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MaryAnn261
December 7th, 2005, 07:17 AM
Ok... it's been a few years since we've cruised. Let's find out how many travel agents still send a gift to their clients on board and what? Any input out there?

smolt
December 7th, 2005, 07:30 AM
We've been on cruises each of the last 2 years. Each was booked thru local travel agents ( 2 different agencies ). Each arranged a gift for us, including a surprise birthday cake and several bottles of wine. From our perspective, its a 100% gift rate.

These little gestures build loyality from clients and encourage repeat business. Cruise #3 is booked thru the lovely lady who arranged the birthday surprise :) . We are fortunate to have found a person we like and are able to work with to make our travel plans. We may pay a little more than others, but we are happy with the service she provides and the comfort of a friendly voice on the phone is well worth the extra cost.

osiebosie
December 7th, 2005, 07:42 AM
Our agent always gives something. She used to give us a bottle of some type of alcohol, and I finally told her we don't drink, so she now gives us a certificate for photos. Very nice!

Shay

Tinkerbell
December 7th, 2005, 08:00 PM
For our Alaska cruise we got a basket with Alaska mugs, coasters, and other alaska things in it. We got an anniversary cake on one cruise paid for by the TA. And two times she ordered us wine and we never got it. We didn't know she had ordered it until we got back and found out to late.

tigerlilycruiser12
December 7th, 2005, 08:15 PM
We always get wine and champagne from our TA.:D

DroopySails
December 7th, 2005, 08:21 PM
We don't use traditional TAs for cruises (just book online), but I used one for a very complicated land-based trip we're taking in a very unspoiled (read: pure jungle) place where transportation and lodging are quite an adventure. I plan to send HER a gift when we get back for all her hard work!

miami
December 7th, 2005, 08:26 PM
Unfortunately, mine did nothing. I booked 4 cabins (3 balcony and an inside) so, she probably received a pretty nice commission. Too bad I am planning a family reunion cruise to Alaska in 2007 but I will not use her again.

claudie
December 7th, 2005, 08:34 PM
We received a bottle of wine in each of the 2 cabins we booked thru her. When I went in to thank her she asked about a photo package that we also should have received. We didn't know anything about that.

AmyinVail
December 7th, 2005, 08:38 PM
This is a great thread. I booked 3 cabins (two were suites) on our spring HAL cruise and she sent two bottles of wine to each cabin. It was the first time I had used her (recommendation from this board). We just returned from our POAm cruise in an Owner's Suite and we didn't receive anything. To be honest, I was alittle disappointed. We cruise or vacation at least twice a year and I'm contemplating moving to someone who appreciates our business.

Tinkerbell
December 7th, 2005, 09:26 PM
As I found out sometimes they send things and you never would know because you don't receive them. My TA happens to be the sister of a friend and my friend said " my sister wanted to know if you enjoyed the wine she sent" and that's how I found out we never got it. So you may have been sent something and just never got it.

Bobgaffney
December 7th, 2005, 10:51 PM
I am sending my TA a link to this thread.

newmexicoNita
December 7th, 2005, 10:57 PM
As a TA, I can guarantee you I do send something, but I also feel the service you get from your TA is more important then the bottle of wine, OBC or whatever. As for not always knowing if the gift if received, usually we do get a thank you from our clients, but I had some on the Sun Thanksgiving week and have no idea if they got their gifts as I have not heard a word. Warning, I don't blame you for thinking it is a nice jesture for your TA to think of you, but be sure and thank him/her when you return so they know if the gift got to where it was supposed to go. NMnita

mbisson
December 7th, 2005, 11:00 PM
I've never received anything from my TA while on board, and personally, that's fine by me. I appreciate the fact that he answers all my questions, gives me what appears to be great prices, and is willing to do whatever it takes to give me the best service he can.

That said, he did send us a box of chocolates recently with our documents.

-Monte

Aliann
December 7th, 2005, 11:07 PM
I am sending my TA a link to this thread.

For a hint? Then maybe we should all start talking about how our TA's gave us a free cruise! lol

vclst
December 7th, 2005, 11:49 PM
I have gotten everything from a bottle of wine to a cheese tray to 2 really useful denim shopping bags...I don't expect anything ever and I have used three different TAs over the years.

AmyinVail
December 8th, 2005, 01:30 PM
Being a realtor, I am a commissioned person myself - as are travel agents. I would never dream of showing up to the closing table without a very nice closing gift for my clients. I feel travel agents should do the same. It doesn't have to be expensive, it's the thought that counts. For my agent to send something one cruise, but not the next is odd. I like to feel valued for my continued business and I believe that answering questions and being timely isn't the extent of a good travel agent.

almitra
December 8th, 2005, 02:02 PM
I once got a big collapsable tote bag from my TA as a cruise gift....nice. I used it for ages.

Cruiser#5
December 8th, 2005, 02:33 PM
We have always received one bottle of wine for our cruises (mini-suites) but our last cruise we had a penthouse and received one bottle of wine and one bottle of champagne.

RichNY
December 8th, 2005, 02:34 PM
Ours gave us a $50 on board credit...real nice..In the past it has been bottles of champagne...

SailAways
December 8th, 2005, 02:56 PM
I would never dream of showing up to the closing table without a very nice closing gift for my clients. I feel travel agents should do the same. It doesn't have to be expensive, it's the thought that counts. .

My, how very generous. We have purchased 15 (yes-fifteen) homes in our married life, and only once did we receive a closing gift - a box of wonderful California oranges.
Never have gotten a thing from travel agents - either for air, land, or sea.
We have received "Thank You" cards from several of them.
So, this whole idea is new to me. I like it!!:p

jame_g
December 8th, 2005, 03:12 PM
When I bought my home just over a year ago, my agent gave me a $100 gift card, and the mortgage agent gave me a bottle of wine. On the previous home my agent sent some flowers in the fall. Before that, nothing.

Just got my docs from my TA today and he gave me a nice heavy cloth tote bag with a zipper from the agency, along with a bottle of wine. Not expensive, but at least a friendly gesture!

ts01854
December 8th, 2005, 03:50 PM
Why should they send you anything? Does the grocery store send you a gift when you shop there. Does the gas station give you free stuff for using them. You should use them for their service and attention. Not for free stuff

comfixit
December 8th, 2005, 04:16 PM
Why should they send you anything? Does the grocery store send you a gift when you shop there. Does the gas station give you free stuff for using them. You should use them for their service and attention. Not for free stuff

You can find lots of incentives in a variety of businesses. For example free gift wrapping at certain stores. Granted you should be going there only to buy a product, but if they give you something extra it makes some customers feel more endeared to that particular business.

So when you ask why should a TA send a client a gift. The answer would be money. Yes your making a bit of an investment, but in the end most clients see the gift as personal attention from the TA, makes them feel good and increases the likelyhood that client will purchase services from that TA again.

