As much as I travel, I rarely use a travel agent. Yet, there are times that I know that using one is extremely beneficial. Planning a Disney vacation is definitely one of those times. Why?
1. It usually doesn’t cost you anything. When I told someone at work I was doing a blog post on this, I was surprised to find out that he thought travel agents charged a fee to their clients for the service. I’ve heard that there are some that do, but I haven’t run into any yet. Beth Bahr from Disney with Children had this to say, “The benefits are no cost to guest but you have someone who is there for you and whatever you need help with from booking dining to Fastpasses to creating touring plans and even just to bounce ideas off of!” For Disney travel, Disney pays the agent a commission and they do not pass that cost on to the traveler. At the very worst, the agent will get you the same price as you could have gotten booking yourself. It won’t cost more.
2. In fact, it could save you money. Last week, Disney came out with a promotion offering free dining. What were my travel agent friends doing? They were crazy busy that day getting the free dining promotion added to the trips (that qualified) already booked by their clients. According to Tricia Kalita, with Seaview Travel, “Disney planning can be overwhelming for sure and having a travel agent help you through the process step-by-step with no cost to the consumer is a huge benefit! Travel agents that specialize in Disney will also be on the lookout for new promotions that could significantly lower the price of your existing reservation (like free dining or 25% off your room). This is something you would never get by booking direct!” From my own experience, the perks they provide or can negotiate have saved me money. I’ve had a travel agent negotiate complimentary “perks” for me and on my next cruise will have a $50 shipboard credit that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
3. It will likely save you time. Have you ever sat on hold to change a reservation or make a dining reservation? I love Disney music as much (maybe more) than the next person, but my time is valuable. I really don’t want to sit on hold when something new becomes available and the hold time can be over an hour. From Patty Holliday, Park and Preston Travel, LLC, “A Disney planner loves Disney just like you: which means they want you to have that pixie dusted experience every step of the way. What’s magical about using a travel agent? They will sit on hold to make changes and monitor discount opportunities for you. That means they get to hear It’s a Small World over and over and you don’t have to!”
4. Planning will be less overwhelming. This is especially true for those who have never been to Walt Disney World Resort (or who haven’t been for a few years). While most Disney vacations can still be relatively simple to plan, trips to Walt Disney World Resort continue to get more complicated to plan as they add more resorts and activities. In addition, one must know when the dining reservation window opens and when Fastpass+ times can be booked and there are different rules depending on whether you’re staying at a Disney Resort, a hotel on Disney property but not Disney owned, or off-site. It can be quite confusing! Lin Leffel from Once Upon a Time Vacations has this to say, “A Disney travel expert is there to help you navigate the countless options of resort hotel, tickets, dining plans, Fastpass reservations, transportation and promotional offers. They make recommendations based on your needs coupled with their vast knowledge and training, and all at no cost to you. Agents work with you to design the vacation of your dreams, taking into account your budget, taste and preferences, and treating your vacation as if it is their own.”
5. You’ll have your own travel guide. I don’t know of any Disney travel agents that don’t have numerous personal trips to the parks or cruises under their belt PLUS the training/sessions/tours they do as travel agents. I love talking to my friends who are Disney travel agents. As many times as I’ve been, I can usually still pick up a tip or two from them. Planning a trip on Disney Cruise Line? They can tell you what citizenship documentation you’ll need or the best places to view the fireworks on the Pirates IN the Caribbean night. For Disneyland, how about knowing what the Good Neighbor Hotels are like or what shuttles are available from LAX to Disneyland Resort? Going to Walt Disney World Resort? An agent is going to know which restaurants book quickly and can compare the multiple resort and hotel options or they might simply be able to tell you the best place to meet Anna and Elsa. Of course, they are going to know a lot more than this, too. Better yet, they’ll share their information with you!
I should note that I am not a travel agent nor do I plan to become one. I am simply sharing the benefits because I have learned that there are misconceptions out there and so many more could (and possibly should) be using the wonderful services of these Disney experts.
I have also learned that travel agents are not all created equal. Be sure to get one who specializes in / has experience in booking Disney vacations.
Finally, I have received no services nor compensation from any of the travel agents mentioned in this article. I do, however, know each of these agents personally so was comfortable including information from them and linking to their sites.