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Who books directly with the cruise line and why?


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13 minutes ago, bemis12 said:

 

That's just not possible, given the amount of the TA commissions. Their ENTIRE commission becomes the maximum benefit to you.  You can't be comparing fares at the same point in time.

Agree.  Princess fares have to be up since he booked and is checking prices now.  I always know the Princess price at time of booking, along with my discount (I can even calculate my TA's net fare before asking for a quote).

 

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6 hours ago, mdpseattle said:

I'm not exactly sure what the benefits are to using a travel agent?  Please list them.  I like to find the best price I can and I will book with whomever has the cheapest price.  A free bottle of cheap wine or unnecessary advice or some room fruit isn't isn't something I want anyway. In every case, I've found it's simply easier and cheaper to just use the cruise line website to book.

 

Sadly, aren't travel agents just a unnecessary middle man?  Don't get me wrong, I truly feel for the plight of the travel agent.  I'm old enough to have seen entire industries go away because of the Internet.  But, I don't make a lot of money, I don't have a lot of money, so if I want to cruise I have to find the absolute cheapest way to cruise and I would cut my own mother out of the reservation process if it would save me a few bucks (no, not seriously, I wouldn't, but I'm trying to make a point.)

I speak from experience.  The Travel Agent can intervene on your behalf when issues arise before and after the cruise.  It doesn't cost anything extra to use a travel agent as the cruise line pays them directly. We had some issue with one of the cruises we booked (not Princess) and the TA was able to get us a refund (future cruise credit) as he/she can deal with their cruise line rep directly.

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I have no doubt that TAs are helpful for quite a few travelers, in fact I'm sure of it as I have friends and relatives that use them although they don't travel as much as we do, but not for us. Years ago all the cruise lines and for that matter the coach tour outfits like COSMOS, all required their guests to use a TA. I used to be in the air travel game for years and had close affiliations with agencies. I never had a problem with them then and enjoyed working with that element of the industry.

However, after we began world travel, we had a number of real stressful problems not only on cruises but coach tours as well which were a direct result of errors and omissions on the part of an agent. There is nothing worse than to be in a travel predicament on the other side of the globe, in an opposite time zone, and have to try and get in touch with your agent, who happens to be out for the week, so their mess can be straightened out.

When the day finally came where all lines set up their current systems where we can deal directly with the cruise line it was like a breath of fresh air. Since then, no more grief or unexpected booking disasters. Maybe an agent could get me a better deal now and then but I doubt it and even so, elimination of  the "middle man" is worth paying a little more as far as I'm concerned. 
Edited by kennicott
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In the beginning of our travel history, we always used a TA. When we started cruising, we discovered the benefit of booking on ship and transferring  the booking to our TA. After  many years our TA retired. He told me he would gladly advise me if I had any questions about booking myself. I found his tips to be very helpful and we now do all our travel plans online. We watch for price changes and onboard credit deals and have done quite well. 

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I booked our first 3 cruises directly with Princess, but then found that using a TA got me a slightly cheaper price and some OBC that I wouldn't get with purchasing directly from Princess.

We usually book the least expensive inside cabin, so it's usually just $1-200 cheaper, but it's money back in my pocket.

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3 hours ago, bemis12 said:

 

That's just not possible, given the amount of the TA commissions. Their ENTIRE commission becomes the maximum benefit to you.  You can't be comparing fares at the same point in time.

Yes, it is possible since I never said it was booked at the same time that I saw that particulate fare. The cruise is not until November and right now that is where it stands.

That’s why I asked the question in the first place!

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3 minutes ago, suzyed said:

Yes, it is possible since I never said it was booked at the same time that I saw that particulate fare. The cruise is not until November and right now that is where it stands.

That’s why I asked the question in the first place!

 

Then if the price falls later, will you be angry with your travel agent for having cheated you?

 

It’s just silly to compare fares that aren’t booked at the same point in time.

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8 minutes ago, bemis12 said:

 

Then if the price falls later, will you be angry with your travel agent for having cheated you?

 

It’s just silly to compare fares that aren’t booked at the same point in time.

Same cruise,  same date, same cabin and mine is half the price..,why would I be mad? Princess can reduce their price but it’s never gong to get down to what we paid! Thrilled with the progress cue we got! Just silly to think it would be reduced that much! And my travel agent is awesome!

Edited by suzyed
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5 hours ago, karatemom2 said:

 

I have to disagree with you on this. As I said, we used to always go through a large TA for the discounts. But if you are a Casino player with some track record the discounts available via the Player’s Club are significant and much better than any TA we have used. 

