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Still don't see why I should use a TA...

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One of the reasons I take big breaks from CC is the confusion on discussions like this.  Someone says something that is misinterpreted in print and it takes on a life of itself.  

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1 hour ago, Bennett'sCruise said:

I'm not talking about group pricing.  Completely different discussion.

 

It's a discount that the cruise line and other travel agents don't offer.  Why is it a different discussion?

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Actually, some of you are wrong (and we could show you a current cruise invoice to prove it).  While some cruise lines do try to enforce strict price controls on the actual cruise price (Celebrity is a good example) there are other lines (Princess and HAL are examples) that not only do not enforce price controls but will also authorize special pricing by certain high volume agencies.  How does this work?  It can sometimes take a calculator to figure it out.  But here is an example.  Lets say that a cruise line is selling a certain cabin category for $5000!  A decent cruise agency might sell that $5000 cruise for $5000 but give you a $600 OBC which means your real price is $4400.  But that same cruise agency might offer another price of $4100 for that same cruise and cabin category..without any OBC.  All of this is fine with the cruise lines who happily will continue to sell that same cruise for $5000 on their web site...but might have a "special" where they would kick in $300 OBC.

 

What gets even more complicated is when you start looking at drink packages (which are given a very high value by cruise lines so they can be used for discounting), pre paid gratuities, etc.  And then you have lines like Princess who will give military veterans a nice OBC (on every cruise) not to mention another OBC for stockholders.  And Princess routinely will offer additional promotional OBCs and authorize cruise agencies to kick in additional OBC.   We sometimes have OBCs in excess of 20% of the cruise price on our Princess bookings.

 

None of this stuff is simple (it is not meant to be simple) and a good number of cruisers simply throw up their hands in surrender and pay whatever the deal is on the cruise line's site.  And there are other "games" such as the $400 OBC offered by Seabourn for first time customers.  But to get that $400 you must be "referred" by an existing customer (who has a coupon).  And that is a situation where CC is a very handy place (no need to say more).

 

Hank

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Actually, some of you are wrong (and we could show you a current cruise invoice to prove it).  While some cruise lines do try to enforce strict price controls on the actual cruise price (Celebrity is a good example) there are other lines (Princess and HAL are examples) that not only do not enforce price controls but will also authorize special pricing by certain high volume agencies.  How does this work?  It can sometimes take a calculator to figure it out.  But here is an example.  Lets say that a cruise line is selling a certain cabin category for $5000!  A decent cruise agency might sell that $5000 cruise for $5000 but give you a $600 OBC which means your real price is $4400.  But that same cruise agency might offer another price of $4100 for that same cruise and cabin category..without any OBC.  All of this is fine with the cruise lines who happily will continue to sell that same cruise for $5000 on their web site...but might have a "special" where they would kick in $300 OBC.

 

What gets even more complicated is when you start looking at drink packages (which are given a very high value by cruise lines so they can be used for discounting), pre paid gratuities, etc.  And then you have lines like Princess who will give military veterans a nice OBC (on every cruise) not to mention another OBC for stockholders.  And Princess routinely will offer additional promotional OBCs and authorize cruise agencies to kick in additional OBC.   We sometimes have OBCs in excess of 20% of the cruise price on our Princess bookings.

 

None of this stuff is simple (it is not meant to be simple) and a good number of cruisers simply throw up their hands in surrender and pay whatever the deal is on the cruise line's site.  And there are other "games" such as the $400 OBC offered by Seabourn for first time customers.  But to get that $400 you must be "referred" by an existing customer (who has a coupon).  And that is a situation where CC is a very handy place (no need to say more).

 

Hank

Thx

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4 hours ago, Bennett'sCruise said:

I'm not talking about group pricing.  Completely different discussion.

