For years and years, the non commissionable fee or NCF has flummoxed travel agents as they try and understand exactly what it is. At one point, it was felt that it was a new fangled term for port charges and taxes, but that wasn’t it. Many feel it is just a way for the cruise lines to reduce the commission paid when agents give them a customer. Many a cruise line business development manager has been asked and none have really been able to provide an answer to this deep sea mystery. Until today!
Even last week, Vicki Freed of Royal Caribbean and Justin French of Carnival danced around the question on an ASTA Webinar. The best Freed could do was say “it is what it is” and suggest that agents find other ways to find the lost revenue because it was certainly not coming from a reduction in NCFs.
Certainly this was no help. It does not appear that Carnival or Royal Caribbean is inclined to side with Viking River Cruises in rewarding the supplier of customers with a full commission. But, the question still lingers—where the heck does this money go? Executive bonuses? Gold plated toilet seats in the office? Replenishing the money lost from a Madoff investment?
Then, on Thursday night it hit me. I can’t speak for Royal Caribbean but I now know exactly where the Carnival NCFs are going.
You see, Mickey Arison, Chairman of Carnival Corporation also owns the Miami Heat and on Thursday, he just got word that he will need to write a $99 million dollar paycheck for LeBron James. That money needs to come from somewhere. And there is no better source than the travel agents. With 3.9 million passengers expected to sail on a Carnival ship this year, that works out to $25.38 per passenger in additional NCFs which must be collected to pay for LeBron. They might even increase it a bit on the slim chance there might be an Ohioan in Miami that is upset with the deal.
So there you have it. A perfectly reasonable explanation! Look for one of those “good news for our partners” emails from your BDM next week!
*Please note that this is satire! I told you that in the title, because I know how things can be taken out of context. The NCFs may be explained sometime. Or not. The NCFs may go down. Or not. The sun may rise tomorrow. Or not. But regardless, I hope you had a good laugh!