel takes place. This is because Disney only pays after the guest has travelled, for obvious reasons. Cancelled trips don’t pay thus agencies have to wait.
As an agent, you can expect to be paid within 30 days after your guests have finished traveling. MainStreet however, will complete the payment to you within 7 days or less which is another nice perk that they offer.
Most agents are paid by direct deposit or check though some can be paid by PayPal or Venmo.
Any agent who books one vacation package a month can expect to make about $200-$300. This is because the average package costs a client around $2,500 to $3,500 for Disneyland in Southern California and about $3,500-$4,000 at Walt Disney World.
Some vacations, like Disney Cruise Line, will earn an agent well over $300 on a single booking as most cruises run the average family $5,000 to $6,000.
There are so many ways to bring this number up as well with add-ons so keep that in mind.
We’ve had many people ask us what the Disney Travel Agent salary is per year. There is no “salary” per se as an agent is paid based on their bookings and there’s no guarantee on the amount of these an agent does.
If you’re looking for something that pay hourly or a salary each year as an agent, this is not the job for you. However, the upside is that your earnings are unlimited.
For instance, a booking could net you several hundred dollars. Doing a few of these each week would pay much more than earning $12 an hour.
Do I Have To Start A Business To Become An Agent?
That’s totally up to you! No matter what you choose to do, you will always be considered an independent contractor to an agency and not an employee. What this means is that you will receive your full pay without any taxes being taken out by them.
This also means that when you file your taxes, you’ll need to pay any taxes you might owe, whether you’re a sole proprietor (yourself as a business) or as a business.
There can be benefits to both of these and we would highly recommend talking to your tax person to figure out what’s best for you. Don’t let any of these ideas scare you from starting. It’s actually much easier than you think and so are the taxes.
Many travel agents like to register as an LLC for the protection that it offers as well as the various tax write-offs. Again, we’re not offering professional advice here so talk with an expert. Typically this is done when you expect to be paid more than a certain amount each year.
We’ve seen agents write off their computers, phone and office space. Basically anything you use to work your job and provide for your clients can typically be written off. Just something to keep in mind as you move forward.
What Is Disney’s Travel Agent Training Like?
It’s pretty simple actually. Agencies like MainStreet will send you a welcome packet after you’ve joined. It goes over everything including pay, perks (see below) and how to start your training.
Training is done online and in most cases can be started right away. Disney offers something called the College of Disney Knowledge which helps train a new agent on each of the destinations they offer. This includes Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and their beach resorts.
The entire training process can be done in about 24 hrs though we highly recommend taking it slow to begin with. You really want to learn what’s being taught as we guarantee you’ll use it as some point.
College of Disney Knowledge sessions are done in Powerpoint presentation with voiceover. There are times where you will watch videos and visit the Disney Travel Agent website for references.
You can pause, stop and continue any lesson later if needs be. Each lesson has a quiz at the end and to become “certified” you’ll need to complete all the core lessons and then take a 50 question quiz to pass.
While studying super hard probably isn’t necessary, you will want to take notes. Memorizing cruise ship names and the names of restaurants they offer isn’t something to just glaze over.
You’ll also be expected to know different vacation components like tickets and their options, resort hotels, lands inside the parks and names of firework shows to name a few.
Even going beyond Disney and into the realm of Universal Vacations, the training is the same. Work at your own speed.
Are There Any Perks To Disney’s Travel Agent Program?
Of course! One of the great things about the DTA program is that they want their agents to be involved in what they sell. This means offering some special discounts so agents can visit and familiarize themselves with resorts and cruises.
We will highlight one thing before getting into the details: All perks from Disney are subject to change. While we have not seen them change per se in over 5 years, this doesn’t mean they won’t. Basically, don’t bank on something.
Disney typically offers the following agent discounts once you have completed (or renewed) your training:
About 50% off a Disneyland Resort Hotel
About 50% off a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
About 30-40% off an Aulani hotel room
About 50% off a Disney Cruise Line Booking
One free 1-day Disneyland Park Hopper Ticket
One free 1-day Walt Disney World Hopper Ticket OR a deeply discounted multi-day Hopper Ticket
Discounted Adventures by Disney Itineraries
Discounted River Cruises through Adventures by Disney
Again, these are earned upon completion of your training each year AND proof of a CLIA or IATA membership.
Your CLIA or IATA membership will come from your agency. While some agencies enroll you for free into these programs, there is a cost for your agent ID card at $120 per calendar year. This ID card is necessary to book any of the above perks. Be aware that there are agencies that require you book so much before giving you access to a CLIA card. Programs like MainStreet do not.
