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“Now I’m using a local TA who has an office with assistants and morecapabilities beyond just cruising, and booking for that specifically. They doprovide the ‘best pricing’ most of the time, and in fact beat many of the above. The help with pre/post stays that aren’t the standard cruise line hotels; theyknow about private tours and what transportation to use to various ports and so”

 

Absolutely second this.  We’ve known our TA since she opened her business 30+ years ago. She’s an expert at TA-speak -  which words to choose and how to use them.  I’ve observed several phone calls handling a variety of issues.  And the call always ends with “And your name and extension is ...”.  I’ve referred to her maybe too many times as our pit bull TA but sometimes that’s what you need.

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On 2/24/2021 at 5:23 AM, tfred said:

We have been looking at a Viking Homelands 15 day cruise in 2022.  The pricing seems straightforward and I am wondering what TA would actually do for us in re this trip.  Do they normally have add ons, discounts anything special that can be done for us?  I traveled for business internally for 20 years so I am used to making my own Rez by habit

First, I want to address the whole idea of what a good TA can do for you. Our friends who book direct have had huge problems with Future Cruise Credits, rebooking, refunds and everything else during this pandemic. My friends (and I) who had booked through a local TA (not a booking agent of an online agency) have had no problems. We didn't have to sit on hold with the cruise line, the airline or any other providers—our TA took care of all of that. 

 

Second, Denny01 your post is outstanding! I may steal parts of it. 😀

 

Now a comment for everyone else who replied about getting OBC or a cheaper price. I have a question for you. When you go to a store and buy something, do you ask the person who helped you to put their hand in their own pocket and give you some money back?

 

For instance, when you buy a pair of shoes at a shoe store, a nice person who works on commission helps you find just the pair you want. He or she brings you a number of pairs or shoes. When you find the pair you want, you go to check out and pay for them. Then would you turn to the sales person who helped you and say, “Could you please give me $10 out or your own pocket?” Not the shoe store’s money, the sales rep's money who just spent the last half hour finding you shoes you love.

 

Expecting refundable OBC from a TA is pretty much the same thing. TAs (not the online booking agents) make commission from the cruise line, not from you. And unlike that shoe salesperson, TAs don’t get paid an hourly wage. They work on commission only. If you ask them to do a ton of work, then book with someone else, they don’t get paid for any of that time. You are charged the same price whether you book through them or not. When they give you OBC, it comes out of their own pocket. Why would you expect them to do that? They are doing a bunch of work for you for free and yet you still think that a “good” TA will give you OBC out of their own pocket.

 

Now if they give it to you without asking...that's awesome. But I just have a problem with new cruisers who have heard that their friends get x-amount of freebies. That's their first question (even before they book the cruise)...how much are you going to give me.

 

My TA gives us lots of great stuff but I also never ask for it, come to her with just about everything done (or, like you if we booked on board) so she has little work to do other than a single phone call or computer booking. And believe me, there are lots of small moms and pops everywhere. We accompanied our TA on a ship visit last summer here in Seattle. Her and about 100 other travel agents got to tour and have lunch on the NCL Bliss (quite a ship) and I would say that more than 80% of the agents were either booking from home, working with a franchise (which means they make at most 7.5%) or working for another small agency. None of those people get paid by the hour. They get paid when they sell a cruise and every penny that they give back, is one they don't get to feed their families, take their cruises or whatever they do with their money.

And I totally understand the sales job thing having been in sales and marketing for more than 38 years. I can't count the number of presentations I have done where the client has gone another way. I have no problem with that (yes I do, but I get it--they like something that someone else has better than what I have) but when they go into the sales process having already decided that no matter what this person does for me, I am buying from the absolute cheapest I can find, that's wrong. If you want the cheapest, go to Costco. You will get the service you deserve (God help you if you have a problem) but you will cruise cheaply.

 

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine.

 

Jim

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21 minutes ago, DrKoob said:

Do you need OBC on Viking? Other than spa treatments and a beverage package to get drinks before dinner everything else is pretty much included.

 

spa treatments or "better" excursions that are beyond the city panorama bus ride

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24 minutes ago, Geosez said:

“Now I’m using a local TA who has an office with assistants and morecapabilities beyond just cruising, and booking for that specifically. They doprovide the ‘best pricing’ most of the time, and in fact beat many of the above. The help with pre/post stays that aren’t the standard cruise line hotels; theyknow about private tours and what transportation to use to various ports and so”

 

Absolutely second this.  We’ve known our TA since she opened her business 30+ years ago. She’s an expert at TA-speak -  which words to choose and how to use them.  I’ve observed several phone calls handling a variety of issues.  And the call always ends with “And your name and extension is ...”.  I’ve referred to her maybe too many times as our pit bull TA but sometimes that’s what you need.

