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Old October 15th, 2012, 03:26 PM
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Default Cruise Lines Fight Agent Discounts

Cruise Lines Fight Agent Discounts
by Paul Motter


But the buyer will benefit with more clarity in cruise pricing

10.16.12


Some agents play fast and loose with cruise pricing policy

There is a little secret in cruise buying that doesn't get a lot of attention - but the cruise lines see it as a very serious problem. It is certain cruise agents exploiting any loophole possible to offer discounts to customers in order to sell more cruises. This practice is generally called "rebating."


All of the cruise lines attempted to enforce flat pricing policies years ago to end "rebating" once and for all - but some cruise agencies continued to find ways to rebate despite the cruise line policies and the protestations of their cruise agency colleagues.

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Old October 15th, 2012, 04:42 PM
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There is a misconception in the first part of the story.

First, if a cruise is selling for $1000 (plus tax), the agent's commission is not based on the $1000.

That $1000 price is actually the total of two different fares; the cruise fare and the non-commissionable fare (NCF's or port fees as they're often called). The agent's commission is based solely on the cruise fare.

So, for argument sake, let's say the NCF's are $150. In this scenario, the cruise fare would then be $850 and the commission on that would be $127.50 - provided the agent's commission rate is actually 15%.

Couple of notes about this; first, if you book this cruise with the cruise line or a large online site, they get to keep the $127.50 and basically provide no services because, as you stated, the client is talking to someone who works in a call center. They are not a certified travel agent, have never been on a cruise, and have not visited any of the ports, so their knowledge is non-existent and they cannot assist with any questions. Their sole purpose is to sell.

If you book it with an agent, they get to keep the $127.50, but they provide personal services and represent you should you have any problems. Their services are free (most of the time) and their expertise can be invaluable. They can answer all of your questions and assist in every part of your vacation.

In other words, you're paying the same, but you get much more for your money by using an agent.

As Warren Buffet says, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

I like to paraphrase that when talking about using an agent and say, "Price is what you pay. Value & service is what you get."

As for the amount of commission, in this scenario we're using 15%. However, that is not the commission rate for all agents all the time. All of the major mass-market cruise lines start the commission rate at 10%. Then, as an agent sells more for that cruise line, their commission percentage increases up to the maximum, which in this case, is 15%. But in order to get to that point, they have to sell alot of cruises. Some cruise lines use the number of cabins sold, while other use a dollar amount - keeping in mind that the dollar amount used for this purpose does not include taxes or port fees. In many instances, especially for the smaller agencies, they never get to the maximum commission. Plus, their commission amounts start anew each year!!

For example, if each cruise line required an agency to sell $400,000 in cruises in order to make the 15% commission, they would have to sell that much for each cruise line. And if they only sold the big 6 (RCCL, Carnival, Princess, Holland, Celebrity, and NCL), that means they would have to sell $2.4million in cruises each year to make the maximum commission for all of these. Since the overwhelming majority of agencies have less than $400,000 in total sales every year, they rarely get to the maximum commission rate with any of the cruise lines. (This is also why some agencies will specialize in certain cruise lines or try to 'push' clients towards one cruise line over another.)

So, in the scenario above, the average agent is only going to make about $85 commission on that $1000 cruise.

Everyone has the misconception that agents make alot of money. We don't. And the one thing that really irritates me the most as an agent is that people automatically expect us to give them some type of 'rebate' in the form of onboard credit, free travel insurance, free gratuities, or gifts. In the scenario above, if an agent gave the client a $50 onboard credit, they are literally giving away 59% of their income. No one expects any other professional service-type people to do this (realtors, accountants, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, etc, etc.) So why do they think the average agent can afford to give away more than half of their salary?

