Last Updated on May 17, 2022
Disney’s Earmarked Program. What is an authorized Disney vacation planner? How does it work for you?
Disney Travel agents are the best resource as they are professionals that know the ins and outs of booking and planning a Disney vacation.
Disney is their focus and their services are free!
Disney has recognized agencies for their success and professionalism. As such, Disney has designated the agency as both a Gold Level Producer and an Earmarked Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. These designations are only awarded to the top Disney travel agencies in the country.
A large portion of Disney travel internet advice comes with the added verbiage – “only work with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.” But what is an authorized Disney vacation planner? How does the agency get this ranking and what does it mean if an agency isn’t Earmarked by Disney?
Today we take a deep-diving into the world back-end of Travel Planning politics and break down exactly what all of these programs mean for you and the agency you have hired to plan your vacation.
What is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner?
Disney’s Earmarked Travel Agencies
Disney’s EARMARKED Program is reserved for those agencies that have met Disney’s strict requirements, have demonstrated a high level of sales, and maintain proficiency in Disney curated destination training.
Disney has recognized the agency’s success and professionalism. As such, Disney has designated the agency as an Earmarked Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.
Levels of Recognition
There are four levels of recognition in Disney’s EARMARKED Program:
- Gold and
Each Recognition Level provides increased opportunities for business development consultations.
Do other Travel Agencies sell Disney vacations?
All travel agencies with IATA credentials can apply to the Disney Travel Agent system to sell Disney vacations.
To be clear, maintaining proficiency in Disney curated destination training is also a requirement for any Travel Agent or Agency wishing to sell Disney vacations. You do not require Disney's Earmarked status to sell Disney vacations.
An Agency that is not Earmarked is NOT selling Disney illegally.
Travel sales are also a big part of a travel agency’s general license renewal requirements, in any province or state. If an agency is not laser-focused on Disney destination sales, this could be the only reason they are not Earmarked.
Authorized Disney Vacation Planner VS. General Travel Agencies
Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are often Disney fans who exclusively plan Disney travel. And, because they are passionate about Disney, they actually know a lot about Disney.
Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are very effective thanks to providing services and answers to increasingly complex Disney itineraries. Passionate fans are just what one needs for tackling Disney planning. They do it all, from ADR to FastPass selection. They also monitor for new eligible discounts and promotions. And book dining at 7 am.
General Travel Agencies
General Travel Agencies will book you an amazing holiday, and make any changes to your reservation should you need them, but that’s where their services usually end. You are in charge of your touring plan, ADR, and FP+ reservations in the MDE system.
Disney College of Disney Knowledge
In order to sell Disney vacations, all agents are required to complete Disney College of Disney Knowledge training. The College of Disney Knowledge is an in-depth comprehensive course that allows agents to develop their expertise regarding Disney Destinations – knowledge that consumers can take advantage of when planning a Disney vacation.
That’s it. Every licensed Travel Agency in the world has equal access to the College of Disney Knowledge and this is the only requirement to access Disney’s exclusive booking system.
Whether they have 20 agents or 2, earn 1 million dollars a year in commissions or just enough to pay the mortgage, every agency that wants to sell Disney vacations needs to complete Disney’s mandatory training material.
This College of Disney Knowledge is very detailed but with the sheer amount of activities available you really need someone with a passion for the fine details. A Disney fan.
How agencies become Authorized Disney Vacation Planners
Being an Earmarked Travel Agency simply means that Disney has recognized that agency for producing over a certain amount of dollar volume in sales over a given period of time. Disney doesn’t publish what this volume is, but they will reach out to the Agency and invite them to be Earmarked.
Therein lies the confusion to the general public.
These agencies were amazing at their job before being Earmarked, hence they were recognized for their efforts and rewarded with the Earmarked status in the first place. To say that Disney guests should never use an agency that isn’t part of the Earmarked program seems a little disingenuous.
After all, an agency is only the sum of its parts. If an Agency owner is lucky enough to have 20-30 agents under their wings, it will be that much easier and faster to hit Disney’s monetary benchmark vs a small travel agency. Either way, you will be working with a single person, and your experience with that agency solely depends on the experience level of that agent, regardless of how much the agency as a whole earned last quarter.
If you really want to make sure you are working with a good travel agent, with all the education, information, and expertise that you need as a first-timer, consider asking them these questions;
- Are they a College of Disney Knowledge graduate or a consultant?
- When was the last time they visited a Disney property?
- When was the last time they visited the Disney property you are looking to book?
- Can they be both a professional champion of the destination and also able to articulate the realities of travel and special requests?
The difference between an “authorized” (Earmarked) Disney vacation planning agency and any other professional agency is the volume of sales that the agency produces for Disney.hkluxurytravel
Why use a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney?
There are many reasons why my parents have been visiting the same general travel agent for the last 10 years to book their vacations down south. Sure, they could just as easily do it themselves, it is 2021 after all and they are more than capable of using the internet, and yet they still use their beloved Samantha to make all of their holiday arrangements.
The same is true for Disney vacations. Be it your first time or 100th time, there is always a reason why using a Travel Agent is the best.
- Offer the chance to build a rapport with the SAME person, trip after trip.
- One-stop for all things Disney: rooms, tickets, dining, cruises, ground transportation, VIP services and much more!
- Specialize in Disney vacations, so we spend our time researching everything there is to know about the parks, resorts, cruises, beach resorts, and Adventures by Disney.
- Help you with All Disney destinations.
- Wake up at 6 AM (or earlier) to make dining and FastPass reservations so you don’t have to!
- Keep track of all your important dates.
- Paid commission straight from Disney so there is no extra cost to you.
At the end of the day, I have nothing but great things to say about using a Disney Travel Agent.
Everything is based on a simple rule: Quality is the best business plan, period.Steve Jobs
Authority Bias to the Agency
The distinction of being named an “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” brings a certain level of Authority Bias to the agency. Why would I use just any agency when I can use an Authorized Agency?
Authority bias is the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion.Wikipedia
In short, we want all potential guests to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and any other Disney property for that matter, to use a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney vacation planning. Earmarked or not, they must first and foremost be knowledgeable in the destination and competent enough to communicate that knowledge with clients and Disney representatives.
Earmarked status demonstrates the collective work of all employees involved.
Disney travel tip: first-timers are encouraged to use a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations.
Mouse Travel Matters is not a travel agency it is a Disney-focused blog by fans for fans, if that ever changed we would tell you.
Who are the stars of the EarMarked Disney travel agent space?
Share your experience.
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