If you're a Zillennial like me, there is a good chance that you're a Disney fan. As a child, I watched many of the classic Disney movies, and as time went on, we visited Walt Disney World consistently.
This passion for the parks and resort as a whole has lasted the test of time, as I am still a fan today.
But have you ever considered making a living off your love for Disney? There are multiple ways that you can do this, but
What are Disney travel agents?
Disney travel agents are trip planners that specialize in booking Disney vacations for clients across the world. Beyond just booking your trip, they may also help you pick an on-site or off-site resort hotel and purchase your admission tickets.
Book your flights
Make dining reservations
Help you strategize your Genie+ and/or Lightning Lane selections
Given the reality that most travelers book their own Disney trips online without a travel agent, you're probably wondering why travelers would work with a travel agent anyway.
But there are some notable perks in doing so.
First, it doesn't actually cost anything. You'll earn a commission from Disney for booking vacations once your clients actually travel. But you'll also add value in other ways, including:
Offering your recommendations to help others maximize their time
Helping travelers to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls
Providing other advice and recommendations as you see fit
How to become a Disney travel agent
The best part about this is a side hustle (and ultimately) is that becoming a Disney travel agent isn't hard to do. But you do have two options you'll want to think through before you get started:
Working for an existing Disney travel agency
Starting your own practice/business
1. Working for an existing agency
There is no shortage of already established Disney travel agencies, like:
Key to the World
Fairy Tale Journeys
You may keep your eyes out to see if they're looking to add an additional agent to their business. You'll likely be able to start booking trips shortly after completing some sort of training, but the problem is that you won't get to keep all of the commissions that you generate.
2. Starting your own Disney travel agency
My preferred option is to start your own agency, which allows you to keep all of the commissions you're able to earn. This will likely take longer to get established, but once you do, you'll be able to keep all of the commissions that you generate, rather than working for an already established agency.
In this article, I'm going to show you exactly how to start your own Disney travel agency.
Starting your Disney travel agency
If you're interested in starting your own agency, with the goal of turning it into your full-time career, just follow these simple steps to get started.
1. Become a Walt Disney World expert
Before you can start booking dream Walt Disney World vacations for Americans nationwide, you'll need to make sure you're an expert on all the happenings in the parks. This means that you'll want to be well-versed in:
Transportation options: Buses, monorails, boats, and the Skyliner system
Dining options: Which restaurants and experiences are worth the money, and which aren't? For example, is Ohana worth the money when you can get a similar experience for less at Sebastian's Bistro at Caribbean Beach?
Resort options: What are the pros and cons of staying at Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resorts? You can help your clients decide if paying more to stay at Pop Century over the All-Star Resorts is worth it for the added convenience of the Skyliner, for instance.
It is this type of expertise that will help you add value that your clients can't get from booking their own trips online.
2. Establish a travel agency
Assuming you're looking to start your own Disney agency, there are a few logistics that you'll want to:
Attend the Disney College of Knowledge
Establish a business
Attend the Disney College of Knowledge
The Disney College of Knowledge is a free training program to train travel professionals about the vast world of Disney destinations and products. As a prospective agent, completing this course will provide you with supplemental knowledge and resources that will make you a true expert.
Completion of the program will allow you to market yourself as certified and will also grant you access to marketing materials, promotions, and other resources that may help you to sell vacations more effectively.
Establish a business
Depending on whether you're looking to book vacations on the side or grow it into a full-time business to replace your existing income, you may consider establishing a formal business structure.
You have a number of options to consider, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability corporations (LLC).
Here are some basic details on each:
Sole proprietorship: The simplest of all business structures, sole proprietorships have one owner that can be held personally liable for any and all business debts or liabilities.
Partnership: Partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships in that owners may be held personally liable for any liabilities, but they have two or more owners, rather than just one. These owners collectively share business ownership, responsibilities, and profits.
Limited Liability Corporation: LLCs are more flexible than either sole proprietorships or partnerships, and they allow owners to protect their own assets from those of the business, a notable pro.
Ultimately, you should complete your own research and talk to a lawyer if necessary. Once you're ready to formally establish your travel agency, sites like Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom can help you do so for a fraction of the price of hiring an attorney.
3. Decide the trips you'll plan
Next, you'll want to think through those trips you plan to offer to clients.
Some agents will focus solely on Walt Disney World trips, while others will branch out and do more types of vacations too, like cruises and all-inclusives.
Also, it is okay to be different!
One interesting idea that I have is to actually provide a soup to nuts feature where you generate proposals for a client's trip. You'll actually ask them for a budget and then offer them three different options for their vacation. You can mix and match resort stays, number of days of park tickets, dining reservations, and more!
Then, you can let your clients select the package that works best for them.
Just make sure the work that you put into generating these proposals is worth the potential commission that you'll receive from Disney for doing so.
