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Brian O’Connor, Princess Cruises’ vice president of North American sales, calls Princess’ new policies “a shift change in dealing with agents.”
“I spent my first year in this job listening,” O’Connor said. “I went to meetings and trade conferences; I talked to consortia and individual agents of all kinds and I learned a lot about what agents want us to do.”
Although he has a lengthy list of other ideas and concerns that he is prioritizing, Phase I includes predictable combinability for groups.
“Any offer Princess puts out in the marketplace outside 120 days will always be combinable with groups now,” O’Connor said.
Whereas an agent would have previously had to call Princess to add space for a group that was selling well, this can also be done online now. And while in the past group concession processing went to a centralized yield management team, it now goes to the field sales team members, who average 15 years of experience with Princess and can more nimbly help the agents add competitive amenities to their offers.
Onboard future cruise booking forms now default with a credit to the agent of record unless the passenger specifically requests otherwise, and O’Connor affirmed that the future cruise consultants onboard are as anxious to sell to agented clients as to those without agents.
The future cruise program requires only a $100 deposit per person, but some agents felt strongly about interrupting their clients’ cruises to sell them. Now agents have 60 days after the cruise to take advantage of the offer, with a slightly reduced incentive.
O’Connor says this is only the beginning of Princess’ efforts to work more smoothly with agents, and that there will be further announcements in policies and technology.