Of course group pricing exists.  I didn't think we were discussing that.  That's why I said "completely different discussion"

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23 minutes ago, Bennett'sCruise said:

Of course group pricing exists.  I didn't think we were discussing that.  That's why I said "completely different discussion"

So-called group pricing is not what many folks think.  Sure, there are legitimate groups on cruises and sometimes they get a discount (not as much as you might expect).  But there are other type of discounts that some folks refer to as "group."  For example, some smaller cruise/travel agencies belong to large consortiums that sometimes get them access to special promotional deal such as extra OBCs.  And then there are the high volume cruise agencies that do so much business that they are able to negotiate some extras with certain cruise lines.  And you also have the so-called last minute deals (which can be fantastic) which happen when a cruise line has too many unsold berths and needs to quickly unload (often at much lower prices).  Keep in mind that an unsold berth is "opportunity lost revenue" which can never be recovered.  The trick for the cruise lines is how to sell all those unsold berths without causing themselves great difficulty with those who have already paid far higher prices.  This can often be accomplished by quietly offering great deals which are generally not permitted to be advertised.  Some of our best deals have come from e-mail notices (issued by high volume cruise agencies) which are targeted at only those who have registered with the particular agencies that are authorized to offer the deals.   

 

Lately the industry has made things even more complicated (and some of us would say more fun) with new strategies.  What used to be free upgrades has been replaced (to a great degree) with "upsells" that can result in a cruiser getting a high category cabin or suite for far less then the usual cost.  Celebrity has done a lot of experimenting with an upsell bidding scheme designed to find the optimum price for unsold cabins.  In many cases early bookers are lured into deals with amenities that are vastly overpriced...or for things that the cruiser really does not need.  Most folks are never going to use $80 per person/day worth of drinks...but they may be willing to pay that price if it is properly marketed.   And we do not even want to talk about what some folks are willing to pay for Internet!  Savvy cruisers can take advantage of the good deals and refuse the bad one's if they simply use some common sense (and math) to analyze the pricing.   And do not forget about the upscale luxury lines which sometimes offer a much better value then the mass market lines.  We recently cruised on a very high end line for less per person/day then many folks are paying for similar or lesser accommodations and amenities on some mass market lines.

 

Just a word to some cruisers with an open mind.  When you lock yourself into one particular cruise line, one specific itinerary, one type of ship, what you are doing is limiting your own options!   Expand your horizons, look at the entire industry, search the world for interesting itineraries.  Try other cruise lines, different size ships, etc.  There is a reason why some of us have been extensively cruising for decades without ever getting bored with the same menus, entertainment, ports, etc.

 

Hank

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6 hours ago, Bennett'sCruise said:

I'm not talking about group pricing.  Completely different discussion.

 

Well then you are absolutely correct.  Once we eliminate all of the actual existing discounts that hundreds of people have reported getting on cruisecritic, it is true that there are no discounts. /sarcasm.

You are just playing a semantics game.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Toofarfromthesea said:

 

Well then you are absolutely correct.  Once we eliminate all of the actual existing discounts that hundreds of people have reported getting on cruisecritic, it is true that there are no discounts. /sarcasm.

You are just playing a semantics game.

 

Actually, Bennett'sCruise is correct. As explained by family friend who has her own travel agency, when booking through a TA who offers volume discounts such as OBC, prepaid grats, etc., everyone who books through them is offered those discounts, the amount based on cabin category. However, group pricing is not offered to everyone, only to groups traveling together, or select repeat customers, or if they have any staterooms remaining in the group arrangements they made with the cruise line and you ask them about availability. We were given such a group discount when we arranged for 10 couples to cruise together for a special event. After three of the couples dropped out, she made those three released cabins available to certain customers. 

 

A group discount is not available to everyone, so it is indeed a different discussion. 

Edited by SantaFeFan

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3 minutes ago, SantaFeFan said:

 

Actually, Bennett'sCruise is correct. As explained by family friend who has her own travel agency, when booking through a TA who offers volume discounts such as OBC, prepaid grats, etc., everyone who books through them is offered those discounts, the amount based on cabin category. However, group pricing is not offered to everyone, only to groups traveling together, or select repeat customers, or if they have any staterooms remaining in the group arrangements they made with the cruise line and you ask them.

 

A group discount is not available to everyone, so it is indeed a different discussion. 

 

When was it decided that a discount that is not offered to everyone is not actually a discount?  And who made the determination?  I'm simple minded.  If I pay less than the stated cruiseline price it is a discount, no matter what semantically games are played.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Toofarfromthesea said:

 

When was it decided that a discount that is not offered to everyone is not actually a discount?  And who made the determination?  I'm simple minded.  If I pay less than the stated cruiseline price it is a discount, no matter what semantically games are played.

