– Avalon Myanmar – Myanmar River Cruise – April 2017
*Azamara Club Cruises – Azamara Journey – Singapore to Dubai (April 8, 2018)
* Azamara Quest – Southeast Asia and Japan (February 2015)
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Part I
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part II
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part III
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? Part IV
– How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity’s Smallest Ship Get? – Some Final Observations and Thoughts
– The Prologue to the Travelogue
– The Adventure Begins…With a Bump or Two
– Settling In Made Easy
– Luxury Touches Here, There and OK, Not, Everywhere…But There Are Lots of Them!
– Asian Flair Onboard and On Shore
– Private Tours, Israel and Conflicts in Perceptions and Perspective
Celebrity Equinox 2009 – Egypt…Impressive and Depressing
– Dining With the Captain and the Reidel Wine Seminar
– The Last Dinner (Tuscan Grille) and Disembarkation
– What Happens When A Class Act Meets Highly Discounted Cruise Fare
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part I
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part II
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part III
– Lisbon to Monaco: Crystal As a “Move Up” & “Move Over” Luxury Option – Part IV (Food & Wine!)
– Princess Cruises Doesn’t Treat You Like Royalty; Celebrity Cruises Does! Which is a Better Value for the Upscale Cruise Guest? Part I
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. -Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part II: The Standard Veranda Staterooms
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part III: Treating You Right From The Start
– Celebrity Silhouette vs. Royal Princess – Which Is A Better Value For The Upscale Cruise Guest? Part IV: The Wine Lists Speak Volumes (As Do The Beverage Packages)
Regent Seven Seas Voyager – August 2017
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part I
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part II (Getting There, The Stateroom and First Impressions)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part III (“You Can’t Teach Five Star Service” and Bonafacio, Corsica)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part IV (Calvi, Monaco, Portofino, Porto Azzurro…and Stale Bread)
– Italy and Corisca 2014 – Part V (My Last Day…and How The Chef’s Team Makes It Happen)
Regent Seven Seas is not the first cruise line to do it, but it is the most recent (Crystal has a similar program). Essentially it limits the commission a travel agent can earn on bookings that are transferred to it from another agency.
The rationale is that if an agency is discounting or rebating a portion of its commission it will be less likely to undercut another agency’s “best price” if the amount it will earn in commissions is cut to the lowest levels. I fully understand the rationale, but I strongly disagree with the policy. Let me explain:
If Agency A has worked with the client to find the right cruise, the right category and the right suite, possibly even arranging flights and tours, but then the client decides to shop the package to another travel agency and, with all the work done, Agency B says it can do it for less money (and, obviously, with far less time invested!), the client may do better, but Agency A suffers.
At the same time Regent (or any other line with a similar policy) is concerned about its prices being undercut and, therefore, there is further downward pressure on its prices. Regent already does not allow direct discounting (though its sister cruise line, Oceania, does). This means that you must pay the rate quoted by Regent for the cruise…and then receive back as a rebate, onboard credit, etc. any discount provided by the travel agent. This is a second tier of price protection because the ability to discount is reduced when the commission level is artificially reduced. This, obviously, assists in Regent’s desire to buoy its pricing and to protect Agency A from possible improprieties by another agency.
So far this all sounds good, right? Well, in my opinion there is a client that should be able to not only get the best pricing available (but not compromising themselves on the service issue as I wrote earlier this week) and to be protected from errors that Agency A may have made without an penalty.
Just last week I had a client referred to me. The prospective client had expressed some small concerns over its present agent and was looking to make a change for its future cruises. Really as nothing more than a courtesy, I offered to just check the pricing on its cruises booked with the other agency. (The rationale was simple: If the other agency was overcharging it, my future business would be secured…and for a few hundred dollars I ethically would not even consider taking over the existing bookings.) What I discovered (without knowing the other agency’s pricing) was that the client was being overcharged by almost $4,000…and that was for two categories lower, as upgrades were available.
Now, there were no smoke and mirrors in the $4,000+ price difference, but should I be placed in the position of telling the prospective client that the pricing was not available if it transferred the booking to me? Should I be the one who runs the interference for the cruise line? Should I be the one protecting the first agency’s inexcusable failures? Me thinks not.
The client should be able to receive the best pricing and cabin assignments and I should be able to operate my agency the way I always do: Provide my clients with excellent service and excellent pricing. And, if I can’t do that, that is the cost of doing business.
As some of my clients know, I have actually done some pretty remarkable things…at my cost and loss (at least short term)…to be sure my clients receive the best pricing.
So while I understand Regent’s philosophy for the change, I believe it is not in the best interest of the cruising public and, in the end, encourages travel agencies to possibly work a little less to earn a client’s business. However, if the concept is simply focused on trying to force a “no-discount policy” on travel agencies and the consumer, I think it is up to the consumer to express his/her opinion in obvious ways.
Goldring Travel LLC
12177 Business Park Drive, Suite 6
Truckee, California 96161
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UK: 020 8133 3450
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