Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line from Richard Branson’s Virgin company, announced this morning that it will not feature any non-commissionable fares (NCFs) for its travel advisor partners, or First Mates, as part of its outreach that its calling “An Epic Sea Change.”
The news means that all of Virgin’s fares, starting with the cruise fare to add-ons like flights, hotel stays, insurance, shore excursion, spa packages, onboard credits, basic beverage packages, fitness classes and taxes and fees, will be commissionable at 10 percent for its advisors.
“While the debate is often about this percent versus that one, the underlying issue travel professionals have is not being compensated for their hard work on the entire sale. With Virgin Voyages you will be,” said Stacy Shaw, vice president of sales for Virgin Voyages.
“With our combination of premium pricing that includes so much more, no NCFs and the ability to earn on everything you sell, total dollars earned on every sale with us will be more. Percentages don't matter, total dollars do.”
Virgin, which will debut its first ship called Scarlet Lady in 2020, also said today that all of its onboard gratuities will be included in the cruise fare, giving agents something else to make commission on. Virgin had already announced that its first ship will feature 20-plus eateries with no surcharges.
Also today, Virgin unveiled that there will be no penalties or change fees for its cruise—cabins can be held for 24-hours with no money down and after an initial 20 percent non-refundable deposit, all guests will get a one-week grace period. Name changes and sailing date changes will not incur any penalties or fees.
All of the news follows Virgin’s promise to make its line a value sell for agents rather than one based on price—the cruise line is hoping to attract advisors who will make more off of its 10 percent commission.
“We’re giving ten a makeover. Our First Mates asked us for something simple and they’ll be able to earn more total dollars on every transaction with Virgin Voyages. So it simply isn’t the same old 10, we call that ‘The Perfect 10,’” said Shaw.
Agents can register with Virgin on its new website, FirstMates.com, starting on Feb. 5, the same day that those holding pre-sale deposits can book the line’s inaugural sailings (the inaugural season will officially open for sale for the general public on Feb. 14, 2019).
Aside from booking capabilities, the website will offer agents marketing and learning materials, including an online education course, called Cabin Fever, that will start on Feb. 6 and aims to introduce agents to the line’s cabins and suites.
The line’s first agent seminar, called Cabin Fever, will take place on Feb. 6 for all registered on as a First Mate.
Virgin Voyages made waves in 2018, slowly revealing details of what’s to come when the line officially launches, including a preview of its onboard spaces for its debut ship, Scarlet Lady; and news that it will launch a new PortMiami Terminal.
The line has already expanded its plans to include four ships built with Fincantieri shipbuilders, with one debuting for each of four consecutive years starting in 2020.