Kari Bonnes never planned to be a travel agent, but she was a big fan of Disney.
Every year, she and her husband saved to take their children to Walt Disney World. Knowing she was such an expert, friends regularly went to her for advice, and she would help them find the best deals and make the most of their trips.
So when she was faced with a difficult separation and worried about how to make an income, it occurred to her that she could put all of her expertise to work.
She joined a general travel agency helping others, but after two years, she realized she could do more on her own. And now she’s hiring other Disney fans to work from home as travel agents.
Marvelous Mouse Travels
In 2014, Bonnes decided to become an entrepreneur and launched Marvelous Mouse Travels, a full-service travel agency specializing in Disney vacations, though it also organizes trips to Universal Studios and Sandals resort.
While she started off working alone, after just two years in business, Marvelous Mouse Travels now includes 100 part-time travel agents.
While Marvelous Mouse Travels is based in North Carolina, the agents work from all over the country as remote independent contractors, and the company uses a different business model than other agencies.
“Our service is free to customers,” said Bonnes. “We get paid directly by Disney through a unique partnership. Our expert knowledge of hotels, shows, rides and meal plans help[s] create magical trips for customers while staying with their budgets.”
Bonnes emphasizes the unique offerings her agents offer clients.
“We operate as a family,” said Bonnes. “That trickles down to customers. If, after a customer has booked a trip, a new promotion opens up, we are on the phones right away to change their reservations to save them money. That proactivity is what sets us apart.”
The strategy is clearly working. Last year, Bonnes said, the agency made six figures in profit, and she’s looking to hire more remote travel agents to be part of the team.
How Much Can You Make as a Remote Disney Travel Agent?
When it comes to earning potential, Bonnes stresses that income is entirely dependent on the individual agent’s dedication.
“I offer generous commissions to my agents plus referral bonuses,” said Bonnes. “I have some agents who make $35,000-40,000 a year, working part time. But I also have others who just book a trip here and there and bring in some side income.”
Agent Nicole Scott says working with Marvelous Mouse Travels is a lucrative side business.
“I found Marvelous Mouse Travels when I booked a trip for myself with Kari,” said Scott. “I loved planning trips to Disney for myself and friends, so I figured what could be better than getting paid for it? I love to travel, so planning trips for others is a bunch of fun for me.”
Scott works an average of about five hours a week and makes approximately $1,000 per month, meaning she makes about $50 an hour working from her home. All she needs is a computer, internet access and a cell phone.
“The best part of my job is planning vacations and making dreams come true for families,” said Scott. “I love doing this, and it is great that I can stay home and make some extra money.”
How Do You Become a Disney Travel Agent?
When looking for new agents, Bonnes looks for organized, driven and self-motivated people who are passionate about Disney.
It is essential they know the park’s ins and outs, and, because Disney is always changing and updating its theme parks, it is critical that agents be up to date on the latest developments.
The hiring process also includes screening on social media to ensure agents can represent the company well and can be ambassadors for both Marvelous Mouse Travels and Disney.
“My agents all go through Disney’s College of Knowledge training program, said Bonnes. “From helping customers navigate the new smartphone app to secure FastPasses to linking Magic Bands, we offer comprehensive services to help streamline travelers’ visits.”
Bonnes said she is always looking for new agents, though she does caution that the hiring process can take a while as she screens candidates and they go through Disney’s training.
Successful applicants will pay a $250 startup fee, which covers their addition to the company’s errors and omissions insurance, an insurance policy rider, and the creation of their new profile and email account on the company website.
Interested candidates can apply through the Marvelous Mouse Travels website.
Your Turn: Have you turned your love of travel into a side hustle or business? We’d love to hear your story!
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando. Her work has appeared in outlets like The Huffington Post, Forbes, Business Insider, Time Magazine and more. Follow her @Felix_the_katt on Twitter and say hello.
This article has been updated with information about the startup fee for new agents.