This is where the discounters come into play. They rely on quantity. If they sell 1000 cruises and only make $50 each, they're happy with that. They're betting people will book through the computer, which requires no human interaction at all. The problem is, if you ever need help, they're either no where to be found or unable to help you at all. So, as I always say, they deal in quantity, not quality. Personally, I'd rather deal in quality and not quantity. And if I lose a few clients to an online site who is selling the same cruise for $50 less just to make a sale and not to provide any service, there's not much I can do about that except to continue to provide good service to those clients who appreciate the value. Besides, sometimes when the price goes down, those online sites will charge a fee to reduce your rate, whereas a good agent won't do that. So in the end, you could end up paying a higher price by not working with a good agent.

Luckily, the cruise lines are realizing how the discounters hurt everyone. When a client has a problem with an online site and can't get any help, they call the cruise line. The cruise line can't help them because they're working with an agent. Needless to say, this causes frustrations and problems for everyone, not to mention the fact they have to hire more people to deal with all these problems and this causes higher fares.

Didn't mean to provide a dissertation on the subject, but it's definitely one of those misunderstood areas in the industry.

Pete
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Old October 15th, 2012, 11:31 PM
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Interesting discussion from Paul & Pete.

Pete, do the commissions go straight from 10% to 15% or is there a level at 11%, 12%, 13% & 14%? should be, if not.

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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by OldFartCruiser View Post
Interesting discussion from Paul & Pete.

Pete, do the commissions go straight from 10% to 15% or is there a level at 11%, 12%, 13% & 14%? should be, if not.

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Commissions go up in increments based on total sales with that particular cruise line, so they can be anywhere from 10% to 15%.

This is why sometimes you may find agents 'pushing' one cruise line over another. If they only make 10% with one cruise line and 15% with another cruise line, it's obvious which one they will try to sell more.

Pete
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Old October 16th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Cruise Lines Fight Agent Discounts
by Paul Motter


But the buyer will benefit with more clarity in cruise pricing

10.16.12


Some agents play fast and loose with cruise pricing policy

There is a little secret in cruise buying that doesn't get a lot of attention - but the cruise lines see it as a very serious problem. It is certain cruise agents exploiting any loophole possible to offer discounts to customers in order to sell more cruises. This practice is generally called "rebating."


All of the cruise lines attempted to enforce flat pricing policies years ago to end "rebating" once and for all - but some cruise agencies continued to find ways to rebate despite the cruise line policies and the protestations of their cruise agency colleagues.

Thanks to Pete for providing some accurrate information.

One other correction... the change in Royal Caribbean's commission structure from 15% to 10% applies ONLY TO TRAVEL AGENTS IN THE UK... not in the US. The UK division has been and is a completely separate entity from Royal Caribbean USA. Royal Caribbean UK used to have a base commission of 15% and they have moved it to 10%. Base commission here in the US was always 10%. This ais a big difference and the writer of this article either missed it or should have pointed out that this change does not affect the US market.

George L
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Old October 16th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeinTX View Post
Thanks to Pete for providing some accurrate information.

One other correction... the change in Royal Caribbean's commission structure from 15% to 10% applies ONLY TO TRAVEL AGENTS IN THE UK... not in the US. The UK division has been and is a completely separate entity from Royal Caribbean USA. Royal Caribbean UK used to have a base commission of 15% and they have moved it to 10%. Base commission here in the US was always 10%. This ais a big difference and the writer of this article either missed it or should have pointed out that this change does not affect the US market.

George L
You are correct, George, and I forgot to point that out, also. Thanks for bringing that up.

While the current change in commission only affects UK agents, it'll be interesting to see if they implement this here.

Carnival did something similar in the U.S. just a couple of weeks ago. They changed their commission process so it's no longer based on dollar amount sold and is now based on cabins sold. Plus, they raised the requirements so now agents have to sell more before they can move up to the next commission level.

Cruise lines are looking for ways to cut their expenses so they can keep their prices low. But cutting the pay of those working for a living is not the way to do it.

