Becoming an Independent Disney Travel Agent

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by rachel09985, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. mdsoccermom

    mdsoccermom DIS Veteran

    Jun 20, 2010
    A chip on my shoulder? Hardly. It's reality. I love what I do. But the thing that gives real travel agents a bad name are those who are in it for the supposed perks and who don't realize the real work that goes into it. It's far more than getting online, booking the trip and that's it.
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  3. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

    Dec 30, 2005
    What? Perhaps you misread the original post, which simply pointed out the realities of the job. The poster hardly has a "chip" on her shoulders.
  4. katrina1122

    katrina1122 My Tag Fairy Tag went bye-bye :(

    Jul 8, 2003
    I recently joined an at home/online disney travel agency. The agency gets 10% commission from the booking from WDW. They then take 20% I get 80%. 60% seems really low.

    Also, you should not have to pay to join or do training, it's all free if you find the right agency.
  5. princesspwrhr

    princesspwrhr DIS Veteran

    Apr 3, 2006
    I did this for 7 years. I absolutely LOVED it. However, the company I worked for was horrible at communication, even worse at paying it's agents and eventually I started referring my repeat clients to other agents I knew at different companies. I would have loved to help them plan their trips, but I was so _done_ dealing with my agency. I haven't booked for them for years and my info is still active and I've never received any phone call or email asking where I was, whether I was still working or anything.

    When I first started I would get paid about a month after a trip. Then I started getting paid 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks after a trip. Every time I would call at 12 weeks and say "hey, could you check and see if my commission was mailed for X,Y & Z who traveled 3 months ago?" I would get the answer of "you'll get paid when Disney pays us." One time this went on for 6 months after I had several high commission trips. Usually after I called and got the standard answer, I would receive a check within a week. No phone call, no note, just a check.

    The company would repeatedly change their internal policies and fail to send out emails to their home agents. The agents would do something by the old policy (thinking it still current) and then get a scathing phone call about the new protocol. I'm assuming the agents who worked in the agency at least knew about the policy changes. Several of us who went to onsite agent training together still talk, so I know it wasn't just me who was having difficulty getting paid or missing emails on policy changes. Many of us have moved to new agencies or quit altogether - and all without a word from the agency.

    Be very careful about the agency you choose to work for. You don't want them to ruin what can be a wonderful experience for you.
  6. needpixiedust

    needpixiedust Earning My Ears

    Apr 14, 2006
    Something I haven't seen mentioned here is how few real perks there are left for experienced, professional, credentialed TAs due to the influx of so many in it just for the perks. As an example, anyone with access to the wdtc page should read the 9/12 changes reportedly implemented as a direct result of long-term room discount abuses at certain wdw resorts by a known select few who brought attention upon themselves after becoming online TAs solely for the wdw discounts.

    WDTC had one of the last TAAPs left that didn't require a booking/training/certification quota. Other travel providers & wholesalers increasingly eliminated/reduced fams & discounts in previous years. If the thought of getting a good rate on your vacations is what's motivating you, you'd do better saving your time & money. Search for a decent code to use instead. That's what any TA staying more than 7 days at wdw or traveling more than once in 12 month period has to do now anyway.
  7. mdsoccermom

    mdsoccermom DIS Veteran

    Jun 20, 2010
    I am glad they cracked down. I also once saw some on these boards ask if anyone has ever become a TA so they can write off their family vacations. Yeah, you go ahead and try that.
  8. OrangeCountyCommuter

    OrangeCountyCommuter DIS Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    And this is why I don't use AAA You could get the agent with "no experience" :rotfl2:

    Seriously I no longer use ANY of the "Disney speciality" agencies due to the overall lack of professionalism and knowledge. Most of the agents view it as a hobby and the service reflects that.

    There's a LOT of competition and having used a couple of agencies not many good choices.

    Remember that there are a LOT of people like me. I have several "friends" who "claim" to be Disney specialist agencies. None of them will ever get a penny from me and I am not fond of being hit on by them to plan my vacation LOL!

    I won't use an agency without 24/7 coverage. I won't use an agency where my agent books trips in between her normal job or the kids' activities or "whenever she has time" LOL!
  9. Nayan

    Nayan DIS Veteran

    Jan 19, 2010
    I 100% agree with this. Like I mentioned before people get all starry-eyed because it's Disney. Being a TA takes a lot of time, energy, money and just because you think it would be something to do part-time, it's not. Would you hire a part-time real estate agent to sell your house? I wouldn't. I'd want a professional whose only job is that. Same with a TA. If I have an issue and call you I don't want to hear your boss doesn't allow personal calls or that you'll take care of it after soccer practice. Making an selling things on Etsy is good for part-time. Being a TA is not.
  10. JoiseyMom

    JoiseyMom <font color=orange>Have you had your SPANX today??

