Last week, Disney Cruise Line decided to trim even more fat when they announced to travel agents that their commissions for onboard bookings will be fixed 10%. Previously, agents had been able to earn upwards to 16% depending on the agent’s sales volume and other criteria.
From the travel agents we spoke with over the past week and the reports in other news stories, this will potentially lead to agents discouraging guests from booking onboard and waiting until they are back on land to get the higher commission. This could definitely impact the travel agent’s ability to offer extra onboard credit to their client for use on the cruise. In my mind, this will be the second change agents will make for clients booking onboard following the discouragement of booking onboard.
As a result of this change, Royal Caribbean’s senior VP of Sales took a shot across the bow during an interview with Travel Weekly.
Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International’s senior vice president of sales, said, “We believe that those future bookings made onboard are the most valuable bookings we can get. … You should have the full commission. And when a competitor makes a move like [Disney] did yesterday, it concerns us because we don’t want to ever misbehave. And I don’t know of another way to word that. We never want to misbehave with our travel agent partners. Our success is dependent upon your success. We’re not stupid. We are having the best year ever, our stock’s about to hit $100, and that’s thanks to the support of the travel agent community.”
Freed said Royal Caribbean is looking at how the cruise line can pay agents more money for onboard bookings. She said that Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley told her, “Vicki, find a way to pay travel agents even more for those bookings that are made onboard. Let’s do some incentives. Let’s give them back-end overrides.”
It is a good thing Disney Cruise Line decided to diversify their onboard vacation destinations aboard the new Disney Dream with the Disney Vacation Planning Center for all your Disney Destination needs because once the reduced commissions start rolling into agencies there could very well be a drastic reduction demand for onboard bookings.
How would a travel agents reduced commission affect whether or not I would book another Disney Cruise onboard? Maybe I am missing something but I have never been asked when I booked a cruise onboard whether or not I was working with a travel agent.
Let me get this straight if I book a $5000 cruise, $800 of that is commission to a travel agent. ($5000 x16%) Also, when I booked on board the last time, there was no travel agent assisting me. Unless those doing the on board bookings are travel agents. I thought they worked for DCL.
The representatives on the ship work for Disney. You could always name your personal travel agent when booking onboard so they could get the credit. The top performers were earning 16%, this was not the norm.
Not quite. Agencies aren’t paid commission on 100% of the fare you see. Some of the total cruise price you see is a lovely thing the cruise industry has invented called the “non-commissionable fare,” i.e., the portion of the cost the cruise line won’t pay commission on. And Disney just raised their NCFs last year so agents now make less for selling the same cruise.
You get the benefits of a commissionable sale whether you are working through Disney or through a travel agency. Why not work with an agent? They will go to bat for you. That’s their job. Disney keeps all the commission all the time when you go directly through them. Disney isn’t discounting your $5000 cruise $800 because you worked with them and not an agent.
If you book via a travel agent then book another while on board your original agent gets credit since they brought you in. Otherwise Agents would be screwed because DLC could squeeze everyone out by having a 10% automatic discount by booking online and screwing your agent.
They should do that. I didn’t know travel agents existed anymore. I guess for old people who can’t use the internet?
First let me preface this by saying, we do not have any financial relationships with travel agents. I’m not young, I’m not old and I am informed enough to book on my own directly from Disney, but we choose to use a travel agent. Travel Agents have your back when the unexpected things come up. You do not pay extra to book through them, they receive a commission. In most cases, travel agents offer their clients an onboard credit as way of saying thanks for booking through them.
If you book directly through DCL you do not get a cheaper fare because you didn’t book with a TA, DCL just doesn’t have to pay out the commission on that booking.
In the past, our agent was pivotal in a situation where our cruise was canceled at the last minute. By no means am I saying you should use a travel agent, but I feel it is unfair to say travel agents are just for those who do not know how to use the internet.
We exist to help you with alot of things such as picking the right code, rooms, assisting with bookings pre and post trips, knowing what floor to put one on and what to avoid. Airfare assistance, cross referencing bookings, assistance when rates drop for adjustment and explaining the differences in the ships. I could go on and on. Also, we look for trips, specials, and make group bookings for guests. I love my job and pride myself on what I do. I have repeat business and guest do not need the stress of planning a cruise. And yes, we still exist thank God:)
We will still recommend booking onboard as it is our job to find the best value for the client and booking onboard many times will be the best value. If the client though intends to use an onboard booking for a date that is a blocked out date, I will suggest that we book a new reservation. This will affect our onboard credit offers though. We can’t possibly offer as much as we were before.
Some people feel comfortable booking direct but there are a significant percentage of people who choose to use a travel consultant for their cruise bookings. Many things can and do go wrong and having that extra person to help out in case it does is like an insurance policy to some.
Many cruise lines have spoke up against this policy – Royal Caribbean, MSC, Carnival, Norwegian and Holland America, and possibly others. I imagine Disney is looking at this from a marketing end figuring we may have brought the clients to DCL but DCL is the reason they are rebooking onboard. I argue that we do as much if not more work when a reservation is booked onboard (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fix reservations that that were incorrect onboard or simply to FIND them since we rarely are notified that a client of ours booked onboard). I haven’t figured out if this is a way to make more money or a way to get travel agents to reduce their onboard credit offers. Either way, it is not being received well.