One other issue at hand. As I mentioned, the cruise price is based on two fares; the cruise fare and the port fees or NCF's. (Remember, commission is based only on the cruise fare.) One thing the cruise lines are very tight lipped about concerns how the NCF's (Non-commissionable Fare). They will not release the specific details on how exactly these are figured and what they include. We know that most of the NCF's are port fees, but the rest seems to be an industry secret that no one discusses. Recently, the NCF's have gone up, yet port fees have not gone up. Agents feel this is just another way for the cruise lines to charge the passengers more money while not increasing the cruise fare so they don't have to pay more in commissions. A sneaky way of screwing the agents.

It's sort of like the Fuel Supplement. When they feel they need more money because of high oil prices, they simply add a Fuel Supplement. Since this is also not added to the cruise fare, again, they get more money from the passengers without increasing the amount that commissions are based on. In no other industry where commissions are paid does such a thing occur. And if the cruise lines are allowed to do it for fuel, then what's stopping them from doing it in other areas; how about a food supplement? Or a labor surcharge? In any other business, if the price of doing business goes up, then they simply raise the price, they don't do it as a surcharge in order to avoid being financially responsible.

As you can see, this is a sore point for agents as it would be for anyone who's pay is being cut while they are expected to do much more work. In other words, under these new levels implemented in the UK, an agent has to sell alot more cruises just to make the same amount they made before.

The bottom line is this is like requiring the average worker to all of a sudden produce 50% more work this year in order to make the same wage they made last year.

Pete
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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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This is similar to what many airlines are doing today, breaking out the fare from the extra charges for checked bags, onboard food and drink, etc. It removes the actual fare from calculations for taxes, travel agent commisions, etc. Sneaky way to avoid all that. But as far as cruise lines and agencies go, I don't really see the problem with rebating. In fact, I see it as a bargain for the consumer. If an agency decides to take a hit on their commission and pass that along to the traveller, the the traveller wins. And yes, while it removes complete, one stop pricing clarity, why is that even an issue? Where does that exist in almost any other consumer market? The buyer does research, shops for the best price they can find, and goes with that. It's like buying a car. An informed shopper researches the actual cost of the vehicle to the dealer, knows the markup and additional charges each dealer applies, then shops for the one that charges the smallest amount of that. Saturn tried the one price experiment, similar to the cruise industry trying a one price scheme, and it failed. Why, many reasons but a big one was yes, you paid one price, didn't have to haggle, and it was easy to find the one price, but it was the price they wanted you to pay. And it was always a higher price than you would have paid in a conventional dealer system. That type of easy system will always benefit the provider...or else why would they do it? And if an agency manages to sell a lot of product for a producer (cruise line), why shouldn't they get deals and incentives? Basic marketing and sales. And if they choose to pass some of that along to the customer, great.

Last edited by chipmeister; October 16th, 2012 at 01:29 PM. Reason: forgot something
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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:56 PM
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But the flaw in your understanding of how it works is that first, airlines no longer pay a commission. So unless you want to pay a fee to the agent to do the work for you, you have to do it yourself. But air reservations are different because there are not alot of options or questions involved and they don't stop at different ports for a day. Cruises involve alot more information, especially for first timers who can often ask a ton of questions (and should).

The problem is with most of these discounters, especially the big ones, is that they hire sales people, not certified travel agents, to sell cruises. They have no knowledge to offer the consumer and are pretty much worthless should questions or problems arise. (Generally speaking, of course, as there are always exceptions to every rule.) And, as I said, because they choose to discount, they have to concentrate on quantity and not quality.

So, if price is your only concern, then by all means book with a discounter. Just keep in mind that of all the agencies that go bankrupt, the majority are discounters. Also, plan to do all the work yourself and know if you have any problems, it can be a big hassle. And lastly, look for fees that aren't readily made available. This is important should rates go down - they may charge you a fee to make the change.

It's like working on your own car. If you have the skill, the parts, the tools, and the time, then work on it yourself and save some money. But if you don't have all of these, then it's best to let someone else who's trained do it for you so you don't have to worry about any of the details so you can enjoy a hassle-free vacation.

Pete
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Old October 16th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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Thank you to you all for helping to clarify this. I have corrected the article.

