Our suppliers are always looking for ways to encourage travel agents to book their product more. Of course, the biggest incentive or reward is an increase in commission, and suppliers definitely do reward productivity with higher commission levels. However, several suppliers have additional incentive programs in place as well.
Where commission is set at the agency level, suppliers realize that individual agents do not benefit from increases in commissions. Agents that work in traditional store front agencies, getting paid a set salary, aren’t affected by changes in commissions coming into the agency. They may earn bonuses, but that is not necessarily true for all store front agents.
An independent contractor (IC) is compensated differently. They typically get a percentage of the commission from their bookings. So if the commission goes from 10% to 16%. ICs will see an increase in their compensation.
Loyalty programs set up by suppliers are targeted to individual agents. Not every supplier has a program in place, and the programs that are out there vary in how they work. Some pay a flat fee for each booking, putting the money on a branded reloadable credit card. Other suppliers do a point system, where you accrue points for each booking and then can redeem them for a variety of prizes.
In the cruise industry, the latest rewards program to be launched is Carnival Cruise Line’s Loyalty Rocks Rewards Program. To access the program you simply need to log into www.goccl.com with your current username and password. Once logged in, in the top menu click on “Agent Rewards” and then “Travel Agent Rewards Program.” This is a points based program. Agents can earn points for bookings as well as for other activities, like cruising with Carnival and for participating in certain events like trade shows.
For example, for your bookings, you can early 5 to 50 points per booking. The point value is based on length of cruise (1 to 5 days, or 6 or more days) and based on room category booked (interior, ocean view, balcony, suite). In addition to those points, there may be booking bonus challenges. The current challenge runs through July 19. All qualified bookings entered will be entered in a drawing. Each day a winner is drawn to win 1,000 bonus points. At the end of the challenge a grand prize winner will be drawn to receive 20,000 bonus points.
Of course, the big question is ‘what do I get for these points?’ As few as 1,000 points can be redeemed. According to Carnival Cruise Line, “…there are a variety of gift cards, and merchandise (electronics, gift baskets, movies, music, etc.) to choose from. Items offered in the catalog will change over time to ensure that Loyalty Rocks users have new shopping options. Item availability may vary between U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada based on product and shipping availability. Canadian catalog redemption points/pricing may vary depending on exchange rates at the time of redemption.”
Some of the categories of merchandise in the catalog include gift cards, electronics, home & garden, jewelry, movies, video games, sporting goods, Apple, tools & hardware, and “on sale now!” One example of an item currently available is an Apple Pencil. These retail for $99. In Loyalty Rocks! you can get one for 2,440 points. That’s the equivalent of booking 50 suites on a 6+ day cruise or approximately 490 interior staterooms on 1-5 day cruises. Gift cards require fewer points. Redeeming 1,000 points can get you a variety of $50 gift cards.
The most difficult part of any supplier reward program is having to remember to report your bookings. With Loyalty Rocks! you simply log into www.goccl.com and go to the rewards program in the drop down menu. There is not an additional website to remember, and the username and password are not different. You just need to remember. The catch is that you need to report your bookings within 30 days of making a booking. After 30 days the bookings are ineligible to earn you any rewards points.
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.