I recently approached Steve from Pixie Vacations about seeing if I could submit some interview questions with him and his wife Lisa. Steve and Lisa have been great, sponsoring the gift that we gave away in our contest last month, and always being available to answer questions I’ve had. So it came as no surprise to me that they agreed to answer my questions, and I thank them for doing so. Now on to the questions! The focus of my interview was what led them to become travel agents.
MDOD: I understand from the Mouse Chat podcast that you two used to work at Walt Disney World. What did you do, and how did you meet?
SG: I worked at Disney World on the Disney College Program in the 90’s. I was a cast member at the Grand Floridian and worked the front desk, conventions, and also valet and bell services. It was a great deal of fun and I stayed on and was hired by Disney after the College Program end. Later on I worked for Disney’s telephone company and did several web and wireless projects for Disney.
LG: I also started on the College Program. I was there about 3 ½ years. I started in Fantasyland in the Kodak Booth (RIP). I worked in the Mad Hatter (RIP) embroidering the names on the back of the ear hats, then went to the Information Booth (RIP). I liked that the most, I think. Gee, all of my old locations are now gone!
MDOD: Was there any one thing that led you towards deciding on becoming travel agents?
LG: It just sort of felt natural. We had the Disney experience, professionally and personally. We had helped friends and family plan their vacations to Disney World. We thought it was a great opportunity to stay submerged in all things Disney, help some families make some magical memories, and make some money at the same time.
MDOD: How did you get the training you needed to be actual Disney Authorized Travel Agents?
PV: There is always a little confusion around this topic. Agents can take an online course or take do some training in person. The main online course is called Disney’s College of Knowledge, and it teaches you about Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland and Adventures by Disney. Once you complete that course you will get a certificate for completing the College of Knowledge and you can let guests know that you specialize in Disney vacations if that is your focus.
An agency can be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. This is a program that is based on several things. I believe the requirements are different for each agency. One component to being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is a solid sales history. Being a newer agency, we don’t have a full history yet, so we are looking forward to getting Ear Marked once that is established.
MDOD: Talk about the Disney College of Knowledge. Is it a difficult program to go through, and how does one sign up to take the classes?
PV: So the Disney College of Knowledge main course is done online. It teaches you about Disney overall and their different products. Each section has a test that you complete at the end. You can complete this in one very long session or take your time and do it over a month if you like. It is very informative and also fun. When you complete the course you “Earn Your Ears.”
There are also Agent Education Programs (AEP) that our agents take part in. These are onsite training programs at Disney World or at Disneyland or on a Disney Cruise. These are done a few times a year, and there is a charge from Disney to attend these. You must have completed the College of Knowledge prior to attending an AEP.
To sign up for the Disney College of Knowledge you have to be a travel agent. To be a travel agent you need to be signed up with a travel agency, or what is called a host agency. Pixie Vacations is a full service travel agency that specializes in Disney. We have many great travel agents that work with us and are always looking for more great agents. However, we currently have a waiting list for new agents. So if you are interested please contact us. We should start to interview candidates from the waiting list later in 2011.
MDOD: If someone is interested in being a Disney Authorized Travel Agent, what steps should they take towards that goal? Also, can someone do this as a part time job?
PV: There are a few things that can help you be successful at this. First you need to know about Disney and all their products: Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. You need to know at least one of these areas in detail so you can help clients with their vacations. You can learn the other products as you go, and you will constantly be learning new things.
Being a Disney fan is great, but only a part of what is needed to be successful. You need to have relationships, or be able to build relationships. You need to be active in your community and let people know about the service you have to offer.
Once you complete the Disney College of Knowledge course you will get a certificate and letter from Disney. You are not a “Disney Authorized Travel Agent”, but an agent that specializes in Disney vacations and can let your clients know that you have taken classes and continue to take ongoing training about Disney.
MDOD: Is there any other advice that you would like to pass along to a person looking to become a travel agent?
PV: If you want to be a travel agent that specializes in Disney, you need to know all you can about the product. You can learn about it as you go, but those that are successful have vacationed at Disney and constantly are learning more about everything you can do on a Disney vacation. Get out there and experience a Disney Cruise. Look at it from a family point of view, from an adult point of view, from a honeymooner’s point of view. Learn about behind the scene tours, ticket options, resort amenities, etc.
Again, it’s more than being a Disney fan. You also need to be able to promote yourself in your community and groups. So you need to network and market yourself. It does no good to know everything there is about Disney and not have a marketing plan for your specific community.
Once again I would like to thank Steve and Lisa for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have any Disney travel requirements, I highly suggest that you give Pixie Vacations a try. They have always been nice and supportive of anything that I’ve wanted to do on My Dreams of Disney, and I have no doubt that they will be great to work with for your Disney travel needs as well.