Lots of great responses from last week’s column! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Lisa Mills from The Travel Gallery, Buffalo, MN reported over $2000 unpaid commissions from Trilogy Tours, a divison of Hobbitt Tours- that’s a Thumbs Down. Shame too, since they have unbeatable rates for so many packages in that area. The e-mail address on their website is invalid, (even for placing orders) and the owner of the company didn’t return my phone calls. But with persistence, a check for over $700 was issued with a promise that the remaining amount will be issued next month.
So much easier for Mark Thomas at The Travel Shope in Portland. Hawai’s Castle Resort paid his four month overdue commission within one day after a phone message was left. Along, of course, with numerous requests from the agent.
What a coincidence. An agent booked cabins for 2 couples on Princess’ Polar Online. She used her own address for the clients. The clients decided to use another cruise line’s itinerary, so the agent called in to cancel the bookings. A week later, letters were sent to the clients- using the agent’s address. Enclosed were coupons for free balcony upgrades, with savings up to $1100 per couple. These offers were less than the agent originally quoted. I suppose you readers will think this is a Thumbs Down – Princess will take our business away. It is- if they are offering a lower rate. It is- if they are monitoring our sales and cancellations and then marketing to our clients. But the Thumbs Up is that all the printed material does state “contact your travel agent”, or call Princess or visit the their website. So a crooked finger is what I call this one. Advice to my fellow agents – when you have to cancel a deposited Princess booking, notify your clients that they may receive a letter and coupon from Princess, and you can process it for them.
This on the heels of another major cruise line that will take our leads, and out and out said- “if you can’t close the sale within 3 days, we will contact the lead and do it.” That means no commission for the agent. THUMBS DOWN!
I’ve mentioned before that Holland America now contacts our already booked clients directly with a welcome letter and offers them the link for shore excursions, online documentation, and more. This bypasses the agent. That’s a THUMBS DOWN. But if the agent notifies the res agent that this is a Surprise Cruise, the clients won’t be contacted. The additional problem is that many of the res agents don’t know about this policy.
On the other hand, literally, a THUMBS UP for Celebrity. If you book a Concierge category, Celebrity calls the agent to offer the option of Celebrity contacting the client or having the agent do it. I don’t know about other agents, but I prefer having the personal contact with my clients. They then know I have worked hard on their bookings. Many times, my appreciative clients even bring a gift back for me. There is a reason that clients book with a travel agent, and that is service!
A THUMBS UP for Regent. Their offerings are the best we’ve ever seen – free air, free unlimited shore excursions- complimentary beverages, gratuities included. And now the NCFs are commissionable. Talking about bending over backwards- hey it ain’t gonna last forever!
A THUMBS DOWN for the host agency soliciting both new and experienced agents, The membership fee is that magic number – $495. But prospective agents should further check out this company. On their website they are also looking for employees doing everything from being a receptionist, a web and graphic artist, reps, help desk, sales. and an account manager. Hey there- who’s running the office! Hint… don’t join any host without checking every detail. And contact current members to answer a few questions.