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brewtown April 21st, 2009 11:37 AM

Cruise Travel Agent/Internet booking deals?
 
Looking to book a winter cruise and have had many suggestions on internet cruise websites that offer free gratuities, some offer shipboard credit of up to 10%.

Anyone have 1st hand experience what kind of service,perks you got from an internet site vs. booking via Royal direct because there appear to be little perks out there? Any help would be appreciated.

Mike-Suz April 21st, 2009 11:55 AM

We have been booking with [edited for commercial content] and he has been exceptionally helpful and offers us onboard cabin credits as well as bottles of wine delivered to our cabin. And never any cancellation fees.

Ed. note: this post recommends a cruise travel agent

WildRover April 21st, 2009 02:28 PM

You should be aware that some internet travel agents went belly up this year and took their customers vacations with them.

Make sure you are using a company with a solid reputation.
Do Not choose based on perks only!

I personally booked directly through RCL for my upcoming cruise out of concern that travel agencies were feeling the pinch a bit too much and I was unwilling to risk my hard earned vacation dollars.

Robbie H April 21st, 2009 03:23 PM

"RCI" limits the perks we can give you (legally) based on fare paid. This is due to their uniform pricing policy but even before we got our franchise, I was a customer with a T/A from the same company. Since most cruise T/A's don't add "garbage fees," I still think a T/A will do more for you than the cruise lines.

IMHO, a good T/A will always check for price reductions right up until final payment.

Hope you get some more postings so you can make an informed decision, Robbie

thecruisequeen April 21st, 2009 07:20 PM

Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

felix_the_cat April 21st, 2009 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

That tough but..........There is a lot of paperwork and time usually involved in making a reservation even if it's cancelled. The company I work for gives the option of charging $100 too but it can be applied to another cruise taken within a year. I also use common sense. If it's a repeat client I refuse to charge.

The amount of commission is very small so I suppose that is why your TA wants to charge $35 however I think that's high. But I wll tell you this - I made $3.00 off one booking and she complained and complained about the cost!!! It's all relative.

You are very lucky though in getting your insurance paid for. I can't do that for my clients as the cost would cost more than anything I could possibly make. I guess that's one of the difference between Canada and the US - cost of insurance.

thecruisequeen April 21st, 2009 07:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

That tough but..........There is a lot of paperwork and time usually involved in making a reservation even if it's cancelled. The company I work for gives the option of charging $100 too but it can be applied to another cruise taken within a year. I also use common sense. If it's a repeat client I refuse to charge.

The amount of commission is very small so I suppose that is why your TA wants to charge $35 however I think that's high. But I wll tell you this - I made $3.00 off one booking and she complained and complained about the cost!!! It's all relative.

You are very lucky though in getting your insurance paid for. I can't do that for my clients as the cost would cost more than anything I could possibly make. I guess that's one of the difference between Canada and the US - cost of insurance.

I booked directly so now I have to get my own insurance. She never told me that I would be able to apply the $100. to another sailing. I understood it as I cancel they keep the $100 per cruise so $200. So that was the main reason I booked directly with the cruiseline this time. Although my deposits are in and I have my cabins there is a chance I might have to change dates before final payment is due.

My gal at the TA that I was using for years had a medical issue and left so for the last 2 cruises I'm now dealing with a new gal in the office.

:)

Kuki April 21st, 2009 09:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

I'd NEVER book with an agent that keeps ANYTHING if I had to cancel. The cruise lines give a full refund when cancelled outside of final payment date, and that is what I expect the travel agent to do.

And charging $35 to get discounted prices is even MORE ridiculous!!!

That said... I'd ALWAYS use a GOOD travel agent. Though RCI prohibits agents from selling for less than RCI prices, they do allow them to purchase perks such as onboard credit from RCI to pass on to their passengers, and if agents happen to have group space that can also save you money.

Plus I'd never reward a cruise line with my booking, for refusing to allow travel agents to discount from their commissions to offer me a lower price.

If they are paying no travel agency commissions, they could offer me that discount, but they don't do that either! They just want their price. I'd rather have a TA working for me... in the event something goes wrong I have an advocate working for me, not an employee of the cruise line pretending to.

FL_Cruiser64 April 21st, 2009 09:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

That tough but..........There is a lot of paperwork and time usually involved in making a reservation even if it's cancelled. The company I work for gives the option of charging $100 too but it can be applied to another cruise taken within a year. I also use common sense. If it's a repeat client I refuse to charge.

