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1 hour 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.

 

 

 

Interestingly this is not totally different, though from a different direction, from when brick and mortar agencies threatened the cruise lines as a whole over discounters.  This was something like 10 or so years ago and the agencies saw on line agencies were advertising heavily discounted fares.  The initial “demand”, as I understood it from a friend who was a TA with a local agency, was that the lines stop all discounting.  Apparently this was easier said than done but the compromise was the lines could stop doing business with Internet TAs if they continued the advertising practice.  Led us to today where to get the real cost from an discounting Internet TA you need to query them over the phone, through an email, or request for a quote.  I wonder today how the bookings break out amongst in-house, brick and mortar, and Internet.   ????

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Posted (edited)

I have the impression that some people get an online quote from an internet TA.  When the price is the same as the cruise line price they shrug, and make a buy from the cruise line.  The quote that one generates on those third party sites will typically be identical to the cruise line site....they are using the same data base.

 

They do not realize that this is NOT how one secures a better price, ie extra OBC's.  You need to phone the TA, or email them with what you plan to book.  Ask about the OBC's.  Get a quote that includes OBC's.  Then call back, credit card in hand.  But before you say buy, ask the agent if he/she can improve the OBC's or add something else. That is how it works. 

 

 But don't be a trifler or a looky loo.  If you are doing this, do the buy.  Those on line commission based agents work on volume and they have better things to do that deal with people who have no intention of placing an order....with any TA.  We have had good service and good prices from our on line TA because she knows that when we call or email we are ready to buy.

 

HAL is nowhere near ready to move to online customer booking.  Heck...it seems to me that HAL has trouble keeping their website up for more than 48 hours at a time without an issue of some sort.   In order to operate a first rate internet sales business you need an efficient, user friendly web site managed by a skilled IT staff.  HAL clearly is not there and based on past performance these key requirements are not on the horizon.

Edited by iancal

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, oaktreerb said:

 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!

 

Yes airlines and hotels all have different pricing... but not to the extent that HAL  does.     Far more I have seen than other many cruise lines!.   

 I can not call up an airline say United and tell them I want a Sprit air  fare...    I can not call up Marriott and Hilton and ask them to match Motel 6.     

 In HAL's we will match anyone  that is a different game altogether.....     It is like time share pricing where the salesman will get as much as possible from the potential customer.      I see HAL as  the same  buyer-beware  business.

  If they had a solid value for the dollar product and charged a fair and equal price that customers could rely on  thats good.     Seeing prices swing hundreds and in some cases thousands   tells me this is a company I can not trust or rely on.....What then is the incentive to buy when you can not trust who you are buying from?

Edited by Hawaiidan

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17 hours ago, Randyk47 said:

 

Interestingly this is not totally different, though from a different direction, from when brick and mortar agencies threatened the cruise lines as a whole over discounters.  This was something like 10 or so years ago and the agencies saw on line agencies were advertising heavily discounted fares.  The initial “demand”, as I understood it from a friend who was a TA with a local agency, was that the lines stop all discounting.  Apparently this was easier said than done but the compromise was the lines could stop doing business with Internet TAs if they continued the advertising practice.  Led us to today where to get the real cost from an discounting Internet TA you need to query them over the phone, through an email, or request for a quote.  I wonder today how the bookings break out amongst in-house, brick and mortar, and Internet.   ????

 

Actually the big box store shows their rebates for most, not all, cruise lines right on their website.  As you said many other agencies require a phone call etc to find out their rebate levels. 

 

There are many semi desperate agencies who will always try to out rebate any competitor just to get a sale.  Many of these will either soon go out of business, provide little or no service,  or do it to try and get a larger volume with a cruise line in order to get more comps/agent rates/perks for the owners.

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On 8/15/2019 at 9:55 AM, Randyk47 said:

 

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.

I think you're correct.

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23 hours 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.

 

 

That's what will happen.  I personally do not share quotes from other agents.  I consider them to be proprietary.  We can be just as satisfied with X or Princess.  My TA books both.

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As i understood the OP the only time that HAL offers to "match" is when the booking has already been made direct with HAL, the PCC has done all the hand holding and work, it is under deposit with HAL and THEN the customer wants to switch the booking to an agent who has done nothing but is willing to rebate a big chunk of their commission to get a booking that was NEVER theirs to begin with.  The agent never sold HAL to begin with if so then why did their client book direct and make a deposit direct with Holland.

