TA Client Appreciation?

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#1
Coconut Grove, FL
77 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
I would like to poll you all, informally, on what is usual, customary, or even expected, from your travel agent as appreciation for your bookings?
Right now I am very disappointed with what our current TA has gifted us with on our current cruise. Since we have a World Cruise looming, I want to get a better idea of what everyone else's experience is with this matter. You can imagine our TA will be getting quite a hefty commission on a WC booking in a Silver Suite. Perhaps my expectations are out of line, or just plain out dated. Appreciate all input.
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Martha

1993 Ocean Pearl Far East
1994 R 1 Seychelles
1995 Marco Polo Burma
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1999/2000 Marco Polo Millenium Antarctica
2001 Silversea Shadow Viet Nam
2002 Seaborne Legend B2B Transatlantic
2003 Silversea Cloud B2BTransatlantic
2004 Marco Polo Scandinavia
2005 Norwegian Wind Hawaii
2005 Silversea Wind 2B2B Middle East
2006 Silversea Wind 3B2B Transatlantic (100+ Days on SS)
2007 Oosterdam Alaska
Nov-Dec 2007 Regent Mariner Aust/NZ/LA B2B
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Mumbai-Capetown
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Capetown-Rio de Janeiro (100+ Days on RSSC)
Dec 2009 Regent Voyager Rio-Fort Lauderdale
April 2010 Sapphire Princess Mexican Riviera
May 2010 Amadolce River Cruise Paris-Budapest
Oct-Dec 2010 Silversea Prince Albert II (now the Silver Explorer): Costa Rica to Chilean Fjords to Antarctica (the 7 week Marriage Test)
Mar 2011 Regent Navigator FLL-FLL
April 2011 Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean
Sept 2011 Silversea Shadow 3 B2B Asia
April-May 2012 Regent Voyager 3 B2B Athens-Rome
Oct-Nov 2012 Colonial Harbors Regent Navigator Montreal-Miami
April 5-May 1, 2013 Silversea Whisper Capetown to FLL
June 2013 Celebrity Solstice Alaska
June 2014 Viking Gullveig Amsterdam-Basel
June-July 2014 Silver Discoverer Otaru (Sapporo)-Seward
October 2014 Silver Explorer French Polynesia
January 5-May 1, 2015 World Cruise Silversea Whisper LA-FLL
Sept 2016 Silver Whisper Southampton-Montreal
April 2017 Azamara Quest TA Miami-Barcelona

All 50 states, Canada, South Africa, Cuba, China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand
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#2
London
3,561 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
All I look for from a travel agent is good service.

I get a price for a cruise and if I am happy with it,I pay then forget about it.
#3
Sunshine Coast -Australia
2,277 Posts
Joined May 2011
And I am in agreement with Mr. Luxury.
We get great service from our TA and I don't begrudge her getting even a hefty commission.
Services such as getting us on booked out cruises or into booked out hotels are far more important.
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#4
Lincolnshire England
2,812 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
My impression from reading a lot of posts is that US agents tend to give onboard credit or other goodies, whereas UK agents will probably give you a better price for the cruise but then no extras.
#6
Newbury Ma
677 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
I know where and when I will be going.i do my own travel and hotel arrangements. All my T A does is take my info and process it through Silversea .for this he gets a nice commission.all he sends me is a couple of hundred in credit.Im looking for a new one ...
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#7
San Antonio, TX
8,906 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
We do our own research and planning from finding an itinerary, a ship, hotels, to transportation so basically ask a TA/PCC to do nothing more than book the cruise. To that end we've typically gone with the agent or agency that gives us the lowest cruise fare be it through an upfront price to a combination of price and OBC incentives. Typically we save or get back 8 to 12%.
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#8
377 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Maracamama
I would like to poll you all, informally, on what is usual, customary, or even expected, from your travel agent as appreciation for your bookings?
Right now I am very disappointed with what our current TA has gifted us with on our current cruise. Since we have a World Cruise looming, I want to get a better idea of what everyone else's experience is with this matter. You can imagine our TA will be getting quite a hefty commission on a WC booking in a Silver Suite. Perhaps my expectations are out of line, or just plain out dated. Appreciate all input.
What did your TA "gifted" you with? You want us to tell you what we receive from our TAs, but you do not say what you received.
#9
728 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by Mr Luxury
All I look for from a travel agent is good service.