The amount of commission is very small so I suppose that is why your TA wants to charge $35 however I think that's high. But I wll tell you this - I made $3.00 off one booking and she complained and complained about the cost!!! It's all relative.

You are very lucky though in getting your insurance paid for. I can't do that for my clients as the cost would cost more than anything I could possibly make. I guess that's one of the difference between Canada and the US - cost of insurance.

Ey, come on now.
I know you are in Canada but a cancellation is a click away.

I see no reason to charge for anything.

jaxon April 21st, 2009 10:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

I'd NEVER book with an agent that keeps ANYTHING if I had to cancel. The cruise lines give a full refund when cancelled outside of final payment date, and that is what I expect the travel agent to do.

And charging $35 to get discounted prices is even MORE ridiculous!!!

That said... I'd ALWAYS use a GOOD travel agent. Though RCI prohibits agents from selling for less than RCI prices, they do allow them to purchase perks such as onboard credit from RCI to pass on to their passengers, and if agents happen to have group space that can also save you money.

Plus I'd never reward a cruise line with my booking, for refusing to allow travel agents to discount from their commissions to offer me a lower price.

If they are paying no travel agency commissions, they could offer me that discount, but they don't do that either! They just want their price. I'd rather have a TA working for me... in the event something goes wrong I have an advocate working for me, not an employee of the cruise line pretending to.

I understand completely about booking directly and not getting a discount when the line doesn't have to pay a travel agent. I had an on line agent who I liked, but when a problem arose, she created more problems with her attitude. I appreciated that she tried to go to bat for me, but in the end, I was the one who negotiated the resolution. She left and I used her on line agency one more time -- when the price dropped, I was told I had to forego the drop or my little OBC -- the price drop was of greater value, so I gave up the OBC. So in the end, I got NOTHING for booking with them. Tried another outfit, booked 19 people, got nothing but a bottle of champaign, and a small OBC for each cabin, plus they were rude. When I asked about a tour operator's discount, I was told that they would have to take away all the small OBC's to give me one (should have tied that down at the onset, but I didn't know about them then). Ever since I have booked directly -- I trust myself to watch prices and negotiate resolutions.

FL_Cruiser64 April 21st, 2009 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaxon
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

I'd NEVER book with an agent that keeps ANYTHING if I had to cancel. The cruise lines give a full refund when cancelled outside of final payment date, and that is what I expect the travel agent to do.

And charging $35 to get discounted prices is even MORE ridiculous!!!

That said... I'd ALWAYS use a GOOD travel agent. Though RCI prohibits agents from selling for less than RCI prices, they do allow them to purchase perks such as onboard credit from RCI to pass on to their passengers, and if agents happen to have group space that can also save you money.

Plus I'd never reward a cruise line with my booking, for refusing to allow travel agents to discount from their commissions to offer me a lower price.

If they are paying no travel agency commissions, they could offer me that discount, but they don't do that either! They just want their price. I'd rather have a TA working for me... in the event something goes wrong I have an advocate working for me, not an employee of the cruise line pretending to.

I understand completely about booking directly and not getting a discount when the line doesn't have to pay a travel agent. I had an on line agent who I liked, but when a problem arose, she created more problems with her attitude. I appreciated that she tried to go to bat for me, but in the end, I was the one who negotiated the resolution. She left and I used her on line agency one more time -- when the price dropped, I was told I had to forego the drop or my little OBC -- the price drop was of greater value, so I gave up the OBC. So in the end, I got NOTHING for booking with them. Tried another outfit, booked 19 people, got nothing but a bottle of champaign, and a small OBC for each cabin, plus they were rude. When I asked about a tour operator's discount, I was told that they would have to take away all the small OBC's to give me one (should have tied that down at the onset, but I didn't know about them then). Ever since I have booked directly -- I trust myself to watch prices and negotiate resolutions.

Some pointers for the future:

When you book a group you do so as an affinity. The TC berth thumb of rule is that the first TC berth goes to the pied piper the second to the TA.

If you book into a promo/speculative group then there is no TC for you unless you bring enough people with you.

99.9% of the time cruises have group space with amenity points. So if you book a cruise with a group you should get something from the amenity points and if applicable the first TC berth. If the TA is nice he/she gives you a little extra. As a customer you have right to see the group manifest which shows you all the important stuff. A TA who refuses to give you that is hiding. Also, while RCI is pretty set with their TC berth (every 15 paid berth gets you a free berth minus non commission charges) a lot of cruise lines are flexible. Some cruises get you a free berth after 10 paid berths.