 

I don't blame HAL in the least for trying to stop these attempts to steal bookings away near final payment date.  My only surprise is it has taken them this long to crack down on this absurd practice.

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23 hours ago, iancal said:

They do not realize that this is NOT how one secures a better price, ie extra OBC's.  You need to phone the TA, or email them with what you plan to book.  Ask about the OBC's.  Get a quote that includes OBC's.  Then call back, credit card in hand.  But before you say buy, ask the agent if he/she can improve the OBC's or add something else. That is how it works. 

 

Yeah, for us the OBCs or prepaid HSC is what makes a difference, and phone calls are where that happens.  We don't drink and aren't interested in fine dining, so some of the other benefits offered have little appeal to us.  

 

But it doesn't hurt to track the price as well.  We just about always use a TA, but for our upcoming cruise, we ended up buying directly from HAL because there were two overlapping sales (cabin price drop plus prepaid HSC) that beat what the TA could offer, from our point of view.

 

And of course the obvious answer is to find a new TA, but we don't cruise as often as some here, so we don't develop the strong relationship that some of you have.

 

Also, just to confirm:  with HAL, it seems OBC can be used for HSC?  That wasn't true for another cruise line a while back, so wanted to check.

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22 minutes ago, Naismith said:

Also, just to confirm:  with HAL, it seems OBC can be used for HSC?  That wasn't true for another cruise line a while back, so wanted to check.

Yes, it can be used that way on HAL.

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57 minutes ago, Naismith said:

 

But it doesn't hurt to track the price as well.  We just about always use a TA, but for our upcoming cruise, we ended up buying directly from HAL because there were two overlapping sales (cabin price drop plus prepaid HSC) that beat what the TA could offer, from our point of view.

 

I'm surprised.  My TA always passes through any HAL promotions.  What ever the HAL price is, she matches then discounts 8-10%.

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16 hours ago, RocketMan275 said:

I'm surprised.  My TA always passes through any HAL promotions.  What ever the HAL price is, she matches then discounts 8-10%.

This is exactly why you book  through an  agent.   Like hiring a lawyer or selecting a doctor..  Your engaging the services of a professional to represent you to travel companies.     If you shop carefully, and ask all the right questions  you will get not only good pricing  but professional service... .     The agent has one thing that you do not...Leverage to negotiate.    They speak to a whole different group of people at the cruise line that you will never get to.     You have Zero... your one fare    The agent represents dozens...maybe hundreds of fares...    Who do you think is going to get a better offer ????  

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Just now, Hawaiidan said:

This is exactly why you book  through an  agent.   Like hiring a lawyer or selecting a doctor..  Your engaging the services of a professional to represent you to travel companies.     If you shop carefully, and ask all the right questions  you will get not only good pricing  but professional service... .     The agent has one thing that you do not...Leverage to negotiate.    They speak to a whole different group of people at the cruise line that you will never get to.     You have Zero... your one fare    The agent represents dozens...maybe hundreds of fares...    Who do you think is going to get a better offer ????  

I like the fact that I only have to deal with one person regardless of what cruise line I book.  My TA can book all the cruise lines even the river cruises.  I don't know a cruise line who can provide all these options.  

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We have used both TA and HAL PCC.  Our TA was a close friend who always looked out for us.  Sadly, when she died, another TA at that brick-and-mortar agency took over.  We booked several cruises with her, but the level of service suffered greatly.  During the booking/final payment phase on that last cruise, she acted as if she was doing us a service by accepting our money.  We shopped around for another local TA and found no one we were comfortable with, so for the next cruise we booked directly with HAL, which landed us with a PCC.  She has given me superior service, including perks, but recently after reading one of these TA threads, I thought I'd give a reputable big box agency a chance.

 

While the service was okay, the agent made a couple of snarky comments when my brother had to cancel his cabin.  I have returned to my PCC at HAL and am satisfied.  Recently the price dropped at one of the on-line agencies.  I called Seattle, and my PCC not only gave us the new, lower fare but added to our onboard credit substantially.  

 

I believe the bottom line for everyone is service and bargain.  Some cruisers are delighted with their TAs, and that's good.  Others, like us, prefer our PCCs whom we have worked with for a number of years and who have given good, reliable service.  It's all in the perception, which doesn't make one group correct and the other group wrong.  It's all about satisfaction for the customer.  To each his own, I feel.  

