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Book direct with HAL, or use a TA?

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Posted (edited)

The senior cabin was nothing more than a discounted cabin category three doors down from our original selection.  It seemed to become available as the rep was inputting our data for the first cabin choice.   I asked the RCI rep what the difference was. His comment was that the cabin was identical with one exception...the price was $250. less pp and the gratuities for this 21 day cruise were included.  Not certain is this is the usual practice in Oz.  It seemed to me that the longer I stayed on the phone with the gentleman the lower the price became.

 

The net pricing that our on line NA TA gave us better than the net pricing on the RCI North America web site.  The net pricing that the RCI rep in Sydney gave us was about 30 points less than our on line TA.    My DS did something similar for a Baltic cruise.  She booked in the UK and surprisingly the fare was 15 percent less-which is unusual for UK cruise fares in our experience.

 

We have been shopping travel products for a number of years.  We have realized savings on air, hotels, and packages by booking in country or in the the case of Europe, inside the EU.  The last time was on airfares inside Argentina.  We had more flight options by dealing with the Aerolineas call center in BA and our flight were about 25 percent less that what we could get on the web.  The agent on the Aerolineas NA 800 number actually gave us the number in BA to call and told us what the process would be.

 

It is becoming increasingly difficult for travel vendors to price geographically to market.  The web and people's shopping savvy are slowly putting an end to this practice.  Similar to the 'grey' market for consumer products.

Edited by iancal

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I just went to transfer my booking over within the 60 day period, and my PCC sent me a message that Holland is implementing a new program called "save a sale". The PCC will try to match or equal whatever an outside agency is offering in order to retain the booking directly with Holland America Line. She said in order to make this request, she would need something in writing or quoted from the agency showing what it is they are offering you that Holland America line is not offering directly. I forwarded an online booking quote from the big box company to her but haven't heard back yet.  I like working directly with Holland America but won't give up the additional obc that I get from the big box company.

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11 minutes ago, zeen978 said:

I just went to transfer my booking over within the 60 day period, and my PCC sent me a message that Holland is implementing a new program called "save a sale". The PCC will try to match or equal whatever an outside agency is offering in order to retain the booking directly with Holland America Line. She said in order to make this request, she would need something in writing or quoted from the agency showing what it is they are offering you that Holland America line is not offering directly. I forwarded an online booking quote from the big box company to her but haven't heard back yet.  I like working directly with Holland America but won't give up the additional obc that I get from the big box company.

 

This is interesting.  Looking forward to hearing what you find out!

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33 minutes ago, zeen978 said:

I just went to transfer my booking over within the 60 day period, and my PCC sent me a message that Holland is implementing a new program called "save a sale". The PCC will try to match or equal whatever an outside agency is offering in order to retain the booking directly with Holland America Line. She said in order to make this request, she would need something in writing or quoted from the agency showing what it is they are offering you that Holland America line is not offering directly. I forwarded an online booking quote from the big box company to her but haven't heard back yet.  I like working directly with Holland America but won't give up the additional obc that I get from the big box company.

Very interesting....I would be very surprised if HAL will/can match what that TA offers in OBC.  I had heard that something like this may happen, I bet people were transferring in droves to make the 60-day transfer period.

Please let us know if they can match the big box OBC.

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48 minutes ago, zeen978 said:

I just went to transfer my booking over within the 60 day period, and my PCC sent me a message that Holland is implementing a new program called "save a sale". The PCC will try to match or equal whatever an outside agency is offering in order to retain the booking directly with Holland America Line. She said in order to make this request, she would need something in writing or quoted from the agency showing what it is they are offering you that Holland America line is not offering directly. I forwarded an online booking quote from the big box company to her but haven't heard back yet.  I like working directly with Holland America but won't give up the additional obc that I get from the big box company.

 

This makes me nervous.  It has been a long standing policy that Holland America will not match external agency offers.   For them to change this policy is a big departure and smacks of a potential move to cut out external agents and agencies.   My other concern is that HAL is using passengers to discover and ferret out agents and agencies offering various discount incentives.  I don’t like this potential new policy.

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Maybe if more people booked direct saving holland millions in agents commissions then they wouldn't have to keep cutting back and nickle and diming onboard to increase revenues so they can pay OTA's huge commissions half or more of which are rebated to clients in order to get the booking?

 

There is zero doubt that the bean counters constantly look at the line "agent commissions" and salivate over the idea of greatly reducing this expense. 

