How do I become a Disney Travel Agent?
Ever since we started Pixie Vacations we get asked how to become a Disney Travel Agent? So we created this Disney Travel agent complete guide to help you out and hopefully give you a good understanding what it takes to sell Disney vacations.
First I want to start by saying you are not technically a “Disney Travel Agent” you would be a Travel Planner that specializes in Disney vacations and you would be working for a travel agency. If you are looking to work for the Disney Company at their Central Reservations (CRO) this is a different job altogether.
What we are going to cover
- What is a Disney Travel Agent AKA Travel Planner that specializes in Disney destinations?
- How do I become a travel agent that sells Disney vacations?
- What to look out for and what questions to ask to be a travel agent.
- We will cover the skills you should have to sell travel.
- We will get in-depth into some marketing tips, and also cover frequently asked questions about becoming a Disney travel agent.
- What legal pitfalls to avoid and helpful links to do your homework before becoming a travel agent.
What is a Disney Travel Agent?
In most cases you will need to find and apply at a travel agency. We will go over what to look for in a travel agency later in this article, so don’t worry. Also in most cases you will be selling Disney Destinations as an independent contractor and your “Title” will be a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations, not “A Disney Travel Agent” because you are NOT working for the Walt Disney Company.
To find travel agency’s just do a google search on: “How to become a Disney Travel Agent”, “Be a Disney Travel Planner”, “How to sell Disney vacations”, and search terms like this.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into what to look for in a Travel Agency.
How to pick a Travel Agency
Doing your research is key. There are loads of travel agencies that have travel planners that work as contractors offering Disney Vacations and it can be overwhelming. Start with the owners of the travel agency. Do some basic research on each travel agency.
- Does the travel agency have a professional looking website?
- Can you find the owners name, address, phone number and email on their website?
- Does the owner answer the phone or call you back?
I know this sounds really basic but you can tell a great deal from the travel agencies website. If you can’t call the travel agency this is a red flag. If you can’t speak with them then how are clients supposed to speak with them if there is a problem? You should be able to talk with someone, that’s what your clients will expect and you should expect.
Who are the owners? What is there experience in travel and with the Disney Company?
Does the travel agency have travel agents already? If so email a few and ask them how they like the travel agency, how long have they been there?
We will get into more ways to determine which travel agency is a right fit for you indirectly in some of the following topics below. Let’s move on.
What are the advantages to being a travel agent that sells Disney vacations?
You might hear that you get to travel for free. You get to stay at Walt Disney World and Disneyland hotels for Free. Not exactly. There are Disney travel agent benefits but if you want to be a travel agent just for the benefits this is not the job for you. The Disney travel benefits should be looked at as extras you earn for becoming a successful agent that sells Disney travel destinations.
There are travel agencies out there that will ask you to pay them a fee $300 – $500 to join them and in return they will let you get a CLIA ID card or access to the Disney booking site. This is not how you should become a travel agent in our opinion. This should be a job, not something you do for a CLIA card.
Let me step back a little. To get travel agency benefits like discounts on a hotel room you need either a CLIA or IATA Agent ID. To get a CLIA Agent ID card this is what you need according to CLIA’s website:
CLIA card requirements
To qualify for CLIA Individual Agent Membership (IAM), your affiliated agency must be a current CLIA Travel Agency Member. CLIA recommends that agents generate a minimum of $5,000 in total agency commissions from cruise bookings within the 12 months prior to enrollment.
So to obtain this card they recommend that you have sold $5,000 in COMMISSIONS in your PRIOR 12 months in CRUISE bookings. IATA has similar requirements but they don’t just focus on cruise bookings.
You will need your CLIA or IATA Agent ID card to be able to register for travel discounts.
Also you need to meet your travel agencies requirements and also the vendors requirements to be able to get the travel deal. So there are many layers to being able to save a little on a room.
Again, don’t focus on the travel discounts, they are not worth it. You need to focus on selling vacations and offering exceptional service to clients and help them plan their most amazing vacation ever. If you do that your sales will come and you will be on your way to being able to apply for a CLIA or IATA agent ID card.
What other advantages are there for Disney Travel Agents?
Work at home. Most positions are as independent contractors (IC) and you can work your own hours and work from home. Like any job the amount of time and effort you put in will help determine how well you do.