 

And the point I am making is that not everyone will be offered the group discount. In those cases, they do not pay less than the stated cruise line prices, they pay the regular fare, so there is no discount for them. To them that is an important distinction. For all practicable purposes, a discount that isn't available to them is not a discount!

 

Do I have to explain to you it a third time?

Edited by SantaFeFan

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18 hours ago, Toofarfromthesea said:

 

No.  It is more like the difference between people who walk into a new car lot and pay full sticker price vs. people who negotiate and save hundreds, or thousands, of dollars.  And then having the list price payer lament that they still don't understand why people negotiate.

Had a friend who once told me he would only buy from Saturn because of their no negotiation pricing.  He said he liked it because you can walk in, look at the window sticker, and the dealership would sell the car for that price.  He was stunned when I told him he could do the same thing at any dealership.  Just walk up to a salesman, point at the sticker, and demand to pay that price.

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20 hours ago, Bennett'sCruise said:

Understood.  But it's not the same as an agent "discounting" the price.  There are actually several ways an agent can give you perks.  If you want to consider it a discount, that's okay I guess. 

 

By the way, some OBC is given directly by the agent out of their commission (out of their pocket).  If you are on a very low-end cruise, that commission can be only $50.  Can you (not speaking to ed01106 here) expect the agent who has done much more than $50 worth of work for you, to give up their entire commission?  

 

 

Exactly. This is why I never get much extra on my cruises.

 

As with anything in life, a party will look at $1000 in potential profit differently than $50.

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1 minute ago, RocketMan275 said:

Had a friend who once told me he would only buy from Saturn because of their no negotiation pricing.  He said he liked it because you can walk in, look at the window sticker, and the dealership would sell the car for that price.  He was stunned when I told him he could do the same thing at any dealership.  Just walk up to a salesman, point at the sticker, and demand to pay that price.

🤣

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10 hours ago, Hlitner said:

 

Just a word to some cruisers with an open mind.  When you lock yourself into one particular cruise line, one specific itinerary, one type of ship, what you are doing is limiting your own options!   Expand your horizons, look at the entire industry, search the world for interesting itineraries.  Try other cruise lines, different size ships, etc.  There is a reason why some of us have been extensively cruising for decades without ever getting bored with the same menus, entertainment, ports, etc.

 

Hank

An excellent but often overlooked advantage of using a TA instead of booking direct or with a PCC.  I use one TA who can book on any line.  She offers 8-10% discount on all bookings, sometimes more.  While I maybe locked into that TA, she can offer so much more than what a PCC can offer.

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Question to the TA’s or former TA’s .About 10 years ago a guy who was a frequent CC poster as well as a TA stated that before booking people should check on line to see if a TA had any “blemishes”.He listed the name of a site but I cannot recall it.

What site do you suggest ?

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Regardless, it's nice to have the option of booking yourself or opting to use a TA...a choice that I hope doesn't change.

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I've only ever booked things on my own because I like the "hands on" approach, but this thread and others like it are making me think I could at least try using an agent once and see.

 

I think I know what agency I'd use, or at least who I'd try first, but I'm wondering at what point do I contact them? I kind of assume at least some of the trip needs to be "bookable"? There's a trip I'd like to do, but the cruise schedule's not out yet. And the flight won't be available for quite some time.

 

Also, can TAs get the better rates on my behalf, if and when the rates change? Like recently, I rebooked an NCL cruise because of the 20% off deal they were doing.

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17 minutes ago, squick64 said:

I've only ever booked things on my own because I like the "hands on" approach, but this thread and others like it are making me think I could at least try using an agent once and see.

 

I think I know what agency I'd use, or at least who I'd try first, but I'm wondering at what point do I contact them? I kind of assume at least some of the trip needs to be "bookable"? There's a trip I'd like to do, but the cruise schedule's not out yet. And the flight won't be available for quite some time.

 

Also, can TAs get the better rates on my behalf, if and when the rates change? Like recently, I rebooked an NCL cruise because of the 20% off deal they were doing.

Yes, they can get the lower rates when the rates change. This is the issue that people bring up when they talk about control of their account. To get the lower rate, you have to go through the TA who "owns" the account, you can no longer do it yourself.

 

There are things you can still do yourself like book excursions, etc.

