How do I become a Disney focused Travel Agent in Ontario?
It is a question I get asked a lot because there isn’t a ton of information available online for people who are new to the travel industry. There is quite a bit of misinformation and conflicting details, hopefully I can clear some of that up.
(Full disclosure – I have been a travel agent for over 15 years myself and I do own a travel agency.)
First things first – TICO.
If you live in Ontario or work for an Ontario travel agency you MUST be certified by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). TICO is an organization mandated by the Ontario government to govern travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario. TICO does not sell any travel services. Registered TICO agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection that may not be available when booking with agencies based in other countries or provinces. A few of these protections include the compensation fund, travel complaint resolution, education standards, and set financial requirements for travel agencies.
You can find the education standards and requirements for TICO here.
Once you have your TICO certificate you need to decide what travel agency or program you would like to join. Most times you are set up as an independent contractor or home-based agent that is commission based. There are some agencies that pay an hourly wage with little or no commissions that may have a physical location.
Some questions to ask when meeting with a potential host agency:
- Is this commission based or salary?
- Is there an expectation of minimum sales?
- What are the start up and monthly costs?
- What is the commission split?
- Do you offer training?
- What tools do I need?
- Do your agents charge fees?
- What perks or benefits are available and when?
- Can I book things other than Disney and Universal?
These are just some of the things that you should consider when meeting with or starting the application process with a potential agency. It’s important to understand if you will be a good fit in the team overall. Who are the agency owners and how involved are they in the day to day operations? Who will be there to support you as you navigate your first bookings? Read the contract in detail before you sign as every agency has different terms included.
I cannot stress this enough – please beware of agencies that ‘free’ or ‘discounted’ vacations or who ask you to recruit others. If your compensation requires you to ‘sign someone up’ – RUN. These are not travel agencies, they are multi level marketing schemes that recruit new agents to pay the fees to the others.
Is it fun to be a Disney vacation planner? Absolutely! Planning Disney vacations and having a first time guest come back and tell you how much they loved it is the best feeling ever! The home-based travel advisors generally set their own hours, build their own marketing plans and nurture their own client base. They spend as much time (or as little) as they feel necessary to grow and sustain their business. They may be Disney fans, but the best agent knows this is a job and it is hard work as well as being fun.
Things that you should consider before signing up with an agency:
- How will you attract potential clients?
- Do you have personal experience at the Disney parks and Disney resorts to offer professional advice?
- How will you manage your time in order to give the personal attention and customer service to your clients?
- Do you have anything that would prohibit you from being available to your clients?
- Are you willing to invest $$ in your business to get started?
Once you have signed on to join an agency you’ll have access to the College of Disney Knowledge. This is the online course that all Disney travel planners have access to. Each supplier has their own versions of online training including Universal Orlando Resort, Marriott hotels and others.
Vacation planners have such an important role in helping determine the best vacation package that meets the client’s needs. You are expected to offer expert advice, find the best price and monitor new offers that may become available after booking. There is a lot of work involved for Walt Disney World Resort packages when you consider travel tips for dining, attractions, ticket options and Genie+. Having accurate information and knowledge of Disney destinations is key to planning the most magical trips for your guests.
Becoming a travel agent was one of the best decisions I ever made. It really does make me happy to have clients return from a vacation I planned and tell me how many wonderful memories they made. To know that I was a part of making that happen for them is priceless.
If you would like more information about joining Playcation Travel click here for details.