I get a price for a cruise and if I am happy with it,I pay then forget about it.
i'm with Mr. Luxury on this one. I would not even think about dickering. Our agent has always performed flawlessly and it would not occur to us to ask her to give us some of her pay. Am I missing something?
#10
Coconut Grove, FL
77 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Appreciate all the insight. I am not "looking" for anything, but had gotten used to (or taken for granted, it seems) some kind of thank you from our previous TA (who sadly, passed away). For example, a $1000 OBC was not unusual from her when she was receiving a generous commission, or a credit back on our cruise fare. For this outing (a cost of $67K USD without air), we were gifted $300 from the TA. It just seemed odd, which is why I was wondering what the "etiquette" is. Obviously, if we can drop that chunk of change, and approx. $250K on a WC, it is virtually a moot point and will not change our lives. I was just curious and looking for comparison information. Thank you all for your insights. Happy sailings!
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Martha

1993 Ocean Pearl Far East
1994 R 1 Seychelles
1995 Marco Polo Burma
1996 Marco Polo Singapore
1997 Paul Gaugin French Polynesia
1998 Crown Odyssey Inaugural Medit.
1999/2000 Marco Polo Millenium Antarctica
2001 Silversea Shadow Viet Nam
2002 Seaborne Legend B2B Transatlantic
2003 Silversea Cloud B2BTransatlantic
2004 Marco Polo Scandinavia
2005 Norwegian Wind Hawaii
2005 Silversea Wind 2B2B Middle East
2006 Silversea Wind 3B2B Transatlantic (100+ Days on SS)
2007 Oosterdam Alaska
Nov-Dec 2007 Regent Mariner Aust/NZ/LA B2B
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Mumbai-Capetown
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Capetown-Rio de Janeiro (100+ Days on RSSC)
Dec 2009 Regent Voyager Rio-Fort Lauderdale
April 2010 Sapphire Princess Mexican Riviera
May 2010 Amadolce River Cruise Paris-Budapest
Oct-Dec 2010 Silversea Prince Albert II (now the Silver Explorer): Costa Rica to Chilean Fjords to Antarctica (the 7 week Marriage Test)
Mar 2011 Regent Navigator FLL-FLL
April 2011 Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean
Sept 2011 Silversea Shadow 3 B2B Asia
April-May 2012 Regent Voyager 3 B2B Athens-Rome
Oct-Nov 2012 Colonial Harbors Regent Navigator Montreal-Miami
April 5-May 1, 2013 Silversea Whisper Capetown to FLL
June 2013 Celebrity Solstice Alaska
June 2014 Viking Gullveig Amsterdam-Basel
June-July 2014 Silver Discoverer Otaru (Sapporo)-Seward
October 2014 Silver Explorer French Polynesia
January 5-May 1, 2015 World Cruise Silversea Whisper LA-FLL
Sept 2016 Silver Whisper Southampton-Montreal
April 2017 Azamara Quest TA Miami-Barcelona

All 50 states, Canada, South Africa, Cuba, China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand
Can frequently be found in The Cayman Islands...
#11
2,257 Posts
Joined May 2000
Unless you were an *awful* lot of trouble, I agree that $300 on a $67K fare is unreasonably low.

Some people need a lot of service/hand-holding. Others need very little. The commissions for TAs are the same. The latter group of clients can reasonably expect some concessions.

I do not know what current commissions are, with overrides/bonuses for many bookings, etc. However I do know that ~15 years ago an agent mistakenly sent me with my documents the agent's invoice from the cruise line rather than the client's. The line was a luxury line. The agent's commission was stated clearly there: 20%.

That's a very generous fee for a TA who merely tickets and sends me the documents for a cruise that I booked directly with the cruise line.
#12
San Antonio, TX
8,906 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I too would say $300 on a $67K fare is low and I'd probably use a stronger word than "unreasonably". While I typically stay away from booking directly with a cruise line PCC I did book that way when we took our first Silversea cruise and her incentives were much higher on a significantly lower fare than $67K.
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#13
142 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
We too do all the homework and selecting before contacting the travel agent who processes the booking. We definitely benefit from the relationship especially when it comes to air arrangements. But most cruisers travel repeatedly and the TA benefits financially year after year. The TA would be wise to value the account and provide an incentive for continued close ties. We like working with a TA, but there are many out there. I want them to do well,prosper and be there for us next time.
#14
UK
7,573 Posts
Joined May 2012
Originally posted by Maracamama
Appreciate all the insight. I am not "looking" for anything, but had gotten used to (or taken for granted, it seems) some kind of thank you from our previous TA (who sadly, passed away). For example, a $1000 OBC was not unusual from her when she was receiving a generous commission, or a credit back on our cruise fare. For this outing (a cost of $67K USD without air), we were gifted $300 from the TA. It just seemed odd, which is why I was wondering what the "etiquette" is. Obviously, if we can drop that chunk of change, and approx. $250K on a WC, it is virtually a moot point and will not change our lives. I was just curious and looking for comparison information. Thank you all for your insights. Happy sailings!
Maracamama, your situation is actually quite complex to presume that anyone else can offer you cogent and empathetic advice. To spend $67k on a vacation, and this doesn't include air fares or $£250k on a WC means you are very wealthy. I am guessing but either you do not have the time to make your own arrangements and the amount of value you gain by making the arrangements for you is more beneficial because you either don't need the saving ro you make more money by "concentrating on busines" ....

