Posted July 9th, 2014, 10:15 AM
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.Keith~
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.
My travel agent gives us a discount off the booking. It varies depending on the cruise line but it is around 10-11% on most of the luxury lines. Often we also get OBC's. I generally do all the legwork (I like to do that) and book directly with the cruise company, and then I have her take over the booking.If you do all the leg work, make the booking yourself and simply turn it over to your TA then that TA is not acting as a TA but as a booking service. Therefore I can understand why he/she rebates such a hefty part of the commission. No work was expended to earn it.
If you do all the leg work, make the booking yourself and simply turn it over to your TA then that TA is not acting as a TA but as a booking service. Therefore I can understand why he/she rebates such a hefty part of the commission. No work was expended to earn it.If I wanted the travel agent to do the legwork they would do it, and they have assisted with me with other things that have come up with my bookings with them. It's not that I don't want them to do it...I like to do all the legwork myself. It's part of my travel planning. I generally decide where I want to go a year or so beforehand and do a lot of research. That part is what I enjoy doing. The reason the travel agent rebates a hefty part of the commission is because they deal in volume. They book so many cruises that they are able to give discounts. Plain and simple.
In most cases, commissions are much lower than 20% and if the agent works in an agency, the agency usually get a third to a half of the commission. Also, the cruise lines are reducing the base fare on which they pay commission and increase the Non commissionable fare portion, this reducing the TA's portion further.In my instance the CRUISE FARE was $67K. I have the invoice in my hand. We did our own air, there (usually) are not "excursions" per se. We have had free laundry for years now. I can't comment on the port charges, You betcha I think a $300 OBC is paltry, as I'm pretty sure looking at the invoice there was no "rebate" from the TA.
Some agencies have added fees for booking and managing cruises. Other agencies keep their volume up through rebating (which for many cruise lines is an illegal practice).
It seems to me that cruisers in general are expecting their Travel Agent to give generous OBC, discounts, or gifts, thus reducing their cost to the cruiser. What if a cruiser finds a great agent, and they really click, but the agency doesn't allow rebating? Everybody loses here. What if the TA lives on his commissions and can only afford that over-priced bottle of wine form the ship, or that $300 OBC?
In this instance, if the total cruise was $67,000, what was the base fare? This prices includes round trip airfare, 2 shore excursions, laundry, gifts, transfers, port charges and taxes. You can bet Silverseas isn't paying commission on those.
To the OP, you stated that you were used to your previous agent sending a thank you gift. Your current agent did the same, but it wasn't as much or as nice as your previous agent. The thought was the same, you just felt you deserved more. I suggest you find a new agent and when interviewing them, ask how much money they are willing to give you when you book a world cruise. That will weed out those bad apples that that just give you a paltry $300 gift.
In my instance the CRUISE FARE was $67K. I have the invoice in my hand. We did our own air, there (usually) are not "excursions" per se. We have had free laundry for years now. I can't comment on the port charges, You betcha I think a $300 OBC is paltry, as I'm pretty sure looking at the invoice there was no "rebate" from the TA.Maracamama, your post makes me realise I wish I had been a TA with people like you as clients.
Yeppers, need a little more love with a 5 week Explorer cruise coming up and the WC.
Maracamama,Just to clarify, the $300 OBC was on the Expedition cruise, not the upcoming WC.
I checked my luxury TA and they are offering this on the WC. Either 8 guided, or leisurely tours with a private car and driver OR $4800 ship board credit- PLUS an additional $500 cash credit. (In addition to the credits etc by Silversea) $300 seems a bit measly to me.