I see the logic in your statement. In a perfect world we could all assign values to the services. Then we could compare the value points assigned against the price paid to determine a metric for evaluating future purchases to optimize value. However sad as it is to say, most people just get a good feeling or a bad feeling about service and thats it. So even if they have trying experiences with an agent a bottle of wine with a note may be all it takes to secure that clients repeat business again.

hotspur
December 8th, 2005, 04:19 PM
Why should they send you anything? Does the grocery store send you a gift when you shop there. Does the gas station give you free stuff for using them. You should use them for their service and attention. Not for free stuff
A voice of reason--finally. A $50 on-board credit just tells me I paid at least $50 too much for my cruise. Rather than a chintzy gift from a realtor, I'd rather see a realistic commission--not the 6% that's simply outrageous given the price of homes these days.

seahorse
December 8th, 2005, 04:27 PM
A voice of reason--finally. A $50 on-board credit just tells me I paid at least $50 too much for my cruise. Rather than a chintzy gift from a realtor, I'd rather see a realistic commission--not the 6% that's simply outrageous given the price of homes these days.

Amen........I wish I made as much commission as a Realtor then I could give a real NICE "gift";)

Believe me, it dosen`t matter if you give some clients a gift (I do, not always) if they can get it cheaper next time.........they will be outta there in a shot.

Notice I said "some". My long term good clients I treat very well.

Bobgaffney
December 8th, 2005, 05:14 PM
Personally I don't think a gift is needed. Calls returned in a timely fashion and questions answered are all I ask for in a TA. I think it is unrealistic to expect a gift given that commision rates for TAs are not what they used to be. A thank you note is always nice and does not cost much except for the effort.

DroopySails
December 8th, 2005, 07:51 PM
Personally I don't think a gift is needed. Calls returned in a timely fashion and questions answered are all I ask for in a TA. I think it is unrealistic to expect a gift given that commision rates for TAs are not what they used to be. A thank you note is always nice and does not cost much except for the effort.

What is the going commission rate for a TA?

newmexicoNita
December 8th, 2005, 10:51 PM
What is the going commission rate for a TA?Commission depends on lots of things and the agent certainly does not get it all. I can tell you and my fellow TAs will agree we don't do this for to get rich. It is a rewarding job as most of the time it is a happy time for everyone. NMnita

newmexicoNita
December 8th, 2005, 10:54 PM
Amen........I wish I made as much commission as a Realtor then I could give a real NICE "gift";)

Believe me, it dosen`t matter if you give some clients a gift (I do, not always) if they can get it cheaper next time.........they will be outta there in a shot.

Notice I said "some". My long term good clients I treat very well.
Boy isn't that true? NMnita

ocngypz
December 8th, 2005, 11:06 PM
This is a real hoot as most of the gifts mentioned are purchased with group amenity points.... not out of the agents' wallets.

I just booked 14 inside cabins on the Majesty. 14 bottles of decent wine would run me about $30 each. My commission per cabin.... $30 after the agency takes their cut. Ouch!

But each cabin will get a bottle of wine.... purchased with my group amenity points.

I'd sure like a realtor's commission check, too! Come to think of it, I've never received a gift from any realtor, mortgage company or title company at closing. But, I didn't expect one either!

Clients are better served with exemplary service.

AmyinVail
December 8th, 2005, 11:58 PM
I feel better already! As a Realtor, not only do I give exemplary service, but for less than 6%! In addition, I spend a hefty amount of my own commission on a gift for my clients - each and every closing (annual Christmas presents as well). I assure you that my clients appreciate it and my business reaps the benefits of this personal touch. A small token of kindness DOUBLED with extraordinary service certainly keeps consumers happy - this post has determined in every aspect. Personal purchases like vacations and real estate deserve a special amount of attention both at the purchase and follow up.

Cinnamon Seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 03:07 AM
Perhaps I've been unusually lucky. When we closed on our house, our realtor gave us $500 towards appliances. We bought a REALLY nice dishwasher, and thank her frequently.

We booked our first three cruises through the same agency, and left there because of inept service. We're really not too challenging--we call and advise the ship, sailing date, and stateroom category we want, and provide a credit card number for the deposit. To screw that up a couple of times was beyond belief. There are no gifts that would make it worth staying with that agent.

Our current TA came highly recommended, and she is a jewel. I genuinely feel like she's looking out for us. One thing I appreciate is how she includes with the documents a thank you note that advises us of a gift, and what it is. That was handy last December when Celebrity managed to "lose" records for all three couples in our party of the wine the agent had ordered. (The way they handled that, they pretty much "lost" us.)

When our beloved TA was on maternity leave, I tried to deal with others in her office, with very poor results, and went elsewhere.

Thank heavens she's back and taking care of our needs! At this point, we've booked about 15 cruises through her. The rates aren't always the lowest, but the service is worth it.

Hats off to great TAs! Carla

DroopySails
December 9th, 2005, 09:19 AM
Commission depends on lots of things and the agent certainly does not get it all. I can tell you and my fellow TAs will agree we don't do this for to get rich. It is a rewarding job as most of the time it is a happy time for everyone. NMnita

Yeah, I kind of thought someone would answer like this. ocngypz, thanks for providing a little more info.

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 09:37 AM
Yeah, I kind of thought someone would answer like this. ocngypz, thanks for providing a little more info.

How much do you make:rolleyes: Can we have more info??

JennCandi
December 9th, 2005, 10:44 AM
I've booked two cruises through the same travel agent and never recieved any gift from her. She is a good agent. She helped us pick our first cruise, which was on NCL and we've been hooked.

Our second cruise that we booked through her was our honeymoon. Now on that cruise, I think she should of sent a little something. She knew it was our honeymoon, but I guess she didn't pass this info onto RCL. They gave us seperate beds. lol.

Our last cruise and the next one we booked online. Cheaper and actually easier. I don't have to go pick up the tickets from the office.

DroopySails
December 9th, 2005, 10:57 AM
How much do you make:rolleyes: Can we have more info??

Are the realtors who share that their commissions are 5-6% telling us how much they make? What you make at the end of the year--which is something I'd never ask anyone else--really depends on your industriousness and attitude, doesn't it?

A pleasant and professional attitude: the reason why some travel agents give their clients gifts and others get gifts from their clients. The TA I just used was efficient, courteous, helpful and unsarcastic. Like I said upthread, I'm sending her a thank-you gift.

newmexicoNita
December 9th, 2005, 11:22 AM
This is a real hoot as most of the gifts mentioned are purchased with group amenity points.... not out of the agents' wallets.

I just booked 14 inside cabins on the Majesty. 14 bottles of decent wine would run me about $30 each. My commission per cabin.... $30 after the agency takes their cut. Ouch!

But each cabin will get a bottle of wine.... purchased with my group amenity points.

I'd sure like a realtor's commission check, too! Come to think of it, I've never received a gift from any realtor, mortgage company or title company at closing. But, I didn't expect one either!

