I have always done my own planning, my own booking. Reading about the challenges that people have experienced, recently, I am wondering if working with a travel agent would be a benefit. Pros/cons that you have experienced with using a TA. Anyone that you would recommend?
I don’t like the loss of control. I’ve had a few issues when using a travel agent so avoid it. I had won a $5K travel voucher once, so was forced to use a travel agency to redeem it. I literally told her everything to book, and she still screwed up; or her “travel agent” pricing was higher than the same pricing I could find online (on same website!) Wherever possible I book right with the source (i.e. Direct with airline, direct on hotel websites) I avoid the middleman.
I use a TA for almost all vacations except Disney vacations … 1/2 the fun of Disney is the planning so why give that away to someone else?!? Plus, I like to be able to be able to pivot on the spot for ADR and FP+.
I think TAs are great for people that don’t like to plan. I get tons of enjoyment from researching and planning trips so they wouldn’t add much value for me. The extra bureaucracy of having a middleman outweighs any potential savings I might miss researching on my own.
In a crazy situation like this, you can dump the research on cancellations on them, but this is (hopefully) a pretty unique occurrence. Even with this, the people that booked straight with Disney don’t seem to be having extreme difficulties, it’s more the DVC and 3rd party ticket situations.
You can totally do your own ADRs and FPP! That does not get removed from your control. Some TAs can book those for you but they don’t have to. I’ve had several clients who want to do it all themselves - totally fine! For those guests I do continue to send out prompt emails (“now it’s time to think about your ADRs because that date will come up in 10 days”). But I would never stop someone from doing it themselves, even though I would be willing to do it if they wanted me to.
The only thing you cannot do is modify the actual package yourself. Changes to the package need to go through the agent (ie you’re at Pop but want to change to Beach Club; you booked rack rate but want to change to the discount now offered). All payments go through the TA as well but that’s typically a quick email from the client to me and I take care of it right away.
@meekomist, I am the oldest sibling, a retired teacher, and absolutely a control freak. With Disney, I know what I want. I have had CMs on the phone ask me if I work for the company. When I say, No, I have heard, maybe I should. I have been hearing how a TA could save me money if there was a special offer, but if they didn’t act on it for my reservation in time, then I could not do it myself?
@davej, in normal times, planning my Disney trips is a large part of my entertainment as soon as I am booked. The only time that I have used a TA was when traveling to Spain. I had never even had a passport before. He was a great help for flights within Spain and for hotels. Right now, I can’t bring myself to plan my already booked with a bounce back offer for a December trip. I am thinking of booking a backup trip for next April, because who knows what December will be like. With so much unknown, I didn’t know how much a TA might help.
That is correct.
It does require good communication and a level of trust. Not all TAs are created equally. You should choose one carefully and be clear up front as to what they are committing to provide you.
That said, even the best TA may not be able to switch you to a discount if the availability is not there. Rooms and room categories are nearly always restricted and cannot be applied to every reservation. So a TAs inability to get the discount may be more reflective of that than their commitment to you.
@OBNurseNH, that is such a valid point. Last year, we stayed at POFQ, knowing that it isn’t always eligible for discounts. I gave a lot of thought to whether I would be willing to change resorts for a discount and give up where I wanted to stay. When the special offers came up in mid July for our October stay, free dining was for dates before ours and then after ours, but not during our stay. The room discount offered would not have saved us any money because I had a better rate from booking so far ahead. No one, no matter how committed of a TA could have saved me money.
My last two Disney trips I used a travel agent to book the park tickets and resort. I did all the other planning. The advantage to using a TA in both cases was they keep on the look-out for deals. One trip I ended up with free dining and the other trip I ended up with a better room for less money than the original booking.
I was going to say exactly what you did - just as someone who uses a TA to book my trips. I still make (and change) all my ADRs and FP+things on my own. My biggest advantage is as soon as a new deal comes out, she checks all her clients during that time frame and if it will save them money, she makes the change. There have been several occasions where even before news of a discount hit the internet, I had an email from her either saying “This new deal came out and it is saving you this much, so I made the switch” OR “A new deal came out today but what you have is better so I’m leaving it alone (or your resort is not included in it, but if you’d like to switch to X you can save this much - depends on the situation).” After the second scenario happened the first time, I started saying “Book this room type and resort, but if a deal comes out I am open to this type at my given resort or open to this or this resort.” and she knows she has permission to change me. Though she’s usually texting me to verify before doing it in that case.
