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No Travel Agent For Me

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21 hours ago, phoenix_dream said:

We always use a big, online travel agent and always get at least an extra $100 OBC and a $50 loyalty OBC.  We generally book during one of their big sales and get an extra $100 OBC on top of that, or sometimes more.  We almost always get at least one more perk than Celebrity is offering for the same price, and sometimes other things like specialty dinners.  Occasionally we also get lower, group rates.  We also sometimes get a reduced price to upgrade to 'Best' or whatever 4 perks are called now.  The only downside is a small cancellation fee should we need to completely cancel ( we are loyal customers to them, so changes to bookings do not incur this charge, although we rarely do that)

We have used the same big, online TA for the last 20 years and would never consider booking with anyone else. Their Group rates and perks. Since we are also loyal customers, we also did not incur the small cancellation fee the two cancels we had to cancel.

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So, I once again will thumb my nose (never understood the derivation of that comment) at those who book direct with cruise lines.  We soon leave for another glorious (all cruise vacations are glorious) on a different cruise line (a major competitor of X).  I was just looking at my OBCs and they total about $2000 of which $1400 comes from my cruise agency.  If I had booked direct, that $1400 would have come out of my own pocket.  Instead, it will pay for most of my drinks and if there is any left over I will get a check from the cruise line a few weeks after I return home.

 

So I salute those who book direct because that extra money they pay to somebody probably is good for the economy :).

 

Let me be clear.  After more then 40 years of extensive cruising I would be very happy to book direct with any cruise line.  But only if they offer equal or better deals then  some cruise/travel agencies.  For many years it was the same with the premium hotel industry...in that one could always get better deals from various travel agencies or web sites...versus booking direct with the chain.  It is only in the past 2-3 years that the hotels have realized that it might be in their own financial best interests to offer the best deals.  So now, we have several decent hotel chains guaranteeing that their deals are the best..or you can get some kind of refund.  Interesting.   And then there are the airlines. ARGH!

 

Hank

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The TAs or websites seem to have better deals.  Either they add extra OBC or in some cases give you cash cards after the cruise is over.  I fail to see the added benefit of booking directly.

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

So, I once again will thumb my nose (never understood the derivation of that comment) at those who book direct with cruise lines.  We soon leave for another glorious (all cruise vacations are glorious) on a different cruise line (a major competitor of X).  I was just looking at my OBCs and they total about $2000 of which $1400 comes from my cruise agency.  If I had booked direct, that $1400 would have come out of my own pocket.  Instead, it will pay for most of my drinks and if there is any left over I will get a check from the cruise line a few weeks after I return home.

 

So I salute those who book direct because that extra money they pay to somebody probably is good for the economy :).

 

Let me be clear.  After more then 40 years of extensive cruising I would be very happy to book direct with any cruise line.  But only if they offer equal or better deals then  some cruise/travel agencies.  For many years it was the same with the premium hotel industry...in that one could always get better deals from various travel agencies or web sites...versus booking direct with the chain.  It is only in the past 2-3 years that the hotels have realized that it might be in their own financial best interests to offer the best deals.  So now, we have several decent hotel chains guaranteeing that their deals are the best..or you can get some kind of refund.  Interesting.   And then there are the airlines. ARGH!

 

Hank

As always a good post . I'm thinking cruises are the last remaining segment of the travel industry with fat commissions .  Flight commissions are tiny and hotel's are pretty small . I understand that travel packages to AI's and cruises are what's left . So I wonder if the cruise lines are going to attempt to drastically cut TA's cut in the next few years . I'm betting they will and these cuts will stick. Then the cruiselines will not have to match big discounts because with shrunken commissions there won't be any to give . 

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1 hour ago, richstowe said:

ruggAs always a good post . I'm thinking cruises are the last remaining segment of the travel industry with fat commissions .  Flight commissions are tiny and hotel's are pretty small . I understand that travel packages to AI's and cruises are what's left . So I wonder if the cruise lines are going to attempt to drastically cut TA's cut in the next few years . I'm betting they will and these cuts will stick. Then the cruiselines will not have to match big discounts because with shrunken commissions there won't be any to give . 

Perhaps you are right.  But I have heard that kind of prediction for over 20 years and it has not happened.  In fact, most cruise lines depend on travel/cruise agencies to generate 70-80% of their sales!   Cruise vacations are "discretionary travel" and selling most of their berths in the next down economic cycle is a going to be a huge challenge.  And consider that RCI and CCL generate nearly all their revenue from a discretionary business.  That is not a good place to be when consumers become cautious with their money which is what happens in recessions.  

 

Consider that we are in one of the best North American economies in history, and the cruise lines are still struggling to fill most of their berths (necessary to generate a healthy profit).  When the economic situation worsens (and this will happen) how will they fill their berths?  There always will be "quiet" discounting because that is what it takes to fill those unsold berths.  Renaissance Cruises tried a model that kept all sales/marketing in-house and did not have any major discounting.  That business model did not serve them well once the travel economy had a major slow down.

 

Hank

 

 

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11 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Perhaps you are right.  But I have heard that kind of prediction for over 20 years and it has not happened.  In fact, most cruise lines depend on travel/cruise agencies to generate 70-80% of their sales!   Cruise vacations are "discretionary travel" and selling most of their berths in the next down economic cycle is a going to be a huge challenge. 

I think one reason cruises may have stuck around with travel agencies so long is that most new cruisers may not feel comfortable just booking a cruise, they depend on TAs, whether they be brick and mortar or articles on an online site plus a phone number, to allay their concerns about cruising. Many new cruisers do end up here asking questions, but I'd bet they are a small percent of all first time cruisers, and many have already booked their first cruise.

 

I know that Celebrity is trying hard to reach out and induce new and younger passengers - they may be trying harder, but my guess is they aren't the only line trying to do that. If they didn't have the TAs to do some of the advertising and question answering for them, what would their in-house advertising and customer service budget have to be? Might be cheaper than the discounts to TAs, might not be.

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