I found out some very interesting information on my last cruise that really makes me want to be a travel agent. On Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Travel Agents pay 40.00 per per per day including port charges for an inside cabin and 50.00 per person per day for outside. This perk apllies to those agents who are members of CLIA. Other agents pay slightly more. That nominal amount of money is also eligible to be used as a tax write off. It seems the CLIA credential is really not that difficult to come by. You just have to be affiliated with an agency that has the CLIA credential. I also found out that a person can write a published article about a cruise they took and use the cost of the trip as a tax write off. I was just wondering if anyone on here knows anything about this? Does posting an article or review on this website as someone with a title for example allow a person to use the trip as a write off? If I were to start my own website and get an EIN would I be able to write off certain expenses associated with my cruises?
Being Canadian, I'm not familiar with what US tax laws would have to say about this.. but logic would likely dictate a similar approach (though logic isn't known to be tax depts strong point <G>).
To make such deductions here one has to be able to produce evidence that there is income associated with the expense. So, simply starting a web site wouldn't qualify unless you sold advertising, or derived income some other way.
There's nothing to say it has to be profitable, but there does have to be income.
As for "TA rates", some of the travel agents posting here may be able to answer this more clearly, but....
getting these rates is not as simple as choosing a cruise you want, booking it, and automatically getting the discount. I believe it's normally based on available space... and now with so many ships sailing full, I think it's getting more difficult to get... and they aren't insured of getting the rate until close to sailing.
There are occassionally FAM trips (Familiarization trips) for agents, but then the owners, or managers of the agencies may chose which of their agents get to go. And you can imagine there's probably some lines of people wanting to.
Basically I think it's another case of "things aren't as simple as they sometimes appear".
I don't know where you got your information, but as a TA I have advise for you: 1-this would boarder on being fraudulant, unetical at best. 2-to get CLIA recognition you need to take a test, apply, pay a fee and a few other qualificaations: 3- the prices you have quoted aren' quite true and you can only book these rates a few weeks out. Not only are the prices not correct, each cruise line has different criteria for offering agency discounts. Now if you want to pay error and ommissions insurence, $495 to become a ClIA member and can guarentee a certain amount of business; and can find an agency that will let you affiliate with them, go ahead, be my guest. NMnita
The following policy was found on the RCCL Cruisngpower website:
On sail dates where the Travel Agent program is offered, confirmation will be immediate. Inventory is limited and requests will be processed on a first come first served basis. Reduced rate space is available for categories N through F for Royal Caribbean International and categories 9 through 4 on Celebrity Cruises. Balcony and veranda space may be available on select dates on Radiance-, Voyager- or Millennium-class ships. The rates are applicable to bona fide full-time travel agents and one guest. This offer is based on availability and may be withdrawn at any time.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises space available rates are as follows: CLIA members / $40.00 per person per day for interior staterooms, $50.00 per person per day for ocean-view staterooms and $75.00 per person per day for balcony or veranda staterooms. Non-CLIA members / $50.00 per person per day for interior staterooms, $60.00 per person per day for ocean-view staterooms and $85.00 per person per day for balcony and veranda staterooms. Port Charges are included. Governmental departure taxes and fees are additional. All rates are in U.S. dollars.
Either way what an incredible deal! If I were a TA I would be cruising on a monthly basis.......I suppose I would have to be an owner or manager to do that but for a person who loves to cruise WOW! Thats only 400.00 or 500.00 for a 10 day cruise! With gratuities and other expenses..........a couple could go for 10 days for around 2000.00 thats about a third of what I paid for my last cruise. And here I am selling biomedical eqipment for a living. Maybe someday Marquette will sell me a Mac Vu EKG Cart at cost if im lucky.
