Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1
If the travel agents disappeared, the cruise lines would be forced to invest millions in additional call centers, equipment, and staff to handle all the traffic that the TAs currently handle for them.
We discuss this issue frequently "in the industry" and all agree that we do not want to even get near this hot potato.
When the auto companies stop using dealerships to sell autos, the cruise lines will stop using TAs to sell cruises.
I don't believe travel agents will become a extinct. However, with various changes in policies, I do believe that the percentage of cruise business coming from travel agents will drop dramatically.
It's not all the cruise lines fault, that's for sure. It became way too easy for anyone with $400 - $1000 to pay up and suddenly become a home based "independant" travel agent. This drew way too many hobbyists into the business, and left way too many professional travel agents scratching their heads, and scraping for business.
I also don't believe for a minute that the cruise lines don't want to increase the % of people who book direct. They demonstrate it quite clearly with things like follow up phone calls from their sales teams to people who simply register on their web sites.
The blog I wrote several weeks ago the PVP who called me to lie and say they could get deals travel agents privy too, shows the aggressive campaign by the cruise lines to expand that business which bypasses travel agents.
--- that call originated from a call center in Denver btw.
If you book with a travel agent, then call the cruise line... you're told "We can't talk to you, because you're booked with a travel agent".
What's wrong with answering people's questions when they call no matter where they are booked? If the result of the call was a request for some sort of change to the booking, the caller could then be told they'd have pursue that with their travel agent.
How many people hear "We can't talk to you....", and are scared off, because they think something is wrong, and they don't have control of their booking any more. We see that on the message boards all the time, when these topics are discussed.
Any travel agents who believe that the cruise lines desire is to simply make it better for the travel agent industry is wearing blinders. I think there's little doubt their hoping the byproduct will be an increase in people saying to themselves - I may as well do this all in one place.. the cruise line. I don't need a middleman.