Salary – Noun (c): a fixed amount of money paid to someone for the work the person is employed to do, esp. the amount paid every year.
When talking about Travel Agents that specialize in Disney vacations and money, Salary really isn’t the right word. Salary is fixed, paid on a regular basis for employment. As a Disney Travel agent, none of that applies. Most Disney Travel agents are paid by commission, earned from trips booked for clients.
Commission – Noun (c): a system of payment based on a percentage of the value or sales or other business done, or a payment to someone working under such a system
There we go, much better.
How do Travel Agents make Money?
Let’s focus on the major Disney destinations, and how they pay commissions:
Walt Disney World – Disney’s biggest attraction with the most Disney hotels, theme parks and visitors. Walt Disney World is the backbone of most Disney Travel agents. Walt Disney World pays a 10% commission on most packages and room only reservation, net of taxes. So, for example, if you booked a package for a client that was $3,500, but that price included $200 of taxes, you would receive a commission of $330 (10% of $3,300). Walt Disney World pays a smaller percentage on theme park tickets (outside of a package), Holiday party tickets, VIP tours, Memory Maker, etc. Walt Disney World pays commissions on rooms and packages about 7 days after your client checks into their resort. Commissions on tickets and other special items are paid after purchase.
Disneyland – Disneyland’s commission policy is very similar to Walt Disney World, 10% on room and packages, net of taxes. They do pay less on ticket sales, mostly because they typically sell shorter ticket lengths as people don’t stay as long at Disneyland compared to WDW.
Disney Cruise Line – This is where it gets interesting. Disney Cruise line pays a commission, similar to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, on the cruise fare less taxes. However, Disney Cruise Line commissions can be anywhere between 10 – 16%, depending on cruise volume. Only sell a few cruises per year, you get 10%. Sell a ton of cruises (currently $1,687,000+ per year), you get 16%. Required revenue to reach each tier is typically updated every year, and should increase substantially once the new ships are in service (more ships = more guests = more bookings = more required). Commission rates are set annually, and it is possible to go down or up a level. Disney Cruise commission is paid out to agents within a week of final payment being made, which is usually months before the cruise actually sails.
Aulani – Disney’s fantastic Hawaiian resort is not to be missed. Aulani pays 10% on room stays. Since there are not any parks, there are not any park tickets to be sold. Aulani also offers packages that include the room as well as some other component, such as airport transfers or rental cars. Packages earn you 13%, so often times, it is in an agents benefit to book a package for a clients to earn the extra 3%. Commissions at Aulani are paid out about 7 days after the client checks in.
Adventures by Disney – Disney’s tour service is incredible, one of my favorite vacations ever. Adventures are a travel agents best friend. They are EXPENSIVE, and commissions are tiered similar to Disney Cruise Line between 10 – 16%. Commission on Adventures are paid out as soon as the trip is paid in full.
Other – Most Disney Travel Agents also book Universal Studios in Orlando. With Harry Potter living at Universal, it has become quite a draw. Many clients like to do split stays between Universal and Disney, or stay at one and go to the other for a few days, giving you the option to sell tickets. Universal pays 10% commission on all packages that include a Universal hotel and park passes (net of taxes). As with Disney, they pay a lesser percentage on ticket sales. Universal pays commissions about 7 – 10 days after your guest checks into the resort. While other destinations or cruise lines may tempt you, I always strongly suggest Disney Travel agents focus on Disney only (with a touch of Universal). People come to you because you are a Disney expert, not because you know a little bit about a lot.
As with all commission agreements, these percentage and other items may change at any time. For the most part, they have been unchanged for 18+ years while I have been selling Disney, and they are unlikely to change much in the future, but there is always a possibility.
How Much can Travel Agents make?
Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Just to name a few:
- Time – How much time will you be working as a Disney Travel Agent? Is this a full time job or part time gig? Do you want to just do it for fun or do you intend this to be a livelihood?
- Time – How long have you been a Disney Travel Agent? Once you have worked the job for a few years, it start becoming easier as you are getting referrals and repeat clients, so more booking (equals more dollars) and less marketing.
- Agency – Do you work for an agency that provides support, training and leads or did they hire you and throw you out of the boat to sink or swim? Maybe you own your own agency, and it is up to you to make it work.
- Focus – Do you focus on Disney? Are you a Disney Expert? Agents that focus only on Disney are much more successful. Travel agencies around the country are closing like crazy, but if you are a Disney expert, you will have plenty of work to fill whatever time you want to give the job.
Really, really good Disney Travel agents that work full time and have been at it a few years can make about $100,000 a year, whether you own the agency or are working for another agency. Owning your own agency requires you to complete tasks that agents working for an agency don’t have to do, so while you keep more of the commission, you are often bringing in less money.
The funny thing about part-time is that it isn’t linear. If you work half time, you won’t earn half as much as a full time person, it doesn’t ever seem to work out that way. Full time agents are always there, answering client’s questions, getting out price quotes, but part time agents see those replies delayed because they may be at their full time job or just not “working”. A really good part time agent can earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200 – $1,600 each year for each hour they work a week. So a 20 hour week would turn into $24,000 – $32,000 a year. Only want to work 10 hours a week? You are going to be on the lower end, closer to $12,000 per year.
One thing you do have to remember is that being a Disney Travel Agent isn’t like a normal job. It isn’t 9 – 5. There are no paid vacations, no sick days. Even your time with your family is just filling the time between helping clients.
Being a Disney Travel Agent can be a fantastic job, for the right person. We see so many agents come and go, they think the job is easy and you get to go to Disney all the time. Well, it isn’t easy, you aren’t going to get rich, and most of the time, it isn’t very fun. However, there isn’t much better than helping a family have a perfect trip to Disney, and getting paid for it. Overall, it is by far the best job I have ever had (and almost all successful agents will say that).
How can MousePlanners help you?
MousePlanners is in business to help you become a better Disney Travel agent. We succeed when you succeed. We have been successful building a Disney Travel Agency, and we provide for you:
- Help from square one getting your business and agency started.
- Website, hosting and support for technical needs
- Free access to industry leading CRM
- Initial training and support as well as continued training as you grow.
- You control everything. You can’t get fired, your agency won’t stop paying your. If you grow your agency, it is all yours to keep.
- You keep a larger percentage of your commission without having to deal with most of the headaches of running your own agency.
If you want to start the conversation about possibly starting your own Disney Travel Agency, please feel free to check out this page and contact us: