Thumbs up for Carnival! | TravelResearchOnline


Thumbs up for Carnival!

A mixed bag this time folks…A few Thumbs Up and a few Thumbs Down as Les-Lee Roland makes her rounds of the travel industry. 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

Picture Well now, Carnival is sending out mailings to our clients who are their past passengers. Offers of savings up to $100 plus 2 category upgrands – using a fare code of DP3. Bet you thought this would be a Thumbs Down, but I give it a Thumbs Up. Why? On the letter it does say to book by calling them OR a travel agent. We agents have to take this as an orange alert. If you have past passengers who haven’t called you to book anything, this is your chance to open the communication. Call them and mention that they may get a letter from Carnival – or you can send them a special offer. Now you know the fare code!

Picture But on another branch of the family, Holland America’s e-mail is a little different. A client forwarded one to me, since he assumed it came directly from me. Sure enough, it had my name on it as the agent and said I was advertising a Nov 1 st cruise and the rates. Problem was, my client, and two other couples, had booked this cruise and already made the final payment. When I contacted HAL to get the rate lowered, I was told they were already in penalty if I changed it. Try explaining that to the six clients. HAL sent it to, without my knowledge, using my name, and they and won’t honor the rate. THUMBS DOWN! Shame too, since I would give it a THUMBS UP for an e-mail piece using a personal touch from the agent. Just very bad timing.

Picture Warning- Warning- for your Las Vegas package clients. Just returned from ASTA’s trade show and as I boarded the Gray Line bus at the airport, I was greeted by an “ambassador.” who rode the bus with us. He welcomed everyone, talked about things to do, and how to get free buffets, discounts on shows, and up to $150 in gambling dollars from Planet Hollywood or Hooters and he offered to sign people up if the people were under the age of seventy. I shouted out- “is this a timeshare presentation?” He didn’t answer, but when I contacted reps from those locations, they said the people had to be qualified and spend 2 or more hours with the salespeople and only select people would get those offerings. THUMBS DOWN for this shameless offer, and warn your clients. They may be broke before they even arrive at their hotel.

Picture THUMBS UP for AVIS and BUDGET.  Yep, they’re working together and, sorry smokers, they are now providing 100% smoke free vehicles in the US.

Picture  Agents, I need your comments on this one. An agent has complained to RCL about the commissions she is losing when a rate is lowered for her already booked clients. Sure RCL is honoring the new rates. If the sailing is imminent, the clients are getting the difference in a shipboard credit. The agent is upset because her bottom line is affected. I have my thoughts on this, and have corresponded with the agent. Now I want your comments. Do you like RCL’s policy of honoring lower rates up to the sailing, even though your commission may be lowered? Do you prefer they give the client Shipboard Credits for the difference? Do you prefer they do not honor the lower rates? Any other suggestions?

Picture A THUMBS DOWN for agents if they never used .  They had the best information on suppliers, itineraries, and packages for this popular area. The website is still available, but because of funding situations, some information is only linked to the site. This was, by far, the best website and led consumers to agents. A debt of gratitude for both Judy Graydon and Sue Shapiro for making Southwest England Specialists one of the best agent programs ever! And their fams were incredible!

Picture  You never know who you will meet at a convention. While attending New York’s Cruise-A-Thon last June, I met the rep for A Driver in Italy. Thankfully! If you have priced out transfers from Rome to the cruise port, the cost is astronomical. This small family run company, is a delight to work with, and extremely affordable. Besides the transfers and private tours, they are accommodating to all the needs of the client. Quick responses by e-mail and a toll- free US number for your bookings.. A big THUMBS UP for  I know agents can be reluctant to share information on new suppliers, but if you benefit from using this company, pay it forward and we will all do well.

 Picture  THUMBS UP to Sceptre Tours.  If you make any three bookings, they will give you, the agent, a confirmed booking they already have on the books.  This means you get a commission for something they sold.  And you now have this new client to work with any future travel bookings.  That’s their way of saying thank you to agents. This applies to their specialty of Ireland or Scotland, as well as Tuscany, and the European River Cruises.  Take a bow Scepter, for being truly agent friendly!


  15 thoughts on “Thumbs up for Carnival!

  1. Debbi- the Vacation Diva says:

    Les-Lee, I love working with Driver in Italy and I have recommended them to other agents. They are prompt, accommodating and seem to care that my clients have the best experience possible.

  2. Ruth Kuehn says:

    I would prefer that any lowering of the cruise rate be given to clients in form of Onboard Credit so it does not affect the commission. When we book and deposit we have already hit the “point of sale” and earned our commission. Cruise lines choice to lower the price..

