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  #1  
Old July 17th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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Question If you book directly through the cruiseline they don't have to pay a TA a commission

From my understanding and TA's, please correct me if I'm wrong, the cruiselines pay significant commissions to TA for booking a cruise. Alternatively, if you book directly on the cruiseline's website you pay virtually the same price as if you booked through most TA. If you book onboard you get a $200 shipboard credit. Since the commissions paid to TA are far in excess of the $200, especially for the higher priced suites, why aren't the cruiselines providing a greater monetary incentive to book directly with them. They would make more money, wouldn't they? It would be like a TA spliting part of his/her commission with you.
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  #2  
Old July 17th, 2005, 06:00 PM
laughoutloud laughoutloud is offline
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I don't know if TA commission always exceeds $200 ( is that pp or per cabin? Anyway, since the majority of cruises are booked thru agents, maybe they don't want to bite the hand that's feeding them? And which cruise line wants to start that trend and come off loking like the "Bad Guy'?
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Old July 17th, 2005, 06:10 PM
Cruisemom39 Cruisemom39 is offline
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Most TAs get 10% of the cruise fare - not the noncommisionables such as port taxes and government taxes. If a couple is paying $2500 for a cruise, for instance, the TA may get a commission of about $200-215. TAs act as the local/community extension of a sales team for cruise lines. For the experienced traveler who is internet savvy, you could probably do just as well on your own. For others (including first-timers or others who need guidance towards a particular line, cabin type, port, etc., or those with limited internet access), TAs can provide valuable knowledge.

The internet has put many TAs out of business. Look at the airlines - they have airlines dramatically decreased TA commissions and forced the closure of many small TAs. Only those that do business or group travel even stand a chance with airfare commissions these days. In the early 1990s probably 80% of all airline tickets were issued by agencies. I'm sure cruise lines will follow suit in some form. Its buyer beware, however. Things change (i.e. citizenship documentation requirements) and if the traveling public takes arrangements into their own hands, they better stay current on the issues in the industry (for most on these boards, its not an issue. For the others....well.....who knows).
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  #4  
Old July 17th, 2005, 06:14 PM
Cruisemom39 Cruisemom39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laughoutloud
I don't know if TA commission always exceeds $200 ( is that pp or per cabin? Anyway, since the majority of cruises are booked thru agents, maybe they don't want to bite the hand that's feeding them? And which cruise line wants to start that trend and come off loking like the "Bad Guy'?
Hopefully the cruise lines will have more decency than to "do" the TAs the way the airlines have. The airlines have been ruthless. When you use a TA you are using a more personal service than you would with a single call to a reservation agent. A good TA is worth his/her weight in gold. A bad one can sour you on the whole profession, as in anything, unfortunately.
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  #5  
Old July 17th, 2005, 06:15 PM
Lamar Cheeks Lamar Cheeks is offline
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We just booked a cruise for next year, for nine people. Did a lot of internet research, and in the end, booked directly through Royal Caribbean. The best deal I could get from a TA was 10 bucks more per person (90 bucks) and 50 dollar gift card, so it would have been 40 more through a TA. I was also told booking through AAA would delay my deposit, which wasn't such a big deal. It's the first time we have gone directly through RC (in four cruises). Now that travel agencies don't get to discount RC cruises, they'll be hurt even more.
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  #6  
Old July 17th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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I hope that the cruiselines won't force TAs out of business--just another example of corporate America taking over.
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  #7  
Old July 17th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuNYC
From my understanding and TA's, please correct me if I'm wrong, the cruiselines pay significant commissions to TA for booking a cruise. Alternatively, if you book directly on the cruiseline's website you pay virtually the same price as if you booked through most TA. If you book onboard you get a $200 shipboard credit. Since the commissions paid to TA are far in excess of the $200, especially for the higher priced suites, why aren't the cruiselines providing a greater monetary incentive to book directly with them. They would make more money, wouldn't they? It would be like a TA spliting part of his/her commission with you.
You dont get a $200 onboard credit unless your cruise is 9 nights or more. 7 night cruises are only $100.

If you book directly with the cruiseline you will pay exactly the same as any TA will charge you. A good TA will watch your booking for price reductions. The cruiseline will not.

