Between its global resorts, its tour wing Adventures by Disney, and its growing cruise line, there is a lot for Disney fans to experience when it comes to choosing their vacations, and a lot for Disney travel agents to market and sell to their clients. It's also one of the most common niches among advisors looking for something they can specialize in.
Jodi Bainter, the director of travel agency sales at The Walt Disney Company, spoke to TMR during a media preview for Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, Disney Wish, earlier this month about what Disney does to support its agent partners.
“Travel advisors play a critical role for us and they will continue to do so in the future,” Bainter said. “In fact, their care and planning for our guests long before the pandemic, through it, and now into the future is incredibly valuable for us.”
“We will never underestimate the value of the travel trade,” she added. “They’re the hardest working team in the business and they deliver amazing results for our Disney destinations. We continue to look for long-term partnerships with them.”
For those new to selling Disney vacations, here is where to start:
Disney’s Travel Agent Portal
According to Bainter, the most successful Disney travel advisors not only know the product but take full advantage of the resources that Disney provides to its travel partners.
“The most important thing, I believe, is giving advisors all the tools and training they need in order to be their best and grow their business,” she said.
That starts at DisneyTravelAgents.com, the main portal for those selling all kinds of Disney vacations, from Walt Disney World Resort to Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, and more. That includes guides on how to book components of each vacation, from theme park tickets to cruise line sailings.
It’s also the place to connect to Disney’s business development managers, which Bainter called “one of the most valuable resources.”
Disney’s College of Knowledge
Inside that travel advisor portal is also Disney’s College of Knowledge, a five-part, fully interactive course that prepares advisors both new and old on what Disney can offer to its guests.
The courses cover Aulani Resort, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort. Each one should take about an hour to complete, with the Walt Disney World Resort course being the longest at 75 minutes total.
Each course includes segmented lessons that catch advisors up on all the latest product offerings. The Disney Cruise Line one, for instance, includes an overview of its ships, staterooms, activities, dining, Castaway Cay, and itineraries.
Each course also includes short quizzes to test your knowledge as you progress along.
The idea is to fully prepare advisors with the product knowledge they need prior to talking to their clients about a potential Disney booking.
“The better that we can prepare them, it helps their credibility with their guests, and we always want to set them up for success,” Bainter added.
Disney’s Marketing Materials
The travel agent portal is also the place for marketing tools advisors can use with their clients. There, agents are able to build mini-sites featuring their own call-to-action and travel agency logo, send e-brochures to clients, and grab marketing materials for their own emails.
According to Bainter, one channel, in particular, is increasingly becoming the go-to source for the best Disney travel agents—according to Bainter, she and her team have seen social media “change the landscape of how travel agents promote their services.”
“We’ve leaned into that with Disney Professionals on our social platforms,” she said, adding that Disney is actively putting content on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube that advisors can use to engage with their clients.
“I really think that is where the change is happening. They’re reaching greater audiences and they do a really good job at talking about all Disney destinations.”
FAMs and Discounts
Advisors who get fully qualified through Disney’s College of Knowledge, and also have a valid IATA, CLIA, or ACTA card, then get the opportunity to use some special travel agent rates for all of Disney’s product offerings.
There are some blackout dates for some of the busiest periods, and some other terms and conditions, but ultimately, completing the training courses will allow advisors to get a discount on their Disney vacations so they will be able to experience what they are selling first-hand.
For Disney Cruise Line, which is in the middle of one of the largest expansions in its history, Bainter added that the line will be resuming ship tours so advisors can see the product first-hand.
“We’ll start with the Wish,” Bainter told TMR. “That’s a big deal—we know it is super important for agents to be prepared to be able to talk about the product.”