Originally Posted by cruise planner
That's not what Brad is saying. No where did he mention anything about recommending any cruise line because of commission. The only thing he said about commission was to say cruise lines do not pay commission until after the cruise. (BTW, this is not necessarily true for all cruise lines.)
And, quite frankly, everyone is exactly the same way. If you are constantly encountering problems with a company, do you recommend them to your family and friends? Of course not. So, in effect, you're showing your bias based on your own personal tastes and prejudices. Just because you had a bad problem with them does not necessarily mean others will. It's only human nature for people to want to warn others about a particular company because of their personal experiences. The same can be said about any profession, whether it be a travel agent, auto mechanic, dentist, accountant, etc. And that's all that Brad was talking about. In fact, he said he was simply cautious about recommending a company that he had encountered several problems with. He never said anything about not recommending them.
You're only talking about your experiences with NCL. Travel agents have experiences with all the cruise lines and it's only natural for them to compare the companies against each other and how well they treat not only the travel agents, but their clients as well. If I have a company where my clients are always encountering problems, I have a duty to my clients to let them know about those problems so they have all the facts and can make appropriate decisions.
Professionally, I've never had any major problems with NCL, but I've had several with Carnival. Personally, I've never had any problems when cruising on NCL, but have had some when cruising Carnival. So does that mean I should advise my clients accordingly?
Finding a good travel agent is like finding a good cruise line; what one person finds great, another will not be happy with. I have many clients who absolutely love Carnival and won't sail on any other cruise line, while other clients hate Carnival with a passion.
My professional opinion is that a good travel agent should not be recommending anything. I don't consider that a part of my job. As a professional travel agent, I feel it's my job to give as much information as a client can handle so they can make the best decision on what's right for them based on their requirements, lifestyle, and budget.
When anyone, not just travel agents, 'recommends', they are in fact trying to persuade or guide a person towards a decision.
Sometimes it's very difficult not to want to recommend. I have people all the time asking me for recommendations and my answer is always the same, "It's not my job to recommend anything, because what I like you may not necessarily like and vice versa. It's my job to give you information so you can make an informed decision on what's right for you."
That's part of the fun of cruising - trying all of the cruise lines until you find the best one for you. We've been on 47 cruises on 11 cruise lines and can't wait to try the next one on the list.
There's nothing wrong with booking directly with the cruise line. If you don't have any problems, then everything goes according to plan. But people need to be aware that if problems do arise, the cruise line is going to represent themselves and not the passenger. However, if you book with a reputable agent, they represent you and should you have any problems, it's their job to take care of it so you don't have to hassle with it. Besides, they have contacts available to them that are not available to you and can make it so much easier for you.
As for you hearing from "plenty of people say that they have had problems once onboard because the OBC promised by the TA did not show up", I've been involved in travel for over 25 years before starting my own company 12 years ago and have over 2900 clients around the world, and I've only had a few problems with someone not getting their onboard credit and it was the fault of the cruise line in every instance. So I have to wonder if those 'plenty of people' were all on the same cruise line.
Hi, cruise planner. You sound as though you would be a good and impartial TA. And it would be great to have a knowledgeable and impartial one that was looking out for me first, instead of what's best for himself, but I have yet to run across one. I probably do way more research than most cruisers and honestly, have been given a great deal of misinformation by TAs. I even had one who refused to book me and husband into a cabin with a max capacity of 4 as it was "against the rules". I booked with the cruise line instead.
Perhaps I was reading too much between the lines, but the statement "Because of this" ( apparently the fact that he was disgruntled about the TA tour issue ) I am very cautious about recommending NCL to my clients and I only promote them when they are the best option for my intended promotion.". In other words, when they are the only game in town, such as with the POA in Hawaii. His statement "You should see how NCL treats their travel agents" tells me he has a bias which has nothing to do with the actual cruise experience a person might have and that this bias does affect the information he gives his customers. How any cruise line treats it's TA business partners is immaterial to me as a cruiser, as is how much commission they get paid, and when they get paid it. I can understand taking into consideration a client's related experiences on a given cruise, although if you have ever read many cruise reviews posted on websites, it is obvious that the complaints of many of them amount to very little, "there was only 1 free place to eat" when actually there were 4 or 5, so even those should be taken with a big grain of salt. As with the complaint of the poster who started this thread, things just don't add up, yet a negative impression may be left with those who take it at face value.
I am a big advocate of doing your own research before you call the cruise line or TA. No one knows your likes and dislikes better than yourself. I already know what ship, what the scoop is on the ship, inside tips, what cabins to avoid, and specifically what category and cabin I want when I call and have already gotten quotes from TAs and the cruise line. Most of the negative reviews I see could have been avoided if the cruiser had just done a little research first.
As far as a TA being your advocate for the cruise line versus booking with the line direct, I have never had a TA refuse to call the cruise line to inquire about price drops, upgrades, etc., BUT, I've never had one INITIATE the call without me calling them first. I HAVE had NCL cruise consultants call ME to let me know about promotions, etc and get a better deal for me, and when I call them, I am usually happy with the outcome. Perhaps there are TAs out there who would do this, but I have never found one.
And just let me inject here since there was an insinuation, not by you, that NCL tries to "steal" the bookings of TAs. While a cruiser may get a random telemarketing call or even an email from an NCL call center, for the purpose of informing about cruise specials, etc with the hope of booking your NEXT cruise, they are not plotting to hijack the booking. When cruisers booked with a TA call the 800# for NCL, if it is anything related to their currently booked cruise, beyond booking a tour or something of that nature, the first question they are asked is "did you book with us direct or through a travel agent?". If the response is TA, they will be immediately informed that they must call their TA to handle the request. Their policy, and I assumed, the policy of all cruise lines, is not to talk to cruisers who are booked with TAs. Understandable, as the TA is the one getting a commission to handle these requests, and probably also to avoid the appearance of anything unethical leading to complaints of hijacked bookings. I get plenty of emails from TAs while I am already booked elsewhere, but I never assume they are trying to convince me to move my booking.
Sorry if I came off as negative toward TAs, but I was just really rubbed the wrong way, and why a "professional" TA would talk like this on a public forum is beyond me. Save those posts for a TA forum somewhere. Glad to see there are some good TAs out there, and I hope there are many more like you.