    Nov 5, 2003
    You are so right about the right agency. I did this for a short time, but the company was horrible! They never followed through with anything, communication support, it was a nightmare. I have been nervous about finding another agency.
  11. cseca

    cseca <font color=darkorchid>My legs are wimpy but my wi

    Jul 5, 2000
    I guess I'm trying to understand what you mean by this?
    What's a 24/7 coverage? Something like orbitz, travelocity, and such?
    I have yet to find a brick and mortar agency who offers 24/7 coverage. I'm curious about this statement.

    I'm a part time TA as well and all my clients are referral only. I choose to be picky because I am too invested in my clients vacations everytime I plan them. I offer to plan EVERYTHING for my clients. They can pick and choose what they want me to do for them... and I charge $0....

    All my clients know that they can reach me by phone or email and how to reach me when they are traveling. And I always make sure they understand the importance of having insurance coverage whenever they book with me.

    I understand that not everyone will be comfortable booking with a part time agent. But if you find a good/reliable one I think they are worth their weight in gold.

    Just MHO. :goodvibes
  12. OrangeCountyCommuter

    OrangeCountyCommuter DIS Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    24/7 is when I arrive at Disney at midnight on Saturday and they can't find my reservation SOMEONE is on the phone to deal with this. I don't have to wait until Monday at 10 AM when my agent comes back to work.

    If your agency does not have a 24/7 service then... I won't use it.
  13. bettymae1121

    bettymae1121 sure. fine. whatever.

    Jan 5, 2010
    I work as a TA full time from home, but corporate rather than leisure (corporate is a whole nuther kettle of fish...) but I do know a bit about the independant leisure side and of course the industry in general.

    As a whole the discounts ain't what they used to be, it was going down hill when I started in the late 90's and industry discounts generally just aren't there anymore unless you're a top producer and that usually means FT rather than PT work. As a perk of my position I get a certain number of free airline tickets a year and that's about it. Lets put it this way, my main credit card for reward points is a Starwood Amex so I can get free hotel stays, that's how lousy the discounts have gotten.

    That said, it's still a good option for people looking to work from home and/or want a 2nd income. I would not recommend it as a main source of income, it can take a while to start getting paid and like any other sales position, you can't alway be sure what you'll make from month to month. Also no fringe benefits like health care, 401k, etc.

    I would also be open to booking destinations other than Disney. Focusing on Disney might be a good way to get your feet wet but I'd really look in to expanding if at all possible. A lot of people feel comfortable booking Disney on their own without the help of an agent, and anyway there are tons of people who (beleive it or not!) have no interest in traveling to Disney, or only want to go once "for the kids". Crazy, I know! ;) So you'd be missing out on a lot of potential clients right there.

    While you don't need to be on call for your clients 24/7, you do need to be available a lot, especially evenings and weekends as that's when your clients are more apt to be calling/emailing you to book or if they have questions. You might be able to do something like you are "closed" monday and tuesday mornings if you need a set time off, but generally you'll need to be available during waking hours. That said, if your host agency has an after hours emergency hotline that would be ideal. You should be getting something for that commission split afterall, if your host doesn't offer one I'd look for one that does.

    ETA: My own agency has an after hours emergency number, most large agencies do. It's only for people who are traveling and are having an issue, anyone looking to make a new reservation or has questions about an existing reservation (that they aren't currently traveling on) is told to call back during normal business hours.

    When working on your own, getting time off can be tough. You'd either have to leave your clients to their own devices for however long you want to be gone or have someone be able to cover for you.

    Also, "working from home" does not automaticly equate to "don't need to pay for child care". I work from home FT and still send my DD to a sitter 2x a week, if it wasn't for my husband working 3rd shift and being willing to short himself sleep, it would be 5x a week just as if I worked at an office. I can't work and watch my DD at the same time, it's not fair to my employer OR my DD.

    As other's have pointed out, you'll get a lot of "shoppers". They want a ton of quotes and once you find the best deal, they suddenly aren't interested. Sometimes that's true but often they'll just go and book on their own. There are ways to combat that, like asking for $25 upfront to start searching and then you credit that to them if/when they book but then you can also turn away clients that way too, if they don't want to pony up. A better way to handle it is to keep track of those that want quotes and don't book and do a "3 strike rule", 3rd time they want a quote and don't book, you drop them as a "client' (or charge then the $25 reserch fee as I previously stated). Don't ever be afraid to "fire" a client that doesn't make you any money.