I need to read through all of these post slowly to get a better picture. Because I am not a travel agent myself I don't "live" these issues on a daily basis, and you can't find this information just anywhere because every cruise line is so different.
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Old October 16th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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Okay ....

Having read all of this, I see my article had one major error that the policy change was only for UK agents ( I don't know how I manage to miss things like this but it happens).

To be clear - my example of rebating was meant to be overly simplified. I am fully aware of NCFs but I wanted to keep it simple.

I don't think you can explain the "problem" with rebating any more clearly than Pete did. If you book a cruise with a large discounter and you have a travel problem GOOD LUCK in calling them and getting help WHEN YOU NEED IT.

If you have a problem it is most likely to occur when you are on a layover heading to your cruise. Say, your second leg flight is late or canceled - what are you going to do?

It is NOT the responsibility of the airline to make sure you arrive in time to get to your ship, legally all they have to do is get you to where you are going (even if it is a day late).

I would much rather call Pete than "Travelocity" to say I need a different flight. I once booked a flight thru Travelocity and then booked the hotel THEY RECOMMENDED to me after the flight was confirmed. The hotel was worse than an armpit. I tried calling Travelocity after hours and only got voicemail.

I ended up booking a different hotel - and a month later Travelocity refunded the charge on my credit card, but they did nothing to help out with the problem.

Now - the biggest threat to "true-value" agents like Pete are the people who pick his brains and then go out and book the cruise he recommends through a cheaper travel agency. Personally, I think this is the lowest of lows. And I am guessing the first person they call when they have a problem with that booking is Pete!

Pete - how do you handle people like this?
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Old October 16th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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Obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said, Paul. But then again, I am a little biased on the matter.

While I definitely can't speak for all agents, we do have our fair share of 'shoppers'. It's just the nature of the beast, so to speak. Most of the time, these people are honest and let us know they are shopping, but yes, there are those who just want to pick our brain and then book with the cheapest website they can find. Not much I can do about that, but since the overwhelming number of people who contact us are well-meaning, I don't let the few 'shoppers' bother me. I know for a fact, other agents will feel different and therefore will do one of two things; either they will 'qualify' the perspective customer to see, as best they can, how serious they are about booking a cruise. Of course, there will still be some that just 'use' the agent for information. The other type of agent are those who charge a 'fee' for their services and when booked, the fee is directly applied to the cruise payment. I just believe that most people are honest, but I don't get too detailed unless I feel the customer is truly interested in booking with me. And I don't worry about those who aren't.

Now, with that said, I've been accused of doing too much 'marketing' on here because of my posts. To that I will say if anyone reads my post, I've never said call me or contact me for more information. I've never said I could do something that other agents can't do. I don't send private messages selling my services. Yes, I often advise people to work with an agent, as well they should. I've been doing this for a long time and the one thing I've learned is that if I wasn't an agent, knowing what I know now, I would never book it myself and would always use an agent. Simply stated, as you mentioned Paul, if you have a problem, an agent can be invaluable. Otherwise, you can be left to your own devices and not only end up getting screwed, but perhaps paying alot more in the end.

I do belong to a couple of forums (I'm an officer on one of them) and I really like passing along information to help people with their vacations. I've always enjoyed assisting people, going so far as to write newspaper articles so anyone can be more aware of their options. Knowledge is a wonderful thing and everyone on these forums likes to provide information or they wouldn't be here in the first place.

But if providing information from an insider's perspective is considered marketing, then my definition of the term is different than others as that is not my intention. If you ask a mechanic why your car is making a noise and he provides information to help you fix it yourself, is he/she marketing? Yes, he probably will tell you to use a mechanic, but that's your choice. That has always been my perspective on the matter - I would prefer everyone use an agent for many reasons, but that's their choice. If they choose not to use one, then they really need to understand the risks and be educated so they don't make mistakes that will cost them alot of money or turn their vacation into a nightmare. Which, after all, is what everyone on here wants for everyone else.