Why do you think they offer these rates? Duh!!! it's to familiarize the agents with the product so we can better sell. By referring to non ClIA members they are talking about agents who work for CLIA companies but do not, personally hold CLIA cards. The words bonified TA mean just that. Yes, we can cruise cheaply but only under certain conditions and in certain situations. As for traveling monthly I don't think so, even owners have to work. The first agency I worked for our owner took about 3 or 4 cruises a year. It is about the same now. My two bosses cruise in the late summer and early fall when they can get the best deals. I cruise a couple times a year and actually get just about as good deals by not bothering with using CLIA or IATA. Yes, the price is right but the restrictions and choices are very limited. Now I need to go to work so I can pay my errors and ommissions insureence, produce enough business to keep my perks and see how many people I can find great cruise deals for. NMNita
I am a travel agent (with CLIA card) and I cruise 3 to 4 times a year. Because of my husband's job and family commitments, I cannot cruise at the last minute. I have never taken advantage of a travel agent rate, but I watch for specials and itineraries I want to take, and I book early to get the cabin and the sailing I want. Most of the time, the additional money I would have to spend on last minute airfare would be more than the savings from the special rates.
Not all cruises are available for ta rates. As a matter of fact, most ARE NOT, especially since ships are selling full. The cruiselines provide a listing as to which cruises are available and you have to select from the list. You just can't book the particular cruise you want.
To all of us who work hard and enjoy our jobs and to those who think getting a CLIA card is the answer to paying high cruise prices, I hope some of these postings, especially the last 4 or 5 have explained what being an agent is all about and why we get deals. As some of you can see, howevery, some of us do not use the DEALS cause we can't book at the last minute or as Babette just said, those great deals are not always available. I have a daughter who works for a major airline: do we get to fly for less, of course, but the same thing is true: we do not get to just fly whenever we want; flights go out full, we sit and wait and wait and wait; sometimes we are still waiting a day or so later.
Im well aware of the sit and wait non rev airline game. Took me 4 days to get home from Hawaii last November over thanksgiving while I was flying on a Delta Buddy Pass. I certainly wasnt taking away from the hard work a travel agent does. Im sure just like any other job it can be very trying at times. I was simply comparing the benefits I receive compared to the benefits a travel agent receives for their hard and im thinking perhaps im in the wrong line of work.
Actually getting a CLIA association isn't nearly as difficult or as expensive as you posted. It took me about 2 hours and $75.00 to obtain mine. I just went on the Internet and found an established travel agency (called a host agency) who was willing to work with newbies (somebody with NO travel agency experience) and signed up as their independent contractor.
It cost me $75.00 to be added to their errors and omissions insurance and only took 2 hours from the time I came up with the idea to the time I booked my first cruise as my own travel agent. I did this simply so I could get around the "no discounting" policies that some cruiselines have implemented. Now I book my own cruises and keep 90% of the commissions that would otherwise be paid a travel agent (I have to pay 10% to the host agency). I can also use the host agency's CLIA association to book at travel agent rates, but I don't do that because I am not available to travel last minute. Since I only book travel for myself and family and not as a business, I don't claim any tax deductions, but it is still worth it just to be able to keep the commissions on my own travel.
Originally posted by NewMexicoNita:
"I don't know where you got your information, but as a TA I have advise for you: 1-this would boarder on being fraudulant, unetical at best. 2-to get CLIA recognition you need to take a test, apply, pay a fee and a few other qualificaations: 3- the prices you have quoted aren' quite true and you can only book these rates a few weeks out. Not only are the prices not correct, each cruise line has different criteria for offering agency discounts. Now if you want to pay error and ommissions insurence, $495 to become a ClIA member and can guarentee a certain amount of business; and can find an agency that will let you affiliate with them, go ahead, be my guest. NMnita"
WOW! This is getting better all the time! I know someone who did something very similar to what the previous post mentioned with very similar results. One thing I also noticed in visiting the Cruisingpower website is that there are actually several sailings available on both RCCL and Celebrity and many of them are about a month out. Thats not exactly last minute. I also went to NCL TA website and saw a few sailings available at 35.00 per day at the beginning of May. It is true that most of them are 2 or 3 weeks out but there are some at a month or more. Not sure why the TAs in here a minimizing this wonderful benefit they have. Im gald its there and I hope they take advantage of it every chance they get.