    When you aren't researching or booking travel for someone, your job is to read read read and keep up with things. If Disney is your only destination it won't be quite as hard but things at Disney do change and you need to keep up. This Fantasyland expansion is a great example, your clients will want/need to know about it and you have to know what you're talking about, even if you haven't seen it for yourself yet.

    Travel agents/agencies are making a bit of a come-back. A lot of people don't want to spend hours trying to reserch trips on Kyak or Expedia and just want someone ele to "deal with it" so you're picking a good time to try it out.
  14. nunzia

    nunzia You can't top pigs with pigs, but you CAN top Toys

    Oct 19, 2007
    Is there a rule people can't review specific companies on the Dis? I'd be interested in knowing who these sucky agencies are (or rather someone's sucky experiences) and what agencies people have had good luck with.
  15. poohfriend

    poohfriend DIS Veteran

    Mar 18, 2005
    I don't know if there is a rule or not..I've always thought it's a little questionable to mention specific agencies that I've worked for as a note of respect to DIS boards and Dreams Unlimited (major sponsor).

    I bet there is no problem to saying, I've seen/heard/applied with _____ agency. If it ****** out, then it means that company has violated Disboard rules. Maybe you can get some feedback.

    Truth is there are so many agencies if it's not a big agency, you're likely not to get feedback. If you are looking at applying with an agency, I think it's reasonable to ask for a number of referrals of agents currently working with them. I'd ask: 1) Do you get paid on time and according to the terms of your agreement? 2) have you ever heard of someone not getting paid on time 3) have you considered going to work with another agency since starting? If so, why? 4) Do you receive travel documents in a timely manner? 5) Is there anything you wish you knew about working as a travel agent before you got started? 6) Do you recommend working with this company?

    When I started I saw several posts just like OPs. One of them mentioned an agency she was considering. I contact the poster for feedback. It was okay. I eventually left that host agency because I wanted documents in a timely manner (Some of my Disney documents were coming days after the client left and since Disney sends they WAY early, I didn't think that was acceptable for my client.) I would still be with that host agency today if they'd taken my concerns about documents more seriously.

    I think there are 3 things you need to consider before accepting a job as a travel agent or part time travel agent. 1) Do you really think you'll like doing this? -- It's more than some advice on the pre-school playground. Your opinion matters to your client and it impacts their trip. 2) Will your agency give you the tools to serve your client (Documents, systems access, help if needed.) 3) Are you going to get paid? Well a great agency has to write checks.

    The Disboards was helpful to me when I got started and I'm glad to help where I'm able. It doesn't mean that I think the path I took is the only path or the best path. Or that the agency I work for is the best/ end all for new TAs. For many of you finding a local agency will be best because then you can talk with the owner or manager face to face. Lots less hassle with documents if you're in the same city. (It also is good for looking someone in the eye and asking, Where is my Check?)

    I still love what I do. Occassionally I work too much on a weekend or at night, but the trade off for my family is extra spending money and a Mom who has more self-esteem because I know I'm good at what I do. :) I think in the end that makes me a better mom.
  16. krisnchris

    krisnchris Mouseketeer

    Sep 16, 2009
    I am very interested in this thread! I've pm'd some of you already, but if any current/former TA's wouldn't mind pm'ing me about specifics of what they consider to be good and bad companies, I would be so grateful! I am applying at earmarked agencies now and want to know which ones to avoid!!
  17. budafam

    budafam DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2009
    I hope I don't get in trouble for posting about this (I already received docked points because of another travel agent thread)... I started with an agency in July and have yet to make a sale. I have a few people who are going to book but they're waiting for a good deal. So far my only sale has been myself. The commission really is NOT much at all and I've put more into it so far than what I'm earning. If you offer gift cards or gifts as incentives, the cost comes out of your commission so that will make it even smaller. Also, most agencies will take any postage costs from your commission. So far I do love it and hope to get a lot of repeat customers once they book with me. It is a lot of work for very little compensation though. There's no way I would want to do this with another full time job either.
  18. Korileigh

    Korileigh Mouseketeer

    Jul 12, 2008
    I'd also love info from any current agents or specifics on which companies to avoid. Feel free to pm me! Thx.
  19. Prose

    Prose DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2007
    Coming to this thread a little late, but wanted to throw out one more thought...speaking from the standpoint of someone who works in an HR capacity, our personnel policy manual expressly forbids performing functions of any type of side job during the hours you are working for us. When you are "on the clock," you may take the occasional personal call or check personal emails, but cannot do any work at all for any side business. I would check with your HR department for your employers' policy.

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