You have an infinite number of options. Clearly a $300 thank you for a $67k spend to me seems almost worst than none at all. It is insulting and disrespectful. In my view if I could afford your scenario I'd prefer a handwritten note with a gift.

You need to make a binary choice between either getting to grips with a more hands-on approach or perhaps go further and take a concierge service. If you take the first approach then you need to make a clear document of what you want with a specific cruise and put it on a document and then circulate it to a number of TAs and say you will be booking it in 48 hours and you want them to tender for the cruise with their best set of offers. Or if your time is the thing then research use a firstl-class concierge service and get them to "add value" and earn their cut or fee.

It stikes me that with your level of welath and spend you are experiencing the worst of all worlds at the moment and simply making a TA fairly wealthy who appears to be sufficiently clueless and doesn't know how to show you some appreciation is not the best for you.

I have no idea whether my ramblings make any sense to you.

#15
Boston, MA
282 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
Originally posted by Observer
I do not know what current commissions are, with overrides/bonuses for many bookings, etc. However I do know that ~15 years ago an agent mistakenly sent me with my documents the agent's invoice from the cruise line rather than the client's. The line was a luxury line. The agent's commission was stated clearly there: 20%.
Those days are over! Agents are lucky to get 10-17% from the mainstream cruise lines depending on their sales volume, not including the NCCF (non-commissionable cruise fee).
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Andrea

Regent Voyager Bali to Hong Kong 3/24/18
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#16
UK
7,573 Posts
Joined May 2012
It seems extraordinary that a TA could earn that much from that level of cruise spend and not seem to do everything they could do to show value to the client and ensure they don't lose them. Utterly perplexing.
#17
Coconut Grove, FL
77 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Originally posted by UKCruiseJeff
Maracamama, your situation is actually quite complex to presume that anyone else can offer you cogent and empathetic advice. To spend $67k on a vacation, and this doesn't include air fares or $£250k on a WC means you are very wealthy. I am guessing but either you do not have the time to make your own arrangements and the amount of value you gain by making the arrangements for you is more beneficial because you either don't need the saving ro you make more money by "concentrating on busines" ....

You have an infinite number of options. Clearly a $300 thank you for a $67k spend to me seems almost worst than none at all. It is insulting and disrespectful. In my view if I could afford your scenario I'd prefer a handwritten note with a gift.

You need to make a binary choice between either getting to grips with a more hands-on approach or perhaps go further and take a concierge service. If you take the first approach then you need to make a clear document of what you want with a specific cruise and put it on a document and then circulate it to a number of TAs and say you will be booking it in 48 hours and you want them to tender for the cruise with their best set of offers. Or if your time is the thing then research use a firstl-class concierge service and get them to "add value" and earn their cut or fee.

It stikes me that with your level of welath and spend you are experiencing the worst of all worlds at the moment and simply making a TA fairly wealthy who appears to be sufficiently clueless and doesn't know how to show you some appreciation is not the best for you.

I have no idea whether my ramblings make any sense to you.

Thank you, Jeff. Duly noted.
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Martha

