Carnival Responds To “The Deceitful PVP” Blog
Written by: Kuki
Who would have ever thought that within two days of my last Blog about “Deceit in a phone call from my Carnival Personal Vacation Planner” a story about much more nefarious activities; breaking into client’s homes to rob them, by a Royal Caribbean Vacation Planner, would dominate the cruise news.
No doubt most everyone would agree the situation of Royal Caribbean’s Vacation Planner breaking into the homes of customers who she knew would be away, is totally incidental, and not likely to be repeated.
In light of that story, a story about a simple lie being told via phone call by a Carnival Vacation Planner might seem rather trivial. But to Carnival it was not!
The day after I told the story in my blog I was contacted by representatives from Carnival Cruise Line. They wanted to discuss the situation I described, and to discuss Carnival’s official policy in regard to what their Personal Vacation Planners are supposed to, or are allowed to do, in contacting potential customers.
My initial contact was a phone call from Justin French, Carnival’s Managing Director, Sales and Marketing, Canada. As I reside in Canada, I suppose I came under Justin’s auspices.
Justin French explained to me that the actions I described were contrary to all Carnival’s policies and training received by the people hired for the position of Personal Vacation Planner. He expressed what I believed to be a sincere desire to correct the situation, and to offer me a complete description of how, why, and when Carnival PVPs contact potential customers.
He explained; “When someone first visit’s the Carnival web site, and chooses to register there is a spot where they are asked to note if they are working with a Travel Agent. If they note they are working with a Travel Agent they should never be contacted by a PVP.
Frankly, it’s been so long since I registered on the Carnival web site, I can’t recall if I checked that, or not.
At any rate, Justin went on to explain “If one doesn’t note they are using a Travel Agent, after their first visit to the web site, they will not be contacted by a PVP. However, if you visit the web site a second time, it is very likely that you will be contacted directly by a Carnival PVP”.
When and if you are contacted by a PVP, if you tell them you are working with a travel agent, they are fully expected to thank you, and end their conversation with you.
So that’s what is “supposed to happen”. Justin admitted on occasion some overly excited and overly aggressive PVPs overstep and forget their training. When those incidents become known, the PVP is reprimanded, and repeated actions does lead to termination of their employment.
I was told that the PVP who contacted me was relatively new to the position, and as a result of her actions in our exchange she would be receiving “additional coaching”. ( I hope that doesn’t translate to water boarding).
Justin went on to explain that Carnival’s goal in making these direct contacts is “most certainly not to compete with their Travel Agent Partners, but to build incremental business”.
The next day I was contacted by Tim Gallagher of Carnival’s Public Relations Department. I’ve met Tim before and have found him to be warm and personable, and of course because of a more personal relationship, would like to believe him. Tim reiterated much of what Justin had said. And he wanted to assure me that Carnival takes the issue I raised very seriously. He repeated the phrase I heard from Justin French, telling me “my PVP” would be receiving “additional coaching”.
The “cruise enthusiast” in makes me want to believe that these incidents are anecdotal, and not a result of instruction the sales agents receive in their training.
The cynic in me tells me that this is all “corporate speak”, and that though the cruise lines, not just Carnival, don’t “officially” condone such actions by those who are actually hired to sell cruise directly to customers, they quite likely like the aggressive pursuit of direct sales.
With the additional information gathered from comments in response to last week’s Blog, on the Blog, and on the CruiseMates message boards, it seems that incidents such as this aren’t limited to Carnival cruise line; as others reported similar contacts by sales agents from NCL as well as Royal Caribbean.
As someone who ardently recommends the use of professional Cruise Travel Agents as the best means of receiving accurate information about cruises, with the best chance of getting the lowest available price, combined with possible extra perks, I am still somewhat concerned that the less informed cruise shoppers are receiving misinformation from cruise lines staff whose job is to sell their employer’s cruises.
I’d still like to hear from more people about their experiences with the cruise line’s Vacation Planners. Were you told that they can offer pricing Travel Agents don’t have access to? Or, did you find the information supplied to you, simple and direct?
It should be noted that Carnival Cruise Line does allow those who make their initial booking directly through a Carnival PVP to later transfer that booking to a Travel Agent.
At the very least I do recommend cruisers do that. You could very likely save some money on the initial price you booked at, or receive an added amenity from the Travel Agent. And… if something happens to go wrong during your cruise you have a Travel Agent to work for your interests to get satisfactory resolution to your issues, rather than a cruise line employee, who is much more likely to work for the interests of their employer.
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Posted: June 15th, 2010 under Paul Motter.