I checked prices today for my cruise. Although they have not declined on BPC site or carnival, this same cruise appears to be $354 cheaper for all of us on the Cruise411 site. From what I can tell this price includes port fees and taxes, so I am pretty sure I am comparing apples to apples. I called and sent an email to my agent at BPC, but I am wondering if anyone knows what to expect. What if she says no, then what do I do. I am a long ways from my final payment date. Thanks!
Your BPC agent will have to turn the booking over to Cruise411, and they're not always willing to do that. If BPC does turn the booking over, you'll probably have to pay a cancellation fee to them....or ask them to match the price, which would be easier.
If the price of the cruise did not go down on the CCL site then it has not gone down. Your agent sold it to you for a set price and if another agent wants to sell it cheaper that is their concern. Rather like one store selling a loaf of Wonder Bread for $1.50 and another selling it for $1.25 Each sells it for what they think they can get for it.
Most TA's don't want to turn a booking over to another TA because they've done all the work for you and are getting paid a commission from Carnival. If they 'just' turn it over to another agency they lose their commission and the other agency has done nothing for you and gets paid for it.
I'm not surprised so many agencies are going out of business. The small agencies may only be getting 10% commission and the big guys are getting around 20% so there's no wonder the big agencies can cut their commissions a lot more than the little guys and get your business. It doesn't seem fair does it?
Phoebe, While you are correct in most of what you siad there has been a change in the commission rates and everyone no matter what size company now get the same rate of commission. It is just basically that larger companies can afford to make a smaller profit on each account as they make it up in volume. Understand I said could, not necessarily that they do.
Jim I'm a travel agent and Phoebe is right,although some of her per cents were wrong. There hasn't been a change in commssion rates,not all agencies get the same rates.
How it works is if an agency or agent go on their own they do start at 10%,unless they join a consortium,and than they only get a little more than 10% to start and that depends on the cruise line.
As they build their business their commissions go up. So it varies from year to year. It can also go down if they don't keep their numbers up.
The big online agencies do so much volume that they get the highest commissions,plus they can get to a point that they get special rates also,plus they do so much volume that they can afford to discount more than the smaller agencies.
So Phoebe is right,it doesn't seem fair because if you put all those factors together it's hard for the little agencies to compete and that's why they go out of business.
It's a catch 22,how do the little agencies get business to build their volume to get the higher commissions and special rates to compete with the bigger agencies if they can't afford to give the rates the bigger agencies give and loose out to them?
Unless you have a very busy website you can't compete or it just takes time and money. It can be frustrating and not easy.
I haven't heard anything about that. But it could be that Carnival is thinking of doing that. If so that would be great news!
Since they own 1/2 the cruise lines the policy would have to change for the other lines too. And than the ones not owned by Carnival would have to follow suit.
I think it should be a fair playing field for all. I think they can think of other ways to give the top agencies perks for more business. It would also allow small guys to have more incentive to become big producers.
If you come across that please send it to me I'd like to read it.
I'm with Bonnie59. I'm a sideline TA, and all agencies definitely do not get the same rate. Travel Agencies have what they call a "Preferred Vendor" list, which are cruise/tour companies that contract with them to do a certain volume of business in exchange for a higher commission rate. 10% is a standard commission rate, but our agency is quite large, and our commission from Carnival (a long-time Preferred Vendor), is 16%, and has been for years. From companies that are not on our Preferred list, we usually get a standard 10% commission. I'm not aware of any cruise/tour company that pays a 20% commission, except for a few dive operators that I know.
The speech from Bob Dickinson was that he was going to make a level playing field for all agencies in that the prices would be the same. The big guys were not supposed to get any special fare codes giving them lower rates to offer. I don't know if that' s in effect but that's what it was and not a change in commission structure.
I feel bad for the agencies that have been around for years and years helping the same people and now those people have easy access to the internet and are losing customers by the droves. Customers don't realize that by saving themselves $10 they are taking away another persons livlihood. It won't be long before thare are no more brick and mortar agencies. The airlines took away commissions and now there's no customer loyalty for any other kind of travel.
In the end it's the almighty dollar that does all the talking.
Phoebe are you a travel agent because you hit the nail on the head! If you aren't I do appreciate your concern. You are right the agencies that have brick and mortar stores will be gone and it will all be done on the internet. I worked for an agency that did close down because of the airlines commission cuts and than the competition on the internet. It's very hard to pay big rents when you have to discount so heavily.
Most now are working out of little offices with a bunch of phones and barely any walk in traffic.
It is still possible to have a loyal client base if you give good service. I am lucky,I do have a good client base but a lot of people are concerned about saving $10 and will book online instead of booking with their long time agent.
It is good to hear that Carnival is taking that step. That is at least a little step towards getting it to be a fair playing field. I can't tell if that is in effect because I don't know what rates the big guys would get on a particular cruise.
A lot of brick and mortar agencies are run by people in the business for years(I have been in it for 16 years)and don't want to give in to the way things are now. They don't like discounting,they don't like people telling them found it cheaper from this or that website etc. And because of that they loose sales. Or they just can't give those rates.
I feel nowadays you have to do both,give good serivce and discount,I'm not fond of discounting but the internet gives such a large possible client base that you can make it up in quantity. The thing that bothers me is the unfair playing field.
In the end I hope there doesn't turn out to be monoply on travel,especially cruises because all the little guys are getting knocked out.
Jim that's very true. I think nowadays a lot of the big agencies look at it as turning out as many sales as they can(mostly because of the pressure of having to keep sales up)and they don't have good customer service.
