Cruise line leaves us out in the cold?

From: Emma Sanger - Ace Cruise Ambassador

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It has been an interesting week. Business is quiet and everyone is struggling to bag those December Sales. In these difficult trading conditions it’s tough to compete with other agencies but having to compete directly with Tour Operators is far from ideal.

The jungle drums have been beating around the Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors and all is not well. It seems that one of the Cruise lines have been calling, yes calling our clients! Inviting them to book directly with them and saying that no agent will be able to match their deals as they are no longer allowed to discount their product. They have also been providing our customers with a telephone number for their own Personal Cruise Consultant.

This behaviour seems very underhanded, especially as many of us have been very supportive to this company in the past. Are agents no longer paramount to the success of your business? Can you risk us not switch selling to other brands? There have also been instances of agents not being able to match a price being directly offered to our customers. If this is the case then you risk alienating the Travel Industry even further and I urge you to re consider your approach to contacting our clients directly.

So I ask all of the Major Cruise lines to comment here about what their procedures are. For those of you that currently don’t, do you have plans to do so? This is a great opportunity for us agents to know exactly were you/we stand on this issue.

I look forward to your comments.

Emma x

Readers' comments (15)

  • Its does seems that some of the cruise lines are so desperate to get direct clients they will do anything to get passengers to hone them. As an agent who likes to be one step ahead, I always give my contact details to the companies to stop them direct marketing to clients, AND I RECOMMEND ALL AGENTS FOLLOW THIS. Of course its not just cruise lines, in fact anywhere and see a request for data capture, in go my details. There are to positives to this actions one is that I get the direct marketing from the companies, change the contact details and forward to my clients, so thank you for doing all the hard of creating for me, and secondly, my post man is guaranteed work for years, in fact he's changed from having a bike to driving a van. So thank you cruise lines and tour operators, for all the marketing support. Oh and just before anyone says I can't do that, I have check with the Information Commissioner office, and they would really like to hear from agents, with details held by the tour operators are meant to be for emergency not for marketing.

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  • " I can't wait" - is the flyer I got through the post the other day, one for me and one for a customer both of us recently sailed.... Great offers 10% off cruises from £599.00, "wow I thought, great for my customers must tell them all of this news" then I turned over the flyer. AND ......
    "These offers won't wait, book now."

    On Line and the direct phone number, NO mention of the Travel Agent none whatsoever.

    I have worked so hard to gain these customers and their trust. Sold them, what I believe is a fantastic product promote a cruise line that I personally travel with then BANG, off they go and try and take my customer away - This is unfair play and quite frankly a disgrace. You would never have gained this customer if it wasnt for me selling them a cruise. Like my colleague above only my details will be entered from now on.
    Come on and play fair, we supported you in the recent commission cuts and now your going way way below the belt. I will always support you but need the same in return.
    An explanation would be most welcome.

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  • P&O thank you for stealing my client and ensuring I do not earn anything from you. A past client called to book a cabin on a ship which had been full but a couple of cabins had just been released possible cancellations. She had already spoken to the cruise line and received their price. My price was £120 pp more as they had given her a further discount which there was no way I could match. Strange as I am sure that CCS promised this would not happen. We would all be singing from the same hymn sheet! Will I be advertising them in the future. I think not. I am not interested in promoting cruise lines who are dishonest. It will be interesting to see just how soon they regret cutting out travel agents.

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  • I have switch sold several cruises from CCS in the last few months and will continue to do so. I was paid a measly 2% on a recent cruise with them as no commission on flights!!! Disgusting behavior - I will not be supporting them and I truly hope Fred Olsen don't go down the same route - as they say don't bite the hand that feeds you! As more and more cruise lines offer cruises ex UK it gets easier and easier to switch sell!

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  • To reassure agents, CCS cruise lines are not offfering any deals to passengers which are not available to travel agents - this is an absolute fact.

    We do have a very small outbound team who are calling past passengers who haven't rebooked and have given their permission for us to contact them. These passengers aren't being offered incentives to book direct, indeed we are very happy to book them with an agent, we are just looking for them to rebook. If our call helps them to make a purchasing decision, then we all win.

    If agents have a specific concern, they should contact their sales team contact or speak to our reservations dept who will be very happy to explain and resolve any issues.

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  • I am afraid Mr Hawke that this is incorrect. My clients actually booked direct with P&O on Friday after been given a price that was £120 pp cheaper than I was given on Polar. The very least that should have happened was that the booking was transfered to me. I was speaking to reservations trying to sort it out at the same time the client was booking direct.

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  • Mr Hawkes
    Further to Lesley's comment, perhaps CCS, could organise some webinar sessions, with a "how to get the most out of Polar session" to ensure that we can match the fares offered by reservations and to refresh those of us like me who have been selling you product for over 25 years, and for my colleagues who would like to increase their knowledge of the system to develop and maximise revenue for themselves and CCS. Its a difficult market especially for operators with large capacity, so please embrace the support that the Co-operative Personal Travel can bring to the table, and work with us, because we have many good quality clients who are looking for more than just one or two weeks in a resort, and with your support we can convert them from land lovers to cruise lovers, because as you know, once they are converted there is no going back. Whilst writing, I would like to ask if you have any thoughts about basing ships in a northern port such as Liverpool, as we have so many quality clients in the north of the country who may be put off cruising, by having to travel to Southampton. Thanks for reading this Mr Hawkes and I very much look forward to your comments.