Clients are better served with exemplary service.you are talking about groups. Your office works one way but not all work the same; every gift I send comes out of my pocket!!!! As for gifts from realtors, we have often gotten something; usually a gift certificate. NMnita

newmexicoNita
December 9th, 2005, 11:25 AM
I feel better already! As a Realtor, not only do I give exemplary service, but for less than 6%! In addition, I spend a hefty amount of my own commission on a gift for my clients - each and every closing (annual Christmas presents as well). I assure you that my clients appreciate it and my business reaps the benefits of this personal touch. A small token of kindness DOUBLED with extraordinary service certainly keeps consumers happy - this post has determined in every aspect. Personal purchases like vacations and real estate deserve a special amount of attention both at the purchase and follow up.
Amy, I did the same when I was a real estate agent many years ago. Of course service is much more important than a gift. What is a gift if the service sucks? As an TA I hope I offer the best in service possible and I have a wonderful boss to help when I need it, I still think that little OBC, bottle of wine or whatever is a really nice addition. Chose between the two, Obviously service but what's wrong with offering both, right? NMnita

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 11:45 AM
Are the realtors who share that their commissions are 5-6% telling us how much they make? What you make at the end of the year--which is something I'd never ask anyone else--really depends on your industriousness and attitude, doesn't it?

A pleasant and professional attitude: the reason why some travel agents give their clients gifts and others get gifts from their clients. The TA I just used was efficient, courteous, helpful and unsarcastic. Like I said upthread, I'm sending her a thank-you gift.

I was responding to your response. You didn`t like the answers from the TA`s.

I guess that I am defensive (not by you). It seems that either the board bashes TAs (a few , like you appreciate them) or if they use them, some expect them to work for nothing and give them a gift to boot.

Maybe I need a vacation:D Actually sarcasm is part of my unique charm:rolleyes: ;)

hastingsbrass
December 9th, 2005, 12:27 PM
I've never known my TA not to give a nice gift (of course we're dating, so maybe I get special treatment). But I know he keeps a healthy inventory of travel related gifts to send to clients with their travel documents, like photo albums and leather document folders. Everyone I know who has booked with him has recieved some little token of appreciation. In this day and age it's just good business sense to make the effort to endear yourself to people; I'm in manufacturing and you can bet that for any occasion where it's appropriate I make sure to pass along some friendly token to my customers as well.

Langdak04
December 9th, 2005, 02:44 PM
As a travel agency owner i have a very mixed bag of opinions on the whole "gift to a client" idea.

I get my agents that work for me asking me on a daily basis what they should do for a gift for their clients.

My opinions on giving a gift will depend on the client themselves, in 99.9% of situations i will give them a token of appreciation along with their tickets when they pick them up or i mail them out. Or i will send them a nice gift to their cabin up on arrival on the ship.

The ones that really get me are the ones that step foot into the office, ask for pricing and then all of a sudden come up with the good old lines "can you match or beat so and so's price"..........now there is nothing wrong with them asking me that, but what really gets under my skin is the people who want the 10 thousand dollar vacation for 5 bucks.

I have heard of instances where people like that will return home, wine and complain that their TA didnt give them anything...............give you heads a shake people...........you entered an agency fully expecting a large discount, and you expect a gift as well? You cant have your cake and eat it too

Type of gift in my opinion varies on the fact of:

1. The cost of the trip
2. If they are returning clients of mine
3. Demanded the whole discount thing
....there are others as well, but i will spare everybody the insanity of reading my list

Not once have i ever received a gift from a client upon their return from their vacation..........not that i am complaining because it doesnt really matter to me as i have been to most places that i send people......nor would i ever expect a gift from a client, their business and kindness towards me is more then enough.

I have given gifts of wide variety's, anywhere from a bottle of wine, to a shipboard credit, to specialty restaurant reservations, to pre-paid gratuities, to pre-paid photos on the ship.............i even gave a client a 300 dollar per person shore excursion once.

Like i mentioned above, it depends on a lot of things as to what kind of gift i am going to give, and i am the kinda person who puts some thought into things, not just "here you go, have a good trip, cya later"

Well those are my views on the gift idea, hopefully i didnt bore anybody to sleep

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 02:59 PM
Mike,ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Just kidding:D (my endearing sarcasm)

Very well put,and how I run my agency. My outside agents give their own "gifts" if they want to.

To put it into perspective, the best thank you that I ever gave was a private limo to JFK (from PA) and a very large basket filled with all things Irish, Waterford Chrystal., Belleek, Irish Linen, books and food stuffs. The booking was over $40,000.00 to Ireland:D

mafig
December 9th, 2005, 03:02 PM
Perhaps I'm reading your post the wrong way, but it seems that those who pay more (and don't bargain with you) get the gifts, the others don't.:p :rolleyes:

Langdak04
December 9th, 2005, 03:03 PM
Mike,ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Just kidding:D (my endearing sarcasm)

Very well put,and how I run my agency. My outside agents give their own "gifts" if they want to.

To put it into perspective, the best thank you that I ever gave was a private limo to JFK (from PA) and a very large basket filled with all things Irish, Waterford Chrystal., Belleek, Irish Linen, books and food stuffs. The booking was over $40,000.00 to Ireland:D

Thanks for the sarcasm Ann, put a smile on my face :) nice to see sense of humor around here

Very nice gift for the Ireland trip, i had a similar one to Australia for a client, same type of deal, rather large gift with various different things and also a nice surprise for her when she got to Australia

Langdak04
December 9th, 2005, 03:05 PM
Perhaps I'm reading your post the wrong way, but it seems that those who pay more (and don't bargain with you) get the gifts, the others don't.:p :rolleyes:

Yup you are reading it wrong

It was not meant to come across that way

I have people bargain with me for 10, 20, 30 thousand dollar trips, doesnt mean they arent going to get a gift

The lower end ones i was refering to were the 199 type specials, where it is dirt cheap to start with and they want it even lower

Hope that clarifies things

newmexicoNita
December 9th, 2005, 03:20 PM
Perhaps I'm reading your post the wrong way, but it seems that those who pay more (and don't bargain with you) get the gifts, the others don't.:p :rolleyes:I'm not sure that is what was meant but of course the more the vacation the more the gift usually will be. This holds true if we are asked to match another agency's price and it is much lower than ours. In my case, I do not care who you are, I always try to give something that says thank you for your business and have a great trip. If my commission is going to be $50 I certainly am not going to throw in a $50 OBC. I would end up with a bit negative: On the other hand if you are a client that books several times a year, you send me referrals constantly, do half of the work yourself and take top of the line vacations I am not going to send you a plate of chocolate covered strawberries to your cabin. The interesting thing, the clients that I value the most seem to be the ones who do send my thank you gifts: I love it but am always amazed. Again, I value all my clients, but some are much more financually satisfying. NMNita

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 03:24 PM
Mafig,

The "thank you" is based on the booking and commission involved( commission varies BTW)

If the commission is only $100.00 how are we expected to give a $50.00 bottle of wine or OBC or whatever?? PLUS clients want a discount which comes from our commission.

These bookings will get a nice document holder (not paper) with my agency`s name on it and I call it advertising:D

mafig
December 9th, 2005, 03:37 PM
So, in other words, if I get a nice givt, I've "overpaid."

