What a Travel Agent Wants You to Know
With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), there are a lot of people cancelling travel plans. Myself included. It just so happens my friend Angela owns an agency, Wishes and Wizards Travel Company, that was recently earmarked by Disney as an Authorized Disney Travel Planner Agency and is a wealth of knowledge on all things travel! Her and I have been texting back and forth a lot lately, and thought now would be a fantastic time for a helpful little Q&A!
What A Travel Agent Wants You To Know
First, the question on everyone’s mind, if they decide to cancel their travel plans how should they go about it?
Hi Lindsey! Great question! The first thing they should do is read the CDCs Travel Advisory before they make a decision. There is so much misinformation floating around so that would be the first thing they do. If they know they absolutely want to cancel or reschedule their plans, they need to call their travel agent asap. Currently, there are 3-5 hour wait times to cancel/reschedule plans so the sooner they call their TA, the better. Most cruise lines are offering incentives to move dates instead of cancelling outright and your travel agent can advise you of those incentives. We’ve had quite a few cruise clients move dates instead of cancelling.
What does a travel agent do?
A good travel agent will take care of you from quoting your vacation until you return home. I do everything for my clients from hotel reservations to fastpasses (if they are going to Walt Disney World). My agents provide the same services for their clients. We take care of finding you the best price, monitoring your reservation and applying any discounts you may qualify for, making dining reservations and anything else you would need to have a magical vacation. And if there is a pandemic (or other emergency), we help you with cancellations or rebooking different dates, rescheduling flights and extending their hotel stay.
What does it cost to hire a travel agent?
For most agencies, It’s FREE! There are agencies that charge planning fees but my agency does not. What most people don’t know is that vendors build in a commission for every booking and it doesn’t matter if it is simply the purchase of tickets-only or a vacation package, you will pay the same amount whether you book directly or with a travel agent. The benefit of booking with an agent is having an expert advocate on your side to handle any issues that may arise leading up to and during your vacation.
And remember, when you book with a travel agent, you are supporting a small business.
What’s the best part of being a Travel Agent/Agency Owner?
Besides working with my amazing agents, my favorite part has to be creating magical memories for my clients. I know it sounds cliche’ but it’s true! Last year, I had a client who wanted to take her granddaughter to Universal Orlando and possibly Disney. She was only going to be in Orlando for three days so she didn’t think she would have time to go to Disney and she really wanted her granddaughter to meet the princesses. So I suggested going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party one night because I knew the princesses would be there. She could hit the Universal parks during the day. Next I suggested dinner during the party at Cinderella’s Royal Table because I knew she would definitely meet princesses there. And then I surprised her by getting a reservation at Bippidi Boppidi Boutique so her granddaughter could get a princess makeover before dinner. Persistence pays off and after checking several times a day for a few days, I got them! The photos from that night was one of the best things I have seen in a long time. That little girl’s face glowed in each and every shot. That grandmother is now one of my best repeat clients!
What’s the number one thing people forget to pack?
Extra phone chargers! There is nothing worse than running out of power mid-day and having to buy one on vacation. I send my clients a Vacation Packing List so they can check things off as they pack them!
What’s your best piece of advice for families traveling with children?
Don’t set expectations too high for your vacation. Traveling with children is hard no matter your destination. Expect to take many breaks, expect and plan for meltdowns and remind yourself to enjoy the sweet times in between. It really does go by so fast (your vacation and childhood) and you don’t want to miss a single second.
What’s your dream destination?
Ohhh, another good one! I would really love to visit Tokyo DisneySea Or Shanghai Disney. I know, I know, more Disney? Yep!
Why should people use a travel agent instead of booking their travel themselves?
That’s a great question! When you go on vacation, do you want to relax knowing every aspect of your vacation from price to plans is taken care of? That you have received the best possible deal for your hotel? Sure, there are plenty of online travel sites (and even the big box store travel agencies) that you can book through and they advertise incredible prices but once you book, you are on your own if something goes wrong. You might also discover that great prices are not so great after all because of hidden fees they tack on at checkout.
Our agents get to know their clients, what their likes and preferences are and what kind of vacation experience they want. Once they have that information, they will provide recommendations and help their clients select the perfect vacation. Budgeting is important and we can help determine what your trip will cost so you are not shocked by hidden fees (like with the online booking agencies). You will know exactly what everything will cost before you make your reservation and book your trip.
And we are there for you if things go wrong! Weather happens, transportation issues happen, and illness happens. We take care of making alternate arrangements for flights, hotels, even meals. Isn’t that the kind of support you want if something should happen? What I am trying to say is that a travel agent will take care of you so all you need to do is pack and show up ready to relax!
What does it mean that you are an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agency?
This means we know our Disney details! We were given this special designation by Disney as a result of our agency’s ongoing focus and commitment to planning customized, magical trips to the Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line® and other Disney vacation destinations worldwide. Every agent has completed the College of Disney Knowledge (and updates that are required each year). And next year, we’re on target to achieve the same distinction from Universal Orlando Parks & Resorts!
How does someone become a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations?
My advice to anyone who wants to do this is do your research, check out different agencies. Most Disney-focused agencies want their agents to have at least three recent trips to a Disney destination in the last five years, experience staying at one or more on-site resorts, and be an expert on all things Disney parks.
Thank You, Angela!
Wow, that was a lot of amazing information - I had no idea Travel Agents did ALL of that! If you're in need of a Travel Agent, definitely check out Wishes and Wizards Travel Company. Angela is my "real life" friend and her and I could spend hours talking Disney. She knows ALL the things, y'all. My Husband and I spent our Honeymoon at Disney World, and have been taking our kids yearly since they were old enough to enjoy it. We geek out over behind the scenes blog posts, videos, and documentaries. To have met someone in real life who knows more than me about Disney World was so exciting (and impressive! haha!). If you're planning a Disney trip, she's you're girl!
Start Pre-Planning Now
Instead of being super bummed we had to cancel our upcoming Disney World trip, we're having a blast as a family planning out details for when we are able to go. We watch Disney World YouTube videos (our fav is The Tim Tracker!), try to recreate our favorite Disney treats in the kitchen, and have even begun our packing list. Little things like this have kept us smiling and with something to look forward to in these uncertain times. Also, Angela and I text Disney stuff back and forth ;)
Packing List Printable
If you're planning an upcoming trip, check out this super fun Packing List Printable!