As I say all the time, opinions are like bellybuttons - everyone has one. (That's the politically correct way to put it.) My other favorite express is, what one person loves, another will hate. So if people only listen to one opinion, they are not going to get the whole picture since everyone looks at things differently. It's important to get as many different opinions as possible to help you find the right cruise (or vacation) that's right for you based on your personal likes/dislikes, needs/desires, lifestyle, and budget. Which is why I'm always encouraging people to join forums like this and participate in conversations so they can get as many different opinions and as much information as they can.

Sorry, didn't mean to get too far off the subject matter, but it all does come around to one thing; information. You can never get enough of it and you always want to get it from as many sources as possible. Things change all the time in the travel industry, so it's important to hear from everyone.

Pete
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Old October 16th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Just for the record - I consider you to be a very valuable contributor to our site and I am very grateful you are here.

I do not see you as "marketing" - the fact that you are a travel agent is information that helps people weigh the information you provide - so telling people you are a travel agent is not a violation of any rules here.

The only thing we do not allow is outright solicitation of direct business through our boards. We have seen travel agents come on here with nothing more than links to their websites as answers to questions here.

You certainly provide plenty of information within our boards - and that is what we want and care about.

Now - is rebating "bad?" - not technically, considering the customer gets a better deal. But I also recall a cruise agent that was well-known about five years ago that specifically only charged a $50 FEE to book any cruise - BUT they did not allow any phone calls ever (you booked by email), or changes to your reservation once you made it.

I forget what they were called, but they are not around any more.

Now - another thing to know is that Pete is a part of CruisePlanners, which is a very big consortium of cruise agents, so they generally get good group rates and a high commission on most sailings, so they can compete with the best of them.

The whole practice of cruise rebating was started by a guy whose name I forget, but he created the idea and used to refer to himself as the "master-rebator"
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Old October 16th, 2012, 05:06 PM
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I too have to applaud Pete for his participation on our boards.

When he first found us he did put a link in his signature line. However, when I notified him that it was allowed he ceased. And unlike many travel agents who have jumped on the site to post links, and disappeared when told it was not allowed, Pete has stuck around and been helpful.

To the topic of rebating, I've posted several blogs on the topic.
This one from Jan. of this year.
Cruisemates Blog Should Cruise Pricing Be Transparent? – Kuki

And this one from 2010.Cruisemates Blog Are Restrictive Pricing Policies The Path To The End of Cruise Travel Agents? – Kuki

I do have to say that when rebating of commissions was allowed, I found many travel agents who provided both rebated pricing AND great service.

I also found some travel agents who claimed they provided great service, and that's why they were unable to rebate, but didn't provide the service they claimed.

I've NEVER recommended people book their cruises through companies like Travelocity or Expedia. However, there are many many travel agents who have a web prescence, who are full service cruise specializing agent services.

I do believe that the flat pricing policies by the cruise lines have led to a considerable move by consumers to book directly with the cruise lines.

Generally people don't easily understand what the advantages might be to booking with a travel agent, rather than booking direct.
Rather, if pricing is the same, I think it's common for them to wonder why they should use a "middle man".

As for cruise lines trying to clamp down on agents ignoring the flat pricing policies... there are still plenty of agencies that do. We see people posting that they get rebate checks from the travel agencies, once their travel is complete. I'm sure there are many other "creative" ways around it.

Until the cruise lines actually follow through on their threat to suspend travel agents ability to book their lines for violations, there are going to be agents "gaming the system".
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Old October 16th, 2012, 05:24 PM
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As for cruise lines trying to clamp down on agents ignoring the flat pricing policies... there are still plenty of agencies that do. We see people posting that they get rebate checks from the travel agencies, once their travel is complete. I'm sure there are many other "creative" ways around it.

That was a new one for me last week. I booked a cruise through my normal TA but on a different line for us. Instead of her normal discount or OBC, we're getting at $400 rebate the week of sailing.
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Old October 16th, 2012, 11:26 PM
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First, let me thank Paul & Kuki for their support. It means a great deal to me.