From a pure cost perspective, if reduced commissions end in reduced incentives by TAs when booking on board, we would need to determine if it’s better to receive a higher TA incentive vs a lower one combined with the on board booking incentives.
I see the travel agent that I’ve been using has already changed their OBC’s one set for bookings directly through them and another if it’s an OBB. Bummer.
Disney lost my on-board booking on our last cruise, our 6th one with DCL. If I had booked directly with them, I doubt I would have gotten the on-board credit. My travel agent went to bat for me and was able to secure the discount.
Just another reason my next Disney cruise will probably be my last. Inch by inch, little by little, huge annual price increase by increase, DCL is just going too far. We’re done.
Agreed. Check any other cruise lines concierge rooms cost vs Disney. I just booked a 1 -bedroom Royal Suite for March of “17” which is roughly 1/3 the cost of a standard Fantasy’ concierge room. $17k vs $5k was a no brainer for me. And the sad part is we just turned gold but will probably never get to enjoy the added benefits because of Disney’s greed.
Well, they’ve shaved the “added benefits” of being gold and platinum, too. So it’s not like you’re missing out on that much…
But with these price increases are they losing customers? The past few I’ve been on, there have been signs when you board announcing that the cruise is sold out and no room changes will be allowed. Just like the parks…they’ll keep raising prices until sales drop.
I’d love to see prices drop or stay the same, but the reality Disney appears to be price proof. They raise prices, and they still turn people away.
With so many new blackout dates, it is not just agent commissions Disney is going after. They are trying to squeeze every last dollar out of all of us. Disney used to be smarter about “taking” our money. They are getting more crass and it’s a turn off.
That’s exactly what it is that I find so offensive. They have no shame.
Disney Cruise’s new onboard commission policy is disrespectful to travel agents and is unappreciative of the expertise and time we share with our guests to prepare them for their Disney Cruise. We are proactive in educating our guests about the financial benefits of rebooking onboard BEFORE they set sail. Many onboard bookings are simply placeholders, and not actual reservations. When a guest gets home, their travel agent prices out a variety of scenarios and works with them to choose a sail date, itinerary and stateroom. The agent who converts a placeholder into a reservation deserves their full commission. Sometimes, a guest chooses a random date for their onboard booking and their agent assists their guests by making multiple changes to their original booking. Once a guest decides on a sail date, agents answer their questions, make payments and provide info about shore excursions, character meets, dining, entertainment etc etc. Agents work hard to build trust with their guests. Some guests have been choosing to work with us for a decade. Denying the bonus commission on reservations booked onboard and placeholders is simply unfair and Disney Cruise Line should resconsider their decision. As a Disney only agency, we plan to investigate other cruise lines to add to our portfolio and we may stop encouraging guests to rebook onboard Disney ships. It is really a shame that Disney does not feel they should compensate agents the full commission for the value they bring to onboard bookings. The nonsense about the Vacation Planning Center generating more sales for travel agents is a thinly veiled excuse to pay travel agents less than we rightfully earned.
Those “placeholder” reservations are part of the problem. Anyone educating their clients to book a date they have no intention on sailing on is unethical. It artificially increases the bookings for dates which raises prices for those that want to sail on those specific dates. Also, it holds a cabin that someone may actually want. I would love to see Disney put a policy in that if you change dates your forfeit your deposit. That way it would put an end to the unethical booking of placeholder reservations.
That’s not how it is anymore. You just buy a future cruise certificate for a $200 deposit. You may move it (or your travel agent can) when you are ready to book the actual date.
We’ve never used a travel agent, always do it ourselves. I am sure there are some perks we didn’t get because we didn’t use an agent but we still get 10% off and $200 on board credit for re-booking on board.
Personally I think if one books without a travel agent (whether on board or not) then the “commission” should go to the traveler in the form of a discount of some kind
Sorry, this makes no sense at all. That’s not the way this works in any sales position.
With online bookings and so many tools on-line to shop the best price, best day, best everything – WHO USES AN AGENT-?
Disney cruise prices are the same everywhere – no one can discount them, so there’s no ‘best price’ to shop for. Lots of people (including us) use a travel agent. For us, our travel agent makes the requests for us and as a bonus for using a travel agent, we receive on board credit. That is FREE MONEY to use on our cruise.
And, an agent can keep looking back for discounts. Twice, Florida Resident rates came out for our cruises and the agent applied it to our reservations, which resulted in huge savings.
It’s real simple if your a travel agent. Next time the DCL salesman calls/visits just have the adult conversation. Tell him you’ve booked XX cabins and the guy from RCL, CCL needs cabin booked & hogs always get slaughtered.
This requires you to have the fortitude to say something. DCL is betting that you’re just an order taker rather than a salesman
For the record, I, nor anyone in my family are travel agents.
I used an agent simply because we received a $350 on board credit, and free day passes to Rainshower Spa. My price was going to be the same whether I used a TA or not, so why not take the credit? That is a no brainer to me!
Do you mind me asking which agent you used? We are trying to compare them and a Google search brought me to this post? TIA!
We have used Costco Travel for years. You get a Costco cash card worth 8 to 9 % of your cruise cost. No TA ever has been found that can match that.
I could not find a way to edit, our upcoming cruise we get a $1045 cash card for booking with Costco.