The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has set its range of travel agent commissions for the line’s launch in February 2020.
During a briefing held in New York on Thursday, executives said with no historical data for cruise sales, they are eschewing preferred agreements with consortia in the first year, and instead rolling out a commission plan that puts all agents “on an equal footing,” said Kris Endreson, the line’s senior director, sales.
Commissions will start at 10 percent and will range up to 16 percent with groups and full ship charters counting towards revenue goals.
At up to $100,000 in gross revenue, agents earn 10 percent going to 11 percent until reaching $200,000. From $200,000 to $349,999, agents earn 12 percent. From $350,000 to $499,999, the pay is 13 percent rising to 14 percent between $500,000 and $699,999. Over $700,000, commission pay jumps to 15 percent with a retroactive 1 percent override back to dollar one.
A one-week Mediterranean cruise will price at approximately $5,600 per person, so achieving the highest level would mean selling around 60 cabins.
Pre-and-post programs will be commissionable at 5 percent while shore excursions will be non-commissionable.
Air inventory will be offered 300 days prior to departure and flights will be confirmed within five days. Agents will have 18 months to hit their targets as opposed to a full year, and affiliated agencies can roll up sales to make achieving higher commissions easier, said Endreson. Commissions will be paid two weeks after sail date.
Travel agent support system
In terms of trade support, the line will be leveraging Marriott International’s more than 500 b2b sales executives. There will be no GDS to start but there will be a dedicated agent site, including archives of webinars, frequently asked questions and marketing materials. Everything will be paperless.
Agents who are part of Ritz-Carlton STARS will see benefits, and Endreson said there will be a specific program for those agents who are top sellers of its cruises.
In terms of groups, agents can earn a TC cabin when selling 10 cabins and a maximum of two TC cabins per cruise. Except for full takeovers, groups will be limited to around 60 persons, about 20 percent of total capacity.
Marketing emails have already been sent to members of Ritz-Carlton’s rewards program, a segment of Marriott Rewards members who are frequent users of the group’s luxury hotels, Ritz-Carlton Residences owners and members of its destination club. As part of these communications, Endreson said recipients are asked to provide contact information for their travel agent. The cruise line will then share that information with the agents to help close the sale. “We really want to drive to you,” she said.
A rendering of the Aft of Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's first ship.
The first, yet-to-be named vessel of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will go on sale for individual bookings in May with an inaugural voyage in February 2020 and two more ships expected to sail within 24 months of its debut.
Doug Prothro, chief executive officer of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection said he sees growth potential of up to six yachts. The vessels have been designed to transit the canals that connect the St. Lawrence into the Great Lakes, and he expects in the future itineraries will include places such as Chicago and the various resort areas of the lakes.
Angela Composto, the vice president of sales and marketing, said the line plans to announce the name of its first yacht at ILTM in Cannes in December. While members of Marriott and Ritz-Carlton loyalty programs are not expected to be able to redeem points for free cruises, it is anticipated they will be able to use points for spa treatments, shore excursions and dining at signature restaurant Aqua, a sister of Sven Elverfeld’s 3-star Michelin restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg. Excursions, spa treatments and the specialty restaurant are not included in the cruise fare.
Prothro said as a result of the partnership with Elverfeld, the top chef is recruiting other Michelin star chefs he knows to provide pop-up experiences for cruise guests when the ships visit ports where their restaurants are located. The CEO said in addition to luring Ritz-Carlton enthusiasts onto the high seas, research shows the line will attract a higher than usual proportion of first-time cruisers.