Money / Commission. You will get paid a commission in most travel agency positions as an IC. So when someone books a vacation with you, you will get a percentage of the commission. We will go over travel agent commissions in more detail in this article.
Travel. Depending on the travel agency you sign up with, you might be offered training trips or FAMS. These are Familiarization trips that travel vendors and travel agencies do to show you resorts, on-site training, excursions, etc. These FAM trips can be free or offered at a discounted cost and usually for the FAM cost you will get a room, training, and some meals covered. Getting to the FAM is normally not covered so you would pay for your flights. For Example a Universal Studios Orlando FAM can cost around $300-$400 for the FAM fee. This of course varies so don’t quote us on these costs.
FAM Trips – Also depending on the agency you work for could determine if you get invited to a FAM trip. If you want to learn more about Sandals and Beaches Resorts and your agency does not sell that much of those properties you might have a harder time getting onto a FAM trip with that vendor for example. Travel vendors are not looking for people that want a discounted vacation, they are looking for travel agents that truly want to learn and sell their destination.
Disney Travel Agent (DTA) Training
When you join a travel agency they will get you a Disney Travel Agent (DTA) account. This is where you take the Disney College of Knowledge Classes, book Disney vacations, read Disney News, and this is your central hub for Disney Marketing pieces too.
The Disney College of Knowledge is free. You should not be paying a travel agency for access to DTA. The College of Knowledge has online classes that will get you up to speed on all the Disney destinations and offerings. Here is the link to Disney Travel Agents.
You need to complete all of these Disney College of Knowledge online classes to be able to take advantage of travel agent Disney offers, like a free admission ticket to the parks. Don’t worry the online Disney training is not difficult. You will watch the training section videos of Disneyland, Disney World, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line, etc and take an online quiz at the end of each section.
You could complete all the Disney College of Knowledge classes in a day if you set yourself down and just go from beginning to end. It would be better if you dedicated at least a few days to complete the Disney College of Knowledge training classes. Other Family vacation destinations like Universal Orlando Resort also have online training.
Which Disney Focused Travel Agency should I work with?
There are many things to look at before selecting a Travel Agency that specializes in Disney Vacations.
- Does your travel agency sell other things besides Disney? If not will you be losing business when your client wants to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, to an all inclusive resort, book a honeymoon, etc. and will your client come back to you and remember you 5 years later if they want to go to Disney again?
- How long has the travel agency really been in business. Check the Travel Agencies website domain name at https://Whois.com Type in the agencies website URL and see when they registered it to start their business.
- Is your Travel agency an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner or also known as EarMarked? An EarMarked Travel Agency has passed standards Disney requires to offer them this special designation. If the travel agency does not have this logo on their website, then they are most likely not Earmarked.To determine if the travel agency is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can go to this website: http://www.authorizeddisneyvacationplanners.com/ This will not tell you what level they are in the EarMarked program but it will at least tell you if they are Earmarked by Disney. The agencies are listed in random order and you will have to reload the page several times to see them all.
Every travel agency starts someplace to become an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner so figure out if you want to start with a newer agency that is not Earmarked or an agency that has already moved up the different status levels. Every agency at one point was not Earmarked, so understand that you should not solely make your decision on picking a travel agency based on this EarMarked status.
You need to also know that just because a travel agent is EarMarked does not mean it is a good agency. So do some research and contact other agents at that travel agency that have been there for several years and ask them how they like the travel agency, do they get paid on time, what support do they get, etc.
Commissions and Commission Splits
The reason you wanted to become a Disney travel agent should be to get paid. Yes it can be fun and rewarding, but it takes long hours and at the end of the day you should get paid for your work.
Every Disney Specialized Travel Agency pays differently but most pay you commission. You would not be an employee in this example, but an independent contractor that gets paid when you book a vacation for a client.
Travel vendors, like Disney, give Travel agents a commission. This is NOT an extra cost added to a vacation. It’s sort of like a finders fee. When you book a Walt Disney World Vacation Package you get a commission for that booking. If you search the web you can figure out what commission levels are for different vendors. But for this example lets say you contact someone you know and they book a Walt Disney World Vacation Package with a room, park tickets, and the Disney dining plan staying on property at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort. The cost of the Disney Vacation let’s say is $4,000.