 

So, at the risk of bringing down a firestorm on my head, why do we CCers debate this topic so hotly when each one of us has the right to choose whomever we desire to book our cruises?  As I sometimes tell my students when I ask an opinion question: "There's no right or wrong answer here.  Let's all be respectful of the other person's views."  

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4 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

So, at the risk of bringing down a firestorm on my head, why do we CCers debate this topic so hotly when each one of us has the right to choose whomever we desire to book our cruises?  As I sometimes tell my students when I ask an opinion question: "There's no right or wrong answer here.  Let's all be respectful of the other person's views."

Bingo!!!

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44 minutes ago, sevenseasnomad said:

We have used both TA and HAL PCC.  Our TA was a close friend who always looked out for us.  Sadly, when she died, another TA at that brick-and-mortar agency took over.  We booked several cruises with her, but the level of service suffered greatly.  During the booking/final payment phase on that last cruise, she acted as if she was doing us a service by accepting our money.  We shopped around for another local TA and found no one we were comfortable with, so for the next cruise we booked directly with HAL, which landed us with a PCC.  She has given me superior service, including perks, but recently after reading one of these TA threads, I thought I'd give a reputable big box agency a chance.

 

While the service was okay, the agent made a couple of snarky comments when my brother had to cancel his cabin.  I have returned to my PCC at HAL and am satisfied.  Recently the price dropped at one of the on-line agencies.  I called Seattle, and my PCC not only gave us the new, lower fare but added to our onboard credit substantially.  

 

I believe the bottom line for everyone is service and bargain.  Some cruisers are delighted with their TAs, and that's good.  Others, like us, prefer our PCCs whom we have worked with for a number of years and who have given good, reliable service.  It's all in the perception, which doesn't make one group correct and the other group wrong.  It's all about satisfaction for the customer.  To each his own, I feel.  

 

So, at the risk of bringing down a firestorm on my head, why do we CCers debate this topic so hotly when each one of us has the right to choose whomever we desire to book our cruises?  As I sometimes tell my students when I ask an opinion question: "There's no right or wrong answer here.  Let's all be respectful of the other person's views."  

 

It is all  in some ways perception,  facts, opinions are irrelevant.    The old question " How do you know if you got a good deal".. is answered by "  if you think you got a good or  great deal then you did "

   Perception is your reality, and it is not possible to argue with an others reality  with  your reality.... 

  At the end of the day are you happy when you turn off the night lights and go to sleep........

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On 8/15/2019 at 11:54 AM, 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.

 

This sounds a lot like arguments that TAs made back in the days when airlines first started to talk about cutting commissions. But airlines eventually called the TA bluff then, deciding that TAs weren't actually steering clients to them--clients were mainly choosing their own flights. I wonder if we're hitting the same point here.

 

As I see it, there are three pots of passengers: those who book directly with the cruise line, those who choose their own cruise and use a TA primarily as an order taker (perhaps for perks), and those who use a TA to decide on a cruise. The first pot is most profitable for the cruise line; the last pot costs the cruise line more but potentially means more sales; and the middle pot is simply a cost for the cruise line with minimal benefit. At some point, if the relative size of the last pot shrinks, cruise lines are going to start cutting commissions, figuring that it's worthwhile to sacrifice the last pot (cruise-steering TAs) in order to move people from the middle pot (order-taking TAs) into the first pot (direct cruiseline sales).

 

So the big question is the size of the last pot. How many passengers actually use a TA to decide which cruise to go on, let alone which cruise line? With so much information readily available today on the Internet, it seems to me like most passengers are making their own decisions about cruise lines. Even 25 years ago when I started cruising, I wouldn't have relied on a TA; instead I looked at other sources (at the time, primarily books). I honestly don't know what the breakdown is today, but I'm willing to bet it's shrinking, and shrinking fast. My guess is that older passengers are more likely to use a TA--but those passengers are also more likely to have cruised before and already know their preferences and aren't being steered by a TA. And younger passengers are more likely to do their research online.

 

The upshot is that I wouldn't be at all surprised to see cruise lines cutting commissions to TAs within the next 10 years, and maybe much sooner.