 

Agents who consistently rebate their commissions are ultimately digging their own graves as cruise lines, just as airlines did, will say gee if agents are rebating half of the commissions we pay them then we must be paying them too much.

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44 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

Very interesting....I would be very surprised if HAL will/can match what that TA offers in OBC.  I had heard that something like this may happen, I bet people were transferring in droves to make the 60-day transfer period.

Please let us know if they can match the big box OBC.

I heard something similar from my HAL PCC a month or so ago.  Said that if we got a better quote, she could take it up the chain to see about matching it.

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15 minutes ago, dockman said:

Maybe if more people booked direct saving holland millions in agents commissions then they wouldn't have to keep cutting back and nickle and diming onboard to increase revenues so they can pay OTA's huge commissions half or more of which are rebated to clients in order to get the booking?

 

There is zero doubt that the bean counters constantly look at the line "agent commissions" and salivate over the idea of greatly reducing this expense. 

 

Agents who consistently rebate their commissions are ultimately digging their own graves as cruise lines, just as airlines did, will say gee if agents are rebating half of the commissions we pay them then we must be paying them too much.

 

I think your first point is maybe wishful thinking but maybe.... 🤔😀

 

Your other points are valid and I think spot on.  I have no crystal ball but I do see a future where external agencies and agents are basically a thing of the past.  Airlines are already basically there, hotels, and some resorts are quickly getting there.   The younger generations of travelers are pretty much there and already do the vast majority of their travel planning and booking on line directly with the provider.  My 47 year old son travels all over the world and has never used a TA for any aspect from flights to hotels to rental cars.   

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Posted (edited)

We travel independently.  Two trips of 8-9 weeks each  year plus a few last minute AI's and cruises and some road trips in between.   Europe, Asia,  SE Asia, Aus/NZ, Central and South America.  We are typically working on two trips at any point in time.

 

We have never used a bricks and mortar TA in at least the past  fifteen years.  Cruise, air, hotel, packages, cars, ferries...everything.  And we are late sixties oldies.  We find that we get better service and better pricing (or terms) by dealing with an on line agency or directly with the hotel,etc.

 

We did try to use a local agency  that specialized in African safaris several years ago. It was a bust.  We did much better in directly contacting a tour company in South Africa and dealing with them via skype, etc. and email.  Better service, much better information, and a significantly better price.

 

We would never bother sending a competitive TA quote to a cruise line and ask them to match it.  Why bother???  We use an on line TA.  As long as her price is in the ballpark we stick with her because she provides the service that we expect.

Edited by iancal

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We’re there too iancal at about the same age as you all.  That said we have friends about the same age who are not there and probably will never be.  Our best friends and cruising partners actually use us as their research and planning “agents”.   Once my wife and I come up with a potential cruise we share the information with them.  If all agree then they book with our TA, book the same hotel, and coordinate their flights to closely match ours.  We even share privately arranged transfers that I research and book.   

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48 minutes ago, DaveOKC said:

I heard something similar from my HAL PCC a month or so ago.  Said that if we got a better quote, she could take it up the chain to see about matching it.

I'm not holding my breath.  😄 

It may work with the smaller agencies that may offer a Pinnacle dinner or bottle of wine...but not the thousands of dollars we'll be getting on our next 4 cruises.

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1 hour ago, DaveOKC said:

I heard something similar from my HAL PCC a month or so ago.  Said that if we got a better quote, she could take it up the chain to see about matching it.

I am in the middle of the same thing. I submitted the form on Wednesday of last week. I got a call from my PCC on Thursday and she was reading the email she got from World Cruises and stopped just after she said something to the effect of try to save the booking. She then said that she would respond to World Cruises, but the cruise has not been transferred yet.

 

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1 hour ago, Cruising-along said:

I'm not holding my breath.  😄 

It may work with the smaller agencies that may offer a Pinnacle dinner or bottle of wine...but not the thousands of dollars we'll be getting on our next 4 cruises.

 

29 minutes ago, richwmn said:

I am in the middle of the same thing. I submitted the form on Wednesday of last week. I got a call from my PCC on Thursday and she was reading the email she got from World Cruises and stopped just after she said something to the effect of try to save the booking. She then said that she would respond to World Cruises, but the cruise has not been transferred yet.

 

 

You both might be surprised.

 

I have a friend who was going to transfer and then the PCC got permission to give everything the TA offered (and I am talking about serious OBC).  

What I hope is that they don’t keep you waiting to long that the time limit expires 😫

 

It will be interesting if they will be able to start to match but, like you, I’m not betting on it 😉 And, it’s unfair to the TA to offered the OBC/bennies. 

