[i] Not true at all. As I stated, many small travel agencies get 10% of the cruise portion of the booking only! Most cruise lines do not go above 15% commission and that is with quite a bit of volume. Yes, we do get 5% on a PORTION of the air. [i]
Let's see. A cheap cruise booking (inside cabin, seven day Caribbean cruise for two) runs about $550 per passenger, or $1100, on a premium line. The commission comes to $110. For that, the travel agent
>> provides some brochures to the customer on the destinations and lines in which the customer is interested (fifteen minutes, allowing for some discussion of the customer's interests and tastes so the travel agent can make ppropriate recommendations),
>> puts the booking into the system, collects a deposit, and forwards the deposit to the cruise line (fifteen minutes),
>> either books connecting flights or gets the customer's flight itinerary and forwards it to the cruise line for scheduling of transfers (five minutes)
>> collects the final payment and forwards it to the cruise line (five minutes),
>> contacts the customer to come buy and pick up an information package, then hands the information package to the customer (five minutes), and
>> contacts the customer to come by and pick up the cruise tickets, then hands the ticket package to the customer (five minutes).
Total time spent: 50 minutes. Thus, the commission amounts to $110 per hour, allowing for a break of ten minutes.
Now, to be fair, that $110 does not go to the travel agent. Rather, it goes to the travel agency -- which must deduct some to meet its overhead and to provide benefits such as insurance and paid vacations to its agents. Nonetheless, that leaves a fairly decent chunk of change to pay the agent. OTOH, that's for a minimal cruise booking. The commissions are much higher for passengers who book long cruises (a significant percentage) and better cabins (the majority).
Sweetheart you really need a reality check! First of all, have you taken a look at the cost of cruises as of late? I actually have some folks on a cruise, total cost $670.00 and it is NOT a 3 or 4 night cruise. They live across country so I have made several long distance telephone calls. It costs almost $5 to send those brochures you were talking about. Toss in another $12.00 for shipping the documents. Commission was only $40.00 to begin with.
I challenge you to go and volunteer to work at one of your local travel agencies! I promise you will not be quite as cocky as you are now.
Spend only 50 minutes on a customer? You have got to be kidding? I don't know what hole you have your head buried in, but you obviously don't know half of what you think you know regarding being a travel agent!
Customer calls travel agency or is a walk in. TA spends time asking customer questions to find out which product best suits client. Next, TA goes over destinations. Finally, we choose category. TA prices client's choice, looks for specials. Asks about upgrades, state specific specials, etc. If customer is call in, travel agent is almost guaranteed to have to follow-up with client for several days before actually booking.
Payment: If credit card of debit card is taken, TA simply calls it in. If check is taken, deposit is gotten ready. Check goes to the bank and TA must make sure check has sufficient funds in order to send out payment. If the line just happens to Carnival with its short deadline to get payment in, TA must now overnight payment.
Invoice. TA sits down and invoices client. Makes sure client is aware of payment deadlines, documentation, travel insurance, etc. Mails invoice.
Most clients do NOT automatically send their payments in on schedule, so approximately one week prior to payment being due, TA starts sending out reminders. A good portion of clients still do not get payment in on time, so now TA must try to contact customer by telephone to get payment in. And, we go through the payment process again along with invoicing once again.
Now the documents are in. We have to inspect documents for accuracy. Make copies of pertinent documents. We either mail out or track down customer in order to get documents to them in time.
Approximately 30% of clients will within two weeks or less of sailing have a problem to be solved, usually involving not having the correct documentation, so we assist them in getting their birth certificates. Or, they will have to cancel and we will have to work on getting their money back.
Ten minute break between all of this? Like I said, pull your head out of the sand because you don't have the slightest idea of what you speak of! FYI, most agents I know are lucky to get a lunch break! Some of us start work around 6:30 AM which is not only way before the agency opens, but before some of you have even had your morning coffee, and we don't stop until some evenings around midnight.
So, don't you dare to presume you know how much I make!
Like I said, I challenge you to go and volunteer to help out in a local travel agency. Most of us are so busy we would welcome help. You will completely change your mind!
I, for one, do appreciate what a travel agent does. When we had gotten our cabin assignment (My husband Rob checked it out online) he had noticed that we were placed on the bottom deck of the ship, far forward on the starboard side. Rob suggested that I call Cruise.com, with whome we had booked the cruise. The agent that answered, Brittany, who was not the agent I had originally used to book the cruise, noticed, after checking our reservation number that we are over 55. Brittany called Celebrity cruise line and requested that we get a senior citizen's upgrade. We got a two category upgrade with no additonal charge. Brittany did her homework, and thanks to her we were placed midship, two decks above from our original cabin assignment. As with any industry there are people who care about their customers and other's that don't. I would recommend Brittany because she went above and beyond for us and she was not the one that got the commission for the orignal booking!
I have to tell you, there are a tremendous amount of TA's who are becomming increasingly frustrated with the public because a good many of us who own agencies don't even make minimum wage. We do this because we truly love the industry and enjoy helping folks. What you described is not unusual at all. I have had clients come to me because of such things as a 13 year old daughter being molested onboard ship and the original TA wasn't assisting and the cruise line was of no help. I have had clients come to me because after getting all of the info from me, they booked themselves only to find out the air and cruise didn't coincide.
You are the type of person who makes us want to stay in the business!