Disney will pay a percentage of the $4,000 to the agency as a commission. So let’s say for this example that the commission earned is $400 to make for easy math that would be 10%. Once the party travels Disney will send the $400 commission to the Travel Agency. After the travel agency gets the commission check they will send you a percentage of that commission. What you get depends on the travel agency you work for and what they pay their travel planners. Some travel agency’s pay 40%, some pay only on certain types of bookings, some pay a flat fee of $25 – $50 per booking no matter what is booked. The majority of travel agencies pay 50% to 90% commission. So in our example the Disney vacation of $4,000 has a 10% commission that is a $400. If the agency gives you a 50% commission split then you would get $200 and the agency would get $200. This is just an example with made up numbers and percentages, but it should give you an idea how commissions with vendors and agencies work.
The more you sell with some travel agencies the higher commission levels you reach. So you might start at 40% commission and then go to 50% and then to 60% and so on based on your sales numbers with the travel agency.
This is also how travel vendors operate like Cruise Line Vendors for Example.
If you work for a small or new travel agency a Cruise Line vendor might be paying 10% commission to that agency. As the agency sells more Cruise Line vacations the agencies commission level can go up to 15%, 16%, for example.
So your commission split that you get from your travel agency is important as well as the commission levels that travel agency gets from it’s vendors.
Simple Commission Split example:
Agency A – Gets 16% Cruise Line Commission
$5,000 Cruise x 16% = $800.00 commission
Agency B – Gets 10% Cruise Line Commission
$5,000 Cruise x 10% = $500.00 commission
You are making $300 more for just this one booking in this example so do your homework when you select a travel agency to work with.
Also equally important is what commission level you are getting from the travel agency. Are they starting you at 40% or higher? What commission goal levels do they have?
When do you get paid?
You will get paid AFTER the guest travels. If you book a 2024 vacation and that’s years away, you are not seeing any of that money until that guest gets back from there 2024 vacation. If the guest cancels you don’t get paid.
You will need a ramp up period to build a client base and then to book those clients every year and word of mouth referrals to grow. This takes time and then you have to wait for those clients to travel. So don’t plan on being a Disney travel agent and quickly quitting your day job, unless you really work non-stop and have an outgoing personality and sales background.
Red Flags and Scams
This is called the Complete Guide to becoming a Disney travel agent because we want to make sure you have the best and complete information to make an educated decision. This section is not to scare you, but to make you aware of what could happen and how to be on the look out for scams.
First, when you got your first job did they ask you to pay them $1,000 to work for them. No! If someone is asking you to PAY THEM to Work for THEM that is something that should make you think twice. Now I understand that travel agencies have costs to cover and even we charge a small fee to join because we have to pay for training systems, and other onboarding expenses. So $100- $200 to get set up can be expected to invest in starting out.
Why can scams happen – Because you don’t get paid until after the client travels this has led some people to setup and run travel agencies as a way to rip you off. Maybe they first created a small travel agency for fun and it just got out of hand, or maybe they have a background in doing this scam over and over again. This is again why you need to do your homework when looking for a travel agency to join. You can avoid a travel agency that is not going to pay you simply by contacting several of the agents that work there. Contact agents that have been at the agency for several years (4-5 years min.) so you know they have a track record of payments and know whats going on at the agency. If the agents are all new it’s hard to tell if agents have left because of issues with getting paid or if the agency is just getting started.
Disney pays Travel Agencies. If you are working at a Travel Agency and not getting paid and are constantly told they are waiting for Disney to pay them, this is most likely not true. You can contact Disney yourself and give them your booking number to see if it has been paid.
How the Scam works. You join the travel agency and sell $200,000 in vacations but most of the people don’t really travel until 8 months or a year from now. The travel agency also that you work for says they have 90 days to pay you. So there is this long time line that the travel agency can have you booking vacations for them and not pay you. When these vacations do travel and you still don’t get paid, you might be told that the vendor has not paid the travel agency yet, etc. So now you might be owned $20k in commissions and another $20k in future not traveled commissions before you realize that the travel agency has no intention of paying you.
You can avoid all this by doing some research and not just signing up with any travel agency you come across. Again this type of scam is also rare and just something you should be aware of.
Support Systems at the Travel Agency
Money and commission levels are important but a good support system is also just as important.
Look for a travel agency that has a focus on Disney and Family Vacations.
Do they have training?
Look for a travel agency that offers FAM (Travel agent training trips). How many do they offer, when was the last one, and how much was it?
What is the owners background and what support do they offer?
