I’m a travel agent. Okay, I’m also a blogger and a podcaster, but my job description is simply this: travel agent. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what we do as well as some things that travel agents wish their clients–or perspective clients–knew about them and their job. In fact, if you sat in a room with 100 travel agents, there’s a pretty good chance we’d all say some variation of this theme:
- We don’t get (most) trips for free. Yes, it’s true. We pay for most of what you see us do. Now, the fact is some of it’s tax deductable (oh god, please let it be, because if not, well . . . ), but it’s still coming out of our own pocket. But a good agent needs to know her product well and has experienced it herself. This is especially true when it comes to Disney, which changes frequently and is truly one of the most massive products an agent can sell. You need to be in the middle of it.
- Referrals are one of the most important parts of our business. When you call an anonymous phone line and book a trip, that agent has one goal in mind: To make sure you buy the most expensive vacation possible. They’re never going to see you again, so “upselling” isn’t going to come back to haunt them. But for me, I need to make sure you’re happy. If I sell you a park hopper and you have two-year old twins, you might think I don’t know my job because that hopper will probably end up gathering dust. And then you don’t come back and you don’t refer your friends. It’s as simple as that. I would rather earn your trust than make a big commission and never see you again.
- If you don’t travel, we don’t get paid. That’s a risk we take and it happens often enough that most of us don’t even blink an eye. And really, it’s okay. Cancellations happen. A good agent isn’t going to berate you or make you feel bad because you aren’t traveling.
- Our job is hard. Many of my clients tell me they wish they had my job and I’m not going to lie: it’s fun, a lot of the time. Especially when it comes to Disney, a travel agent gets a real opportunity to make magic. I’ve been privileged to be a part of big family gatherings, of honeymoons, and those bittersweet trips people take to celebrate being free of something big that’s been effecting their lives, like sickness. But it’s also 6:00 o’clock mornings making dining reservations and missed dinners because your client has a tight schedule and needs a 6:30 call with you. And it’s worth it. I could do another job, no question, but I do this because I truly love it. But it’s still work.
- Okay, do you want to hear our number one beef? It’s this: We understand shopping around for the best price. We also understand working with someone and deciding they just aren’t the agent for you. But please know that when I put work into a quote and we exchange emails back and forth and then you tell me you just booked on your own, when I’ve been providing you service all along, that kind of hurts. Because you’ve just taken time away from my clients who need me. Or my family. Or heck, even sleep. Sleep is nice. Of course you are under no obligation to book. But if you’re going to book on your own after we’ve helped you, for goodness sakes, don’t tell us!
Okay, here’s one more and it’s probably the most important. When you book with a travel agent from an agency like mine, you are helping a small business. The money that Disney or another vendor gives to me and other agents isn’t staying in the Mouse’s pocket (and the cost isn’t being passed onto you either), it’s going back into your community and helping people rather than a huge corporation. Now, it’s pretty obvious, I happen to love that huge corporation probably as much as you do, but still, I kind of like to help the little guy. That’s why I’d rather go to a locally owned Italian place rather than Olive Garden. So when you’re looking to book a Disney trip, or any other trip, think about that.
Thanks for reading. I love my job. It’s a rare day that I don’t think to myself how lucky I am to have it. I just want to share a bit of insight.