I definitely could tell you how I handle a group in a real life situation but I don't want that Kuki or Paul think that I advertise here.

felix_the_cat April 22nd, 2009 07:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FL_Cruiser64
Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

That tough but..........There is a lot of paperwork and time usually involved in making a reservation even if it's cancelled. The company I work for gives the option of charging $100 too but it can be applied to another cruise taken within a year. I also use common sense. If it's a repeat client I refuse to charge.

The amount of commission is very small so I suppose that is why your TA wants to charge $35 however I think that's high. But I wll tell you this - I made $3.00 off one booking and she complained and complained about the cost!!! It's all relative.

You are very lucky though in getting your insurance paid for. I can't do that for my clients as the cost would cost more than anything I could possibly make. I guess that's one of the difference between Canada and the US - cost of insurance.

Ey, come on now.
I know you are in Canada but a cancellation is a click away.

I see no reason to charge for anything.

I agree with you - but the company lays down the rules not me. There are a couple of us who have refused to charge the $100 but the agency owner can get cranky. However I do have one client who has that $100 sitting in the bank as they have booked and cancelled numerous times - I think they need to make up their mind and this is the incentive they need.

Read your fine print in your contract Oliver. I believe it is actually the same for you but your in a different position than me as well.

Kuki April 22nd, 2009 11:48 AM

Quote:

I agree with you - but the company lays down the rules not me. There are a couple of us who have refused to charge the $100 but the agency owner can get cranky.
And that's a horrible decision by the company, and honestly I'd never deal with them.

I'm Canadian, and haven't dealt with a Canadian cruise agency since my very first cruise. I advise all Canadians to look for the best deals they can find, and those are sadly normally south of the border.

The good news, they are a phone call, email, or click away.

felix_the_cat April 22nd, 2009 12:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

I agree with you - but the company lays down the rules not me. There are a couple of us who have refused to charge the $100 but the agency owner can get cranky.
And that's a horrible decision by the company, and honestly I'd never deal with them.

I'm Canadian, and haven't dealt with a Canadian cruise agency since my very first cruise. I advise all Canadians to look for the best deals they can find, and those are sadly normally south of the border.

The good news, they are a phone call, email, or click away.

However you can have issues if something happens such as the Conquest fiasco this week.

If you book with an American agency or direct with the cruiseline you have absolutely no recourse.

Out of curiousity Kuki, do you buy insurance and if so, where? Insurance bout from an American carrier actually doesn't cover you for anything.

I also don't agree that all the best deals are found in the states by far.

WildRover April 22nd, 2009 01:31 PM

Conquest fiasco?

details please.....

Kuki April 22nd, 2009 01:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

I agree with you - but the company lays down the rules not me. There are a couple of us who have refused to charge the $100 but the agency owner can get cranky.
And that's a horrible decision by the company, and honestly I'd never deal with them.

I'm Canadian, and haven't dealt with a Canadian cruise agency since my very first cruise. I advise all Canadians to look for the best deals they can find, and those are sadly normally south of the border.

The good news, they are a phone call, email, or click away.

However you can have issues if something happens such as the Conquest fiasco this week.

If you book with an American agency or direct with the cruiseline you have absolutely no recourse.

Out of curiousity Kuki, do you buy insurance and if so, where? Insurance bout from an American carrier actually doesn't cover you for anything.

I also don't agree that all the best deals are found in the states by far.

Conquest tours wasn't a good example... they were a Canadian company. LOL

In the case of RCI they force all agents to sell for the same price (which I hate because they force customers to pay full price, prohibiting agents from discounting.. thereby denying me the ability to shop for better prices).

I've run the CruiseMates group cruise program for 10 years, and have yet to find a Canadian agency who could compete with the bids I get from agencies south of the border.

Canadian travel agencies take advantage of Canadian customers because the vast majority don't shop for prices elsewhere. Canadian agencies don't really have to compete on price, so they rarely do.

At least up until recently a large percentage of Canadian agencies were a part of Encore ( a consortium of sorts), and most offered the same price.

I have to admit I haven't shopped for bids with a Canadian agency for some time, so I suppose it's possible the situation may have changed.

As for insurance, I've used Travelex, Travelguard, and Access America, and I've got full coverage as a Canadian. Their web sites have listings enabling Canadians to purchase insurance. They operate as International companies.

felix_the_cat April 22nd, 2009 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildRover
Conquest fiasco?

details please.....