I understand, truly I do.

However, a previous TA stated something to the effect that if a client asked her to match a price, that client wouldn't get a gift. OK....here's my perspective. If I have a TA I like and I am "shopping" prices, I will ask that TA to match the price. I feel that's a compliment to her/him based on previous service. You guys feels I'm trying to strip you of your commission and you're almost insulted by my doing this. :( Fine, just give me your best price, please don't aske me to come back if I find something lower, because I won't.

newmexicoNita
December 9th, 2005, 03:52 PM
So, in other words, if I get a nice givt, I've "overpaid."

I understand, truly I do.

However, a previous TA stated something to the effect that if a client asked her to match a price, that client wouldn't get a gift. OK....here's my perspective. If I have a TA I like and I am "shopping" prices, I will ask that TA to match the price. I feel that's a compliment to her/him based on previous service. You guys feels I'm trying to strip you of your commission and you're almost insulted by my doing this. :( Fine, just give me your best price, please don't aske me to come back if I find something lower, because I won't.Do you realize in order to match "that price" the agent or the company may have cut a commission so that $200 commission became a $75 one? This is the point. Probably company B that was offering a lower rate that company A was asked to match was doing some commission cutting as well and probably isn't the type that does include thank you gifts. NMNIta

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 03:54 PM
So, in other words, if I get a nice givt, I've "overpaid."

I understand, truly I do.

However, a previous TA stated something to the effect that if a client asked her to match a price, that client wouldn't get a gift. OK....here's my perspective. If I have a TA I like and I am "shopping" prices, I will ask that TA to match the price. I feel that's a compliment to her/him based on previous service. You guys feels I'm trying to strip you of your commission and you're almost insulted by my doing this. :( Fine, just give me your best price, please don't aske me to come back if I find something lower, because I won't.

We are getting off topic here, sorry. This is what I commented on to Droopy. No one expects a TA to make money, well many anyway. Yes I am insulted that you want me to give you part of my "salary" that I get from the suppliers.

And just as I said to Droopy.......no matter how good I am and what service I give.......if you find something "lower" you are outta here. So many of the agencies that were "lower" are not around anymore because they gave everything away. When they are ALL GONE believe me you will pay "higher". Simple economics.

I would rather have a client, like Droopy, that values me and my work and I will always welcome her back.....AND I WILL GIVE HER A GIFT:D

How do you feel that you "overpaid" ?

gregandamy
December 9th, 2005, 05:14 PM
I love it. Some people want the lowest price, best service, and a gift.

I'm an insurance broker and we can't lower our price by giving up commission, but provide service other brokers don't. We'll take clients to lunch or dinner, sometimes before any sale.

I use a TA and never beat him up on price, in fact I could get it cheaper online, but I doubt the service would be the same. He gave us a small gift that was totally unexpected, but that's not why we go back to him. It's the service. Period. I don't ask him how much he made on my bookings, I don't care. He works on commission, same as me, and he earned it.

If clients ask me how much I make on their case, I'll tell them. I've earned it and I don't apologize for it. It's usually the very small clients that ask.

seahorse
December 9th, 2005, 05:25 PM
I love it. Some people want the lowest price, best service, and a gift.

I'm an insurance broker and we can't lower our price by giving up commission, but provide service other brokers don't. We'll take clients to lunch or dinner, sometimes before any sale.

I use a TA and never beat him up on price, in fact I could get it cheaper online, but I doubt the service would be the same. He gave us a small gift that was totally unexpected, but that's not why we go back to him. It's the service. Period. I don't ask him how much he made on my bookings, I don't care. He works on commission, same as me, and he earned it.

If clients ask me how much I make on their case, I'll tell them. I've earned it and I don't apologize for it. It's usually the very small clients that ask.

Very well said;)

gsquaredstwins
December 9th, 2005, 08:33 PM
This is such an interesting thread.

As an agent myself (and my family owns an agency- so I have been around the business for a long time) - I have somethings I'd like to say.

1) With most of the major cruise lines, no-one's price should be lower than anyone elses as most have gone to an even playing field so that pricing is fair all ther way around ! So, if you book it online, with a ta or with the cruise line directly, most of the time the rate should be EXACTLY the same.

2) Why use an agent? Expertise and customer service. My family answers phones every single day of the year- 24/7 ! You book with us and you're traveling and you run into any problem- you have someone to answer your call and get things done. I have been a part of HUGE disasters that have taken man power beyond your wildest imagination to correct (not for anything we've done wrong mind you)- and we help in any way we can until you are as satisified as we can make you. Now when you return home, we don't send you an extra bill for this service- its just something we offer. Did we make any additional money on your booking for helping you- Not a cent (we've probably actually lost money at that point). Its what you get from using a good travel agent. You wouldn't believe how hard we worked this year with all the hurricanes affecting peoples travel plans. We make no extra money rebooking a clients trip that was already booked for them. The phone wait times were unbelieveable with the tour operators after the storms, yet me held on until every customer was happy with the alternate plans we could make for them.

3) My pet peeve is having me work on a trip (sometimes for 10 + hours), and then you book with someone else to save $10. I can not always control what my tour operators charge - and if my price is close and I've worked really hard for you (and you know it), why go elsewhere ??
Also, even worse is I work for hours for your trip, give you all of my personal advice, basically plan a customized vacation for you (including things you may not have known about or even considered), and you use my knowledge and book elsewhere.

4) FYI: TA's don't make much money- especially on inexpensive cruises. Sometimes my commission can be as little as $50. I worked on a DisneyLand vacation for a client- worked for a week on it - several hour s day and I made $36. There is no way I can afford to gift that client - even if I want to.

5) I normally do gift my clients, and I never thought of it- but I have never received a gift back from a client- a thank you for planning such a nice trip for us type of gift ?? Hmmmm Thats an interesting twist I had not even thought of.

6) Cruise lines are notorious for not giving out the gifts we travel agents purchase for our clients - I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. Then I spend 1-2 hours on the phone sorting out to get my money back (even more time lost).

7) I dont think a gift is what should keep you with your TA- there customer service is what should keep you, knowing they work hard for you and they are experts in what they are selling. The agents in my office take selling travel seriously. We all vacation A LOT and take routine site inspections of the places we sell. We want to know the ins and outs of every details when we send you somewhere - we also want to match you with the best vacation for your personality. If you are a beach lover and I send you to a place with a beautiful beach that is not really swimmable - you won't be happy and I need to know these things.


Sorry if this sounds like a rant - it was really just provided to give out some facts. I'm always interested to hear that people think if they use a TA they are over paying ??? I'd rather you pay a fair price for the PERFECT trip, then pay a cheap price for a not so good trip. Afterall, if the trip is not great, then you wont be happy with your discounted rate anyway ???

DroopySails
December 9th, 2005, 10:08 PM
5) I normally do gift my clients, and I never thought of it- but I have never received a gift back from a client- a thank you for planning such a nice trip for us type of gift ?? Hmmmm Thats an interesting twist I had not even thought of.

