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How to become an independant certified Disney travel agent?

Discussion in 'WDW Parks General Discussion' started by Markz, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Markz

    Markz Member

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    Hey guys, i'm from Montréal (Quebec, Canada) where I think the market for specialized and personalized french language Disney travel planning and booking is highly underserved (as far as I am aware of). I am currently finishing up my Masters degree in online marketing and I will definitly have more free time on my hands soon enough. It has always been a dream of mine to become a certified Disney travel agent and i'm beginning to think that this is something I could pretty much do as sideline. I would love to get the training necessary to acheive the official certifications offered by Disney. My idea would be to register my own company, create a blog and a website along with an email booking system. Through this website and via email, I could share my knowledge of Disney trip planning with potential travelers and offer them complete packages along the way.

    My profile :

    32 trips strong (WDW mostly) with vast knowledge of pretty much every hotel (stayed in and visited all of them) and restaurant on site (having tried and reviewed most of them). I know every park like the back of my hand and I keep up to date with daily news pertaining to Disney parks and entertainement (even though I do not post much, I read this website and forum daily)

    My questions :
    • What is required in order to become a certified Disney travel agent
    • Do I absolutely need to undergo the courses and classes necessary to become a certified travel agent in Canada? If so, can it be done online?
    • Did anyone here go through this process? Would you be willing to share your experience?
    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. WDWmazprty

    WDWmazprty Well-Known Member

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    Look for various Disney travel companies that are 'earmarked' meaning they are certified by Disney to book travel.
    Destinations to Explore and Kingdom Konsultants are two that I know of. =)
     
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  3. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Canadians must work with a Canadian agency.

    Canadian agencies cannot be Earmarked.

    Be sure to research TICO and other Canadian travel laws or you could face stiff fines or even jail.
     
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  4. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Fyi, there is no such thing as a "certified Disney travel agent"

    Earmarked isn't a certification either, it's a marketing partnership based on sales revenue, having all agents educated in Disney, and promises made in a contract...only then is the AGENCY an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency.
     
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  5. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Your law

    http://www2.publicationsduquebec.go...h/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/A_10/A10_A.html

    It is much more difficult to be a travel agent in Canada.

    It is also not as easy as creating a website and answering some email forms. Unless you plan on making personal contact with each and every client, you'll only earn pocket change. I've been doing this for over 10 years and have tried many methods, even once thinking like you.
     
  6. Markz

    Markz Member Original Poster

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    bethymouse likes this.
  7. nepalostparks

    nepalostparks Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you can take the College of Knowledge courses, however there is no official title or certification. In fact, there are a number of restrictions on how you can even relate the fact that you've taken the College of Knowledge courses in advertising, etc.
     
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  8. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Those courses give you an overview of the Disney products and how to sell them, nothing more.

    Most people here know more about Disney parks.

    The sales courses are helpful.
     
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  9. nepalostparks

    nepalostparks Well-Known Member

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    Very true, the courses are very top level basic information. I did think the Aulani course was a great overview... it's one Disney product that I just haven't been focused on getting details about on my own at this point.
     
  10. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    You can even pass the courses and never visit a Disney park...

    At least now we're supposed to take the courses every year, at least if you're part of an earmarked agency.
     
  11. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Markz,

    Your biggest issue is going to be Canadian law.
    Your second may be that the Authorized Disney Vacation Planner program does not exist outside the US; you can still take Disney's education courses though.

    Someone in the US wanting to become a travel agent can start by joining an agency to get experience, many will accept you with the payment of a fee; some not even that. Only a few states have Seller of Travel Laws, California and Florida being the biggest. You could even start your own agency by joining CLIA or another travel industry association to get your travel seller ID, then forming a business and registering with your state and then with Disney and other travel suppliers. The fact that someone can become an agent so easily in the US causes many issues for agents and agencies as well as clients looking for dependable travel consultations.

    Canada, and I'm mostly familiar with Ontario, has extremely strict laws (TICO), so strict that you cannot be a home-based agent - you must be associated with a brick and mortar office. You must also take and pass a travel agent test on a regular basis. There are also security and bonding restrictions, similar to California and Florida. Home-based agents in Ontario who have been caught have spent time in jail.

    Good luck in your research.

    Also see http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/...uth-disney-vacation-planner-from-home.721001/ for previous discussions.
     
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  12. I_heart_Tigger

    I_heart_Tigger Well-Known Member

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    I am a home-based travel agent in Canada. I have a host agency who has IATA and CLIA creditation. I have completed the Disney travel agent training which was noted above (College of Knowledge and the new Disney Genius course). The Universal training at least requires you to prove you have visited which seems more logical to me.

    Without a host agency and IATA number you would not have access to the most basic booking engines - including the Disney Travel Agents of Canada website. Also, I assume you would want to book more than just Disney and without access to basic travel agent databases you would only be able to book public rates on public websites. You also would not be able to sell travel insurance which is a great asset for your clients and offers a high rate of commission for you.

    I would recommend finding a host agency, completing their training courses, perhaps taking a travel and tourism course (though not entirely necessary) and working on becoming a home based agent specializing in Disney. You would have to be prepared to pay for start-up fees which varies widely from agent to agent (could be $200 could be $5000).