 

So very well said! 

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3 minutes ago, DrKoob said:

First, I want to address the whole idea of what a good TA can do for you. Our friends who book direct have had huge problems with Future Cruise Credits, rebooking, refunds and everything else during this pandemic. My friends (and I) who had booked through a local TA (not a booking agent of an online agency) have had no problems. We didn't have to sit on hold with the cruise line, the airline or any other providers—our TA took care of all of that. 

 

Second, Denny01 your post is outstanding! I may steal parts of it. 😀

 

Now a comment for everyone else who replied about getting OBC or a cheaper price. I have a question for you. When you go to a store and buy something, do you ask the person who helped you to put their hand in their own pocket and give you some money back?

 

For instance, when you buy a pair of shoes at a shoe store, a nice person who works on commission helps you find just the pair you want. He or she brings you a number of pairs or shoes. When you find the pair you want, you go to check out and pay for them. Then would you turn to the sales person who helped you and say, “Could you please give me $10 out or your own pocket?” Not the shoe store’s money, the sales rep's money who just spent the last half hour finding you shoes you love.

 

Expecting refundable OBC from a TA is pretty much the same thing. TAs (not the online booking agents) make commission from the cruise line, not from you. And unlike that shoe salesperson, TAs don’t get paid an hourly wage. They work on commission only. If you ask them to do a ton of work, then book with someone else, they don’t get paid for any of that time. You are charged the same price whether you book through them or not. When they give you OBC, it comes out of their own pocket. Why would you expect them to do that? They are doing a bunch of work for you for free and yet you still think that a “good” TA will give you OBC out of their own pocket.

 

Now if they give it to you without asking...that's awesome. But I just have a problem with new cruisers who have heard that their friends get x-amount of freebies. That's their first question (even before they book the cruise)...how much are you going to give me.

 

My TA gives us lots of great stuff but I also never ask for it, come to her with just about everything done (or, like you if we booked on board) so she has little work to do other than a single phone call or computer booking. And believe me, there are lots of small moms and pops everywhere. We accompanied our TA on a ship visit last summer here in Seattle. Her and about 100 other travel agents got to tour and have lunch on the NCL Bliss (quite a ship) and I would say that more than 80% of the agents were either booking from home, working with a franchise (which means they make at most 7.5%) or working for another small agency. None of those people get paid by the hour. They get paid when they sell a cruise and every penny that they give back, is one they don't get to feed their families, take their cruises or whatever they do with their money.

And I totally understand the sales job thing having been in sales and marketing for more than 38 years. I can't count the number of presentations I have done where the client has gone another way. I have no problem with that (yes I do, but I get it--they like something that someone else has better than what I have) but when they go into the sales process having already decided that no matter what this person does for me, I am buying from the absolute cheapest I can find, that's wrong. If you want the cheapest, go to Costco. You will get the service you deserve (God help you if you have a problem) but you will cruise cheaply.

 

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine.

 

Jim

I don't disagree with your thoughts.  

 

I know that "extras" cost somebody something - just depends on where it comes from. 25 years or so of making my own Rez in business, my frame of reference is really one sided.  Don't know if TAs have a traditional side OBC hanging around that everyone gets or if it depends on a relationship of longer term.  

 

Never hurts to ask as they can always say no, but I don't want to leave money on the table.  Ultimately it is up to the TA to show value somewhere in the food chain.  We did have some corporate TAs (mostly optional) that could do somethings when it went sideways, but not always in the timeframe of me standing at the SEA DL counter trying to figure out how to get home with an IRROPS trying to get the TA involved 

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I misspoke!  Truly sorry.  

Heidi mentioned that the OBC was per person.  I was thinking per cabin.

Here is a cut and paste of the offer-

Up To $1,000 To Spend Onboard
We're treating our customers to up to $1,000 in complimentary onboard spending when they book select Viking River & Viking Ocean sailings. Use your shipboard credit for drinks, optional shore excursions, spa, and much more. Amount of credit will vary based on number of nights sailed and number of guests per stateroom. Call for more details.
 
It's like $300 for one week, $600 for two weeks and $1,000 for three weeks
 
Thanks Clay (again).
 
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24 minutes ago, MikeyB said:

I misspoke!  Truly sorry.  