As for whether to book with an agent or not, "Why should I book with you," is the most asked question people have for an agent. The next most asked question is, "What will you give me to book with you?"

To answer the first question, obviously I'm biased on the matter, but I always suggest people book with an agent. While their prices will be the same and sometimes less (if they have a group onboard), their assistance can be invaluable. Most reputable agents do not charge you a fee for their service, so if you're paying the same for a cruise using an agent as you would booking it yourself, it makes sense to use an agent. They have contacts not available to the average cruiser, so should problems arise, they represent you and can often get things done or get remuneration that you cannot get. Also, they have 'been there done that', so their first-hand experience and knowledge can make your experience easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable with alot less hassle. They are your first line of contact and have your best interest in mind. Whereas when you book directly with the cruise line, they have their best interest in mind. Obviously, it's always best to have someone with pull on your side, unless of course you like handling the bureaucracy of a big business.

As for the second question concerning what an agent will give you, that's a personal choice for each agent. Some are comfortable giving away part of their income, while others simply don't want to give away money in order to 'buy' a client's business. Larger businesses have no problem rebating or discounting in order to sway a customer into buying with them because they deal in quantity and not quality. As I mentioned, they're betting many people will book online using their computers and not have to interact with them personally. While most of the time, this may work fine for those who know exactly what they want, first time cruisers should never fall for discounting over best service. Remember, price is what you pay - value is what you get. You may get a little discount, but you could end up spending a whole lot more in the end.

I like to give an example of a party of 4 couples who wanted to book a cruise with me. I gave them a price and one person said they could get the same price with an online site for $50 less. I asked them for the site so I could verify the information and see if perhaps I might have missed a special. I went onto the site and tried to book the cruise. Yes, the price was $50 less, but in fine print it said, 'plus administrative fee'. I called the online site and was on hold for 45 minutes!! When they answered, I pretended to be a first-time cruiser and asked the obvious questions. She flat out lied to me on several occasions. I then asked about the administrative fee and she explained when I go to buy the cruise that it would be added to the total. I told her I was not going to buy something without knowing the fee beforehand. She said I would have to talk to their accounting department and transferred me. I got disconnected! I asked the client if he called them and he said yes. I asked how long he was on hold and he said about 45 minutes. I then asked him how long he was on hold waiting for me to answer the phone and he said that he didn't think the phone rang more than twice. I said, "Exactly." Long story short, he ended up booking with them, while the other 3 couples booked with me. About 2 months later, I saw a special and got $100 taken off the price of the cruise for my clients. When they told their uncle, he called his discount website, waited 45 minutes, and found they would not honor the new rate. In the end, he paid $50 less, but had to pay a $25 admin fee. My clients paid $100 less than I originally quoted, so they ended up paying $75 less than he did.

Believe it or not, the exact same thing happened the next year!!! He didn't learn his lesson and booked with that same company again! And again, the other 3 couples started off paying more, but ended up paying less than he did. Some people are just hardheaded. Or as one of his nieces said, "There needs to be more chlorine in the gene pool."

My dad, who died when I was 11, was a carpenter by trade. But he always taught me one thing; pay a little extra for a good tool, take care of it, and it will last you a lifetime. In the end, it'll save you alot of money and make your job alot easier.

So find an agent you feel comfortable with and can trust, then stick with them. They will always look after you and insure you're getting what you're paying for. And that, my friends, is value.

Pete
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Old October 17th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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I miss the times where I, as a consumer, could search around for the best deal. Now, all the prices are the same, actually. So, I do what the cruise lines that set these standards wanted to begin with....I contact the cruise line directly and get first hand service through them. I no longer search independent agencies, why should I?? I have used them in the past, looking for the one that would give me the biggest bang for the buck, and I was seasoned at it. Now.......it doesnt matter. I just cut to the chase, go to the big dog and get it done. You independents are screwed by this move. Big business strikes again!
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Old October 17th, 2012, 02:22 PM
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I don't think it is any secret that in the long run the cruise lines wouldn't mind it most people booked direct.