Thanks for the interesting info and perspectives.

I'm the one who said I'll be giving my TA a gift--probably a Target or Best Buy or Borders gift card or something similar--when we get back from our upcoming trip. And why not? She worked hard on helping us figure out complicated travel routes and unusual accommodation in a place Americans don't usually go. She has a rare expertise in the country in question. And finally, we had to bag this trip last year due to a family illness, so I asked her to simply move the reservations over for this year (instead of actually canceling). She's waited a long time for her commission and spent more time on us that I wish she had.

I don't use TAs for cruises because I know what I want, enjoy doing my homework and can get the same price online. But on a land-based trip when somebody gives me superb service, I'm happy to make a gesture that says "Thanks for the extra effort and patience."

gregandamy
December 9th, 2005, 10:53 PM
I don't use TAs for cruises because I know what I want, enjoy doing my homework and can get the same price online. But on a land-based trip when somebody gives me superb service, I'm happy to make a gesture that says "Thanks for the extra effort and patience."

If you can get the same price online that you can with a TA, why book online? The commission is built into the price, no? I'll bet you your TA would love you to book a cruise with her that she doesn't have to spend a ton of time on.

I understand people like to do their own research, as you do, personally, my time is better spent working to pay for the cruise than it is researching the cruise. Why should I spend hours when a TA could do it in a fraction of that?

gregandamy
December 9th, 2005, 10:54 PM
This is such an interesting thread.

As an agent myself (and my family owns an agency- so I have been around the business for a long time) - I have somethings I'd like to say.

1) With most of the major cruise lines, no-one's price should be lower than anyone elses as most have gone to an even playing field so that pricing is fair all ther way around ! So, if you book it online, with a ta or with the cruise line directly, most of the time the rate should be EXACTLY the same.

2) Why use an agent? Expertise and customer service. My family answers phones every single day of the year- 24/7 ! You book with us and you're traveling and you run into any problem- you have someone to answer your call and get things done. I have been a part of HUGE disasters that have taken man power beyond your wildest imagination to correct (not for anything we've done wrong mind you)- and we help in any way we can until you are as satisified as we can make you. Now when you return home, we don't send you an extra bill for this service- its just something we offer. Did we make any additional money on your booking for helping you- Not a cent (we've probably actually lost money at that point). Its what you get from using a good travel agent. You wouldn't believe how hard we worked this year with all the hurricanes affecting peoples travel plans. We make no extra money rebooking a clients trip that was already booked for them. The phone wait times were unbelieveable with the tour operators after the storms, yet me held on until every customer was happy with the alternate plans we could make for them.

3) My pet peeve is having me work on a trip (sometimes for 10 + hours), and then you book with someone else to save $10. I can not always control what my tour operators charge - and if my price is close and I've worked really hard for you (and you know it), why go elsewhere ??
Also, even worse is I work for hours for your trip, give you all of my personal advice, basically plan a customized vacation for you (including things you may not have known about or even considered), and you use my knowledge and book elsewhere.

4) FYI: TA's don't make much money- especially on inexpensive cruises. Sometimes my commission can be as little as $50. I worked on a DisneyLand vacation for a client- worked for a week on it - several hour s day and I made $36. There is no way I can afford to gift that client - even if I want to.

5) I normally do gift my clients, and I never thought of it- but I have never received a gift back from a client- a thank you for planning such a nice trip for us type of gift ?? Hmmmm Thats an interesting twist I had not even thought of.

6) Cruise lines are notorious for not giving out the gifts we travel agents purchase for our clients - I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. Then I spend 1-2 hours on the phone sorting out to get my money back (even more time lost).

7) I dont think a gift is what should keep you with your TA- there customer service is what should keep you, knowing they work hard for you and they are experts in what they are selling. The agents in my office take selling travel seriously. We all vacation A LOT and take routine site inspections of the places we sell. We want to know the ins and outs of every details when we send you somewhere - we also want to match you with the best vacation for your personality. If you are a beach lover and I send you to a place with a beautiful beach that is not really swimmable - you won't be happy and I need to know these things.


Sorry if this sounds like a rant - it was really just provided to give out some facts. I'm always interested to hear that people think if they use a TA they are over paying ??? I'd rather you pay a fair price for the PERFECT trip, then pay a cheap price for a not so good trip. Afterall, if the trip is not great, then you wont be happy with your discounted rate anyway ???

I like everything you said.

fkwok
December 9th, 2005, 11:04 PM
When I first started cruising a few years ago, I heard from people at my old jobs that their TA's sent them gifts. But I have gotten one gift from her.

I have booked 3 cruises and the next one will have 12 people in 3 balcony cabins. I booked all the cruises AND my annual Ft. Lauderdale vacation through my TA. Even she only recieved a 10% commission from each cruise and beach vacation, then she stands to make about $2000 from my business. Not a lot I admit, but it is still nothing to sneeze at either.

Now that I have read this posting, is it wrong to expect a gift since I have given her my business or should I just be happy she gave me some great deals?

Is it really obnoxious to think we should expect a bottle of wine when we get our cabin? I think it would be a nice gesture for her to send us a little something.

Am I wrong?

kapoho2
December 9th, 2005, 11:46 PM
Having been a travel agent for many years I feel I could jump in here. My stiuation was rather unique, as I worked for a large retail chain that had a travel agency in many of their stores. I was not paid by commission, although there was a commission "override" bonus plan which basically meant that if the commissions earned on the travel you booked equaled a certain percentage of your salary...then you got a percentage of the overage. Sound confusing.....yes it was!! I obviously was not making a killing working as an agent, but I LOVED my job and looked forward to going into the office everyday. I had been an international flight attendant for many years, and travel is in my blood and there is nothing I would rather talk about. I specialized in vacation travel. I enjoyed the excitement of matching personalities with a destination or hotel or whatever.

Because I was affiliated with a chain, there was a cap on what we were permitted to send as gifts....mostly it was a bottle of wine for a cruise. Truthfully, the cap made it only possible to send a token bottle of belly wash to the cabin. But, it was the thought that counted.

I had many clients ask what they could do to thank me for my service. My answer was always that they come in after their trip and show me the fun vacations pictures they took. This made for many good times at my desk...as my clients got to show me the beautiful pictures and I got visuals on tons of places that I have never been to.

I never expected a gift...but sometimes I was surprised. My favorite was from two couples who traveled to Australia/NZ for six weeks to celebrate their retirements from being school administrators and teachers. I spent months planning the trip for them (pinching pennies as we all know teachers are underpaid) and upon returning, they all marched into my office with the photo albums and I got to enjoy all the beautiful sights they saw. They then presented ME with a gift certificate for "Outback Steak House"....how appropriate and cute.