In this business if you don't pay attention to detail it can be a big mess and cause a lot of problems for yourself and your clients.
If someone finds a really low price in most cases they will go with the lower price vs. service. But they should really be looking into if there is a problem will they have someone to go to bat for them or are they just a number and once they bought the cruise they are forgotten.
Boninie I'm not a travel agent but I do know the business. Another thing I see a lot of is TA's giving everyone bottles of wine and chocolates. That'a another thing people don't know about....group amenities offered by the cruiseline. TA"s block a lot of cabins and then turn around and sell them and the people become part of the TA"s group. Along with the group comes the bottle of champagne in every cabin and chocolates and maybe even an onboard credit etc etc. Cutomers rave about their TA always doing this for them but ti's not the individual TA at all it's the perks offered by the cruise line for the group. Now if you have a small agency that has lost many customers to the internet then it's virtually impossible for you to block a lot of cabins and even hope to sell them all in order to have a group booking and offer the things like the champagne. People think their TA is the best for getting these really 'cheap' prices AND giving them a bottle of wine. It's not the TA at all it's the cruise line. One day everyone will learn and it'll be too late because all the neighborhood TA's will be gone. Watch these boards and you can see it with peoples comments about how they dealt with this TA for years but now they're going to XYZ because of the 10 bucks savings..oops they didn't go all the way to the end of the online booking and read the cancel fee and mailing fee and any other fees they charge or that's when they notice thay hadn't added tax or in some cases port charges. Cruis epricing is like the stock market you can never tell what the rate will be tomorrow.
OK Bonnie this is way too long now so I better stop!
Phoebe...well for someone who isn't a travel agent you certainly do know about the business and I appreciate how passionate you are about this issue.
Most people don't realize or care what is happening.
You are right about the ammenities. If there is a group booked people think the agent shelled money out of their pocket to pay for those things. The amount of rebating that goes on it would be quite hard to do that. Those are usally part of the perks.
I do buy wine for special clients or clients that I make over a certain amount on. A lot of agencies are probably forgoing that nowadays.
You are also right about not reading the fine print. People email that they got it lower here or there and than I tell them make sure everything was included. Most of the time the government fees aren't included. I have had people come back to me and say "you're right" and book it with me because my rate was cheaper.
It's all a game and like you said the stock market. I have heard stories about how people go on the cruises and sit around and talk aobut how much they paid,how much they saved,and what websites gave them the best deals.
You would think people would go on vacation and would not worry about what the next guy paid.
Phoebe if you would like to email me,feel free,we can discuss this more privately if you would like.
Bonnie59 - I do the same thing. For loyal long-time clients, I DO pay out-of-pocket for special things like wine, canape' trays, flowers, shipboard credit, etc. Groups have the cruise line percs, but I never sign for them from me....I put the Group leader's name on the cards, and never took a free berth - always gave it to a Group cruiser. You also made a great point about the "I got a better deal than you" thing. Whenever a client calls for pricing, I give them the price I get, and if/when they say they can save $10.00 by booking with XYZ, I tell them to go for it. Then, when they call back to complain about XYZ, I will give them what information I can, even though they booked with XYZ. I don't have to do that, but I do, and explain that I can't call Carnival because XYZ will have to do that. I work as an outside agent for a large local storefront company, (NOT an online agency), and also feel that good Customer Service is very important. I've met with clients at night, on weekends, driven to their homes, paid out-of-pocket to Fedex documents, and have met with them in my home. I have another job (with real benefits, just like my clients), but will still do these things on my own time, because that's how I gained my loyal and repeat clients. I've taken calls at midnight, 6 am, and while I was on vacation from my clients. I've been on enough cruises on enough cruise lines to be able to give good information. The "clients " who will save a buck at any cost (no pun intended) will get exactly what they pay for. I haven't booked airline tickets for years...refused to do so even before the 0% commission. You get what you're willing to pay for, which is why you will always see so many posts from cruisers who booked through XYZ with questions, questions, and more questions. XYZ needs to answer those questions for the cruisers who pay them their money. I always did - on company time, and on my own time - but then.....I'm not XYZ. I'm a visible and accessible person who doesn't have a recording to "Press 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, etc." . What I do have is a home phone, cell phone, e-mail address, and a car. Three weeks ago, I drove 100 miles each way to meet with first-time cruisers in another state to go over their cruise documents for the 3-night Fantasy, for which I got paid 50% of the commission of $84.00. ($42 bucks!) Didn't even cover my gas, and 35% of that 50% has to go for taxes. This was a referral from a very good client. Truly - not trying to portray myself as wonderful, but just trying to say that there are many very good TAs who will go the extra mile (or 100 miles) to assure good Customer Service. Yes - Bob Dickinson said that the CRUISE RATES will be uniform...but the commission structure will still vary. Good for Bob Dickinson, and bravo for the many TAs that continue to provide excellent Customer Service. Whew! Off the platform now.....
Bonnie, here's another trick some agencies use to make the prices appear lower. Let's say there's going to be 4 people in the cabin, they add all the rates up then divide it by 4 and tell the person it's $*** per person. Now the same person calls you asks how much per person and you tell them the double occupancy price per person and they haven't told you there's 4 in the cabin. Now your price appears so much higher and they don't call back.
There is one agency, well known, that has been advertiising 'family and friends' cabin rates and all it is is a quad cabin, the total price divided by 4 so it looks like everyone pays the same, which we know is not true. When you get a quote from the cruise line it's always first and second pays X amount and third and fourth pay a lower X amount.
A lesson to be learned is always ask how many people will be in the cabin.