Carnival Corporation just announced that it will be honoring the Carnival Cruise Line commission tier each travel advisor account earned in 2019 through 2022 as part of its “Onboard with You” pledge. Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruise Line will also follow suit.
“Holland America Line (HAL) appreciates the support and business efforts of travel advisors during these challenging times,” said Michelle Sutter, vice president of North America sales for HAL, in a press release. “We are partners in this journey and must lean into our collective community as we move forward to a return to cruising. Our focus is to do everything we can to support the pursuit of cruise sales and reassure travel advisors that, once we are back in full swing, they will be in a strong position for success.”
“One of our top priorities at Seabourn is the continual growth and commitment to our longstanding partnership with the travel advisor community,” said Steve Smotrys, vice president of global sales at Seabourn, in a press release. “We recognize the difficulties our industry continues to face but remain focused on a successful return to service together. This extension is intended to help travel advisors focus on the long-term health of their business so we can all be successful once travel returns in full.”
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The brands had previously revealed that commission tiers would be maintained through 2021, so the extension will protect them for an additional year. Altogether, agents will be able to earn commission at their current rates for the next two years without the percentage changing at all.
Adolfo Perez, Carnival’s senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing, answered some additional questions about commissions and the line’s eventual return to service.
Why did Carnival decide to extend commission tiers through 2022?
In 2020, we wanted to make sure that agents did not have to worry about what their commission tiers were going to be because we had a lot of uncertainty. We didn't know when we were going to resume sailing.
Once again, this year, there's uncertainty about when we will start. We had multiple pauses, and it takes a little worry out of the advisor’s mind.
So, as a way to really show our commitment and our loyalty, we talked about being “Onboard with You.” This is something we said is the right thing to do. We want advisors to have one less thing to worry about in 2021.
How else is Carnival supporting agents at this time?
Back in 2017, we were the first cruise line that said we were going to pay commission on the full value of future cruise credits (FCC), and now more than ever, that has been a very important thing. Agents have to work just as hard, if not harder, to get those FCC bookings. So, that's been one big push.
Protecting commission on full-paid bookings for paused sailings has cost us a lot but has helped agents stay afloat. Our goal is to have a healthy travel distribution system and doing these kinds of things helps.
We've done other things, too. We’ve taken this time to make sure that we put out meaningful training programs. We recently launched the “Fundamentals of Selling,” and that was something that we kicked off last year which focused on eight different topics, one of them being how to follow up on FCCs.
We put together toolkits on GoCCL.com. One is an FCC toolkit that helps agents track and communicate with their FCC clients. It is the lowest hanging fruit right now, and if you're not working those FCCs and staying in touch with people who raised their hands and said they want to go on a cruise, then you're missing out on an opportunity because those guests can go to any agency or even directly to the company to book them. So, if advisors are not talking to them, they are missing out. And we have put together training as well as a toolkit to help them do that.
We have also put together a virtual cruise party kit on GoCCL. It gives advisors all the stuff they need. We put together a ton of virtual cruise ship tours so advisors have the opportunity to keep people excited about cruising and what to look forward to.
We have continued to invest in GoCCL, which is our agent portal, and GoCCL Navigator, which is our booking engine. We completely redesigned it over the last couple of years. Even this past year, we launched a new module — a booking management module — which brings it into the 21st century. It gives advisors the ability to work on their desktop, but it's also mobile friendly and tablet friendly.
We're still committed to investing in making advisors more efficient and giving them the tools they need to be successful.
We want advisors to have one less thing to worry about in 2021.
Amid further cancellations and eventually easing back into service, what should agents be doing during this transition period?
I'm going to say the word FCCs one more time because you can't say it enough. Focus on those FCCs.
Besides focusing on FCCs, call and reach out to customers and get them to keep the FCC in-house versus cancelling. It's important because obviously we're protecting their fully paid commissions on the booking that cancels, but in order for them to earn the commission on the second cruise, they have to have this FCC — unless they book it later on with cash.
Not only do they keep the booking for the FCC, but the guest also gets a great offer with an onboard credit. So, when they're ready to cruise, everybody wins.
Can you speak to whether Carnival will require COVID-19 vaccinations?
Everything is being considered. It all depends. Everything is changing all the time — all the requirements. If you're going to places that require it, you might need to have one.
I know it's on the table, but whether or not we're going to do it is still up in the air.
Any news on when advisors and clients can expect further word on such specific travel requirements?
I don't have a specific date. We are still working very closely with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is a lot of clarification that still needs to be done.
I have heard Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, say that the conversation with CDC is about the resumption of cruising versus the restriction of cruising. So, I think that the conversations have gotten better based on what I've heard Donald say.
Trust me, as soon as we know, we're going to be dying to tell everybody what we're doing. It's just still unclear, unfortunately, when all this is going to be ironed out with all the details verified.
Carnival Cruise Line
Holland America Line
Seabourn Cruise Line