  3. Susan says:

    I like it that RCCL honors lower fares after the booking is made. This makes clients feel comfortable booking ahead of time. If they wait you’re left working harder constantly watching the fares. If the clients watch the fares themselves and can’t reach you when the price hits rock bottom they’ll most likely book online.

  4. Donna says:

    I feel RCCL and all cruise lines should protect our commissions. I just read where several lines are even keeping our commission if a traveler cancels inside of penalty and the cruise does not refund the passenger. Since we have been forced to accept their cost of printing documents (or be tacky and puch back to the traveler) they should offer on board credit if they need to lower the rates. I find it very disturbing that all the BIG guys expect the little travel agent to pay for everything.

  5. Noe Rosales says:

    Hi Les-Lee,

    What are you thoughts about foreign currency exchange? I am the manager at International Currency Express, and I attended a travel agent convention at the L.A. Convention Center a few months ago and to my surprise not very many agents welcomed the idea of providing foreign cash to their members. I know many travel agents that are currently offering the service through us, and would like to know what your thoughts are on the subject. Would you prepare your clients with with the cash before their departure?

  6. natalie says:

    I don’t mind Royal’s price protection policy as long as it protects the commission at time of final payment.

    Since the client isn’t getting a cash refund, there shouldn’t be a commission recall. Once of the options is an upgrade, in which case commission would be protected. But if an upgrade equal to the price reduction isn’t available, they change it to onboard credit and recall your commission.

    Basically, the cruise line is making money and not sharing the profit with the agent who made the booking. It is just another cateogry of NCFs as far as I am concerned.

  7. Les-Lee Roland says:


    I have used currency conversion companies in the past, and now only use them for group travel.

    The extra costs- low conversion and mailing charges doesn’t make it cost effective for FITs.

    I still offe ittomy clients, and remind them of other other options.

  8. Cruise King says:

    With the economy in a downturn….and the travel industry hit hard….I think that RCI should offer an onboard credit. If they decide that they want to charge less….especially without consulting with the agent….then we should not have to “take a hit” because of “their decision”. With rates as low as they’ve been in years, it’s already difficult to make a decent commission on a booking….

  9. Bo Adams says:

    Les-Lee…….Your “Flips & Flops” continue to be very enjoyable and right on the mark. Thank you for many years of entertaining columns. As you know, I am a City Package and Special Events operator, not a cruise guy. But I am convinced that the RCL situation is just not right. Full commissions should always be protected. Our old industry friend, Vicki Freed, needs to come to the rescue.

  10. DreammakerVip says:

    Regarding the thumbs down to HAL, I believe if Holland America card sent the card using the travel agent’s name, the agent or agency had to send it from the HAL Travel Agent Headquarters site with their mailing list. Perhaps, someone else in the agency sent the promo mailing. I know that most agencies have a designated person to do targeted direct mailings. Also, depending on the promo, HAL WILL lower the rate after final payment and within penalties. I just did that with two cabins and got $400 refund per cabin. However, some promos are for new booking only

  11. I have been trying to convert cruisers to land packages in order to keep the higher commissions. When a client calls to check on their rate being lowered, I have to do even more work for them by checking this out and then the cruise lines lower my commission. More work les money! And it is not just RCCL. The cruise lines are not always our friends. I realize they need to make money to stay afloat, but so do we little guys!

  12. Les-Lee says:

    Comment to Dreammaker Vip about Holland America’s mailing.

    The e-mail went to select people that I had booked. I did not authorize it – I knew nothing about it, until the client forwarded it to me.

    Talk about bad timing- why offer a lower rate on a cruise they’ve already booked?

  13. One of the reasons why I love working with Sandals is their policy for past guest discounts. The travel agent gets full commission on the original cost of the package before the past guest promotion discount is applied. RCL offers great promotions to their past guest but each discount lowers your commission.

  14. donna gyland says:

    let’s make one thing clear, RCL does not automatically lower the price, you must notice it and request it. They are just about the only cruise line that allows this practice and have done it for quite some time, only now to simplify bookkeeping, they refund it in the form of shipboard credit. No they should not protect your commission, or it give them incentive to work directly with the public, and yes, you should ALWAYS act in the best interest of your client, even if it affects your commission. It does build customer loyalty when the client knows you are watching out for them. I use their policy as a tool to encourage my clients to BOOK EARLY. Then when prices are lowered, attract new business for the last minute discount to offset the loss. PS We are going to charge fees for printing docs…..or we just print boarding passes and insurance info part of docs as part of our “service”. the client doesn’t need the docs. Save a tree

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