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On 8/15/2019 at 10:31 AM, RocketMan275 said:

Had a friend who once told me he would only buy from Saturn because of their no negotiation pricing.  He said he liked it because you can walk in, look at the window sticker, and the dealership would sell the car for that price.  He was stunned when I told him he could do the same thing at any dealership.  Just walk up to a salesman, point at the sticker, and demand to pay that price.

Janet Reno did that.  She felt that paying a little extra for the car was better than the potential for a conflict of interest if she got a better than typical deal.  

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1 hour ago, ed01106 said:

Janet Reno did that.  She felt that paying a little extra for the car was better than the potential for a conflict of interest if she got a better than typical deal.  

She was smarter than I thought.

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On 8/11/2019 at 10:06 AM, mafig said:

You need to look at on-line travel agencies, not small brick and morter, mom and pop ones.  

 

Have you heard about the  website where you enter the cruise, date and then TAs compete for your business?

To me the main advantage dealing regularly with one independent TA, is that you get personalized service based on a real business relationship with a "REAL" person. A good TA, like mine,  is affiliated with larger travel groups and has access to all the specials, etc. She is available  by phone, email, or  website and knows my needs and preferences. I sometimes book short, inexpensive cruises on my own through the cruise line website, but use my TA for cruises involve air travel, a large group, unfamiliar cruise lines or ports, etc. Bigger does not mean better

 

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After trying to explain to folks that shopping around, among reputable high volume cruise agencies, should save you about 7-10% on any cruise booking, I have smiled at some of the questions, doubts, etc.  But folks, we have decided to change our attitude.  We own stock in both major US Cruise corporations (CCL and RCI) and have gotten a very nice return on our investment.  But it occurs to me that helping folks save money on bookings is not very helpful to me or other stockholders.  So for those of you that think its great to book directly with cruise lines, pay more money, keep "control" of your booking (whatever that means) we say, please do it!

 

For those of you that have been saving lots of money by shopping around, please stop this ridiculous practice and make your booking directly with each cruise line at the highest possible price.  And certainly add the Premium Drink Packages (or whatever its called with your favorite) line for about $80 per person/day as that will also be helpful to stockholders.   And we also encourage cruisers to buy lots of "bargain" photo packages, play BINGO every day (and buy at least 10 cards), spend the maximum time in the casino,  purchase the most expensive cruise line excursions in every port, and certainly snap up all that sales merchandise, and most importantly buy lots of art at the art auction making sure to pay the  full value quoted by the absolutely honest auctioneers.

 

Hank

 

 

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22 hours ago, Hlitner said:

 reallyAfter trying to explain to folks that shopping around, among reputable high volume cruise agencies, should save you about 7-10% on any cruise booking, I have smiled at some of the questions, doubts, etc.  But folks, we have decided to change our attitude.  We own stock in both major US Cruise corporations (CCL and RCI) and have gotten a very nice return on our investment.  But it occurs to me that helping folks save money on bookings is not very helpful to me or other stockholders.  So for those of you that think its great to book directly with cruise lines, pay more money, keep "control" of your booking (whatever that means) we say, please do it!

 

For those of you that have been saving lots of money by shopping around, please stop this ridiculous practice and make your booking directly with each cruise line at the highest possible price.  And certainly add the Premium Drink Packages (or whatever its called with your favorite) line for about $80 per person/day as that will also be helpful to stockholders.   And we also encourage cruisers to buy lots of "bargain" photo packages, play BINGO every day (and buy at least 10 cards), spend the maximum time in the casino,  purchase the most expensive cruise line excursions in every port, and certainly snap up all that sales merchandise, and most importantly buy lots of art at the art auction making sure to pay the  full value quoted by the absolutely honest auctioneers.

 

Hank

 

 

Hank, you have not  really dealt with the issue that most who say that they wish to book themselves without a TA have, CONTROL.

 

Let us say a problem comes up, or even just a change someone wants to make. The person with CONTROL calls the cruise line directly, and says this is what I want done. And since they have CONTROL, they expect it to be done immediately.

 

You, OTOH, have to call your TA. Your TA who probably does millions of dollars worth of business with the cruise line and may even have their own representative to call there, then has to make the call. They say my client needs to have something done. Please take care of it, thank you. But they only have clout, not CONTROL.

 

Now do you see why people wish to do all this on their own rather than save money. You can always make more money, but can you ever regain the CONTROL you gave away?