Far exceed $200 commission for TA's? Wrong!!!!
The company that you book through makes anywhere from 10-15% of the commisionable rate of you cruise. The actual TA makes only a part of that. For a TA to actually get a $200 check for your booking, your cabin cost would have to be at around $3400 for the cruise and roughly $400 for non commisionables making the total cabin cost $3800. Thats a pretty good cabin!The TA's company would make $3400 x 10% = $340 and the TA might make 60% of that making their check $204.
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  #8  
Old July 17th, 2005, 07:26 PM
fodorspeter fodorspeter is offline
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Don't blame the cruise lines for wanting more direct bookings. Its basic economics. Same as was with the airlines and hotels.

Peter
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  #9  
Old July 17th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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Just another perspective...

My Mom is a TA and she said it actually takes the pressure off of some travel agencies. Since they can't offer the same discounts and incentives, there's not as much competition in that regard. For some people that makes things easier. You won't lose regular customers because they found a different price for the same cruise somewhere else.
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  #10  
Old July 17th, 2005, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisemom39
Hopefully the cruise lines will have more decency than to "do" the TAs the way the airlines have. The airlines have been ruthless. When you use a TA you are using a more personal service than you would with a single call to a reservation agent. A good TA is worth his/her weight in gold. A bad one can sour you on the whole profession, as in anything, unfortunately.
TA's have been were ruthless too. (Former travel agent posting here.) Some would book one passenger for 3-4 different flights on different airlines until the passenger decided which flight he/she preferred. (Taking that discounted seat out of airline inventory for another potential passenger.) Also, (before airlines were able to tighten the reigns on FF miles) much fraud was committed with family members using one another's FF number so the other could accrue the miles. Yes, I was told that 'the daughter is traveling but wants her mother to accrue to the miles, post her AAdvantage number in the name field.'

I quit after two mos. (And knew MANY other agencies who were just as unethical.) They're not all that innocent. Let the airlines, and cruise lines keep the commissions.
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  #11  
Old July 17th, 2005, 08:26 PM
Jim Gallup Jim Gallup is offline
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The cruise lines do not want EVER to compete with Travel Agents. On many cruise lines, if you book a future cruise onboard, they will ask you for your travel agent's name and contact numbers. The comission for the cruise you just bought will be paid to your travel agent even though the agent did nothing for the sale.
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  #12  
Old July 17th, 2005, 08:28 PM
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The cruise lines, RCI included, aren't going to charge less than the TA's price for a couple of reasons. First, as others have pointed out, they don't want to alienate the companies that still sell a significant portion of their inventory. But it seems to me there's another reason: if you book directly with RCI, they have to handle the customer service that the TA would otherwise provide in exchange for the commission. It costs the cruise line money to employ people to answer questions about passports and visas, arrange special diets, change your dinner seating, process your deposit and final payment, etc. etc. If you book through a TA and then call RCI to handle these kinds of things, they generally send you right back to your TA.

I suspect this was a main reason for RCI's policy of one price/no discounting - they were having to do too much hand-holding with customers who'd booked through discount agencies that cut prices so low they couldn't afford to provide much in the way of customer service. So RCI would end up with lots more customer service calls and probably lots more clueless passengers (the ones who didn't call to ask about visas, dress codes, etc.).

I don't like the higher prices and no discounting, mind you; I just can understand how it might have come down to this.

But, as usual, I could be wrong.

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  #13  
Old July 17th, 2005, 09:10 PM
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I'm not convinced it's a matter of economics for RCI to want more direct bookings vs booking through TA's. I'm wondering how expensive it is for RCI to hire people to handle the bookings and service that goes along with them that a TA handles for a 10 - 15% comission. Seems as if the cruiselines get extra help cheaper than employing enough people directly to handle everything.

I don't believe one can acurately compare what the airlines have done with the cruiselines. When I buy an airline ticket, it's to get from point A to point B at the cheapest cost with the least amount of inconvenience. After a few hours, the flight is over and I'm on my way.

