Let’s face it, anyone can book a Disney vacation by going online, pricing out a few options, and clicking the “book” button, and your are done. Easy as pie. But should you? I have been a full time travel agent since 2002, and the thousands of people I talk to each year, I have yet to meet one person that couldn’t benefit from booking with a Disney Travel Agent rather than booking their trip directly online with Disney. Sure, you think you have been to Disney a ton and know everything, but trust me, there are plenty of ways a Disney Travel Agent can help you out.
Why you should use a Disney Travel Agent
Absolutely not cost to you. Most Disney Travel Agents, Mouseketrips included, never charges you an extra fee for anything. If you look up a package online, our prices will never be more than what you can find with Disney. Since our services are free, there aren’t really any excuses to not use a Disney Travel Agent.
You can retain complete control. Even though use decided to use a Disney Travel Agent to help you book your Disney vacation, your retain complete control over your reservation, or you can allow your agent to have some control over it, totally up to you. Some people have been planning Disney trips for decades, and like to make dining, fastpass+ and other reservations all by them selves, and they can.
Best Prices. Disney releases discounts basically year round, and they often release several discounts for any particular date. We follow Disney discounts every single day, and we are always checking your reservation to make sure you get the absolute best deal. Sure, you can always find out about discounts by yourself, but I can promise you Disney isn’t going to find out about one and call you up to let you know that they applied it for you. You never have to worry about getting the absolute most for your money.
Your Agent. As agents, we act on your behalf, and we are always on your side. We make sure your reservations are 100% correct, that all of your transportation, dining and other reservations are made on time and are perfect for your family. If there are any issues, we are on your side and fight to get them resolved for you.
Experience. Personally, I have stayed in every single Disney Resort, been on every single Disney Cruise ship, done several Adventures by Disney and experienced every single Disney restaurant and theme park. I have been there and done that, and continue to do so. I have visited Disney with little kids, tweens, teens and just adults. It is rare that I find a client that is planning a trip that I have not already experienced. That goes for all the Mouseketrips agents too, they all have considerably more Disney experience than you do (if that isn’t true, I would like to talk to you about working for us).
Authorized. Your Disney Travel Agent should be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner (Mouseketrips is), which means they are recognized by Disney for the expertise and experience in planning Disney vacations.
Service. Your Disney Travel Agent should take care of every single thing with your Disney vacation (though we usually leave airfare to the clients). That would include dining reservations to weddings at sea and everything you can imagine in between. Nothing will be missed that might lessen your Disney vacation.
Convenience. Your Disney Travel Agent is just a quick phone call or email away (of text, facebook message, tweet or whatever other way you communicate). Have you ever tried to call into Disney when it is busy? Wait times can be hours and hours, and all on your dime. Ever tried to email Disney? Good luck.
So, let me sum that up. Easier, cheaper and more convenient. Seems like a no brainer.
So, what exactly is it like being a Disney Travel agent? Having owned a Disney travel agency for 14+ years (Mouseketrips), I think this is the question I get asked most often. When people hear what it is that I do for a living, most are stunned that there is enough business for me to feed my family. They would be surprised if they knew exactly how many people start a Disney vacation each day (it is in the tens of thousands), the number is staggering. The next thing everyone says is “that would be the best job on earth!”. Well, they are right and they are wrong, just like any other job, there are great things about it, and some not so great things.
What do you do on a normal day?
I think most people assume I sit around all day in my jammies, drinking cocoa and watching Disney movies, mixed with weekly trips to my favorite Disney theme park, or maybe a Disney Cruise every month or two. The truth couldn’t be further from the assumption. You might as well assume your doctor or postman sits at home all day doing the same thing.
I try to be at the office by about 7:00 AM each morning. I have a dedicated office in an office building, I do not work out of my home. It is worth every penny, I am just not effective working from home. Most of our agents work from home, whatever works best for you will work.
First thing, I check my email to see if there are any client emergencies that have cropped up overnight (there usually are), and sort through my email from clients and prioritize it. If it is an emergency, I get back to them immediately, within minutes of getting into the office. It usually takes a few hours to answer all the emails, call clients and call Disney to take care of any changes, reservations or whatever. Some days, this is a pretty quick process, some days, it may take me 5 – 7 hours just to get through my email. In a typical day, I hear from and help about 15 – 20 existing clients, and I may hear from 5 – 10 new/potential clients.
As the owner, I am also in charge of all marketing for the company, which takes up a good chunk of time each day. We post several helpful articles on our website each week (I aim for three per week, I usually make it), and I am responsible for getting the articles written, proofread, images added and posted on the website. I try to get the posts done each day around noon my time, 2 PM Eastern. An average article takes about 30 minutes to prep if someone else writes it, it may take an additional hour to write if I write it. Once posted on the website, the information is then added to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
Each day I also add a few fun Disney images to our Facebook page that I have to create. I typically then repost those same images to our Instagram and Tumblr pages. This process usually takes a good 30 minutes to get the up for the day.