I am rather obsessive with my Disney planning. I have been known to change resorts, add and remove members of my traveling party (sometimes in the same week/day- don’t judge).
If I am booking a non DVC room I always work with a travel agent. Why wouldn’t I? It takes nothing away from my planning but if anything goes wrong, or if a discount comes out, my TA will sit on the phone for hours.
I have one TA for Disney, another for cruises. It does not “cost” me anything, I still make all ADRs and FPs.
Work with a liner TA, they are the best!
I use a TA for my cruises, but not my road trips. Since we stay off property I also have never used them for WDW.
I would never do a cruise without a TA. Not because they are hard to book, but making changes often has to be done on the phone and I don’t have time for that.
I just can’t control myself this morning (blame it on trying to find the strength to go shopping).
A number of “liners” are the people I count on and trust when it comes to Disney planning.
For example, we have all trusted @OBNurseNH to help us here, why would we not trust her to book our room? It seem rather silly to me.
Aww thanks @PrincipalTinker
I agree with this completely. I work with a TA who is a liner. We have APs and go multiple times a year so I figure I know quite a bit. I do my own ADRs and FPPs. And I also change resorts, add and drop people and probably drive her insane with my constant changes (although she says it can be entertaining) - she never minds. She has proactively gotten discounts for me when new deals are better than my original.
She also gives me great advice and is someone I can bounce things off of. Because they do regular training for TAs, she gets a chance to experience things before I could and make recommendations. Last year, despite me constantly asking her if I should switch from the GDT at CSR, she assured me we would love it. And she was right - so much so that we booked our next trip there as well.
I was there during Hurricane Michael and had booked the trip on my own. My TA (who I wasn’t using yet but my co-worker who was there was using), texted while the co-worker while she was at DHS to let her know that the food court would be shutting down and to grab food before they got back to the resort. On the other hand, I waited in a packed food court at Pop grabbing whatever food I could for my family and was in there for at least 90 minutes. In the meantime, my return flight got cancelled so we needed a room for three more nights. After waiting forever in the food court, my dad and I then waited in line for well over an hour to secure the two rooms we needed for those extra days. My co-worker who was using the TA had the TA arrange her rooms while she sat in the room at Pop eating her food she brought back from DHS. After that I vowed I would always use a TA.
I’ve used my TA for the last four trips. She gets my Disney obsession. I give her a spread sheet with the ADR 's I want with a contingency plan, like “if you can’t get Storybook Dining on Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday would work too”. I do the same for my FP’s. She’s always gotten me everything I’ve wanted at the times/dates/contingency I wanted all while I was still asleep. She waits on the hold to secure free dining, room discounts, etc. so I don’t have to. There was one trip where I changed my flight to arrive the day before I was supposed to arrive initially (to a Wednesday night instead of Thursday afternoon) because it was cheaper. This was the day before my FP day so that day now became my FP day. As I was booking the flight change, I texted her and asked “How quickly can you book at room?” She texted back within about 5 minutes with the response, “Is that fast enough? with a picture of the confirmation” She immediately began making my FP selections. This was on a Saturday afternoon as she and her daughter were getting her daughter ready for a Taylor Swift concert.
For our December trip, we were her first clients who would be in DHS after Rise of the Resistance opened (Dec 14-20). She sent me a $25 uber gift card to get to DHS and told me to report back on the details.
After this covid-19 stuff, I don’t know why anyone would never, ever not use a TA.
This is something where little more research could have paid off for me, before I chose to use a TA. The little research I did said, “Use an agency with agency-exclusive discounts.” So I went in blind with a TA at MVT and, well, I would not do so again.
I found out about released discounts for my dates before she contacted me and I’ve spent far more time on the phone with Disney then I ever thought I’d have to with a TA. Long story short, I would do a TA again, but only if their reputation precedes them and I am confident in their knowledge of Disney beyond the basics.
Otherwise, it’s just not worth it to me to give up the control.
How do you prioritize clients when you’re looking for discounts for them? I would assume at any given time that you have a number of clients headed to Disney, so when a discount drops, whose reservation do you ask about first when you call? Some of the discounts come and go so quick, I’d imagine it is hard to get everyone taken care of.
I am personally very low volume. I have yet to have to prioritize. But if I had to I would try to rebook in the order they originally booked with me. FCFS basically.
Also, keep in mind that there are so many resorts and categories that each person would be looking for something a little bit different. That would help too.