Time will tell if they will match, but, if they are willing to match, they should be forthright and offer it in the first place.  JMO.

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20 minutes ago, kazu said:

 

 

You both might be surprised.

 

I have a friend who was going to transfer and then the PCC got permission to give everything the TA offered (and I am talking about serious OBC).  

What I hope is that they don’t keep you waiting to long that the time limit expires 😫

 

It will be interesting if they will be able to start to match but, like you, I’m not betting on it 😉 And, it’s unfair to the TA to offered the OBC/bennies. 

Time will tell if they will match, but, if they are willing to match, they should be forthright and offer it in the first place.  JMO.

I agree, especially your last sentence.  

This doesn't affect us (yet) because we've already transferred all our bookings -- but I'll be following to see how this all pans out!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, zeen978 said:

I just went to transfer my booking over within the 60 day period, and my PCC sent me a message that Holland is implementing a new program called "save a sale". The PCC will try to match or equal whatever an outside agency is offering in order to retain the booking directly with Holland America Line. She said in order to make this request, she would need something in writing or quoted from the agency showing what it is they are offering you that Holland America line is not offering directly. I forwarded an online booking quote from the big box company to her but haven't heard back yet.  I like working directly with Holland America but won't give up the additional obc that I get from the big box company.

and.....if HAL  matches the OBC would it be refundable if not totally used up on the cruise...as the BB OBC is.

Edited by oaktreerb

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Posted (edited)

Matching TA pricing is a dangerous game that for HAL to be playing,

 

Once word gets around in some of the more productive agencies that HAL is doing  they will start to 'sell' their customers off HAL  and onto another cruise line that does not do this.  Why would a commission agent recommend a HAL cruise, work up a quote, only to have the customer shop it back to HAL?   Not going to happen...the TA won't even mention a HAL offer to the client. This is the real world of commission sales and sale adders.

 

 

Edited by iancal

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Seems to me what is "unfair" is for a PCC/HAL to deal with customers, answer all their questions, make the booking and then 60 days out the customer says "oh look i can get a rebate by switching to this OTA/Big Box store" and HAL says ok no problem.

 

Many travel agents go through this "take and switch" all the time where they do a lot of hand holding and research etc etc and then after that the client takes all their information and once they finally decide what they want they drop their friendly/helpful agent and go book with a big box bunch thereby stiffing the agent who did all the work.

 

  That is why many reputable travel agencies try and charge an upfront consultation fee which is fully refunded as long as the client books with them.  So the client knows right up front if u want my expertise then you have to pay for it either as a fee or by my getting a commission from the cruise line.

 

In the olden pre internet/pre OTA world cruise lines were happy to pay agents commissions because the agent actually did the work of educating, answering questions, handing out brochures, and SELLING the cruise.  I do not blame the cruise lines for basically saying if you want to book with an OTA/Big Box then fine go do it ...but if you want the cruise line to do the agents work for which they get paid a commission then we are tired of doing the work PLUS paying the commission.

 

This is not just a HAL problem but an industry wide problem.  As for big agencies "boycotting" companies like CCL or any of the big 3 good luck with that.  That was the threat when airlines cut the agents commissions years ago with much bluster and BS and in the end the other airlines all matched the commission cuts.

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16 minutes ago, iancal said:

Matching TA pricing is a dangerous game that for HAL to be playing,

 

Once word gets around in some of the more productive agencies that HAL is doing  they will start to 'sell' their customers off HAL  and onto another cruise line that does not do this.  Why would a commission agent recommend a HAL cruise, work up a quote, only to have the customer shop it back to HAL?   Not going to happen...the TA won't even mention a HAL offer to the client. This is the real world of commission sales and sale adders.

 

 

Totaly correct.... Hal will have shut the door on Agencies.  Hey, its counter productive to cut out a agent, who works for free ( commission only) and only gets paid when he produces....  that a  zero  cost labor pool.    This sounds like HAL is hurting and is thinking of going all internet sales  like an Amazon .     Maybe  a Carnival experiment...  

  Hal will only have  its band of repeat customers to draw on...    No agency or business is going to ever mention HAL  let alone represent them in anything but negative light.     This is just one more nickel dime  cost cutting...it is not going to stop all the others.    It sounds like HAL is desperate and doing fire sales as  they may be loosing market share faster than we might imagine .       When word gets out  that HAL is offering everybody a different rate...rubber rates..  that is bad.for business...and a sign of a  failing business....  