Offering niche type services can also set yourself up well in time. Marketing yourself as the go to Disney agency for foodies, luxury accommodations, or families can bring you more business with a narrower focus that leads to increased client satisfaction in your services.
4. Find clients
The key to marketing and finding clients is to make yourself accessible in places where you know potential Disney travelers are, either online or in person. After some thought, these places include:
Building a Disney blog/website
Disney-centric Facebook Groups
Instagram and TikTok
Build a Disney blog/website
Blogging can be labor intensive. but if you have a knack for writing content, it may be your best path to building a long-term thriving travel agency. Your site should have a few different components.
First, it should have information about your services, booking style, and who you cater to (your target audience). You'll want it to be visually appealing, so that web visitors feel one step closer to their vacation when they come across your website.
But you'll also need a way to earn web visitors and drive traffic to your site. The best way to do this is likely to start a Disney World vacation focused blog on your site. Brainstorm a huge list of content you'd like to write and have fun building it. I'll help you get started. Good topics to consider include:
The 10 Best Disney World Dining Reservations to Consider
8 Top Disney World Attractions for Thrill Seekers
Saving Money in Disney: Budget-Friendly Tips
As you vet potential topics, it is a good idea to consider a couple of factors that can help you determine whether a certain topic is worth your time or not. First, take a look at the keyword difficulty through Google Keyword Planner or an SEO tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, or another tool.
Additionally, using one of these tools, check on the number of times per month that these keywords are searched for on Google. Together, these two factors will help you determine which content ideas are worth your time and which are not.
Disney-centric Facebook Groups
There is no shortage of Disney Facebook Groups out there, which can be perfect for generating leads.
Now, most of these groups have rules about marketing for personal/financial gain within them, so you'll need to be tactful. But what can work really well is offering some of your opinions, tips, and best practices in the group comments and threads, with the understanding that some of these group members will click on your personal profile to learn more about you.
At this point, they'll notice that you're a Disney travel agent, so your individual profile is a great place to introduce your leads to:
Your value proposition and mission statement
Be sure to include that your services don't cost travelers any money, as this will likely be a huge factor on their minds.
With strong advice and good points made in Groups, you'll naturally begin to funnel yourself leads as you continue to build familiarity in these groups.
Instagram and TikTok
Disney vacations are all about senses and emotions. The smell of cinnamon rolls from the Main Street USA bakery, the sound of the EPCOT entrance music, and the sight of Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios are just a few of the things that always come to my mind.
With these sensory and emotional memories comes a longing to return to it.
For this reason, Instagram and TikTok can be the perfect place to share pictures and videos that will convince future clients that the time is now to book their next vacation. Your strategy is in many ways the same as it is when you blog.
You want to show that you're an expert at Disney travel, while also making clear that you can help viewers to really get the most out of their vacations.
Since these platforms are so visual by nature, you'll be more easily able to elicit that emotional reaction that will lead to increased bookings.
YouTube is another great option for generating leads. Disney fans and those looking for help to plan their trips will turn to YouTube for longer-form video content.
Focusing your marketing efforts on multiple channels at the same time probably seems a little overwhelming, and while it can be tricky, it is made easier by your ability to reuse and repurpose content that you've already created.
In fact, this isn't just an option available to you. It is something that you should absolutely do to maximize your time and efforts.
All of your social media efforts should focus on driving traffic to your website, if you have one, or having your leads fill out a contact form that you can use to connect with them about your help and services.
5. Expand your business
In time, you'll be able to grow your business and handle more trip volume.
There are a couple of ways to do this, and you may use one or both to help.
First, you may consider hiring additional help to manage and book clients' Disney vacations. You can pay them a percentage of the commission your business earns. This is likely to be a good strategy, since there are barriers to entry of your staff starting their own agency.
It took you time (and some money) to get to where you'll be, and there is just no way to skip that stage.
The other approach worth considering as you grow your business is booking other types of Disney vacations, or even those to Universal Studios (gasp!).
Examples that you may consider offering in time include trips to the Disneyland Resort in California or voyages aboard the Disney Cruise Line in the Caribbean, Europe, or South America.
How much can you make as a Disney travel agent?
Like I mentioned, your earnings will actually be commission based on the value of the trips your clients take. In most all cases, you'll start out earning a 10% commission from Disney, meaning that if you book a $7,000 package, you can expect to earn $700.
So, for my analysis here, let's assume that you're able to book twelve trips per month, at a conservative average package cost of $6,000 (many family trips will cost more than this). At a base 10% commission rate, you're looking at $7,000 in income per month, or about $84,000 per year!
Sure, it will take you some time to build up to this point, but in time, you should be able to surpass these numbers in time too!
Booking Disney vacations for others can be an excellent way to share some magic even when you can't travel to the parks yourself.
Would you consider starting your own Disney travel agency? Tell me why or why not in the comments below!
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