With cruiselines, there's so much more service than an airline ticket. Cabin selection, assitance choosing an itenerary, assitance choosing a cruisline and then all the changes a customer might want over the next year. Cruise tickets are fully refundable up to a point as well so that cabin that's booked 18 months out might be cancelled and rebooked a couple of times before finally being paid for. While I don't make a lot of changes, I did change from NCL back to RCI when RCI came out with Vision departing from Seattle, a lower price than what NCL offered and a better itenerary for us. That generated some work on our TA's part, even though it's a streamlined, low service online TA.
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  #14  
Old July 17th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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On the point of the airlines putting many TA's out of business, I don't see the point. If the airline can give you a cheaper rate by booking directly through them then it's common sense that people will do it that way.

I don't see how anyone can need advice on booking an airline flight. Most people are online now and can easily book their own flight from the convenience of their own home. What advice could the TA give you about booking a flight?

I do, however, see the point of TAs for booking things such as cruises and hotels *if* you need advice, otherwise it may be cheaper to book elsewhere (aka internet). I like to do my own research (and I realize not everyone does). I researched which cruiseline I wanted to go on, which ship, and what type of cabin we wanted. I got prices online and visited a large brick-and-mortar travel agency. All they did was call RCCL and get the price, same as I could have done. Now, I realize that Royal Caribbean's policy is that the TA cannot give you cheaper prices. If you want an example of a travel provider trying to put TA's out of business then that's a great one.

Needless to say I booked my cruise on an internet site and have been very happy with their service.
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  #15  
Old July 17th, 2005, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Cheeks
We just booked a cruise for next year, for nine people. Did a lot of internet research, and in the end, booked directly through Royal Caribbean. The best deal I could get from a TA was 10 bucks more per person (90 bucks) and 50 dollar gift card, so it would have been 40 more through a TA. I was also told booking through AAA would delay my deposit, which wasn't such a big deal. It's the first time we have gone directly through RC (in four cruises). Now that travel agencies don't get to discount RC cruises, they'll be hurt even more.
Actually you should have been able to get your cruise from a local TA (or one on the internet for that matter) for the same price that you found on RCI's website, and if you used a credit card your deposit would have been credited at the time you booked. In theory at least, small travel agencies may benefit from RCI's policy since the large agencies which receive higher commissions won't be able to offer lower prices by rebating part of their commission. If, for example, a large agency, because of the volume of business they book with RCI, gets a 15% commission, before the new policy went into effect, they could rebate say 10% of their commission, while a smaller agency which only receives a standard 10% commission would have to forfeit the whole amount to match the larger agency's price. Do that often enough and the smaller agency closes its doors and once that happens, how long would the larger agency continue with its generous rebates?
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Old July 17th, 2005, 10:22 PM
laughoutloud laughoutloud is offline
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This set of posts has been one of the most articulate, reasonable debates of the pro/ cons re: TA's that I have read on CC. No bashing, no hot heads. Congrats to all of you...
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  #17  
Old July 17th, 2005, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougp26364
I'm not convinced it's a matter of economics for RCI to want more direct bookings vs booking through TA's. I'm wondering how expensive it is for RCI to hire people to handle the bookings and service that goes along with them that a TA handles for a 10 - 15% comission. Seems as if the cruiselines get extra help cheaper than employing enough people directly to handle everything.

I don't believe one can acurately compare what the airlines have done with the cruiselines. When I buy an airline ticket, it's to get from point A to point B at the cheapest cost with the least amount of inconvenience. After a few hours, the flight is over and I'm on my way.

With cruiselines, there's so much more service than an airline ticket. Cabin selection, assitance choosing an itenerary, assitance choosing a cruisline and then all the changes a customer might want over the next year. Cruise tickets are fully refundable up to a point as well so that cabin that's booked 18 months out might be cancelled and rebooked a couple of times before finally being paid for. While I don't make a lot of changes, I did change from NCL back to RCI when RCI came out with Vision departing from Seattle, a lower price than what NCL offered and a better itenerary for us. That generated some work on our TA's part, even though it's a streamlined, low service online TA.
Keep this in mind - a large corporation such as RCL or Carnival - in addition to Salary paid to a CSR pays Fringe Benefits which the last time I calculate was about 41% of the employees pay ( Social Security, 401k, Medical etc).

A small travel agency may pay their employees base + commission and may not offer benefits.

