Utopia Travel: Tiffany Barger
Why use a Travel Agent for your Disney Vacation?
It is an inevitable question. It pops up at least once a week on any given message board. “Should I use a travel agent to help me with my Disney vacation?” Well, since I am a travel agent, I bet you can guess what my answer is…ABSOLUTELY! Now that I have confessed to my obvious bias, let me convince you why…
The service a travel agent provides is FREE! Really! Travel agents are paid a commission by the supplier (Disney) for the travel that is booked. There are no behind the scenes mark ups or hidden fees. Disney, in particular, has very standard pricing and they offer the same rates to all travel agents that they have on their website. You may be wondering why Disney would pay a travel agent if they could book all of the travel themselves? The answer is actually pretty simple – travel agents work to make your trip better. The more fun you have on your vacation, the more likely you are to go back.
A travel agent specializing in Disney has knowledge and experience. Specialist have a love of Disney, and lots of experience. Specialist also work hard to keep their knowledge current. I often get calls from overwhelmed parents trying to plan the perfect Disney vacation for their families. Let’s face it, there are a lot of moving parts to a Disney vacation, from transportation, to choosing from a multitude of hotels, to sorting out all of the ticket options, to finding a place to eat, to figuring out which park to visit on which day, and even down to what to do inside each park. It is a lot to figure out! I like to get to know my families a little bit, figure out the budget, and help them make the most out of their time and budget.
A travel agent knows what the discounts are and where to find them. I have worked with many clients who were very surprised when my quote was substantially less than the exact same vacation they priced out themselves.
A travel agent can usually retroactively apply discounts. If a discount comes out after you have booked your vacation, and you otherwise would have qualified for the discount, then a travel agent can retroactively apply it to your reservation. If you booked with Disney directly, you can do this too, but you have to make sure you constantly check for the latest discounts, and then commit to sitting on hold for an hour to get the discount applied. I was just working with a family who was ready to make their final payment and I was able to give them the good news that their trip was going to cost them $800 less than they thought! I honestly get ridiculously happy for people when that happens.
A travel agent can save you money in other ways. Personally, I try to spend my clients money like I would spend my own. Sometimes spending a little extra gives you a lot, sometimes spending a lot extra gives you very little. In addition to lots of money saving tips, I try to let my clients know where they should splurge and where they should cut corners. I have on many occasions tried to talk clients out of more expensive vacation packages. While it is absolutely true that the more you buy the more commission I may make, I am much more concerned that at the end of your vacation, you feel like you got your moneys worth. I would rather make less and have you trust me that make more and have you feel like you overspent. You will be much more likely to share my name with a friend, and I will sleep better at night.
A travel agent is a great sounding board! If you have ever called Disney directly, and asked whether you should do A or B. You will likely hear something like “Oh, they are both fabulous choices.” Well, I have opinions that I will freely offer! More than that, I try to tell you why I like something or not or why I think you would like something or not.
To be fair, using a travel agent might not be for everyone. If you are an ultra type A personality in terms of vacation planning (ahem – like me) it can be a little hard to let go of the control. Not that a travel agent is going to “control” your entire vacation! But once a travel agent books your reservation, they have to make changes to the reservation. So if you decide at 9:45pm that you want to add a Park Hopper option to your ticket, then you will need to contact your travel agent to do it instead of calling Disney directly.
Also, you should have a good feeling about your agent. There is no “travel agent law” that says your agent must rebook you with a discount if it comes out. In those cases travel agents are actually doing more work to earn less money. For me, my relationship with my client is all about trust. I want my clients to know they can trust me to do the best I can for them. In the long run, I know that working harder to reduce my commission is good for my client, good for my business and good for my conscience. If you do not get a good feeling after your first conversation with your agent, just thank him or her and move on.
Now that I (hopefully!) have you convinced that using a travel agent is a good thing, let me convince you why you should use me for your next Disney vacation.
- You deal with one agent, me! I want to get to know you and use that information to make your trip better! I work for you – not Disney.
- I am available outside of regular office hours. I work from my home office, so I have great flexibility!
- I can help with dining reservations or recommendations. With more and more families taking advantage of the dining plan, “Where should we eat?” is a much bigger factor to consider. I am happy to make some recommendations for you, help you find some menus to peruse, or even make dining reservations for you!
- I keep you organized!
- I also accept transfers. If you booked your trip yourself and are unsure about it or just need some extra help, we can transfer your reservation to our agency and help you just as if you were our client from the beginning. And you will still get all of the goodies and extras that I offer all of our clients!
- I have attended training classes, visited the parks, cruised the seas and demonstrated a dedication to planning Disney vacations for several years.