Conquest is (was) a Canadian supplier. It went bankrupt last week leaving people stranded all over the Carib. Skyservice picked most of them up and brought them back to Canada but not before a lot of the hotels played havoc with the tourists by demanding money for their hotel rooms and locking them out of same. Some of the hotels in Mexico were demanding as much as $6,000.

Now, further for Kuki - you are booking Canadians through agencies in the US? Are you telling them (at least if they are from Ontario, Quebec and BC) that they have no coverage with TICO and the the comparable programs in PQ and BC that they have no coverage should something happen to the air carrier or cruiseline?

Also, I am with a large agency but we have nothing to do with Encore although I know what you are talking about. Anyway, not get into a big back and forth here (see we're civil LOL ) but with the cost of the US $$, lack of any government aid and I do believe I get a comparable price to any agency in the US, I have never personally and would never personally buy anything with a US agency.

But that's only me................

Kuki April 22nd, 2009 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat

Now, further for Kuki - you are booking Canadians through agencies in the US? Are you telling them (at least if they are from Ontario, Quebec and BC) that they have no coverage with TICO and the the comparable programs in PQ and BC that they have no coverage should something happen to the air carrier or cruiseline?

I don't book anyone. I'm not a travel agent. My opinions are simply that... opinions... based on 50+ cruises since 1995.

My only interest is encouraging people to research all their options before booking, and hopefully saving them $$ in the long run.

Of course the buyer has to be aware of the potential problems they face. These days one does have to be careful as even the largest operators can go broke. One should look into the history of the TA they are booking with... how long they've been in business, references and past customer recommendations, and their knowledge of the industry (asking questions).

Admittedly my advice may be worth what people are paying for it... nothing LOL

brewtown April 22nd, 2009 03:03 PM

Wow people. Some really good stuff and lots to think about. I have learned more in these posts about TA vs direct than I ever thought I would.

Thanks to all.

felix_the_cat April 22nd, 2009 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat

Now, further for Kuki - you are booking Canadians through agencies in the US? Are you telling them (at least if they are from Ontario, Quebec and BC) that they have no coverage with TICO and the the comparable programs in PQ and BC that they have no coverage should something happen to the air carrier or cruiseline?

I don't book anyone. I'm not a travel agent. My opinions are simply that... opinions... based on 50+ cruises since 1995.

My only interest is encouraging people to research all their options before booking, and hopefully saving them $$ in the long run.

Of course the buyer has to be aware of the potential problems they face. These days one does have to be careful as even the largest operators can go broke. One should look into the history of the TA they are booking with... how long they've been in business, references and past customer recommendations, and their knowledge of the industry (asking questions).

Admittedly my advice may be worth what people are paying for it... nothing LOL

Kuki - you have far too much knowledge to say your advise is worth nothing. Sorry - I don't know where I got the idea you are a TA. Your are also qute correct in pointing out everyone should consider all options and do their research before making their decisons. More these days than any other.

Even I am giving a lot of thought to my personal bookings on how far ahead I want to place my own money. That's one of the things I consider when making a recommendation - would I be willing to place my money where my mouth is.

Questions questions questions - absolutely......

Really, we're on the same page.........what's the best you can do.........and the best price you can get it at...... :)

Amberderossi May 25th, 2009 08:13 PM

I am a travel agent and I charge professional consultation fees. I never compete on price but on service yet I do get my clients the best possible value. I give my clients what they truly want and offer several levels of service not available from the online agencies or many other travel agents.

I do charge cancellation or change fees on groups because groups take quite a bit of work and like many here I do not work for free.

I don't work with price shoppers because the price of the cruise has nothing to do with the service that I am offering. I work for my clients and not for my suppliers and as such my clients pay my salary. The suppliers provide my a commission for booking a client with them.

Kuki May 25th, 2009 08:47 PM

Quote:

I work for my clients and not for my suppliers and as such my clients pay my salary.
I agree with you an agent should work for their clients, not the cruise lines. HOWEVER, the commission IS your salary, and in my view you shouldn't be charging your clients over and above the amount of commission you earn by representing your clients.

Over the years I've heard the mantra of we "provide service" or "we give our clients value ",so we don't discount, and we charge extra fees.

I've been around the industry long enough to know there are plenty of great agents who provide BOTH without charging extra for the priviledge of working with them.