    If you call yourself a travel agent and start booking travel for anyone and do not qualify (by getting a licence or being sponsored by a host agency) you are breaking the law in Canada and it could mean that you will not ever be issued a licence. If you try to sell insurance without being licenced (this is a separate licence and fee from the agency sponsorship) it is considered very serious.
     
  13. I_heart_Tigger

    I_heart_Tigger Well-Known Member

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    The Authorized Disney Vacation Planner program does exist in Canada it just gives you the title of "Specialist" rather than "Planner" but it is essentially the same as the US course. I have the Authorized Disney Vacation Planner button on my website (they do not have a "specialist" one so they issue the "planner" button to Canadian TA's who qualify) as well as the direct Disney link for my clients to research via the Disney site but book directly with me. These were provided to me by the Disney travel agent site once my training was complete.
     
  14. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, I know that as of a year or so ago, it did not. Perhaps they have a slightly different version. Your use of the term "Authorized Disney Vacation Specialist" I have never heard before. Our agencies are referred to as Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agencies and we get to use the Earmarked logo in our marketing, as long as we follow certain guidelines and get approvals.

    It sounds like you have access to the disneywebcontent set of sites.

    I am certain that my Canadian friends would have contacted me if they were going to be at our yearly Earmarked Conference.

    Where is your agency located in Canada?

    One of my associates still has this on her site, although she does have links to disneywebcontent. "The Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Program (EarMarked) is designed solely for travel agencies within the United States of America. Therefore, no travel agency within Canada can be EarMarked." Last I heard, she was one of the top 2 Disney selling agencies in Ontario.
     
  15. I_heart_Tigger

    I_heart_Tigger Well-Known Member

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    I'm in Nova Scotia but our home-based agents are across Canada. the head office is in Nova Scotia. I just receieved the button this year when I completed the new Disney Genius course. The web content I've had for a few years. I suspect they will update the button to say "specialist" at some point.

    I believe my certificates I got in the mail upon completion of the course say "specialist" throughout

    EDIT: Just checked my certificate files and yes...does say Specialist. It gives the entire usage guidelines of when and how I am to refer to myself as a specialist as well as a sample press release for announcing my new status as a Disney Specialist.
     
  16. I_heart_Tigger

    I_heart_Tigger Well-Known Member

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    Although I have no idea if the "earmarked" conferences would be for us or not...perhaps that is why they use two different terms...Planner and Specialist

    EDIT: checked my completed course in the Disney College of knowledge site and found that it took 22 courses to get my "specialist" status. That was ALOT of hours to complete so I hope I can be considered at least on par with the US agents that do the same courses :)
     
  17. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    That is the College of Disney Knowledge; and yes, all US agents who complete the College of Disney Knowledge or new Disney Genius courses can call themselves a "Disney Specialist" as long as they follow the proper guidelines.

    i.e. Disney Specialist*
    *As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, <agent name here> is a Disney Specialist, which indicates an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).

    and that is only one of the limits that you have.

    However, only a certain set of US agencies, who have met certain sales revenue criteria, have 100% of front line agents as College of Knowledge graduates, and promise to meet other contract criteria are part of the Authorized Disney Vacation Planner or Earmarked program. You will see them displaying the "Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Logo" on their website, and it is tightly controlled. For an example, see the top right corner of wdwmagic's travel agent sponsor, Kingdom Konsultant - http://www.kingdomkonsultant.com/

    The last I heard, Canada did not have an equivalent to this program, although it wouldn't surprise me if they are working through the legalities.

    Your agency owner could tell you more, I am sure.

    FYI - the Earmarked Conference is a yearly gathering (usually) of many of the Earmarked agencies at a Disney Destination to learn how to improve our business. I believe around 500 people attended the last one.
     
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  18. Kingdom Konsultant

    Kingdom Konsultant WDWMAGIC Board Sponsor Premium Member

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    I haven't heard of it being allowed in Canada either Joe. I know that Earmarked and the ADVP are exclusive to agencies in the US, but perhaps they are changing that policy. I am sure we would have heard about it though. For the record, I've never heard of Destinations to Explore, so I cannot say if they are Earmarked or not. My agency is and so is DisneyJoe's.
     
  19. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    Destinations to Explore/Destinations in Florida has been around since at least 2006, if not longer. I've come across them a few times at Disney events.
     
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  20. Markz

    Markz Member Original Poster

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    Hey guys, thanks for all th great advice, i'm glad there are some experienced travel agents on this board to help out.

    So from what I gather here in this thread, in order to achieve my goal I would need to :

    • Get the proper training in order to become an accredited travel agent in Canada/Quebec according to laws and regulation (I'm guessing those classes can be completed online and part-time)
    • Find a host agency willing to give me a chance as a home-base disney trip planner in order to get proper IATA/CLIA identification
    • Complete the Authorized Disney Vacation Planner program with the Disney Genius or College of Disney Knowledge online to get the proper title (if actually available in Canada)
    It just so happens that one of my good friend's mom actually owns a decent size travel agency with no agent specialized in disney travel. I'll try to get some information from her as well
    Again, thanks for the help, feel free continue the discussion on the subject, any info. is valuable to me :)
     
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