My husband and I recently retired over here to Hawaii. We sold our house in Missouri. The realtor that sold our house was very professional. She knew our stress in making the big move.....shipping our furniture, cars and animals weeks before the move and then leaving on a plane with our 2 suitcases with the essentials we needed to get us through the first few weeks over here before our "shipment container" arrived. At closing, the day before we set foot on that one-way trip over here, she presented us with a HUGE gift basket of goodies....you know the kind....crackers, candies, coffee, etc. I know that was her standard gift...but there was NO thought there. We had to dump the basket and all the goodies on our friends that put us up that night and drove us to the airport the next morning. I'm not complaing...but it was kind of a waste of $$ on her part. I appreciated the thought, but a good book to read on the plane might have been a better thought out gift!!

DroopySails
December 10th, 2005, 12:12 AM
If you can get the same price online that you can with a TA, why book online? The commission is built into the price, no? I'll bet you your TA would love you to book a cruise with her that she doesn't have to spend a ton of time on.

I understand people like to do their own research, as you do, personally, my time is better spent working to pay for the cruise than it is researching the cruise. Why should I spend hours when a TA could do it in a fraction of that?

Once again, I enjoy doing the research and don't consider it a waste of time. I don't spend my time doing things I'm really not good at--painting my condo, installing a garbage disposal, doing my business's taxes. I use professionals for those things and save the time. I'm very good at travel research, and we enjoy our trips much more because of the time we've invested in learning about the destination, modes of travel, accommodations, etc. And I've been doing this long enough that I daresay it takes me far less time than many to pull the relevant info and make judgments.

As for booking cruises online, of course the online agency builds a commission into the price, but it's just a lot faster and easier for me than going through a traditional agency. It's done in two minutes and the docs are in my e-mail.

I understand your suggesting that "my TA" would love to book a cruise I've researched myself, but I don't have a general TA. I very rarely use TAs for land trips, either--I usually know what I want and can get it done faster myself than waiting around for a TA to make the calls--but I needed some special help with this one because of the unusual locale. I chose an expert who does only this type of work. Even she commented that it was nice to have a client who had spent at least some time familiarizing herself with the destination.

We all make choices about when, where and with whom to spend time doing business. Sometimes you want to build or sustain a longstanding relationship. Sometimes you just want to complete a transaction in minimal time. If I use a TA, I don't waste his or her time and then go somewhere else; I book through him/her. The flip side of this is that I don't owe them other bookings I find it easier to make myself, especially cruises.

seahorse
December 10th, 2005, 10:34 AM
When I first started cruising a few years ago, I heard from people at my old jobs that their TA's sent them gifts. But I have gotten one gift from her.

I have booked 3 cruises and the next one will have 12 people in 3 balcony cabins. I booked all the cruises AND my annual Ft. Lauderdale vacation through my TA. Even she only recieved a 10% commission from each cruise and beach vacation, then she stands to make about $2000 from my business. Not a lot I admit, but it is still nothing to sneeze at either.

Now that I have read this posting, is it wrong to expect a gift since I have given her my business or should I just be happy she gave me some great deals?

Is it really obnoxious to think we should expect a bottle of wine when we get our cabin? I think it would be a nice gesture for her to send us a little something.

Am I wrong?

You are not wrong, it would be a nice gesture. I would give you a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant when you get home. As mentioned, bottles of wine don`t make it sometimes to the cabin.

seahorse
December 10th, 2005, 10:40 AM
This is such an interesting thread.

As an agent myself (and my family owns an agency- so I have been around the business for a long time) - I have somethings I'd like to say.

1) With most of the major cruise lines, no-one's price should be lower than anyone elses as most have gone to an even playing field so that pricing is fair all ther way around ! So, if you book it online, with a ta or with the cruise line directly, most of the time the rate should be EXACTLY the same.

2) Why use an agent? Expertise and customer service. My family answers phones every single day of the year- 24/7 ! You book with us and you're traveling and you run into any problem- you have someone to answer your call and get things done. I have been a part of HUGE disasters that have taken man power beyond your wildest imagination to correct (not for anything we've done wrong mind you)- and we help in any way we can until you are as satisified as we can make you. Now when you return home, we don't send you an extra bill for this service- its just something we offer. Did we make any additional money on your booking for helping you- Not a cent (we've probably actually lost money at that point). Its what you get from using a good travel agent. You wouldn't believe how hard we worked this year with all the hurricanes affecting peoples travel plans. We make no extra money rebooking a clients trip that was already booked for them. The phone wait times were unbelieveable with the tour operators after the storms, yet me held on until every customer was happy with the alternate plans we could make for them.

3) My pet peeve is having me work on a trip (sometimes for 10 + hours), and then you book with someone else to save $10. I can not always control what my tour operators charge - and if my price is close and I've worked really hard for you (and you know it), why go elsewhere ??
Also, even worse is I work for hours for your trip, give you all of my personal advice, basically plan a customized vacation for you (including things you may not have known about or even considered), and you use my knowledge and book elsewhere.

4) FYI: TA's don't make much money- especially on inexpensive cruises. Sometimes my commission can be as little as $50. I worked on a DisneyLand vacation for a client- worked for a week on it - several hour s day and I made $36. There is no way I can afford to gift that client - even if I want to.

5) I normally do gift my clients, and I never thought of it- but I have never received a gift back from a client- a thank you for planning such a nice trip for us type of gift ?? Hmmmm Thats an interesting twist I had not even thought of.

6) Cruise lines are notorious for not giving out the gifts we travel agents purchase for our clients - I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. Then I spend 1-2 hours on the phone sorting out to get my money back (even more time lost).

7) I dont think a gift is what should keep you with your TA- there customer service is what should keep you, knowing they work hard for you and they are experts in what they are selling. The agents in my office take selling travel seriously. We all vacation A LOT and take routine site inspections of the places we sell. We want to know the ins and outs of every details when we send you somewhere - we also want to match you with the best vacation for your personality. If you are a beach lover and I send you to a place with a beautiful beach that is not really swimmable - you won't be happy and I need to know these things.


Sorry if this sounds like a rant - it was really just provided to give out some facts. I'm always interested to hear that people think if they use a TA they are over paying ??? I'd rather you pay a fair price for the PERFECT trip, then pay a cheap price for a not so good trip. Afterall, if the trip is not great, then you wont be happy with your discounted rate anyway ???

Thank you for posting. Everything you say is correct. Your Professional Family must be very proud of you.:)

tigerlilycruiser12
December 10th, 2005, 11:05 AM
Like I said before on this thread my TA gives me bottles of wine and champagne on all my cruises. She has even sent cholocate covered strawberries with the spirits.I do not book expensive cabins so I am sure she does not make a lot. But I book with her every cruise. I have sent her bottles of wine when I return from my trip to show her how much I value her work and her thoughtfullness. I also send her a gift for the holidays because she has gone above what is expected of her with my bookings.

I do that because I want to. I value what she does as she keeps me informed of all the changes, price reductions and everything I need to know. Sometimes we are on the phone for an extended length of time just talking about the industry.

that being said, It is not how much she makes, but her value of my business no matter what she makes. In turn, I have recommended her to many and will continue to do so. It is about the value of the client and and in turn the clients appreciation of her services.

