Carnival Cruise Line has announced that they are instituting a new policy that says that travel agents many not offer cash equivalent perks to clients who are booking cruises through them. The new policy goes into effect on August 1, 2012.
Many travel agents offer perks such as on-board credit, prepaid gratuities, gift cards, or discounts on hotels/airfare as a kickback for booking cruises through them. While Carnival and most cruise lines do not allow agents to discount the price of cruises, they have gotten around this by offering extra perks. These “perks” come out of the travel agents commission and help them offer better deals to potential and current clients.
What is on the list of banned promotions that agents can offer?
- On-board credit
- Cash back
- Prepaid gratuities
- Free/discounted travel insurance
- Free/discounted hotel/airfare
- Gift Cards
- Anything that involves the cost of a cruise
Agents will be allowed to offer gifts under the value of $25 such as tote bags, beach towels, hats etc. Carnival’s Bon Voyage gifts are allowed as long as they cost under $25 per passenger.
Before this new change, Carnival already had the strongest stance towards travel agent kickbacks out of all the major cruise lines. They are the only line that does not allow the wholesale store Costco to sell their cruises. Costco is known for offering discounts and cash back to their members.
There is a debate on how this will affect the cruise industry. Is Carnival trying to get passengers to book directly with them so they do not have to pay out commission to agents? Will this help the smaller agents compete with big advertising budget agents who can no longer give out freebies to entice potential clients to book with them?
Cruise Fever would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Do you book directly with Carnival or have you enjoyed the extras that your travel agent has given to you in the past?