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We only use a TA to book cruises.  Booked on the web through an internet TA.  We do not bother with B&M TA’s.   Everything else is booked on the web either direct or through booking sites.  

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My real time example:

I recently booked a $13,600 future cruise on board HAL and received a $300 deposit and $300 onboard credit for a single.

Returned home and emailed my usual big online TA and they offered an additional $150 on board credit for switching. 

A local TA offered to add $600 OBC plus free wi-fi. 

Friends told me about their deal with a big box store and I discovered for my booking they would add $1165 on board plus the normal store 2% refund and 3% credit card rebate,  That was simply too big to pass up. 

(I also promptly bought a hundred shares of Carnival stock, figuring that $250 cruise price reduction and 4% yield exceeds what my savings account generates.)

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17 hours ago, Woofbite said:

My real time example:

I recently booked a $13,600 future cruise on board HAL and received a $300 deposit and $300 onboard credit for a single.

Returned home and emailed my usual big online TA and they offered an additional $150 on board credit for switching. 

A local TA offered to add $600 OBC plus free wi-fi. 

Friends told me about their deal with a big box store and I discovered for my booking they would add $1165 on board plus the normal store 2% refund and 3% credit card rebate,  That was simply too big to pass up. 

(I also promptly bought a hundred shares of Carnival stock, figuring that $250 cruise price reduction and 4% yield exceeds what my savings account generates.)

I should have mentioned I had to spend $120 to join big box store at the Executive level to get the 2% back on all purchases, including travel.

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Posted (edited)

It would be interesting to know what percentage of TA sourced business comes from on line TA's and from bricks and mortar TA's.

 

I can see the cruise lines making a move to reduce agency commissions.  But...they would all have to do it.  It would probably eliminate B&M bookings or at the very least cause B&M agencies to charge their clients a service fee.

 

Really, if the cruise lines were serious about this they would build properly functioning, user friendly web sites.  HAL is a prime example of how not to design and operate a customer focused web site.

Edited by iancal

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Can someone send me the details of a good TA in the USA via a private message? 
Would like to figure out what the possibility is to 
book with a US TA from the Netherlands.

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18 minutes ago, TheChiefNL said:

Can someone send me the details of a good TA in the USA via a private message? 
Would like to figure out what the possibility is to 
book with a US TA from the Netherlands.

Two points.

First, the private message function on Cruise Critic doesn't work.

Two, it's against the rules to do what  you requested.

Travel Agent Recommendations

There shall be no third-party recommendation (whether positive or negative in content) of travel agencies on any forums within Cruise Critic. General discussions regarding the TYPE of AGENCY to be used to purchase a cruise will be allowed, as long as no recommendations for any source of purchase are posted.

Touting of your personal cruise agent or cruise line "personal cruise consultant" (or any other venue by which you purchase a cruise) is not allowed on our message boards. Postings that contain "tell them John sent you" will be removed without notice.

This means you should not ask about someone's travel agent, nor should you respond in kind. Offering to email someone your travel agent's name or info is also not allowed, nor is asking members to email you for the information.

Cruise Critic will remove violations of the "third-party recommendation" guideline without warning. Additional posts may result in permanent suspension of your posting privileges.

 

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On 8/17/2019 at 11:50 AM, sevenseasnomad said:

While the service was okay, the agent made a couple of snarky comments when my brother had to cancel his cabin.  I have returned to my PCC at HAL and am satisfied.  Recently the price dropped at one of the on-line agencies.  I called Seattle, and my PCC not only gave us the new, lower fare but added to our onboard credit substantially.  

 

Quick question that is slightly off-topic:

 

Did the PCC give you the lower fare and onboard credit after you had made final payment or was it before?

 

I've seen some specials come through on HAL's site after I've made final payment to my TA that I've wondered if I could have gotten if I had used a PCC.

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On 8/26/2019 at 12:33 PM, iancal said:

It would be interesting to know what percentage of TA sourced business comes from on line TA's and from bricks and mortar TA's.

 

I can see the cruise lines making a move to reduce agency commissions.  But...they would all have to do it.  It would probably eliminate B&M bookings or at the very least cause B&M agencies to charge their clients a service fee.

 

Really, if the cruise lines were serious about this they would build properly functioning, user friendly web sites.  HAL is a prime example of how not to design and operate a customer focused web site.

I'll put up with the website, as is, to keep my 10% discount.  

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