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A Cruise Industry Without Agents? No Way, Execs Say
A Cruise Industry Without Agents? No Way, Execs Say

A Cruise Industry Without Agents? No Way, Execs Say



Cruise lines don’t just want to have a relationship with the travel agency community – they need the relationship.

There are solid business reasons cruise lines depend heavily on agents, a panel of cruise line executives told some 1,200 agents at CLIA’s recent cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale last week.

Cruise-selling agents can reach consumers and advocate for cruising in ways the lines can’t, the panel said.

The executives also discussed the minimal impact of the Costa Concordia and a surge in pent-up demand. (See sidebar.)

Following are highlights.

Successful because of you
“I could not imagine a cruise industry without travel agents. It shouldn’t even be a subject we need to discuss, because it just doesn’t make sense. You are the one who makes it all work. Cruise lines are successful because of your brand. Cruise executives are successful because of you. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if we all did direct business and we didn’t have our travel agent support. We need your business; we need your pied piper support.” – Rick Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA) Inc.

Consumers want agents
“Oftentimes analysts say to us as cruise line presidents and CEOs, ‘Why don’t you get rid of the travel agencies?’ There are three major reasons. One, the consumer wants you. Two, it’s terrific that we have over 100,000 people out there telling our story. We could never do that. And three, you’ve been successful for so many years; you’ve built up this client base and you’ve given us an annuity. So not only are there emotional reasons, because we’re attached to you, there are really solid business reasons for us to have the relationship that we do with you.” – Dan Hanrahan, president & CEO, Celebrity Cruises

Importance of a ‘trusted person’
“Our sales focus is on the travel agent community. We have a very upscale product. People want consulting on this kind of product. We have a clientele that often don’t have time to do research, so the travel counselor is absolutely important to us. The consumer wants to find a trusted person to invest $10,000 or $15,000 with. Buying a hotel online or rental car online is different, but for this kind of purchase a travel counselor is absolutely vital.” – Rudi Schreiner, president & CEO, AMAWATERWAYS

Agents articulate unique features
“As a very boutique yachting experience, we’re not a marketing-driven product that has all kinds of marketing spend available. We depend on travel agents out in the marketplace articulating unique features and benefits of the yachting experience. It absolutely is the way we find and develop new guests.” – Robert Lepisto, president, SeaDream Yacht Club


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Comments

Louis    May 03, 2012    5:15 PM

Yes Lucy, the exact feelings from all of our agents, land & all inclusive packages are our top priority. our time and talent is wasted selling cruises. If we just sold cruises we would not be here today.



Lucy    May 03, 2012    3:47 PM

Did any one of these "supporters of the travel agency community" explain WHY, if we're so important to them, our commission income is at least 30% less than 15 years ago? Cruises (excluding river and some luxury) are the only large ticket, time intensive and hand-holding  item where commissions have been reduced in very specious ways........ by moving hundreds of dollars to the infamous "non-comissionable" column and raising the threshold for higher commissions to ridiculous levels. When I move a client to a different, but comparable and better valued vacation, the cruise line has not lost just one cabin...they have lost repeat business and ancillary referrals.

As Yogi Berra said "It's deja vue all over again" except the word "airlines" has been replaced by "cruise lines".  This time around however, we're ALL a lot smarter and we know how to gener



Cruise executives are successful because of you. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if we all did direct business and we didn’t have our travel agent support. We need your business; we need your pied piper support.

Rick Sasso, MSC Cruises

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