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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Avoiding the "grunt work"

Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, Disney announced a new series of big discounts and incentives for the fall and winter seasons. Since the new offers came out, people have been booking (and re-booking) like crazy. The result is a slower Disney Web site and tied up phone lines.

To be honest, the task of booking a trip and making ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) can be a real hassle. It takes a while to go through all the steps required to book a trip and then there's always the chance that Disney will announce a new, even better offer - one you might not be aware of.

So how can you avoid the grunt work of booking while also ensuring you are getting the very best deal, even if that means re-booking your trip after a new discount is announced?

That's pretty easy -- use a Disney specialized travel agent!

I know, I know. You may be thinking that a travel agent just adds more cost to the trip and you can book it cheaper directly through Disney. Well, that's not the case, especially if you use a no-fee travel agency.

What do I mean by no-fee agency? A no-fee travel agency doesn't charge their clients any fees for using their services. No agency charges for the initial booking, no agency charges for any re-bookings, no agency charges for making ADRs, even no agency charges for planning advice!

So how do these agencies make their money? Disney pays commission on every booking. If you book through a travel agency, that commission goes to the agency. If you book directly through Disney, that commission goes back to Disney. The rate a travel agent can quote will be at least as low as Disney posts online and often times will be better because the agent can take advantage of a discount or other offer you might not be aware of.

It's important to remember that not all travel agents and agencies are no-fee, so you have to do your homework. You'll want to go with an agency that is licensed, bonded, insured and is trusted in the travel industry. There are quite a few fly-by-night agents out there, so you want to make sure you're working with someone you can trust and who knows Disney.

So how do you know who to use? I recommend looking for an agent or agency that is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. These are agents and agencies who are specially identified by Disney as the top Disney vacation planners and so may call themselves "Authorized Disney Vacation Planners" and use the logo shown above. In short, these are the agents and agencies who are the cream of the Disney crop. If you book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you know you are working with someone who knows Disney inside and out.

But getting back to why using a travel agent or agency is so helpful, let me give you some real-world examples. Earlier this week I was talking with Beci Mahnken from MouseFanTravel, who told me that she was spending literally hours and hours on the phone (while on vacation, I might add) booking trips for various clients. Beci wasn't the only one. My own personal MouseFanTravel agent (yes, I personally use and highly recommend MouseFanTravel), Vicki Damanti, worked for a solid 18+ hours making bookings (including for me - thanks Vicki!!), and then was up early and at it again the next day for another 18+ hours. It's a safe bet that many, many other Authorized Disney Vacation Specialists were up for many hours.

Why all this time? As I mentioned at the top of this post, Disney announced some pretty major discounts/incentives this week. As a result, there have been a lot of new bookings, but also a lot of RE-bookings. While a new booking doesn't typically take all that long, a re-booking is a completely different matter. Vicki told me she has spent anywhere from 30 minutes to upwards of two hours on hold with Disney to re-book for a client to take advantage of the new discounts.

Let's stop and think about this for a minute. Let's say about a month ago, you booked a Walt Disney World vacation at the Contemporary Resort for this December directly through Disney. At the time there were no real significant discounts available. Then, this week, you hear about the new major discounts, including a 40% off room-only discount for certain deluxe resorts including the Contemporary, or a $500 gift card offer or free dining. You realize you could save hundreds on your upcoming trip and decide to call Disney to re-book your package. Well, you're not alone as thousands of other people are doing the same thing. This means a lot of hold time. You would end up spending hours on hold waiting to speak to a Disney representative to re-book your trip. That's a lot of time you could spend doing other things. Wouldn't it be nice if someone else could handle all that grunt work? If you used an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you wouldn't have to do a thing! They will take care of all the grunt work for you.

Best of all, you shouldn't even have to ask. Again, I'll use a personal example: When I first booked my Disney trip for June 2010 at the Beach Club, the Annual Pass discounts had not been announced. Before I even knew the new AP discount had been announced, I got a call from my MouseFanTravel agent Vicki Damanti telling me she had re-booked my trip and saved me about $200.

A good Disney-specialized travel agency will take care of all those details for you and it doesn't cost a cent to you. So why NOT use a Disney-specialized travel agency? You have nothing to lose and everything to save.

Disclosure notice: in no way have I been compensated by MouseFanTravel or any other agency for the opinions expressed in this post.

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