When Greg and I started talking in January about taking our kids to Disney World, a couple different people recommended I talk with Jennifer Hart, who is a Disney vacation planner and happens to live in my town. So I sent her an email with some questions about what I was thinking for our trip that was being planned for nine months later. She emailed back quickly with advice and then quotes and then recommendations. She reminded me when it was time to book dining reservations and fast passes. And we even returned home to a sweet card from her.
Let’s welcome Jennifer here today as she answers the question “Should I use a travel agent to help me with my Disney vacation?” And, hey, you don’t have to live in Murray, Ky., to use her. We just happen to live in the same town, which was convenient for connecting a couple times before we headed to Orlando.
“Should I use a travel agent to help me with my Disney vacation?” Well, because I am a travel agent, I bet my answer is obvious … ABSOLUTELY! You know that I am obviously biased, but let me tell you why …
1. The services I provide are FREE!
Really! I am paid a commission by the Disney for vacation packages that I book. There are no behind the scenes mark ups or hidden fees. Disney has very standard pricing and the company offers the same rates to all travel agents that it has on its website.
You may be wondering why Disney would pay a travel agent if they could book all of the travel themselves? The answer is actually pretty simple: Travel agents work to make your trip better. The more fun you have on your vacation, the more likely you are to go back.
2. I specialize in Disney, so I have knowledge, training, and experience.
Not only do I have a LOVE of all things Disney and lots of experience, but I have also done training and taken tests to “earn my ears.” I have to work hard to keep my knowledge current with extra reading, online training, and onsite training.
I often get calls from overwhelmed people trying to plan the perfect Disney vacation for their families. Let’s face it, there are a lot of moving parts to a Disney vacation: transportation, choosing a hotel, sorting out all of the ticket options, dining reservations, figuring out which park to visit on which day, what FastPass+ selections should you make, whether to buy the Memory Maker, and a million other decisions. It is a lot to figure out! I like to get to know my families a little bit, figure out the budget, and help them make the most out of their time and budget.
3. I know what the discounts are and where to find them.
I have worked with many clients who were very surprised when my quote was substantially less than the exact same vacation they priced out themselves. Sometimes, you have to know that there is a sale and where to find it on the website in order to get that price. Sometimes shifting your days or even adding a day to your vacation can make it cheaper. I help you figure out how to save the most money!
My favorite story is about a family who called and said that they wanted a vacation to Disney and knew exactly what they wanted. She just wanted me to book it for them. She was in a bit of a hurry, so I got the information I needed in order to book her vacation. As I began pricing out her vacation to book it, I realized that what she thought she wanted was not really the best idea. I called her back and asked if she could check in one day earlier. She thought that she was pretty set on her travel dates until I explained that if she checked in one day earlier, her entire vacation would cost $800-$900 less! A longer vacation for less money – SURE!
If someone books a vacation with me, I am constantly looking for sales and will apply the best sale. We cannot stack sales, so I always pick the best one to save the most money. If you book through Disney direct, you can do this too, but you have to watch for the sales and call Disney yourself to have the special applied. They do not automatically do it for you!!
4. I can help you save money in other ways.
Personally, I try to spend your money like I would spend my own. Sometimes spending a little extra gives you a lot, but sometimes spending more is just spending more. I also try to let my clients know where they should splurge and where they could save a few dollars. Sometimes you don’t need as much as you think.
On many occasions I have tried to talk clients out of a more expensive vacation. Yes, that does mean I make less in commission, but I am much more concerned that you feel like you got your money worth. I would rather make less and have you trust me than make more and have you feel like you overspent.
5. I am a great sounding board!
When you are planning your vacation, you are going to have LOTS of questions. Even seasoned Disney travelers have a lot of questions. I have opinions that I will freely offer! More than that, I try to tell you why I like something or why I think you would like something or not.
We live in a world where information is at our fingertips. If you search the web, you are sure to find a lot of message boards, blogs, and websites who claim to be Disney experts. This can be good, but it can also be dangerous. I have on more than one occasion seen inaccurate information floating around cyberspace. The safest bet is to ask someone who is trained by Disney. I am kept up-to-date on changes and refurbishments.
6. I will make your Advance Dining Reservations!
Disney lets resort guests make their dining reservations 180 days before check in. I get up early on your ADR day to make your reservations for you trying to secure your preferred reservations. This is very important for those hard to get locations. You do not want to wait even a few hours later or those choices can change.
7. I will help you plan an itinerary!
Just because you use a vacation planner does not mean that you give up all the planning and control of your vacation. When you get ready to start planning your days in the parks, I have access to crowd predictors and am able to help you plan each day. Some people want to hit every attraction in every park, some want to see every character, and others want to leisurely stroll while hitting the highlights. We can work together to make a plan to accommodate your family and their needs.
Using me, a Disney vacation planner, is NOT giving up control of your vacation. It is making sure that everything is covered. My promise to you is that I will strive to make your vacation as MAGICAL as possible. My personalized planning services will help you save time and money, plus get all of your questions answered – resulting in a better vacation experience for everyone! Any family can benefit from my expertise in Disney Destinations. Best of all, when you book your vacation with me, ALL of these planning services are FREE! I can book vacations to any Disney Destination including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, or Adventures by Disney.
Jennifer Hart is a stay-at-home mom and wife who homeschools her three children, ages 12, 10 and 4, and works full time as a Disney vacation planner. The Harts love all things Disney and love to vacation during slower seasons. Learn more about her Disney vacation planning services on her website, by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-293-1975, or on Facebook. She also blogs and can be found on Pinterest and Twitter.
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