 

I will also add that since booking directly through Princess with our Casino discount we have also been upgraded twice - one was a very significant upgrade to the Grand Suite on the Grand. These offers came directly from Princess and required fast action on our part to nab the opportunity. In our many, many cruises booked through a TA we never once got an upgrade or even the chance to try for one. I’m not saying it can’t happen but for us it has only happened since we have started booking directly. 

Lucky you!  Casino rates are awesome!  But as my DH says....."they paid then (with their gambling) and we're paying now"!

Edited by suzyed
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4 hours ago, Bootman4U said:

Exactly which TA is giving you anything?  Everything is coming FROM the cruise line, not the TA, including OBC. It could be a matter of a reduction in the TA commission or a perk to the TA from the cruise line for steering a great deal of business to the line but NO TA that I know of is giving you OBC.

Mine does.  Usually not tons but always something. 

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1 hour ago, suzyed said:

Lucky you!  Casino rates are awesome!  But as my DH says....."they paid then (with their gambling) and we're paying now"!

 

Haha! Well that’s true some cruises but not always. He has been known to win enough to pay for our cruise plus an extra. Just depends!

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I'm a solo so book directly with a PVP. She let's me know if I can save by shifting a week which often minimizes the solo supplement. I don't get a bottle of wine but do get a useless coupon book 👎, OBC, I control my flights enabling me to save a boatload, specialty dinner, easy to rebook if a better package comes along (short email & it's done) .... would rather have a coffee program so I could trade the minibar for white wine. Ah well .... can't have it all

Edited by Ombud
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First of all, not all travel agents are equal in knowledge and capability just as all cruise line reps are also not equal in knowledge and capability (although TAs are more likely to have actually been on a cruise ship than cruise line reps).

 

A good TA for booking a cruise:

a) books a number of cruises and thus is familiar with the process and the cruise lines; likely will have sailed on a number of cruise ships

b) has a backup to contact when he/she is not available due to illness, vacation, etc.

c) will not charge a fee for making changes or even canceling the booking (cruise line may have fees for this even when using a TA)

d) will never charge more than what you would pay if booking directly with the cruise line and will likely charge less

e) can provide all the discounts, amenities, promotions that the cruise line offers to those who book directly with the cruise line

f) will go to bat for you if there is a problem that the cruise line will not properly resolve

 

TAs that charge less than the cruise line can do so for a number of reasons:

a) Has made a group booking for the cruise you want (in other words, been allocated a number of cabins) which results in a lower price for the cruise for each passenger in the group. A discount TA will share that discount with the passenger, but since that is not a requirement, many TAs keep the discount $$ for themselves and charge the passenger full price.

b) When a TA books a number of cabins on a cruise, they are given amenity points they can apply to each booking. Good TAs use the amenity points to provide amenities for the passenger which can range from OBC to wine to a specialty dinner. However, TAs can also use the amenity points for their own benefit such as getting an increased commission.

c) Sharing with the passenger the commission that the TA earns with the booking.

 

Note that every time you have your TA refare to a lower price, the TA receives less commission, A good TA realizes that it is better to do this and get repeat business than to avoid making refares.

 

Some TAs work for a company that has longer hours than Princess reps are available. Bookings and charges can be made into late evenings seven days a week unlike when you are dealing directly with Princess.

 

So far, the only disadvantage listed in above posts for using a good TA is that upsell offers may take longer to reach you. Note that free upgrades do not disappear if the notice goes through a TA. In my opinion, the more that passengers are willing to pay extra for upsell offers, the less free upgrades will occur. Before upsells started, the Upgrade Fairy made her appearance much more often than happens now.

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when a TA gets a block of cabins to book, is the price for those cabins locked in at price, or is the price adjusted to the current price when the client actually contacts the TA for the rate ?

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1 minute ago, voljeep said:

when a TA gets a block of cabins to book, is the price for those cabins locked in at price, or is the price adjusted to the current price when the client actually contacts the TA for the rate ?

They are locked in at that rate, unless the rate goes down. If the rate goes down, they get the lower rate.

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21 hours ago, neverbeenhere said:

Coral is correct. The box will get you the same price as the cruiseline and additional moola.

Not always, sometimes "humongous box" I normally use doesnt have the same sales as Princess. Last time the extra $$ they were offering were less than total sum of perks Princess was offering during a sale. Plus cabin i wanted was not available in "humongous box" inventory but was available on Princess.com. Other times, $$ were worth dealing with third party. It all depends!