There was a time when it wasn't profitable for a cruise line to even operate a call center because they didn't do enough business, but some people wanted to book direct.

But now that more people ARE booking direct the cruise line call centers are more profitable.

However, I would STILL use a travel agent for the service factor - you get more service for the same price.

It is like buying cruise insurance - you can buy it from the cruise line - or from a third party. If you buy it from the cruise line and they go out of business who pays your insurance?
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Old October 17th, 2012, 11:24 PM
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Good information here. Just to clarify a couple of my points, first off, I wasn't implying that the airlines pay commissions. i was simply referring to how they are manipulating their fares and then breaking out features of service that used to be included in the fare and charging for them seperately. And that would apply to however you buy your ticket. And as far as the benefits of the rebate, I do fully agree that there are a lot places out there that sell cheap, regardless of how they do it and once they have your money, leave you hanging out there. Louy service for sure. I was speaking, probably, from my own experience with an agency that is indeed, full service, but also discounts pretty good sometimes. I do think they are taking a hit on the commission, but that is just my theory. They do a big volume with a certain cruise line and as a result, seem to always have better pricing for a given cruise on that line than almost any other agency I have checked. How they actually work it out, I don't know. But they are very good and very helpful after the sale as well. But after reading some of these posts, I do have to wonder if it really should just be a consumer market with all this. If you need the services of a full service agent, then by all means, use that. My agent is great and discounts. I myself would be very leery of those deep discount ticket mills that don't help you at all. But, being in the airline business, I can tell you that there are plenty of people who buy based on price alone and could care less about anything else. If something goes wrong they will of course scream like mad about not getting any help, but when they make the decision to buy, at that moment, they don't care. I guess that's the market today.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 12:59 AM
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You independents are screwed by this move. Big business strikes again!

Yep, and big business looks after big business, not the consumer. So it's actually the consumer who gets screwed in the end by all this (no pun intended).

Ask the person on another post in this forum that's complaining about credit that wasn't applied to their booking. They've already spent more than 1-1/2 hours on the phone and have gotten no where because they booked directly with the cruise line so they are on the own with no one to help them.

If it hasn't happened to you, you've been lucky. But it's like buying travel insurance; you hope you never need it, but if you need it, you're damn glad you've got it. And if you never need it, then more power to you. But for me, I'm not willing to bet my hard earned money on some big business who doesn't care about me. I'd much rather pay an agent the same amount of money and have them on my side to help me if I ever needed it.

Pete
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Old October 18th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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One of the things I forgot to say about cruise lines being big business and looking after themselves and not the consumer, here's an example of why I say that;

Up until a couple of years ago, if the price of a cruise went down, we were able to get the reduced rate even after final payment had been made and even up until the day before the cruise. This was a very consumer friendly policy.

Now, the policies have changed and if the price of the cruise goes down after final payment has been made, the cruise lines will no longer honor the price drop. Some will allow us to get upgrades or onboard credit, but they no longer adjust the price and refund the money like they use to. Now it's a very consumer un-friendly policy.

Case in point; there have been several situations over the last year where a client's final payment was due on one day and the very next day, the prices dropped. (Keep in mind that the final payment due date is the same for everyone on that particular sailing.) So the cruise lines are now waiting until after final payment due date to lower the price instead of lowering before the due date. Definitely not in the best interest of the consumer.

As I stated, big business looks after big business and not the consumer. This is why I always try to do business with small businesses whenever possible. Yes, I may pay a bit more, but I also know I'm supporting a local small business that appreciates me as a customer and doesn't treat me like just another number.

But then again, some people love listening to the voice recording; press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish, press 3 if you just want us to hang up on you for no reason after you've waited on hold for 30 minutes.

Pete
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Old October 18th, 2012, 11:48 PM
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Case in point; there have been several situations over the last year where a client's final payment was due on one day and the very next day, the prices dropped. (Keep in mind that the final payment due date is the same for everyone on that particular sailing.) So the cruise lines are now waiting until after final payment due date to lower the price instead of lowering before the due date. Definitely not in the best interest of the consumer.Pete
Pete, does that mean booking a cruise after final payment date could be a good deal? I understand cabins open up with the final payment date. Couldn't there be some desirably cabins available at a discount.