Edited by ontheweb

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35 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

Hank, you have not  really dealt with the issue that most who say that they wish to book themselves without a TA have, CONTROL.

 

Let us say a problem comes up, or even just a change someone wants to make. The person with CONTROL calls the cruise line directly, and says this is what I want done. And since they have CONTROL, they expect it to be done immediately.

 

You, OTOH, have to call your TA. Your TA who probably does millions of dollars worth of business with the cruise line and may even have their own representative to call there, then has to make the call. They say my client needs to have something done. Please take care of it, thank you. But they only have clout, not CONTROL.

 

Now do you see why people wish to do all this on their own rather than save money. You can always make more money, but can you ever regain the CONTROL you gave away?

I respectfully disagree with most of what you say :).  Thinking you have "control" when a reservation is directly with a cruise line is more of a myth then fact.  All you have is the ability to deal with a reservations clerk who works for the cruise line.  You are subject to the cruise line's policies, rules, and sometimes incompetence not to mention often being stuck on hold.   Your only leverage is to threaten to cancel your cruise and then you are simply one client (among a million +) if you have a problem.  With a decent cruise agency behind you, your leverage is somewhat enhanced although there are plenty of times when heaven and earth is not going to move a cruise line to do something that is against "policy."

 

And by the way, since we often have 5-7 outstanding bookings ( multiple cruise lines) I often have no desire to spend my time on a phone (often on hold) with various cruise lines or cruise agents.  With my cruise agents I will often spend a few seconds sending an e-mail which is usually quickly handled.   I will give you a very recent (2 weeks ago) example.  We had made a future booking while on a cruise...so by your reckoning we had "control" because that reservation was placed directly with the cruise line (this is rare for us).  I sent an e-mail to two of my favorite cruise agencies/agents with the cruise line's invoiced attached and ask them how they could "enhance" my reservation if I transferred it to their agency.  Within 2 hours I had my responses and one of the agents said she could give us an additional $1800 in On Board Credits (OBCs).  Now in my little world, $1800 is a nice pot of money :).  It took me about 10 minutes to Fax the required transfer form to the cruise line and now that reservation is "out of my control...according to you" but I will have $1800 that I would not have if I kept the reservation with the cruise line.  

 

You might ask, what if pricing changes, there are decent future promotions, etc?  In that case it takes seconds for me to e-mail my cruise agent and generally a few minutes for the reservation to be repriced/changed.  And do you think this cruise agency will work hard on my behalf?  You bettcha…..because they get an awful lot of business from both myself and others who I have referred to this particular agent.  And I would finally mention that we have been doing business this way since the 70s and using cruise agencies has conservatively saved us several hundred thousand dollars!  Those who do 1 or 2 short (7 day) cruises a year may not think saving some money is a big deal.  But we spend a lot of time traveling and cruising so the savings are a very big deal :).

 

Life would be very easy (for us) if we could find the perfect cruise agent/agency to handle all of our bookings.  But the reality of "shopping around" means that we need to use more then one agency.  Our current bookings are primarily with a single agency, but 1 booking is with a different agency who always seems to have better "deals" when we cruise on certain lines.  And if we were to soon book another cruise it might well be on Seabourn which likely would mean using another agency who seems to have better deals on that particular line (we are still learning the ropes about dealing with Seabourn).   Where do we get our information about agencies and agents?  Over the years our best source has simply been other cruisers we meet on ships.  It is amazing what one learns when sharing large tables at dinner, or joining others for cocktails :).

 

Hank

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33 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Life would be very easy (for us) if we could find the perfect cruise agent/agency to handle all of our bookings.

 

A long time ago I asked who a TA works for, the guest or the line. I was told "the line, of course!". 

I'd be very happy to simply pay an hourly rate for a professional "cruise booker" who works for me. Who knows which TA to call, who would call six other TAs if they feel a lower price is possible and make them fight for the best price, the better cabin, more OBC.  With a statement from a accountant on their site that all money they receive comes from customers, that they reject FAM cruises, and their only incentive is to have happy, returning clients. I'd be totally fine to pay a few hundred dollars for the knowledge and leverage of such a "meta TA" because frankly shopping around is not my hobby, and I'm certain I wouldn't get the deals that very seasoned cruisers like you do. 

 

 

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