Marie

BishCruiser
December 10th, 2005, 07:22 PM
Wow. After reading through the last three pages I must say I've found this thread fascinating. Thank you to all those who have posted - the insight provided by TAs and other professionals (NMNita, Ann, Langdak04, gsquaredstwins, etc.) has been very helpful and interesting.

Perhaps I can provide another perspective... I am a university student and relatively new to traveling with a TA. I booked my first cruise with a TA last year (although she communicated mostly with one of my companions), and I am using her again this year (this time I seem to be the main organizer of the group). Until very recently, I had absolutely no idea how or what a TA gets paid. I only found out that they usually get a comission from the cruise line a couple months ago when, in my OH-MY-GOD-I'M-GRADUATING anxiety attack, I began considering that line of work.

My point is this: it never occurred to me that I shouldn't talk to my TA about wanting the lowest possible price for my cruise. I don't make any money during the year, and it is a miracle that I am able to affort even the bottom line (cramming 4 people into an inside cabin will be interesting...). Of course, I have also never expected a gift. I must say, after reading this thread I have a whole new respect for TAs. Mine may not be the best or most organized TA out there, but she genuinely wants me to enjoy my vacation despite the fact that she can't possibly be making money off of my business. This year I will be sure to send her a thank you card with some photos of our trip, to let her know we are thinking of her.

-Lindsay

fkwok
December 10th, 2005, 07:55 PM
This is such an interesting thread.

As an agent myself (and my family owns an agency- so I have been around the business for a long time) - I have somethings I'd like to say.

1) With most of the major cruise lines, no-one's price should be lower than anyone elses as most have gone to an even playing field so that pricing is fair all ther way around ! So, if you book it online, with a ta or with the cruise line directly, most of the time the rate should be EXACTLY the same.

2) Why use an agent? Expertise and customer service. My family answers phones every single day of the year- 24/7 ! You book with us and you're traveling and you run into any problem- you have someone to answer your call and get things done. I have been a part of HUGE disasters that have taken man power beyond your wildest imagination to correct (not for anything we've done wrong mind you)- and we help in any way we can until you are as satisified as we can make you. Now when you return home, we don't send you an extra bill for this service- its just something we offer. Did we make any additional money on your booking for helping you- Not a cent (we've probably actually lost money at that point). Its what you get from using a good travel agent. You wouldn't believe how hard we worked this year with all the hurricanes affecting peoples travel plans. We make no extra money rebooking a clients trip that was already booked for them. The phone wait times were unbelieveable with the tour operators after the storms, yet me held on until every customer was happy with the alternate plans we could make for them.

3) My pet peeve is having me work on a trip (sometimes for 10 + hours), and then you book with someone else to save $10. I can not always control what my tour operators charge - and if my price is close and I've worked really hard for you (and you know it), why go elsewhere ??
Also, even worse is I work for hours for your trip, give you all of my personal advice, basically plan a customized vacation for you (including things you may not have known about or even considered), and you use my knowledge and book elsewhere.

4) FYI: TA's don't make much money- especially on inexpensive cruises. Sometimes my commission can be as little as $50. I worked on a DisneyLand vacation for a client- worked for a week on it - several hour s day and I made $36. There is no way I can afford to gift that client - even if I want to.

5) I normally do gift my clients, and I never thought of it- but I have never received a gift back from a client- a thank you for planning such a nice trip for us type of gift ?? Hmmmm Thats an interesting twist I had not even thought of.

6) Cruise lines are notorious for not giving out the gifts we travel agents purchase for our clients - I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. Then I spend 1-2 hours on the phone sorting out to get my money back (even more time lost).

7) I dont think a gift is what should keep you with your TA- there customer service is what should keep you, knowing they work hard for you and they are experts in what they are selling. The agents in my office take selling travel seriously. We all vacation A LOT and take routine site inspections of the places we sell. We want to know the ins and outs of every details when we send you somewhere - we also want to match you with the best vacation for your personality. If you are a beach lover and I send you to a place with a beautiful beach that is not really swimmable - you won't be happy and I need to know these things.


Sorry if this sounds like a rant - it was really just provided to give out some facts. I'm always interested to hear that people think if they use a TA they are over paying ??? I'd rather you pay a fair price for the PERFECT trip, then pay a cheap price for a not so good trip. Afterall, if the trip is not great, then you wont be happy with your discounted rate anyway ???


AMEN!

Cinnamon Seahorse
December 10th, 2005, 08:10 PM
It's too bad to hear that our experience with not receiving wine is not uncommon. This is the only time it happened to us, and would have been fine if the Millennium staff hadn't been rude and accusing. If you've booked a Celebrity Suite, and have a four-figure balance on your shipboard account, it's not too likely you're going to try to scam a bottle of cheap wine.

That was last December. And since I didn't get the feeling they really care whether they had my business or not, we'll go with "not." My letter to the company after the cruise (the bottle of wine was just a drop in the bucket for this cruise) was responded to by someone who obviously didn't read the letter. Let me see, four cruises this year, two booked so far for next year, already working on game plans for 2007 and 2009 ....

We have never before had that experience, and our TA always sends wine, if not more. Except when we've booked a fairly low-end trip and I tell her not to. :D As I said before, her excellent service is all the gift I need.

We routinely send her postcards from our cruises, and found the most beautiful little baby outfit hand-embroidered with blue sailboats on a cruise while she was pregnant. Good thing she had a boy!

We're very ready for our saililng next week (although it seems like we just returned home from the final sailing of the Crystal Harmony :( ), and we're thoroughly relaxed since we know everything's taken care of. Not as relaxed as we'll be after the champagne sailaway, but you get my drift.

Happy voyages, and happy holidays, Carla

fkwok
December 10th, 2005, 08:10 PM
You are not wrong, it would be a nice gesture. I would give you a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant when you get home. As mentioned, bottles of wine don`t make it sometimes to the cabin.



At my present company, one of our directors was stunned to learned to use a TA. She books all her family's vacations on-line like Expedia or Trevelocity. She said it was easier and cheaper than using a TA.

I told her the security of knowing that if anything goes wrong with my vacation, I have someone I know and trust to call and get help. MY TA works for a major regional chain and must do alot of business with the cruislines and all inclusive resorts we usually go to.

So I am paying for peace of mind when I use her vs. the on-line places. If I have a problem, I will never get to talk to the same person if I used the online places.

Now, getting back gifts...sure it would a nice gesture for her to send me something after the business I gave and will give her in the future, but I will trade that for the next flight out of a disaster area arranged by them if it ever came to that.

I also want to say I know that every time I ask her for a better price, that directly impacts her commission. She even said to get the price I want for a cruise, I would pay a higher price now and she would refund me the difference between the stated price and my lower price and forfeit a part of her commission. I guess for her, losing a small piece of her commission was worth getting me to book a cruise with her.

I told that taking a piece of her commission was unnecessary and I booked the cruise. And it was a great cruise.