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I see several people saying they like to book direct to 'have control over their booking' and to 'be able to control their own flights' and 'specialty dinner'.  I don't get these statements so maybe I'm misunderstanding......but I always book with a TA and am still able to book and manage my own airfare on the personalizer, as well as book and see my specialty dining options, OBC, etc. 

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33 minutes ago, Paula_MacFan said:

I see several people saying they like to book direct to 'have control over their booking' and to 'be able to control their own flights' and 'specialty dinner'.  I don't get these statements so maybe I'm misunderstanding......but I always book with a TA and am still able to book and manage my own airfare on the personalizer, as well as book and see my specialty dining options, OBC, etc. 

But if an upsell option is available that e-mail is going to go the the TA not to you and you may very well miss out on the chance.  I like dealing with a PVP who calls me if a better promo comes along and always makes sure I have my casino rate locked in

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2 hours ago, voljeep said:

when a TA gets a block of cabins to book, is the price for those cabins locked in at price, or is the price adjusted to the current price when the client actually contacts the TA for the rate ?

This is old school obsolete thinking in a modern world.  The days when certain large agencies or consortiums would commit to blocks of cabins is pretty much gone.  In most cases agencies all compete to sell the same cabins with agency volume being the important factor when it comes to clout and special arrangements (things such as overrides).   This is stuff not discussed, but it exists.  Consider a cruise line that finds themselves with 100 unsold cabins about 6 weeks before a cruise.  They do not want to publicly have a "sale" or promotion which angers those already booked at higher prices.  Ideally they would love to unload those cabins (perhaps at a nice discount) in a quiet way.  So they can turn to a high volume agency or agencies and offer some very nice incentives (to both the cruiser and agency).  For the agency it is all about volume and for the cruiser it is about the "deal."  

 

There are some "block" deals which are generally so-called special group cruises and/or charters.  So perhaps an organization wants to have a Smooth Jazz cruise and will commit to sell X number of cabins on a particular cruise.  The cruise line will agree to pull a certain number of cabins out of inventory and set them aside for that organization.  Ironically, the pricing on many of these "group" cruises is higher then if one were to book the same cruise, independently, with a decent high volume agency.  

 

Hank

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I book directly because that eliminates one possibility of error. I'm sure many people have wonderful TAs who never make a mistake, but I've not had such good experience with that so I'm not about to go that route again. If I handle things myself by booking through the cruiseline, then I have nobody to blame but myself if something's not right. So far, this hasn't happened, which it did when I booked through a TA.

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1 minute ago, Sea Hag said:

I book directly because that eliminates one possibility of error. I'm sure many people have wonderful TAs who never make a mistake, but I've not had such good experience with that so I'm not about to go that route again. If I handle things myself by booking through the cruiseline, then I have nobody to blame but myself if something's not right. So far, this hasn't happened, which it did when I booked through a TA.

I totally agree here, don't have to worry about someone mis-typing a name on a booking, which I had happen one time.  Just to verify all the fine-print also makes a difference for us.  Whenever I have to call in for price adjustments they are more than happy to help me regardless, so I don't see the benefit of having a TA or even Princess agent. 

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38 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

This is old school obsolete thinking in a modern world.  The days when certain large agencies or consortiums would commit to blocks of cabins is pretty much gone.  In most cases agencies all compete to sell the same cabins with agency volume being the important factor when it comes to clout and special arrangements (things such as overrides).   This is stuff not discussed, but it exists. 

I disagree here. Agents still get group space. My agent listens to her clients who call in and say "when bookings open, I want this cruise" and she will get group space to lock in rates on those popular sailings. She belongs to 2 "consortiums" also that also blocks out group space. Additionally, if someone comes to my agent and says "my family is going on a cruise and we need 15 cabins" - she does the same thing. This is still very common.

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43 minutes ago, Coral said:

I disagree here. Agents still get group space. My agent listens to her clients who call in and say "when bookings open, I want this cruise" and she will get group space to lock in rates on those popular sailings. She belongs to 2 "consortiums" also that also blocks out group space. Additionally, if someone comes to my agent and says "my family is going on a cruise and we need 15 cabins" - she does the same thing. This is still very common.

Though after saying this, her bread and butter is volume.

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1 hour ago, memoak said:

But if an upsell option is available that e-mail is going to go the the TA not to you and you may very well miss out on the chance.  I like dealing with a PVP who calls me if a better promo comes along and always makes sure I have my casino rate locked in

My TA has notified me immediately in the past on our upsell offers.  We have had 3 upsells and took one for a full suite -- was not a problem at all.

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