While it may seem steep, the savings on any one of those components will easily cover (and then some) the cost of the ID. If you don’t plan to travel in a certain year, then you don’t have to get it.
Completion of your training and your ID card is required to complete your booking of any of these perks. Booking is done online and in real time meaning you should only book once you have completed everything and have your CLIA card.
What’s an “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” or “Earmarked” Agency?
A lot of people come across this term or marking on agency websites. The term Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is part of an optional program that private agencies can join. The program, referred to as “Earmarked” is a way for Disney to recognize agencies who have consistently sold a certain level of revenue for each product (Aulani, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World) for at least two years in a row.
By doing so, Disney invites these agencies to participate in the Earmarked program. Agencies who accept can reach different levels within the program including silver, gold, platinum, etc. Agencies must improve upon their sales each year in every category or they face removal from the program. There is no difference in how travel agencies book whether they participate in the program or not.
Host agencies typically do not participate in the program due to having independent contractors instead of employees. Again, the program is completely optional and up to the agency to decide whether they want to participate in it or not. Agencies who are not Earmarked are still authorized to book Disney vacations and have the same tools as those who are.
Best Disney Host Agency
A host agency provides you with access to suppliers, support and tools. a Disney Host Agency does just this for Disney Destinations including Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. You’ll gain access to and be able to sell them making commission.
We’ve already mentioned them serval times but right now the best Disney Travel Host Agency to join is MainStreet Travel. They have been growing for several years and have moved from private to host in the last year. This means that they are accepting agents to join their program right now.
We love MainStreet Travel for a lot of things but here’s our top list:
70% of all commission paid (industry average is 50%)
Tons of suppliers – Disney, Universal, Cruise Lines, VAX, Sandals, Expedia and more!
No monthly or yearly fees. Just a one-time $99 fee to join.
Online training – Train online at your own pace.
CLIA access – Get your CLIA card for agent benefits
Online Tutorials – Lean how to complete tasks, market, and train through videos.
Giveaways and benefits every month including cash.
Support – Live chat, email and phone support.
There’s a lot more to their program but as a Disney Host Agency, you won’t find a better option. Take a look at their agent website and go thought their FAQ’s.
How Do I Market Myself To Clients?
While an agency gives you everything you need to book a clients vacation, finding that client can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The best place to start is social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the top three places to create profiles. TikTok is also becoming a great place to get followers.
Create a profile and then invite your friends and family. Ask them to share your page or profile with their friends. Let them know you book Disney vacations and you should get a pretty good response as most people love Disney.
On your pages, stay active with posts about special offers and fun tips or hacks. While these take very little effort, they can produce great results as people get excited when they learn about cool Disney things.
You can list yourself with Google My Business so that when people search for Disney vacations in your area, your name pops up. This is a great way to get locals to your website/phone/email asking questions and eventually booking.
On Facebook, join local community pages and let people know you’re available to book Disney vacations and how they can reach out to you.
There’s an endless number of options to get potential clients talking to you. Be patient though. Booking don’t just come overnight (sometimes they do). Keep at it and eventually it will pay off.
Are There Minimum Booking Requirements?
For some agencies there are and for some there are not. It comes down to the one you join. Some may require you to book at least once a month or maybe even once a year. These ones don’t have a dollar minimum so all you need to do is complete a booking, whatever that may be.
Other agencies may require you to hit a minimum dollar booking amount, say $5,000 each year. Not hitting this mark may cause revocation of your agent status or a decline in your commission percentage.
The MainStreet agency has no minimums for agents so whether you book once a year, never a year or 3 times a year, you’re an agent. Agents who book more than 35 bookings a year with them can increase their commission percentage, up from 70%.
Make sure you look for a reputable travel agency who can help you sell Disney products. If you want to focus on just Disney, find someone like MainStreet who does just this. They offer free E&O insurance, are a Registered Seller of Travel in CA and FL and they offer superb customer service.
You should know that being an agent requires a time commitment, especially during training. You’ll want to focus on getting this done and learning all you can before you start selling.
Working from home is a nice perk but you’ll want to make sure you have a few items including a laptop, internet and phone.
Agents get paid a commission and it typically isn’t at the time of booking. It’s when the travel has taken place by your guest. Once done, an agency will pay once the supplier has paid them.
It’s a great idea to create a Facebook Page for your agency and invite friends and family to like it. Then keep active posting deals and fun trip ideas. These get people excited about taking a Disney vacation and can easily turn into bookings. List your agency online so people can find a Disney travel agent near them.
Joining the right agency can make or break your experience so be sure to choose one that can support you!