Did you know you can get commission on cruise line excursions under some very specific circumstances? Don’t get too excited yet. Not all cruise lines are doing this, and this does not apply to individual reservations. However, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises do pay commission (they call it a referral program) on excursions booked by passengers sailing within a group.
How it Works
The biggest requirement is that the group must have a minimum of 16 passengers in 8 staterooms sailing. If the group falls below that number before sailing, the commission evaporates.
You do have to enroll your groups in advance to qualify. There is a form in Cruising Power (found under Booking Tools > Group Travel > Group Shore Excursions Referral Program. Once on that page, click ENROLL TODAY. Fill out the form with group names, group ID numbers, ship name, sail date, and number of rooms in the group.
This only applies to excursions pre-purchased online prior to departure. We are not paid commission for any excursions purchased onboard the ship.
What You Get
What you are paid will depend on what excursions your group passengers book. If they do an excursion together (at least 16 passengers from the group doing the exact same excursion together) you will be paid a 10% commission. If they book individual excursions you receive a 5% commission. All commissions are paid after the group returns, and of course, cancellations do not count.
It is also easier for travel professionals. Once the group is registered for the program, our work is done. Clients can book their excursions online and we get paid.
Are There Any Pitfalls?
As with everything else in this world, the program isn’t perfect. We are only paid 5% commission on individual excursion bookings within the group. We could make 10% commission if we booked those individual excursions with a third party excursion company. And clients do not always want to be herded with the masses. So again, a third party excursion company may be a better fit. Or if clients want a smaller, more intimate excursion, that may have to be booked with a third party as well.
But if you have clients that insist on booking cruise line provided excursions, the good news is that there is a way to get paid commission for those excursions. As long as they are traveling with a group.
Of course, this is an incentive for us to book more groups. Remember that groups do not have to be affinity groups, they can be promotional groups. The group members don’t need to know they are traveling in a group, and don’t have to know who the other group members are onboard the ship. Granted, that likely means that there won’t be 16 passengers doing the same excursion together, so your excursion commission will be 5%. But as my dad would say, that’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.