Does the travel agency offer Leads? Does the travel agency do marketing to get exposure for their agents and to get leads?
Does the travel agency have an account rep. at the different vendors you are going to use that you can call if you have an issue?
What support is there when you need it?
What is the agency owners background?
More established travel agency’s will have a dedicated rep. at each vendor to help if there is an issue. You might also have a special phone line you can call to book with certain vendors if your agency is one of their preferred agencies. This could cut down wait times when you are trying to book a vacation for a client. Having account reps. also helps tremendously when you have a client at a property and they have an issue.
Does your travel agency have conference calls, webinars with vendors, and other ways to learn and share knowledge?
These are all things you should look for and consider when deciding on a travel agency.
What skills do you need?
To be successful as a Disney travel agent you need good communication skills. You will need to put in the hours to learn the Disney Destinations, like Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney. You also need to be more than just a big Disney fan. This is a job and requires time to build up clients, keep clients, learn vacation destinations, and time to book and help your clients. It will take time to get things going and being persistent is key.
You will be communicating with Disney and clients via email and on the internet, so an internet connection and a computer is needed. A phone number / cell phone is needed and we would recommend a dedicated phone number so you can answer your phone professionally. You can get a Google Number or other services offer free phone numbers so you can keep your existing cellphone and just change the ring tone.
You should be a people person. Someone that can take little direction and just run with it. You need to be comfortable talking with people.
You really should be a salesperson at heart and just decide to sell Disney vacations instead of another product. If you can’t SELL this job will be difficult for you. If you know and love Disney, that’s great, but you need to run this like a business and be able to sell the Disney destinations, organize client bookings, plan marketing and social media posts, attend local events and get out in your community or virtual community.
If you are the go to person at your church, school, business, or other clubs / events, you will have a base of customers to plan vacations for.
Technology skills are also helpful. Posting on social media, marketing, emailing, etc all play into you being successful as a Disney travel planner.
Seller of Travel Licenses and Legal Questions
Another Heads up section that is not so much fun to talk about but needs to be covered so you are aware.
I am not a lawyer so I would recommend you contact a travel lawyer, but here is how I understand the Seller of Travel Licenses requirements for Florida and California.
To sell travel your travel agency is required to have a sellers of travel license in certain states. For example you should see Florida Sellers of Travel Ref No STXXXXX at the bottom of the travel agencies website and also CST XXXXXXXX for California’s Seller of Travel Licenses. If you don’t see these on their website that travel agency can not market anyplace that a FL or CA resident might see a vacation offer.
With the Internet a consumer in FL and CA can see a travel offer anyplace. So then it seems to reason the every travel agency needs to have this license.
If a resident from Florida or California sees a post, website, Facebook post or anything offering travel services, vacations, deals, that agency can be fined or worse. If you as an independent contractor sell travel to anyone in these states you might come across issues.
How can you determine if the travel agency is registered in California? Here is the CA Sellers of Travel Website Information:
“California requires all sellers of travel to register with the Attorney General’s Office and to display the registration number on all advertising. While not assuring that a company is reputable, a valid registration signals that the seller of travel has at least followed the law to be registered.”
Read more at the California Seller of Travel Website.
From the CA Sellers of Travel Website:
“When you’re at a travel agency, ask to see the seller of travel’s registration acknowledgement — a one-page document issued by the Attorney General’s Seller of Travel Program. Be sure to check the expiration date to determine whether the registration is still valid.
You also may use the “Seller Search” feature on this website to assist you in determining whether a seller of travel is registered with our office. Since there are many similar seller of travel names, please spell out the full name and address of the company.”
From the Florida Sellers of Travel Website:
“The sellers of travel law requires any person or business that is a seller or promoter of travel-related services to register annually with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), unless exempt. Sellers of travel are required to provide proof of assurance in the form of a performance bond, in an amount not to exceed $25,000, or $50,000 if they sell vacation certificates.
FDACS is authorized to collect registration fees and impose penalties for noncompliance of the law.”
Also you should make sure your travel agency has E&O Insurance. This is Errors and Omissions Insurance. They should be able to show you the current years binder page.
It’s awesome to be a Disney Vacation Planner
There is so much information here and some of it can be daunting, but being a travel agent that specialists in Disney vacations is also so much fun. Yes it is work, but it can be rewarding planning vacations to the most magical place on earth.
If you would like to apply at Pixie Vacations please fill out our application form.
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