I don't think travel agents should work for nothing, but I absolutely don't go along with the view that an agent can only provide good service if they are charging all sorts of additional fees.

cruisermeg May 25th, 2009 08:56 PM

my agent works for a HUGE company...she is wonderful...they do NOT charge fees for changing things, etc. there are small fees for ticket issuing that isn't part of a package but she can waive them.....

don't want to say what it is, but travel is only one thing they offer.

we are really low maintenence...all she does is collect the money. but she forgot my OBC...it was only 50 bucks...but i then had to wait 3 months for the check to come! i even called from st thomas. i believe that they are a big enough company that she could have called and bought me some obc or something while i was on the ship!

in any event, i would NEVER pay a consultation fee......i understand that commissions have been cut....but if a TA is going to charge me to do what i can do for free......and they are getting paid by a cruise line....i am going someplace else. I am not quite sure why kind of service will be provided......

Amberderossi May 25th, 2009 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
I've been around the industry long enough to know there are plenty of great agents who provide BOTH without charging extra for the priviledge of working with them.

I don't think travel agents should work for nothing, but I absolutely don't go along with the view that an agent can only provide good service if they are charging all sorts of additional fees.

You have never had people call you asking for a quote on a trip (which is the same as they can get direct) and then move on to the next agent all the while not returning phone calls or emails. It also depends on what exactly you define as good service. Taking an order takes very little skill and is certainly not service by any definition.

I have the luxury of picking and choosing my clients. My clients come to me because they are in information overload, they are looking for advice, they want extra time and personal attention. They want to work with a human and want that human experience.

You may be of the opinion that the commission is my salary, but I don't share it. With the prices coming down to unheard of levels all the while the cruiselines are raising the parts of the fare where they don't pay commission, something has to give.

I will say that most of the people on this message board are not the type of clients I am seeking. I have a business model and quite honestly it works rather well. My business tripled when I went to fee based consulting.

Most people do not book their second cruise with the person who sold them their first one. 98% of the people who book with me, keeping booking with me. I never compete on price ever, and believe or not there is a large segment of the population willing to pay for it. How do you think someone like a professional shopper is able to stay in business? People can just go off and buy, wrap and send that gift themselves for free yet many pay a professional to take care of it.

FL_Cruiser64 May 25th, 2009 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amberderossi
I am a travel agent and I charge professional consultation fees. I never compete on price but on service yet I do get my clients the best possible value. I give my clients what they truly want and offer several levels of service not available from the online agencies or many other travel agents.

I do charge cancellation or change fees on groups because groups take quite a bit of work and like many here I do not work for free.

I don't work with price shoppers because the price of the cruise has nothing to do with the service that I am offering. I work for my clients and not for my suppliers and as such my clients pay my salary. The suppliers provide my a commission for booking a client with them.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amberderossi
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuki
I've been around the industry long enough to know there are plenty of great agents who provide BOTH without charging extra for the priviledge of working with them.

I don't think travel agents should work for nothing, but I absolutely don't go along with the view that an agent can only provide good service if they are charging all sorts of additional fees.

You have never had people call you asking for a quote on a trip (which is the same as they can get direct) and then move on to the next agent all the while not returning phone calls or emails. It also depends on what exactly you define as good service. Taking an order takes very little skill and is certainly not service by any definition.

I have the luxury of picking and choosing my clients. My clients come to me because they are in information overload, they are looking for advice, they want extra time and personal attention. They want to work with a human and want that human experience.

You may be of the opinion that the commission is my salary, but I don't share it. With the prices coming down to unheard of levels all the while the cruiselines are raising the parts of the fare where they don't pay commission, something has to give.

I will say that most of the people on this message board are not the type of clients I am seeking. I have a business model and quite honestly it works rather well. My business tripled when I went to fee based consulting.

Most people do not book their second cruise with the person who sold them their first one. 98% of the people who book with me, keeping booking with me. I never compete on price ever, and believe or not there is a large segment of the population willing to pay for it. How do you think someone like a professional shopper is able to stay in business? People can just go off and buy, wrap and send that gift themselves for free yet many pay a professional to take care of it.

This is exactly why I became a TA - travel agents like you. Sorry, anybody who sees commission from cruiselines the way you do is not worth a penny IMO. You are simply double dipping. Good for you if it works for you which honestly I do not believe. Carry on.

Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by FL_Cruiser64
Quote:

Originally Posted by felix_the_cat
Quote:

Originally Posted by thecruisequeen
Well for the first time I booked directly with Royal and Carnival. My TA who is a cruise only TA was great however they made some changes.

1. If I book a cruise then cancel it they will charge me $100. even if it is well before the final payment. :shock:

2. When there is a price drop they now charge $35. to call the cruiseline and adjust the difference. :shock:

3. No more bottle of wine in the cabin either. :o

Talk about Cutbacks :!: :!: One thing remains the same is they still offer the free insurance.

:)

That tough but..........There is a lot of paperwork and time usually involved in making a reservation even if it's cancelled. The company I work for gives the option of charging $100 too but it can be applied to another cruise taken within a year. I also use common sense. If it's a repeat client I refuse to charge.

The amount of commission is very small so I suppose that is why your TA wants to charge $35 however I think that's high. But I wll tell you this - I made $3.00 off one booking and she complained and complained about the cost!!! It's all relative.

You are very lucky though in getting your insurance paid for. I can't do that for my clients as the cost would cost more than anything I could possibly make. I guess that's one of the difference between Canada and the US - cost of insurance.

Ey, come on now.
I know you are in Canada but a cancellation is a click away.

I see no reason to charge for anything.

I agree with you - but the company lays down the rules not me. There are a couple of us who have refused to charge the $100 but the agency owner can get cranky. However I do have one client who has that $100 sitting in the bank as they have booked and cancelled numerous times - I think they need to make up their mind and this is the incentive they need.

Read your fine print in your contract Oliver. I believe it is actually the same for you but your in a different position than me as well.

I don't have a contract in which I have to charge any fee. It certainly is up to me but I am not forced to. I do believe there are some differences between US based independents and Canadian retail. I haven my own travel agency and "our company" is my host agency where I clear my cruises through.

I do impose fees for flights and flight research (airlines do not pay commission) - but only if they are not combined with cruises. Cruises booked through me get flights at whole sale rates - no added fees.

It has yet to take me longer than 30 minutes to book anybody. Heck, it takes me 30 minutes to upsell someone from inside to balcony. My commission take is plenty to consider this a decent pay.

I think it is also an art to sell cruises and make money. If someone sells only lowest inside on 3 and 4 Night cruises I can see where one struggles and maybe that's why some have to impose additional fees.

I am not sure how much freedom you have but there is an easy way to turn one single booking into a group and increased sales volume. Then it doesn't matter if that one person cancels or not. Anyhow.

Excellent thread.

Kuki May 26th, 2009 12:21 AM

Quote:

You have never had people call you asking for a quote on a trip (which is the same as they can get direct) and then move on to the next agent all the while not returning phone calls or emails. It also depends on what exactly you define as good service. Taking an order takes very little skill and is certainly not service by any definition.
I've had 30 years experience in the hotel, bars and restaurant business. It's called the hospitality industry for a reason. It's all about service... so indeed, while I haven't sold cruises, I know a lot about service.

And through my high school and college years I sold men's clothing, on commissions... so I know a bit about working for commissions, and spending time, and losing customers in spite of it.

Hey... if you can find folks willing to part with larger portions of their hard earned money to get on a ship with tons of folks who've paid less, you had better do everything you can to keep them LOL

Amberderossi May 26th, 2009 06:25 AM

And I have a stable of clients willing to pay for our services. I also had a client that I spent enough time dealing with where my gross income if only paid by the cruiseline would be $6.50 an hour. If you think your supplier should determine your income that is fine, however I disagree.

In many other industries the client pays when they 'change their mind' for the time involved to make changes. Yet TAs are just expected to do it all of the time. My clients come to me because they do not want to do it themselves. They are looking for an experience and it is not just about the cruise even if that is my entire niche.

brewtown May 26th, 2009 05:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FL_Cruiser64
Excellent thread.

Thanks FL, yes...this thread has opened up some lively conversation by some very experienced people.

Bottom line that I have out that many travel agents have $ and discount flexibilities that Royal doesn't when booking, albeit the agents work for less the more you get off your booking.

Amberderossi May 26th, 2009 05:35 PM

Just something to think about. Lowest price does not always mean the best deal. One question you should be asking is how you will be contacted if there is a deviation in your travel plans. I was on a familiarization trip when the H1N1 virus changed travel to Mexico. I spent a good part of my working vacation calling clients personally to advise them of the changes.

Will that happen with some of the discount and OBC agencies?


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