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Old July 17th, 2010, 11:55 AM
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Default Will Travel Agents Become a Thing of the Past

With Carnival now adopting a "No Discount/Rebate" policy, that is similar to Royal Caribbean's and NCL's and increasing their number of Personal Vacation Planners do you think that TA's will become a thing of the past? Will cruise lines sell their own product and pocket the commissions?

I personally believe that there will still be agents who sell cruises but there will be more agents charging booking and cancellation fees and the "concierge agents", who provide full vacation planning services for a fee, will become more prevalent.

What are your thoughts?

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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In NYC in the 70's through the 90's there were many travel agents in storefronts .Today its rare to find one . My small town ,pop.25,000 had 3 TA storefront when I moved here 7 years ago ,only one remains .My feeling is that within 10 years there may not be any . Most of my friends book either on line or with a hotel/cruiseline directly .
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Old July 17th, 2010, 10:43 PM
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I think that T.A.'s , especially those who specialize in cruising, or most any other specialties, will be a thing of the past in a few more years.
I think with the inter-net that more and more people will deal directly with the cruise lines or will deal directly over the internet with people who may call themselves T.A.'s but basically the hand writing is on the wall for the average T.A.
Those who can and do handle the longer trips aboard the luxury lines,who can and do book air, excursions, extra days with hotel arrangements, cars for you, etc. will hang on longer because of the type clientele they deal with-- but the T.A.'s who handle the 4-5- or 7 day cruises for the average Joe will be a thing of the past before too long.
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Old July 17th, 2010, 11:15 PM
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A few points. First, just because a travel agency store front closes down, doesn't mean they have shut down. Because a vast majority of travel agent contacts are made by phone, email and internet, there is little need for a walk in store front agency anymore. Most of these closed store front agencies just became home based to lower the overhead. Second, not many travel agencies do cruises as their primary business. In my agency, cruises make up about 25% of our business. Third, most of our cruise clients are not price shoppers. I know a lot of the members of this board may be big price shoppers, but a vast majority of our clients are looking for full service cruise planning. Because of our location in the Chicago area, we need to provide air, cruise, pre and post cruise stays. We do not charge any fees except for air tickets.

Travel Agents are not going anywhere. RCI and NCL have had no rebating policy for years and we still sell plenty of RCI and NCL in addition to Carnival. If a no rebating of commissions meant travel agents wouldn't be able to sell cruises anymore, we would've stopped selling RCI and NCL years ago. Cruisers still will use TAs, we still provide a valuable service to our clients and we are always their advocates and problem fixers when things may go wrong.

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Old July 18th, 2010, 05:46 AM
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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.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
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.
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Old July 18th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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I don't think that TA's will be a thing of the past.
In British Columbia we have a "Travel Assurance Fund" that all TA's belong to. If a supplier IE: Airline terminates service , this fund pays fhe cost
of returning people back to BC .
Cruise Lines and other outside of BC companies don't have this kind
of plan or protection.

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Old July 20th, 2010, 11:26 AM
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You will always have people who are too lazy to do the leg work for a vacation. They are the ones who will always use travel agents; cruises, airlines, vacation resorts, Disney, etc. I laugh when I see people at the airport who have paper tickets issued by a travel agent. I believe these cost around $15 extra. that is why travel agents will decrease in numbers around the world; but won't go out of business.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Well, I am not an expert as we have only cruised twice so far. Both times we were included in a group of 40-50. Families and friends, but not all connected. We used a long-time TA of one in the group.
The TA made sure we were all along the same corridors, same dining time, and all grouped in the same area during dining. Same hotel, same flights, same shuttles.
Not sure how, as individuals, would have coordinated all this???? Thanks to this very special TA, who via email, took care of everything. It is a shame she is now retired.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 09:56 AM
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I'm a research nut so I book everything myself. I'm not normal in this regard. I did the planning for myself, my hubby, my sis, my nephew, my mom and my dad to do a 14 transaltantic cruise. I did join a Cruisemates group cruise so Nancy (a wonderful TA) handled the cruise part. I handled everything else flights to florida, flights back from Italy, train from Rome to Venice, Skip the line tour of the Vatican, shuttle from port to Rome, and affordable hotels in Miami, Rome, and Venice. It was a lot of work. Had I not been the type of person that likes research I would have used a Travel Agent. I think Travel Agents will conutine however the focus and clients may change to the more complex cruises like River cruise etc.
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