But as others have indicated - when you book with a TA - it is the "package" Hotels, Rental car maybe, Air fare - advice - you are not going to get that dealing with the cruiseline becuse they don't know what is the best/cheapest hotel in West Bygod - they only know what hotels the Cruiseline deals with. Same is true with the internet agencies - you are nothing more than an email address. I prefer dealing with the same agency - they remember things like I prefer late seating etc as they keep a profile.
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  #18  
Old July 17th, 2005, 11:22 PM
fodorspeter fodorspeter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hermang
Keep this in mind - a large corporation such as RCL or Carnival - in addition to Salary paid to a CSR pays Fringe Benefits which the last time I calculate was about 41% of the employees pay ( Social Security, 401k, Medical etc).

A small travel agency may pay their employees base + commission and may not offer benefits.

But as others have indicated - when you book with a TA - it is the "package" Hotels, Rental car maybe, Air fare - advice - you are not going to get that dealing with the cruiseline becuse they don't know what is the best/cheapest hotel in West Bygod - they only know what hotels the Cruiseline deals with. Same is true with the internet agencies - you are nothing more than an email address. I prefer dealing with the same agency - they remember things like I prefer late seating etc as they keep a profile.
Actually, 33% is closer to an average for finges than 41%. Using a base salary of $30K and adding another third for fringes, the commissions from one average sailing could pay for five people for a full year. The economics are overwhelmingly in favor of cruise lines booking their own cruises and eliminating the commissions. Those that suggest the cruiselines would never infringe on the TA's business for fear of losing business, they are the same ones suggesting the airlines would never chance eliminating commissions.

Just how difficult do you TA's think booking a cruise is? Someone above mentioned the itineraries, picking the cruise line, etc. Just how incompetent do you think we are? We book our own air, our own hotel rooms, our own rental cars. We do our banking on the internet. We use email to write our families and friends and we upload our digital pictures for their enjoyment. We manage our stock portfolios online and we shop online for birthdays, weddings, Christmas and a new set of golf clubs. We sell our used computers on ebay, we send electronic thank you cards and our teenagers research their school papers online. We use all of the latest software to keep track of our budgets and prepare our income tax returns.

Do you think its beyond us to decide on the Western verses Eastern or Southern Caribbean, a seven day cruise verses a four dayer, sail on RCCL because we want to sail out of Galveston, an inside cabin instead of outside because we want to save money? Do you think we can't come to sites like this and get more and better information or questions answered than calling one TA?

Peter

Last edited by fodorspeter; July 17th, 2005 at 11:37 PM.
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  #19  
Old July 17th, 2005, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laughoutloud
This set of posts has been one of the most articulate, reasonable debates of the pro/ cons re: TA's that I have read on CC. No bashing, no hot heads. Congrats to all of you...
shhhhhhhhhhhhhh don't tempt the gods.
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Old July 18th, 2005, 06:29 AM
Cruisemom39 Cruisemom39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fodorspeter
Just how difficult do you TA's think booking a cruise is? Someone above mentioned the itineraries, picking the cruise line, etc. Just how incompetent do you think we are? We book our own air, our own hotel rooms, our own rental cars. We do our banking on the internet. We use email to write our families and friends and we upload our digital pictures for their enjoyment. We manage our stock portfolios online and we shop online for birthdays, weddings, Christmas and a new set of golf clubs. We sell our used computers on ebay, we send electronic thank you cards and our teenagers research their school papers online. We use all of the latest software to keep track of our budgets and prepare our income tax returns.

Do you think its beyond us to decide on the Western verses Eastern or Southern Caribbean, a seven day cruise verses a four dayer, sail on RCCL because we want to sail out of Galveston, an inside cabin instead of outside because we want to save money? Do you think we can't come to sites like this and get more and better information or questions answered than calling one TA?

Peter
Alas, someone had to infer a personal attack...

Peter, I believe in my post I specifically stated that TAs could help the first-time cruister or those unfamiliar with internet. Obviously that's not you, and I congratulate you. However, there are many out there that have not cruised and/or are not comfortable booking thru the internet or directly with the cruise line. I stand by my original statement, and once again congratulate you on your internet capabilities!!
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