I consider myself a Disney World expert. I have been going to Disney World my entire life. I could navigate the property before I had a driver’s license. My earliest Disney memory is upstairs at the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Resort, with my father giving my brother and me our resort IDs. We were warned not to buy items with the card. As a young adult, my brother became a Cast Member, and I had a free place to stay in Orlando! It was a big step in 2007 when I booked and paid for my first hotel for my family with 2 small children. It was during the Year of a Million Dreams, and we got an upgrade to the Grand Floridian from Port Orleans.
In 2010, I got my first smartphone and discovered podcasts. I started listening to WDW Today, and a handful of other Disney podcasts. WDW Today is where I learned about TouringPlans. I knew of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World but always felt that I already knew everything about Disney. After a trip in 2010 with TouringPlans installed on my phone, I was blown away by how well it worked. I contacted Len Testa and told him my background. I told him I was a statistician and had some ideas for the website. My early volunteering evolved into working for TouringPlans.
I enjoy planning. I’m the one who does all the research and makes the arrangements for all our family’s trips. I enjoy spending hours researching and finding the best deals. I never wanted to wait on getting a response from a travel agent. I would rather try all the different scenarios on my own. Even understanding that a travel agent’s services are free and the other benefits of using a travel agent, I was not interested. I just did not want to give up the control. I expect many TouringPlans users are in the same boat.
One thing I learned about travel agents once TouringPlans started offering Travel Agent services is that I could have the best of both worlds. I can do all the planning and research on my own, book the trip on the Disney website, and then transfer the booking to a Travel Agency within 30 days of having only placed a deposit. Once the reservation is transferred, a travel agent will keep track of the trip and make sure I have the best price. If I need to make a change, working with a travel agent is easier than having to call Disney directly. They can team up with me to help look for price reductions, offer suggestions I might not have considered, and many offer a small gift as a thank you for booking with them. And when I decide to travel outside Walt Disney World, they are there to help me. If anything we have learned from COVID is that having a Travel Agent to help navigate through all the changes and cancellations will save you time and headaches.
A travel agent can be as involved or as hands-off as you would like them to be in the planning process. Having someone who can help when you need it is better than having to scramble to figure things out on your own on the fly. Because travel agents provide their services at no cost to you, there isn’t a downside to using their services — and it can save you a lot of headaches should you need the extra help.