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Maracamama

TA Client Appreciation?

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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 ...

Edited by billcrooz

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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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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.

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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?

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

 

:)

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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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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.

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

 

Keith~

I wanted to say I really appreciated your well thought out approach to selecting a TA! Thanks for sharing.

 

Tonya

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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.

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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.

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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.

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we do the same as you Carol and love our TA.

 

 

Sent from my iPad mini using Tapatalk

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I agree with most of you a good TA is important. You need someone that you can trust and feel comfortable with doing business. We will be on are first SilverSea cruise--and doing it with a new TA. The last one we had didn't really care about customer service. Told you one thing then wanted to change 30 days before you cruise. We book higher end suites, so not only did she loss us, but our friends that cruise with us. But I guess we should thank her-after using her for years-she made us realize we needed someone with integrity and a change in cruiselines so we booked with SilverSeas and a new TA.

Rick

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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.

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

Yeppers, need a little more love with a 5 week Explorer cruise coming up and the WC.

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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.

Yeppers, need a little more love with a 5 week Explorer cruise coming up and the WC.

 

Maracamama, your post makes me realise I wish I had been a TA with people like you as clients. :D

 

A commission and bonuses on $67k and you make all your own flight arrangements. Happy days. :)

 

Some have posted and they clearly receive value ie Keith. You clearly do not.

 

Time for some changes .....

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Maracamama,

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.

Edited by Host Dan

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Often for a World Cruise (full) if your TA is associated with one of the consortiums the consortiums provide something along the lines that Host Dan is talking about. And if that is from the consortium than the TA can also provide something beyond that on their own such as a shipboard credit. Often what the consortium is providing is actually an amenity that goes from the cruise line to the consortium and then to the guest recognizing the large volume of business that consortiums or very large independents bring to the table.

 

Keith

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Maracamama,

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.

 

Just to clarify, the $300 OBC was on the Expedition cruise, not the upcoming WC.

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