Heidi mentioned that the OBC was per person.  I was thinking per cabin.

Here is a cut and paste of the offer-

Up To $1,000 To Spend Onboard
We're treating our customers to up to $1,000 in complimentary onboard spending when they book select Viking River & Viking Ocean sailings. Use your shipboard credit for drinks, optional shore excursions, spa, and much more. Amount of credit will vary based on number of nights sailed and number of guests per stateroom. Call for more details.
 
It's like $300 for one week, $600 for two weeks and $1,000 for three weeks
 
Thanks Clay (again).
 

 

As per the Viking Advert & Commission Policy, the amounts are:

  • Cruises of 1 to 7 nights - $150 pp, or $300 per cabin (double occupancy)
  • Cruise of 8 to 14 nights - $300 pp, or $600 per cabin
  • Cuises of 15+ nights - $500 pp, or $1,000 per cabin

Any cruise longer than 15 nights gets the same amount - therefore those that booked the 245-day Ultimate WC would have received the same as someone booking a 15-night cruise.

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There is only one thing confusing me (at the moment).

Several people mention first booking with Viking and then transferring the booking to their travel agent. Why not just go straight to the travel agent? Clearly, I'm missing something.

Perhaps I may have a mild case of COVID brain.

Bob

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16 minutes ago, rbslos18 said:

There is only one thing confusing me (at the moment).

Several people mention first booking with Viking and then transferring the booking to their travel agent. Why not just go straight to the travel agent? Clearly, I'm missing something.

Perhaps I may have a mild case of COVID brain.

Bob

 

Since I have a reasonable knowledge of the cruise industry and most destinations, I prefer to conduct my own research, at my speed.

 

Once we have decided on the next adventure, I will either contact the cruise line directly to make a tentative booking, or call our TA and let her make the booking. When the TA's were working in an office, it was easier to call Viking, make the booking and the call her to take over the booking. Now our TA works from home, it is just as easy to call her directly and make all the arrangements.

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We book through a AAA travel agent and got OBC and a visa cash card (AAA promotion) when the cruise was paid in full.  On our booking for an Alaska cruise with a post extension, the best we could find for a flight home was a 10 pm flight out.  She found us one that leaves at 3:30 pm.  We will continue to book through our local AAA agent.

.

Edited by dwlmg
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10 hours ago, dwlmg said:

We book through a AAA travel agent and got OBC and a visa cash card (AAA promotion) when the cruise was paid in full.  On our booking for an Alaska cruise with a post extension, the best we could find for a flight home was a 10 pm flight out.  She found us one that leaves at 3:30 pm.  We will continue to book through our local AAA agent.

.

 

Just a heads up, as CC rule do not permit naming travel agents.

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I have a TA I have used for years for cruises on other lines and always got a little perk of some sort. Yet when I had her handle our Viking Ocean cruise in 2019 - there was not a thing offered. Are the perks just randomly available? In any case - I booked our cruise in 2022 directly with Viking. Didn’t see the point of using the TA. 

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2 hours ago, crimmj said:

I have a TA I have used for years for cruises on other lines and always got a little perk of some sort. Yet when I had her handle our Viking Ocean cruise in 2019 - there was not a thing offered. Are the perks just randomly available? In any case - I booked our cruise in 2022 directly with Viking. Didn’t see the point of using the TA. 

 

Viking policy mandates the maximum perks a TA can offer, but whatever perks provided is solely at the discretion of the TA.

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16 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Viking policy mandates the maximum perks a TA can offer, but whatever perks provided is solely at the discretion of the TA.

 

16 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Viking policy mandates the maximum perks a TA can offer, but whatever perks provided is solely at the discretion of the TA.

From our experience our TA who has always given us a large rebate in the form of a check after the cruise. She did likewise on our Viking cruise. We only take OBC if given by cruise line like Oceania loves to do.

We find OBC difficult to spend and much prefer our welcome home checks. There is no reason one should not shop and find TA’s who really want your business.

 

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17 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Viking policy mandates the maximum perks a TA can offer, but whatever perks provided is solely at the discretion of the TA.

Which is why IMHO it’s worth seeking out one who does!

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Any good relationship requires each side to understand the other person's position and needs. A travel agent who values the relationship will endeavor to strengthen it. And,  I believe that is why Viking caps the  sharing. That keeps revenue flowing to the TA. Each side has to receive meaningful value to make the relationship work.