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  • Dear Richard and Lesley. Someone from ccs will be in contact with you directly to follow up on your comments/questions. kind regards
    Giles

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  • Emma Sanger

    Please see below comment from MSC Cruises Director of Sales

    We do not call clients and ask them to book direct with us.??We have and always will support the trade.??

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  • Emma Sanger

    From Nathan Philpot, Sales and Marketing Director, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines:
     
    QUOTE
     
    At Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, we are committed to continuing to work with and support the trade. It is our policy not to undercut agents, and this will not be changing in the future.   

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  • Hi Richard - one of the CCS sales team will be in touch to organise a webinar on how to get the most of the ccs.com travel agent online booking tool. In the meantime we have loaded a pre-recorded webinar on "how to get the most out of ccs.com" at

    http://www.completecruisesolution.com/agent-tools/webinars/previous-webinars.aspx


    and there are also "How to book" guides at

    http://www.completecruisesolution.com/agent-tools/how-to-booking-guides.aspx

    and some Academy training modules to help you with online booking at

    http://www.completecruisesolution.com/academy.aspx

    Regarding Liverpool departures, we had a couple of voyages on QM2 that had embarkations and disembarkations from Liverpool last year and will probably repeat this again in the future. We've also got Eavesway coach pick-ups from a number of points in your area to Southampton and charter flights to the Caribbean programme from local airports.

    Mark Pilkington
    Head of Sales - Complete Cruise Solution
    @mark_pilkington

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  • Emma Sanger

    Please find below a comment from  

    Jo Rzymowska, Associate Vice President & General Manager UK & Ireland Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises

    We do not discount our prices to guests who want to buy their holiday directly with us, however occasionally we will offer guests on board credit. If a consumer registers on our website to receive eshots, we will market to them and make them aware of offers that they can book via their chosen channel, online, direct or via a travel partner.  

    Our trade partners are very important to our business and we continue to invest in the trade with strong commissions, innovative training and an enhanced sales team for support.

    At the end of the day no-one owns the customer, the customer has a choice as to who they talk to and how they purchase their holidays. Agents who offer great knowledge and customer service will continue to succeed.

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  • Emma , What a great story I have just read it as a I am away on Leave in South America. Firstly this is one reason alot of our Friends and Collegues have gone out of buisness because of this tactic however I have now got to the bottom of this .
    I have huge support from Freedom & TCS about this matter .
    Cruise lines have never ever needed your NEW clients details by law FACT however they have just MISLEAD us for years and TCS and freedom are putting a stop to it .
    How you may ask ?
    Firstly DO NOT give Cruise lines /Airlines/Tour OPS your clients details on new bookings and ALWAYS check in your client ONLINE BEFORE TRAVEL AND PUT YOUR AGENCY EMAIL..We give clients a leaflet when they travel with cruiselines to advise them to ALWAYS come back to us if they want to book again and advise them if they give there personal details directly to the cruiselines they will be spammed,junkmailed .This is 100% Working as clients dont want that anymore.
    I have been battling for almost a year on STOP CRUISE LINES on facebook so for an uptodate procedures or ADVICE to protect your buisness...Please ask to join . and just to finish if a LEADING FIGURE on the cruise lines can call me bitter,stupid, and sad that means im onto something and they are all very aware that they should not be doing this practice. Just in case we get from one the cruislines telling us good travel agents with great customer service gets the business load of nonscence its price AND UNDERCUTTING ,take that from an multi award winning travel agency..

    Merry Xmas All and great selling 2012.. DONT FORGET GIVE NO ONE ANY OF YOUR CLIENTS DETAILS IT IS NOT NEEDED BY LAW

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  • What a nice New Years present Igot in the mail today can ccs.com explain why they are direct mailshotting customers from Princess and the call to action does not mention anywhere to book with your local travel agent as it used to nowhere in fact through the whole brochure there is no mention of book with your local travel agent, so now our hard work providing passengers to fill the ships is being used against us. A comment from Complete Cruise Solution would be appreciated.

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  • Emma Sanger

    From
    Giles Hawke
    Sales & Customer Services Director
    Carnival UK

    "good agents who offer excellent customer service and product knowledge will always do well in selling our holidays and be greatly valued by our business. We have seen a significant uplift in bookings from small to medium size agents over the last 10 months, so what we are doing is clearly working for many agents. We do have a sizeable sales team who are always happy to hear from agents, understand what the issues may be and try and resolve these where possible, as well as working with them proactively to help them promote and grow their business. We invest significant sums of money in agent training, joint promotional activity, commission, sales personnel, booking systems and overall agent support and value highly those agents who want to work in partnership with us. With around £100m of commission on the table for agents each year from ccs brands there are opportunities to earn money and work together, which we do with many agents who are looking for a proactive partnership"

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From Emma Sanger - Ace Cruise Ambassador

I hold the title of Ace Cruise Ambassador and aside from this I have also travelled extensively myself, cruising with most of the cruise lines out there today, getting first hand knowledge of the product.

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