1993 Ocean Pearl Far East
1994 R 1 Seychelles
1995 Marco Polo Burma
1996 Marco Polo Singapore
1997 Paul Gaugin French Polynesia
1998 Crown Odyssey Inaugural Medit.
1999/2000 Marco Polo Millenium Antarctica
2001 Silversea Shadow Viet Nam
2002 Seaborne Legend B2B Transatlantic
2003 Silversea Cloud B2BTransatlantic
2004 Marco Polo Scandinavia
2005 Norwegian Wind Hawaii
2005 Silversea Wind 2B2B Middle East
2006 Silversea Wind 3B2B Transatlantic (100+ Days on SS)
2007 Oosterdam Alaska
Nov-Dec 2007 Regent Mariner Aust/NZ/LA B2B
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Mumbai-Capetown
Nov 2009 Regent Voyager Capetown-Rio de Janeiro (100+ Days on RSSC)
Dec 2009 Regent Voyager Rio-Fort Lauderdale
April 2010 Sapphire Princess Mexican Riviera
May 2010 Amadolce River Cruise Paris-Budapest
Oct-Dec 2010 Silversea Prince Albert II (now the Silver Explorer): Costa Rica to Chilean Fjords to Antarctica (the 7 week Marriage Test)
Mar 2011 Regent Navigator FLL-FLL
April 2011 Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean
Sept 2011 Silversea Shadow 3 B2B Asia
April-May 2012 Regent Voyager 3 B2B Athens-Rome
Oct-Nov 2012 Colonial Harbors Regent Navigator Montreal-Miami
April 5-May 1, 2013 Silversea Whisper Capetown to FLL
June 2013 Celebrity Solstice Alaska
June 2014 Viking Gullveig Amsterdam-Basel
June-July 2014 Silver Discoverer Otaru (Sapporo)-Seward
October 2014 Silver Explorer French Polynesia
January 5-May 1, 2015 World Cruise Silversea Whisper LA-FLL
Sept 2016 Silver Whisper Southampton-Montreal
April 2017 Azamara Quest TA Miami-Barcelona

All 50 states, Canada, South Africa, Cuba, China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand
Can frequently be found in The Cayman Islands...
#18
100,393 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Maracamama, several years ago we realized it was time to find a new agent/agency. Our TA at the time had sold his business and we were unimpressed with the new owners. We booked a World Cruise directly with a cruise line (not Silversea) and we had until the final payment was made to select and move the booking to a TA.

We asked friends if they liked their TA (I think that a TA can provide value that goes well beyond credits and such and can actually save you money in other areas and also can add other values) and we narrowed down a list to agents from various travel consortiums as well as a couple of independents.

I sent them each the same e-mail with the same set of questions and then noted that after they responded I would schedule calls with each of them. The questions varied and included not only what amenities they would provide but several other areas including their background.

Part of why I did it this way was to see how each TA prepared and the quality of their answers because that told me a lot about them. In essence it was like giving them an assignment.

I then did a phone interview with each of them.

From there I made my decision.

I was looking for a long term agent and not just for the World Cruise but certainly the World Cruise represented some significant revenue to them.

If you do this, do it thoughtfully. There is no need to make it time sensitive with some kind of edict. In fact, by not providing a specific time in my initial e mail query this was another way to get at their responsiveness.

Some do not agree with me on this but I find it very helpful to have a strong TA and not one that is based solely on amenities. There is a lot that goes into a World Cruise or for that matter most bookings that a TA can add tremendous value to.

I also think it is imperative that they have strong knowledge of the luxury cruise line industry and the companies they work with so they can not only offer solid recommendations to you but that they know who to go to if something goes wrong to make it right.

As savvy as I consider myself when it comes to cruising a strong TA can provide guidance that adds tremendous value and can save one plenty of money too.

Again, do the research and select a TA the way you might other vendors or for that matter if you were interviewing someone to work for you.

Keith
#19
UK
7,573 Posts
Joined May 2012
Hi Keith,

Your response seems really thoughtful and I'm interested in your focus on the value a TA can add, particularly as you are a savvy traveller. I also agree that your point about not putting a time constraint on responses is better than my suggestion because it allows them to show how good they are more thoughtfully ... and indeed how responsive they are.

Can you enlarge with a few more specifics on what value the TA added that you feel you were unable to do for yourself.

Thanks.

Jeff
#20
100,393 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Jeff, we've found that our TA can add value in several ways. Examples include:

-Obtaining amenities at hotels we stay at that go beyond what we could obtain even with selected credit cards.
-Determining how best to utilize a benefit offered by a cruise line we sail frequently such as how best to use a 12 day free cruise to get the most advantageous price reduction. I had never thought that about this too much but it does make a difference.
-Cutting through red tape at the cruise line to get an issue resolved for us and/or a question that is not so straight forward answered.
-On selected cruise providing a group tour which we pay for that is quite unique. An example was our visit to the Great Wall of China and the experience we had which we could not have orchestrated on our own.

Jeff, I could list many more examples.

I find that like most professions that the capabilities of TA's are wide with some being below average, some average and some way above average. And if you have a strong one even for those who consider themselves savvy they can benefit from the experience and perspective that a strong TA brings to the table.

The other key for me is to make sure that I am comfortable with the TA.

Keith