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On 2/26/2021 at 7:08 AM, Heidi13 said:

 

As per the Viking Advert & Commission Policy, the amounts are:

  • Cruises of 1 to 7 nights - $150 pp, or $300 per cabin (double occupancy)
  • Cruise of 8 to 14 nights - $300 pp, or $600 per cabin
  • Cuises of 15+ nights - $500 pp, or $1,000 per cabin

Any cruise longer than 15 nights gets the same amount - therefore those that booked the 245-day Ultimate WC would have received the same as someone booking a 15-night cruise.

Does anyone know if this policy applies to Australian consumers?   What is the typical OBC that Australians get when they make a booking through a travel agent versus directly with Viking?

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We use a hybrid approach to travel. Our home-based cruise agent provides excellent service, a partial rebate and I monitor price reductions. When work requires I lead a group overseas, I always use a trusted out-of-town, travel agent. If something doesn’t work out (airline strike/rare acts of terror),  I have a person who has my back. Finding an old-school, good travel agent has gotten harder in recent years.

 

 

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On 2/25/2021 at 4:09 PM, DrKoob said:

First, I want to address the whole idea of what a good TA can do for you. Our friends who book direct have had huge problems with Future Cruise Credits, rebooking, refunds and everything else during this pandemic. My friends (and I) who had booked through a local TA (not a booking agent of an online agency) have had no problems. We didn't have to sit on hold with the cruise line, the airline or any other providers—our TA took care of all of that. 

 

Second, Denny01 your post is outstanding! I may steal parts of it. 😀

 

Now a comment for everyone else who replied about getting OBC or a cheaper price. I have a question for you. When you go to a store and buy something, do you ask the person who helped you to put their hand in their own pocket and give you some money back?

 

For instance, when you buy a pair of shoes at a shoe store, a nice person who works on commission helps you find just the pair you want. He or she brings you a number of pairs or shoes. When you find the pair you want, you go to check out and pay for them. Then would you turn to the sales person who helped you and say, “Could you please give me $10 out or your own pocket?” Not the shoe store’s money, the sales rep's money who just spent the last half hour finding you shoes you love.

 

Expecting refundable OBC from a TA is pretty much the same thing. TAs (not the online booking agents) make commission from the cruise line, not from you. And unlike that shoe salesperson, TAs don’t get paid an hourly wage. They work on commission only. If you ask them to do a ton of work, then book with someone else, they don’t get paid for any of that time. You are charged the same price whether you book through them or not. When they give you OBC, it comes out of their own pocket. Why would you expect them to do that? They are doing a bunch of work for you for free and yet you still think that a “good” TA will give you OBC out of their own pocket.

 

Now if they give it to you without asking...that's awesome. But I just have a problem with new cruisers who have heard that their friends get x-amount of freebies. That's their first question (even before they book the cruise)...how much are you going to give me.

 

My TA gives us lots of great stuff but I also never ask for it, come to her with just about everything done (or, like you if we booked on board) so she has little work to do other than a single phone call or computer booking. And believe me, there are lots of small moms and pops everywhere. We accompanied our TA on a ship visit last summer here in Seattle. Her and about 100 other travel agents got to tour and have lunch on the NCL Bliss (quite a ship) and I would say that more than 80% of the agents were either booking from home, working with a franchise (which means they make at most 7.5%) or working for another small agency. None of those people get paid by the hour. They get paid when they sell a cruise and every penny that they give back, is one they don't get to feed their families, take their cruises or whatever they do with their money.

And I totally understand the sales job thing having been in sales and marketing for more than 38 years. I can't count the number of presentations I have done where the client has gone another way. I have no problem with that (yes I do, but I get it--they like something that someone else has better than what I have) but when they go into the sales process having already decided that no matter what this person does for me, I am buying from the absolute cheapest I can find, that's wrong. If you want the cheapest, go to Costco. You will get the service you deserve (God help you if you have a problem) but you will cruise cheaply.

 

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine.

 

Jim

While you make some interesting points....but....

 

I believe your basic premise of comparing a TA to a store clerk is not entirely correct. Additionally,  If you ask for quotes from multiple TA's when you are shopping around?  Isn't that wasting the agents time knowing that you will only be using one TA? Or you waste a store sales rep's time in, say, a shoe store and then order from AtoZ online to save a couple of $$$?

 

One can debate the ethical propriety of such things endlessly. But to suggest getting a good deal from a TA is - my words - taking advantage of them, is really a specious argument.  It is the business model that is in use.  (Again, one can take issue with the industry business model).