Then, back to email and the phone to take care of clients’ messages I received during my time away. During this time, I also try to keep track of the social accounts, and respond to anyone who has reached out to us on any of our posts.
I try to be home by 4:00 PM, which is about when my kids get home from school. I usually work for a few hours in the late evening from home replying to emails, putting out fires and planning for the next day. In a typical week, I work about 50 – 60 hours. I try not to work on Saturday, other than addressing urgent problems, and I try to ignore work if all possible on Sunday.
What do you do on a not-normal day?
Most days at Mouseketrips are pretty normal. Disney however, loves to release discounts. Sometimes, we know these are coming in advance, other times, it is a complete surprise. If we have a good idea the discounts are coming out, I am at the office at 4:45 AM ready to go. Disney World reservations open at 5:00 AM my time, so I have to be on the phone dialing and redialing just to give myself a chance of getting in to talk to a Disney cast member. One of our promises at Mouseketrips is that we will rebook your trip if a discount is released to save you money. In order to do so, we have to actually change each reservation and make sure you are getting the best deal. That takes time. If it is a big discount like Free Dining, we may be on the phone with Disney for several hours once they pick up. When a big discount is released, I can plan on being at the office for 15+ hours that day, and then a few extra hours at home. Between changing reservations, talking to clients about changes, replying to new clients who just heard about the discount and getting all the blog posts and social media done for the discount just takes a ton of time. Thankfully, these days are few and far between, we may have 10 – 12 per year at most. Discounts for Disneyland and the Disney Cruise do not effect us nearly as much as Walt Disney World discounts
What are some of the benefits of being a Disney Travel Agent?
Well, it is Disney after all. While I wouldn’t ever classify myself as a Disney geek, I do love the Disney parks, and there are few places I would rather take my kids than on a Disney vacation. All of my clients are always really happy to deal with me, they get to go to Disney after all. It is very fun to help people plan their Disney vacations, I can’t complain about that, and Disney is a great product to sell.
Being an agency owner, I also get quite a few perks from Disney, especially when Disney has a big event. I have been invited to the grand opening of Expedition Everest, the new Fantasyland and Cars Land to name a few. I was in Disneyland the day before its 50th anniversary, the only day the park was ever closed. Disney has been very nice to us in the past, allowing us to attend these events with the press, and we typically report on them on our website.
And of course, I “have” to go to Disney for work. It is very helpful to me to experience everything new that Disney has to offer, so I can fully help my clients as well as the agents who work for Mouseketrips. I make an attempt to stay in every new Disney Resort within a few weeks after it opens. BTW, the Grand Floridian Villas are to die for. The only resort at Walt Disney World that I have not stayed at is the new bungalows at the Polynesian. They are really, really hard to book, but I will get there.
What are some of the bad things about being a Disney Travel Agent?
Where to start? While I would definitely say I love this job, I think it is a lot different than most people think it is, unless you have done it. There is a lot more busy work and time required that people think. If you want to be a good agent, it takes time (40+ hours a week, and a good year of hard work to get going). I asked my agents what their “bad things” are, here are some responses (note: I edited out all the comments that mentioned me):
Clients assuming that we have special hidden deals we can offer them which are different than what’s on the Disney website. We are skilled at finding you the best rate, but we aren’t holding the keys to special rates you can’t find on your own.
When clients read stuff online or ask “friends”, who always know way more than you, a dedicated Disney Travel agent.
Essentially working 24 hours 7 days a week.
All Disney trips end up being working vacations.
Doing weeks worth of work and having the client cancel their vacation.
We are real people with families and lives.
Clients who seem uninterested in their vacation up until the week before and expect you to drop everything on your schedule to take care of them NOW.
Working with Disney “technology” every day.
Great discounts are released by Disney, including TV and web advertising, but they make only a few rooms available for most dates.
It may take months of hard work when starting to see your first penny, you aren’t paid like a normal job.
In addition to what my agents noted, the job can be very stressful, especially if you are not organized. There isn’t anything worse that realizing that a client’s Disney Cruise was cancelled because you forgot to tell him the balance was due. It happens, and it is up to you to fix it, and the lost money comes out of your pocket.
How can you become a Disney Travel Agent like me?
Don’t be fooled by classes or online schools that offer to teach you how to be a travel agent, those are a waste of your time and money. At Mouseketrips, we have very high standard for a future agent. We require that you have been to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland at least 5 times recently, as well as on a Disney Cruise. We also look very closely at how a person writes, I cannot stress that enough, work on it. We may get 100+ applications to become an agent each year, and we may have 5, but we would love to see your application. There are now a bunch of other agencies out there, just be fully aware of what it is you are applying for. Many just “hire” you and send you out on your own to find your way, very few agents are successful that way. If this is something you want to do, take your time doing research on agencies, don’t even apply to an agency if you wouldn’t’ use them to book your own Disney vacation.