Crystal Symphony recently refurbished its public spaces, including the Palm Court lounge. // © 2012 Crystal Cruises
In response to recommendations from many of its travel agent partners and consortia leaders, Crystal Cruises has augmented the anti-rebating measures it established in 2007 with the addition of a new policy, effective immediately.
When guests make a future booking with Crystal’s onboard cruise consultants and subsequently ask that it be transferred to another agency, only 5 percent commission will be paid to the receiving agency, regardless of when the transfer is processed (including cancel/rebook). This is effective immediately for all new bookings and any agency unassigned bookings as of June 12. Agency-transferred bookings that originated onboard will also be excluded from any earned overrides and group tour conductor credit. Conversely, when the onboard booking remains with the original agent, the full commission will apply.
The policy is meant to discourage travel agents from rebating to gain new clientele and to protect the agent who worked to make the booking. This regulation is in addition to Crystal’s 2007 policy stating that, for any booking subsequently transferred to another agency (including cancel/rebook) after deposit and prior to final payment, the receiving agency will be paid 10 percent commission only.
In a supportive message to agents, Crystal also reaffirmed its long-standing anti-rebating policies specifying that no travel seller may advertise or promote Crystal Cruises to the general public at a price lower than the line’s currently applicable, authorized fares. Travel sellers may advertise added-value amenities with a total combined value not to exceed 8 percent of cruise-only fares, including any national accounts or group amenities. In addition, effective April of this year, shipboard credits from national accounts, group amenity programs, travel agencies, Crystal or individuals may not be redeemed for cash.
The company will follow up on any documented violations to its anti-rebating policies, and may reduce commission, marketing support, overrides or any other agency consideration as a result.
“While there may not be a complete solution to the rebating issue, we sincerely hope our continuing policy evolution will help provide a level playing field,” said Jack Anderson, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “We believe that a Crystal Cruise vacation should be marketed and sold on the unsurpassed ‘World’s Best’ customer experience and that all of our retail travel partners should compete on marketing creativity, knowledge, sales skills and service — not by giving back hard-earned commission.”
A strong selling point on customer experience is the recently completed makeover of Crystal Symphony, with redesigned public spaces, including the Avenue Saloon; Palm Court lounge; Galaxy showroom; Hollywood Theatre; Bridge Lounge; Fantasia and Waves “junior cruisers” areas; and the Tender Landing/passenger boarding area.
The culmination of a $65 million, five-year plan to redesign every room onboard, the refurbishment has given public spaces a very new look: The panoramic-view Palm Court now has a more intimate, modern lounge seating with soft leathers surrounds a larger, spiral-design dance floor and a slick, stainless and hand-tiled mosaic bar. A dramatic rock crystal ceiling feature hangs above the dance floor, and the room has six-foot illuminated alabaster urns and suede wall upholstery.
The Avenue Saloon and piano bar retains its 19th-century gentlemen's' club feel but incorporates updated colors, furnishings, materials, music and seating configuration. It has increased seating and new conversation area choices, with new brass-tack couches, embossed-leaf bar stools and tufted booths. New romantic lighting, crown molding, custom artwork and audio systems add to the salon atmosphere.
Gold fabric panels, black Nero Marquina marble flooring and large LCD digital signage screens create a new, contemporary entrance to the ship’s live performance showroom, and a new stage extension expands performance space by 30 percent.
Symphony’s play/games areas for kids, teens and adults have been transformed for family recreation with more sophisticated scarlet, pistachio, denim blue and magenta pink hues and Marimekko-patterned Fatboy bean bags; 1970’s-classic, multicolored Casala Casalino chairs and tables; and multiple oversize sofas, including a huge Walter Knoll Circle sofa. There are different areas for various group activities/crafts, story time and video games (Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Kinect) as well as movie screenings.