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Old October 19th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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Pete, does that mean booking a cruise after final payment date could be a good deal? I understand cabins open up with the final payment date. Couldn't there be some desirably cabins available at a discount.

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We recently booked a Princess cruise about 3 weeks before final payment. We paid $1,199 for a balcony with a sizable OBC for a 12 day Med Cruise on Ruby Princess. We had a Baja Mid ship balcony. Excellent location, couldn't have been happier.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 01:10 AM
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Pete, does that mean booking a cruise after final payment date could be a good deal? I understand cabins open up with the final payment date. Couldn't there be some desirably cabins available at a discount.

O F C'er
Sometimes there can be. Again, it depends on supply and demand.

It's not like it use to be years ago where you could show up at the pier and purchase a last minute ticket, which often could result in a huge discount. Because of new security regulations, that's not possible anymore.

However, although you can no longer get such great deals as before, sometimes they do offer discounts within the last few weeks before sailing. Usually though, they are reserved for residents or seniors since, for the most part, those are the only ones who can travel without purchasing last minute expensive airfare or who are available to travel at the last minute. Obviously, most people just can't do this since they live to far away or have jobs or other commitments where they can't leave at the last minute. Most people have to make plans a long time in advance, so they're unable to take advantage of such deals. But those who can get away are occasionally rewarded with good deals just as long as you're not too particular about the cruise line, ship, sail date, or itinerary.

The last time we did something like this was when we got an opportunity on Thursday to sail on Sunday. To coin the phrase, they made us an offer we couldn't refuse. So we spent all day Friday getting our affairs in order, flew out on Saturday, and then on Sunday we left on a one-week cruise. While we got free airfare because our son works for United, the only standby space we could find was to Orlando on Saturday. So we had to rent a car, drive to Miami, and spend a night before the cruise. Crazy, but the price was definitely right.

Occasionally, you can get lucky. (That's what she said!)

Pete
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Old October 19th, 2012, 05:37 PM
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We recently booked a Princess cruise about 3 weeks before final payment. We paid $1,199 for a balcony with a sizable OBC for a 12 day Med Cruise on Ruby Princess. We had a Baja Mid ship balcony. Excellent location, couldn't have been happier.
From what Pete posted regarding sometimes price reduction after final payment, I was thinking I would never book w/i a few weeks before final payment.

T'pup, Did you book your cruise 3 weeks before final payment w/i the past year or so? Repricing or OBCs after final payment was changed about a year ago. You definitely got a good deal @ $100/night for a balcony + OBC.

So my thinking now is never book a few weeks before final payment unless it is a great deal.

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Old October 19th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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From what Pete posted regarding sometimes price reduction after final payment, I was thinking I would never book w/i a few weeks before final payment.

T'pup, Did you book your cruise 3 weeks before final payment w/i the past year or so? Repricing or OBCs after final payment was changed about a year ago. You definitely got a good deal @ $100/night for a balcony + OBC.

So my thinking now is never book a few weeks before final payment unless it is a great deal.

O F C'er
Yes, we booked in June this year for a September sailing... it was one of Princess's sales. Father's Day Sale I think. The price was actually $1,299 and our TA either discounted it or had a group but our price was $1,199 for a balcony Guarantee on Ruby Princess Barcelona to Venice. It came with $100 OBC and then we had Future Cruise Credits that we could use. So that was another $200. Then for some strange reason there was another $75 once we boarded..still have no idea where that came from. And then, we had an issue with Lufthansa and our luggage which Princess credited us $200 for Lost Luggage. Absolutely nothing to do with them, but we weren't complaining Added up to $575 OBC

Lots of people on the roll call cancelled their chosen balconies and got in the guarantee pool for a much cheaper price before final payment. That price lasted for about 6 hours and didn't come back.
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