Nothing drums up interest for a destination or a product like new features or additions, and Disney has a number of them coming online soon, meaning opportunity abounds for agents.
For instance, Toy Story Land opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando this summer. In Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Paradise Pier will be transformed into Pixar Pier.
"We have a lot of exciting things coming, and I think that's the cool thing about Disney — it never stops," said Claire Bilby, senior vice president of sales, services and events for Disney Destinations. "We always have things we keep bringing back, which gives the agents even more reasons to sell."
Agents have already reported increases in inquiries and bookings from their clients. Some have even been fielding requests about the Star Wars-themed hotel in Orlando that was announced last year, which doesn't even have an opening date yet.
Last week, Disney held an event in New York highlighting some of its new experiences, part of a series of similar events around the country. I asked some specialists in attendance for their best advice on successfully selling Disney products. I also went straight to the source in Bilby.
For the basics, Bilby said, agents should start at Disney's travel agent website, disneytravelagents.com. There they can find the College of Disney Knowledge, an "extensive" look at the portfolio of offerings the company has.
She also encouraged agents to look to Disney's inside and field sales teams for assistance. Beyond that, actually experiencing Disney's products is the best choice. Then, they can share firsthand knowledge with their clients.
"Once they've done that and they've experienced it, I'm not worried about them selling it," Bilby said. "They're going to sell it."
Lisa Wagner, owner of Denville Travel Company in Denville, N.J., has been selling Disney products for over 20 years.
"I highly recommend that if they're not selling Disney, they consider it," Wagner said of fellow agents.
The company's portfolio of products — from its theme parks to the Disney Cruise Line to Adventures by Disney — includes a wide range of offerings for clients, Wagner said. And if clients have experienced one Disney product, it's a natural fit to suggest another.
"It's a constantly changing market that you really have to dive into, because it really has a lot to offer people," Wagner said.
In particular, Disney products appeal to multigenerational travelers, she said.
Marissa Scannapieco, owner of Pixie Mouse Travel Agency in Saint James, N.Y., said knowing the product and your client are key.
"You have to visit the parks," she said. "You have to know the product."
Then, combine that knowledge with your knowledge of your client to maneuver them to the right Disney product.
"Disneyland is much different than Disney World, and those two are much different than the cruise line," she said. "Then you have Adventures by Disney. Learn. Study. Go. Do. You have to know the stuff in order to sell it, because they are all so different."