 

If a TA does not want to make a sale they do not have to.  I'd also note deceitful agents who misrepresent things and even claim that cruise line does not permit xyz - when in fact it is demonstrably evident that cruise line - just to make a sale. 

 

And I think a more apt comparison is a TA to a car salesperson.  I wonder if OP and others CC posters will think, oh - I'm not going to negotiate a better price for the car because the salesperson's commission is impacted by my negotiations, or GASP - I'll give the car dealer less profit.

 

It's all baked in in the business model.

 

And if the model does not work the market will address that (at least in economic theory.)  

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On 2/28/2021 at 7:15 AM, orchestrapal said:

 

From our experience our TA who has always given us a large rebate in the form of a check after the cruise. She did likewise on our Viking cruise. We only take OBC if given by cruise line like Oceania loves to do.

We find OBC difficult to spend and much prefer our welcome home checks. There is no reason one should not shop and find TA’s who really want your business.

 

 

I suspect we all enjoy receiving refunds, rebates or other forms of price reductions, especially when rules, regulations and guidelines are followed.

 

While I do my own research, we use a TA both for OBC and their knowledge as the subject matter experts, knowing and remaining current on the myraid of rules, laws and regulations. We don't use a big box or online TA (aka booking agent), for this express reason. Therefore, our TA ensures our proposed travels are in accordance with all guidelines, advising us if we are pushing the envelope, or have better options.

 

If your TA is blatantly contravening the Viking policy by proving a "Cash Marketing Incentive" in the form of a rebate, I question what other rules or guidelines are they prepared to break or ignore, just to receive your business.

 

We all have whats important to us, but personally, that is not the type of TA I prefer to give my business.

 

 

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On 2/26/2021 at 4:08 PM, Heidi13 said:

"... I will either contact the cruise line directly to make a tentative booking, or call our TA and let her make the booking..." 

@Heidi13, by "tentative booking" do you mean a hold. ort something else?

 

If it is a "hold" by any chance do you know if fares or policies change during a hold period - what applies things in place when placing a hold or when converting hold to a confirmed booking?

 

Thanks so much.

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1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

 

I suspect we all enjoy receiving refunds, rebates or other forms of price reductions, especially when rules, regulations and guidelines are followed.

 

While I do my own research, we use a TA both for OBC and their knowledge as the subject matter experts, knowing and remaining current on the myraid of rules, laws and regulations. We don't use a big box or online TA (aka booking agent), for this express reason. Therefore, our TA ensures our proposed travels are in accordance with all guidelines, advising us if we are pushing the envelope, or have better options.

 

If your TA is blatantly contravening the Viking policy by proving a "Cash Marketing Incentive" in the form of a rebate, I question what other rules or guidelines are they prepared to break or ignore, just to receive your business.

 

We all have whats important to us, but personally, that is not the type of TA I prefer to give my business.

 

 

Well said!

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3 hours ago, Homerody said:

@Heidi13, by "tentative booking" do you mean a hold. ort something else?

 

If it is a "hold" by any chance do you know if fares or policies change during a hold period - what applies things in place when placing a hold or when converting hold to a confirmed booking?

 

Thanks so much.

 

When we booked the first WC with a tentative, or provisional booking, they guaranteed the prices and the terms & conditions quoted for I believe 2 or 3 weeks. I believe the day we made the initial booking to the end of the period was within the same months - May 2018.

 

However, if you make an initial booking at the end of the month and the specials have changed when you confirm by paying the deposit, I'm not sure if they still guarantee the tentative contract they send. If you make a tentative booking, at the end of a month, it might be a question to ask.

 

When we made the initial booking, we received a copy of the full contact with prices, OBC's, etc with the only difference being the status.

 

If you make a tentative booking, at the end of a month, it might be a question to ask.

 

Hope that helps.

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37 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

 

When we booked the first WC with a tentative, or provisional booking, they guaranteed the prices and the terms & conditions quoted for I believe 2 or 3 weeks. I believe the day we made the initial booking to the end of the period was within the same months - May 2018.

 

However, if you make an initial booking at the end of the month and the specials have changed when you confirm by paying the deposit, I'm not sure if they still guarantee the tentative contract they send. If you make a tentative booking, at the end of a month, it might be a question to ask.

 

When we made the initial booking, we received a copy of the full contact with prices, OBC's, etc with the only difference being the status.

 

If you make a tentative booking, at the end of a month, it might be a question to ask.

 

Hope that helps.

Thanks @ Heidi 13.  Me thinks not to tempt the Viking gods (or policies) and will play it safe and not book close to end of month would be they way to go.

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