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As stated there is no problem for paying an agency that creates, and handles a booking that they produced.

 

The problem comes when an agency comes in after the booking has already been made and deposited and then the agency comes in and wants to take over said booking and still receive full commissions...much of which is then rebated to the customer.  This is an area of major concern to all the major cruise lines who are torn between paying commissions and supporting agencies that produce biz and paying agencies that basically intercept the booking after the bulk of the work has been done by the cruise line.

 

One of the biggest problems that cruise line sales reps hear over and over from brick and mortar travel agencies is the complaints of big box and big OTA rebating commissions. 

 

As for agencies not selling the CCL companies products that would be shooting yourself in the foot as CCL is by far the biggest controller of cruise passenger capacity in the world.

 

CCL.....233 k passengers

RCL......112 k

NCL.........54 k

all others.....137 k

Total cruise ship passenger capacity.....537

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28 minutes ago, dockman said:

As stated there is no problem for paying an agency that creates, and handles a booking that they produced.

 

The problem comes when an agency comes in after the booking has already been made and deposited and then the agency comes in and wants to take over said booking and still receive full commissions...much of which is then rebated to the customer.  This is an area of major concern to all the major cruise lines who are torn between paying commissions and supporting agencies that produce biz and paying agencies that basically intercept the booking after the bulk of the work has been done by the cruise line.

 

One of the biggest problems that cruise line sales reps hear over and over from brick and mortar travel agencies is the complaints of big box and big OTA rebating commissions. 

 

As for agencies not selling the CCL companies products that would be shooting yourself in the foot as CCL is by far the biggest controller of cruise passenger capacity in the world.

 

CCL.....233 k passengers

RCL......112 k

NCL.........54 k

all others.....137 k

Total cruise ship passenger capacity.....537

Maybe not... sheer numbers are one thing   but what is the revenue per pax.     A good portion of CCL are rock bottom discount fares from 3 and 4 day booze cruises and such.  Maybe CCL will choose to dissolve HAL and Princess into Carnival to create a  budget product.         

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CCL as in the total corporation not just Carnival.  I don't think any of the CCL brands except Carnival offer cheapie 3 day booze cruises...certainly not seabourn, cunard, princess, holland....bottom line is the CCL brands control almost half of the cruise berths in the world....travel agents would not win a boycott against these brands.

 

  If and when CCL corp decides to seriously increase direct bookings via new technology and commission structures good luck to travel agencies many of whom are already struggling to stay afloat.

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IF I am a commission travel agent and HAL is offering to match my discounted prices then why on earth would I ever recommend or sell HAL to anyone.  I would push them to any cruise line that did not follow this practice.  Could be Princess, Celebrity, whatever.  

 

The only way this works is if ALL the cruise lines do the same thing at the same time by perhaps cutting commissions.  This would sales by B&M agencies.  On line agencies would continue, but with little or no agency supplied OBC's.

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41 minutes ago, dockman said:

 If and when CCL corp decides to seriously increase direct bookings via new technology and commission structures good luck to travel agencies many of whom are already struggling to stay afloat.

If there current new and improved website is any sign of this,  they are doomed to failure. 

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1 hour ago, Hawaiidan said:

.       When word gets out  that HAL is offering everybody a different rate...rubber rates..  that is bad.for business...and a sign of a  failing business....  

 I learned on my first cruise that HAL offers a lot of different rates.   15 years ago I asked a reputable TA for a quote on an Alaska cruise and she asked me the appropriate questions and gave me an itinerary and a quote,   I thought it was pretty expensive so I told her to try a promo code that I had received in the mail.  I saved almost half.  Was she embarrassed ?  NO!  I was so glad I had taken that promo code with me!  

 

You call them rubber rates.  Yes, they are flexible and that is nothing new.  Airlines, hotels, cruises all have different pricing structures.  Travel is a very competitive business.  We just have to learn how to play the game and it’s not easy for the cruise line or the consumer but CC helps us keep up with the rules!

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9 minutes ago, bennybear said:

If there current new and improved website is any sign of this,  they are doomed to failure. 

  

I certainly agree with that...never ceases to amaze me that the cruise lines websites seem to be way way behind the big OTA cruise sellers....if they can't figure it out they should simply buy out one of the big OTA's whose sites can handle multiple cruise lines inventory without many issues...but one of these days i suspect that they will figure it out as it is worth millions of dollars in saved commissions if people book direct with the cruise line on a user friendly site...

 

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