You're right, KruiseKrazy, sometimes the TA rates can be booked as much as a month out and I have even seen a few offers even farther out than that. This is a great opportunity for someone who is retired or has a flexible work schedule. Unfortunately, I work a full-time job (not travel related) and must schedule my vacation time many months in advance. Oh well, thirty years from now when I retire...
If someone wants to work part time as a TA from home, it is a great way to make a few bucks and get bennies, but if you guys are reading what we are all writing you would know it just isn't that easy and for cruisingal to pay only $75 to some online outfit for errors and ommissions insurence is very interesting. I pay $238 per year. Kruzecrazy, yes, there are sailings available to us for very little; again, even being retired does not mean you can just up and take off whenever you want. Of course we can take off easier than some, but still not always on the spur of the moment. We have obligations as well, maybe with church or clubs we belong to or company coming. All sorts of things crop up to make it not always possible to jump and run on a whim. For those of you who want to pay to get the CLIA card or can find some company that will work with you as an outside agent even when you have no intentions of producing more power to you. Many of us also have to produce a certain amount of business per year to continue working for our companies. I guess it depends on what you consider ethical. We all have our own ideas. NMnita
What exactly do you consider unethical about me keeping my own commissions for travel that I book myself? For years I used an online agency that rebated back all but 5% of their commissions. They did nothing but book the reservation. I had to do all the research and decide which cruise was best for my family myself. I didn't mind that because I enjoy doing the research and that way I'm sure that what I pick is a good fit (and I have nobody to blame but myself if it isn't). With the cruiselines' new no-discounting policy, travel agents are no longer allowed to rebate their commisions which means the cost for my cruises have gone up considerably. I don't particularly need or want the help of a travel agent when booking a cruise. I got used to doing it myself. So I have found a way that I can keep doing it myself and keep enjoying the great rates that I have gotten used to. What's wrong with that?
As for the $75 errors and ommissions insurance, the agency that I work with is not just some "online outfit", they are HUGE with over 4,000 independent travel consultants worldwide (most are "real" working travel agents). I'm sure their sheer size gives them much better bargaining power when negotiating insurance rates than you can get as an individual.
I also prefer to book my own travel. The main reason is my past experience with travel agents. I have had dealings with many clueless travel agents over the years one transaction ended in a rather costly disaster. Part of the problem is that there is no meaningful credential that makes one feel comfortable dealing with a travel agent. Sure there is IATA and the CTA and CTC certification and then there is CLIA. The problem is none of those affiliations or certifications tell me im dealing with a professional as they are all easily obtained by someone with a little money and some industry connections. Travel agents can only blame themselves for not banding together to regulate this industry and better protect the integrity of the credential and certification programs.
Well since you brought up travel agents my big complaint about the travel agents of toaday is that they only seem to be able to book things that arfe in a package in a book.
When we travel travel we like to go to various olaces and we go for 5-7weeks at a time.
When we have talked to travel agents about this and give them a list of where we want to go they never get back to you or are just baffled and pull out some blah tour book.
Where are the real travel agents who know how to research and arrange travel such as ferries in Europe , rail service transport between towns etc.
cruisingal, I think this is a subject which should die right now> If you see nothing wrong with what you are doing then be my guest. No one will convince you differently. yes, size does allow for more baraining power. I know that from the size of the agency I work for. I guess there isn't much else to say on the subject. There will always be those out there that can find a way to beat the system. .
One more thing, newmexicoNita, I'm a tax accountant. Do you think people who do their own taxes instead of paying me to do them are doing something unethical or trying to beat the system? Just wondering.
The way I see it Travel Agents are trying to sell 8 Track Tapes to people with Ipods. The industry has had many challenges over the years. The airlines cutting and eliminating commission, the internet booking engines and the list goes on. They have sued and screamed and played the victim but have really done very little to reinvent and market themselves. So perhaps the 8 track players will come back and then they will be in business again...but I doubt it.