Just my 2 cents.

jonj
December 21st, 2005, 07:27 PM
When I first started cruising a few years ago, I heard from people at my old jobs that their TA's sent them gifts. But I have gotten one gift from her.

I have booked 3 cruises and the next one will have 12 people in 3 balcony cabins. I booked all the cruises AND my annual Ft. Lauderdale vacation through my TA. Even she only recieved a 10% commission from each cruise and beach vacation, then she stands to make about $2000 from my business. Not a lot I admit, but it is still nothing to sneeze at either.

Now that I have read this posting, is it wrong to expect a gift since I have given her my business or should I just be happy she gave me some great deals?

Is it really obnoxious to think we should expect a bottle of wine when we get our cabin? I think it would be a nice gesture for her to send us a little something.

Am I wrong?

If your agent isn't the owner he/she doesn't keep all that commission. Most commissions are split between the agency and the agent. Some are split 50/50, some 60/40 with the agency getting the most of it. Some are higher and some are lower for the agent itself. Some agents get paid a salary and the agency keeps the whole commission. With this example, anything they send could be from the agency itself or if from them directly out of their pocket

There isn't one answer to any of this, each situation is different

You also have to remember that commissions are paid on the base rate of any vacation before taxes, insurance, ground transfers, port charges, etc
A $3000 vacation for two people that includes insurance, could only have a commission of about $230 to the agency, as to what the actual agent receives it can vary a lot. Say the agent gets 1/2 of that. Their cut is $115. Even if they want to send you a $20 gift, that is already 20% of their salary for that one booking. Some cruise lines do not have a lot that is under $20 and a gift that doesn't look cheesy

iancal
December 21st, 2005, 07:34 PM
I do not expect a gift from my TA when I use them to book a cruise. Once, our TA actually sent a gift to our cabin. It included confectionary items for our kids. Food was the LAST thing that we needed on this cruise but we did appreciate the thought. Business is challenging, every day these TA's are on the line to provide value add to clients who may or may not recognize or appreciate their value add (assuming there is). I only use a TA for certain types of travel. I do the rest of the web. The goods ones are sticking, the bad ones who are not knowledgeable or who do not add value will wither on the proverbial vine. One thing that I absolutely will not do is use my TA, and then book that trip at a lower price on the web.

SactoSteve
December 21st, 2005, 10:53 PM
Maybe I look at things a little differently. A discount is great. I like getting a deal. I also expect that I'm giving up something to get that discount. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. We don't cruise but every couple years so I really value both service and advice from my TA. In this case, I'm not looking for a discount. Of course, when she helps me take advantage of a price drop on the part of the cruise line, I'm a very happy camper.

I gotta say that I am truly impressed (and sometimes a little befuddled) by the amount of effort a good TA will put in for relatively little compensation. And some of them really want to give you a gift, too. How cool is that? Maybe I need to pick up a little something for my TA.

Cosmopolitan
December 22nd, 2005, 12:53 AM
For years and years, I did all of our hotel/airline bookings myself. Never a problem.

A trip to Bermuda, (DH surprise to me) he booked through a travel agent..all was a mess.

Then, we planned a trip to Puerto Rico. I researched hotels, etc. Went to a travel agent (big name) just to make sure that what we had researched was in a good area, etc. Knowing nothing about Puerto Rico.
Gave her ALL of the specs., and even the hotel/suite that we wanted.
Beautiful hotel, concierge floor, etc. She confirmed it all!
DH picks up the packet and brings it home....
A mess again!
Had to go back and redo the whole thing!

Since we started cruising, I do all of the legwork myself.
Wish I knew of a reliable travel agent.
They don't have to send me a gift..they just have to do their job:(

Mr_Cruise
December 22nd, 2005, 02:29 AM
I've just spent quite some time and read every post previous to mine in this thread.

I think everyone's feedback is valuable, and truly appreciate the sincere posts from both TA's (I am one) and cruisers alike. Just to shed a little light on my own outlook with respect to gifts I'd like to post some background information that drives my decisions...

Yes, I work for an online cruise agency. Yes, I work for commission. Many TA's and cruisers post the % range that agencies are likely paid on a reservation. Key word, agencies.

Firstly, only the base cruise fare is commissionable. Secondly, as an agent working for an agency, I receive 35% of the gross commission on my bookings (minimally). Although my pay varies over the course of a year, average deductions (taxes etc.) from my pay cheque are in excess of 35%. Of the remaining 65% of the income earned, each time I purchase something with my net earned income, I pay another 14% in taxes on the purchase price. If I am very lucky, by the end of the process my actual earned income is about 55% of my gross income, which I will remind you is only 35% of the gross commission.

Now when it comes to deciding on getting a gift for a client, I have to think long and hard as to whether I can afford to or not. Not whether I want to.

If a reservation has roughly a $300 gross commission of which roughly $100 is allocated to me and I end up with a total of $55 actually in my pocket... after paying for basic living expenses and trying to save a few dollars for my future, etc. there really isn't much of a margin left to provide a gift to a client.

If everyone that I worked for booked with me, then I'd probably be in a position that would enable me to send select clients a gift. But working for an online agency, the vast majority of those that inquire, even if I've dedicated hours or days/weeks to working for them, do not ultimately book a cruise with me. Some don't book with anyone, and that's just fine. I provide the same high standard of service to all, in hopes that when they are prepared to proceed with securing reservations that they will come back to me. It's the ones that abuse me, my time and expertise, then book elsewhere that are ultimately very dissapointing.

Now of course it would be nice to send gifts to every client, but it's simply not economically viable.

My attentive, knowledgeable, and professional services rendered to my clients is the best gift that I can give them.

I typically devote in excess of 50 hours per week to providing my clients with the level of service they deserve. Accessible at any time via email, and a minimum of 40 hours a week by 800#. I know that my clients value ME much more than they would a gift.

Maryfrei
December 22nd, 2005, 07:22 AM
I'm with you Mr. Cruise. Working with someone who gives their best, with a pleasant attitude, is gift enough for me anytime!

Wendy-Europe
December 22nd, 2005, 07:31 AM
Hi,

mh - I didnīt received a gift from my (online) TA, but they did everything for me and I got an upgrade - that was gift enough!

I sent a thank you gift (with a few german well known sweets) before departure to my TA..... and I had the feeling, she was very happy about that...

Wendy

Onessa
December 22nd, 2005, 01:08 PM
I'm with Wendy and Mr-Cruise. We typically use a brick-and-mortar-based Cruises-specific TA (there's a mouthful!). There are two in the office, and they encourage us to work with whichever is available when we first come in or call. They are both very good at their job - we've never had an issue with any of the arrangements and they are very good about giving us advice, comparing costs and services, and keeping us up to date with price changes, upsell opportunities, and itenerary changes. Worth every extra $$ we MAY pay!

Last cruise (number 6 through this agency), they gave us a nice little carryon bag. We'd gotten little things (luggage tags, nice pens, et.al.) in the past. But the real 'gift' is having someone there who is doing the legwork. Keep it up TAs!