Direct Booking or Travel Agency?

Oct 24th, 2007, 06:45 AM
  #1  
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Direct Booking or Travel Agency?

We are interested in booking a cruise for 2009. Three agencies have quoted a price within $100 of each other. I would prefer to be a direct booking customer with the cruise line (Princess) but they will not meet or even come close to the price. Anyone know why or had experience with this.

The reason I would prefer direct booking is a reduced deposit that would be applied to another cruise if we cancelled. 2009 is so far out. Each of the three agencies has fees to cancel. One wants $100 to book which is refundable by the cruise line but subject to a $100 cancellation fee?!?
jerseymaxx is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 09:53 AM
  #2  
 
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My TA, nor any that I know of do not charge a fee for a cruise, or a tour either.Only for airline tickets.But, thats just my experience.Cant answer why Princess cant match the price.If I didnt have a regular TA, I would look for a "cruise only" agency.I believe I remember correctly, Princess has a cancellation policy that allows cancellation 75 days or more prior to sailing without penalty.Once you get closer, the penalty stiffens.Bottom line I would not pay an agent a fee to book my cruise.They get paid a commission, in my TA's case I think its 15-16% maybe more.Plus, I get goodies.Which I of course, deserve...
BeachBoi is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 10:41 AM
  #3  
 
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Would you mind mentioning which company you've had good experiences with?
I've heard that booking directly with the cruise lines is not the best way to go. They don't want to undercut their agents so don't offer the extras. Of course, any promotions offered by the lines can be booked through any agent.
Andeesue is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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The reason agent's price is usually lower than cruise line's is simple. Agents take off part of their commissions to get your business, while cruise line price always includes full commissions. The difference could be in thousands of $ if you are booking an expensive cabin. Every perk cruise line offers, like reduced deposit, can be obtained when you book with TA, and many times you may get something additional. Yes, some agencies have cancellation fee policy in addition to cruise line fees. Look for agency that doesn't charge it, or charges less, or make arrangement in advance that agent makes an exception if you have a reason to cancel.
spurs is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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I always book with cruise-connections.com. They don't charge any fees and have excellent prices. They say that they guarantee the lowest prices on their website. I recently booked two HAL cruises (Baltic and Med) for next August. I found cruise.com was cheaper and told cruise-connections. They not only met the price but threw in an extra ship board credit. I have booked probably 10 or 12 cruises with them and have been very happy with their service. I have no reason to recommend them other than I have had nothing but good experiences with them. We have always had our documents in good time, had the dining table we wanted etc etc.
traveller69 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Agencies should not charge a cancellation fee unless the final payment has been made for any cruises. Deposits are ALWAYS 100% refundable with cruise lines.
You need to change travel agencies.
The reason some cruise companies are more expensive is that they book on the FIT rate uually. Travel agencies, and largely dependent on the volume they book, will price according to the business they do with the cruise companies. A good portion of the time, the larger the travel agency, the better the deal.
Cruise only agencies are very god with pricing, and can usually beat out full service agencies.
laneyb is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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I do not know any travel agents who would knock off part of their commission to get a sale, it makes no sense...
laneyb is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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Laneyb - It makes sense because they want your business even at a lower commission and I am sure hoping for repeat customer.
Robin72 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Try http://www.CruiseCompete.com

Pick a cruise and let agents compete to offer you the best deal. You'll save significantly.

You can also read consumer reviews of the agencies to be sure to get good service.
triathlete is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 09:35 PM
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We used American Express for our first cruise, and thought we got a pretty good deal. However, for our second cruise, someone in our group called Costco Travel (can also book online) and got a large discount. We cancelled our original booking, then booked the very same cabin through Costco.
Leburta is offline  
Nov 11th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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It is going to differ from agency to agency. And yes travel agents do knock off commission to make the sale. It's better to make something than nothing, and possibly gain a repeat customer in the process or even referrals.

Some agencies will charge a cancellation fee however not all agencies. It could also depend on your individual agent. We are all independant agents so if one agent wants to charge a cancellation fee they certainly can as long as they tell you up front what their cancel fee is. While some agents will do that because ,well to be quite honest..they have spent their time with a customer and in the event that customer cancels they have wasted their time.

Cruise deposits are not always refundable. It depends when the deposit is made sometimes and if you book airfare with the cruise as well. For example Norwegian Cruiseline's final payment due date is 75 days prior to sailing. If you have airfare on there they charge you an air deposit and a cruise deposit. If you cancel 180-76 days prior to departure you cruise deposit is still refundable, however your $50.00pp air deposit at that point is not refundable.

You should be sure to check the cruiselines cancellation policies or ask the agent for them beforehand. It could be the case of the agent not wanting to walk away empty handed..and sometimes for a small fee..the work and time they spend with you may be worth it. Like I have heard said before..people think travel agents are a free service...which technically they kind of are being the customer is not usually the one paying the agent, but in reality in most other businesses most people wouldn't want someone wasting their time and taking their time away from other people to walk away empty handed..and it could be the case of
a cruiseline's cancellation fee.


That $100.00 deposit to book which is refundable by the cruiseline but subject to a $100.00 cancellation fee does sound fishy and maybe a tricky way of saying the cruiseline will refund it but I wont.

Try looking around and find an agency that won't charge a cancellation fee..there are agencies out there. try www.hawaiicruising.net, they do all cruiselines and not just hawaii sailings, and see what you find!

Good luck.
hawaiichris is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 12:40 AM
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The commission a travel agent gets depend on the number of cabins booked on a particular "sailing". The more cabins they sold on a sailing, the higher the commission they will get per cabin. Assuming that they get $100 commssion for each cabin if they sell less than 100 cabins and the commssion is $150 when they sold more than 100.
When they sold the 101 cabin, they get themselves into the next tier of commssion and gets $150 for the first 100 cabins they sold. (Car dealers works teh same way) For that 1 extra cabin, they will get extra $50 on the first 100 sold ($5,000). They will practically give you the cabin for free if it was last minute and you are the lst one that will push them over to the next level.

We have booked 500 cabins on a Carnival crusie and the price we received is absoluetly incredible. Since it was almost 25% of the ship, the discount (and the extras) we were given were huge. For that sailing, we own the ship as we can do almost anything we want. Private function at a public lounge? No problem! Clsoed off sections of a ship for us only? No problem! Bring in our own stuff (Food & Beverage)? No problem! And we are talking about bringing on board 10 pallets of products! We were given 12 suites as an upgarde on top of what we paid. What we paid is lower than what I see anywhere on the interent. 7 days for less than $200 (inside) and $300 (outside) and $400 for a balcony. Third and fourth person were $100. Imagine you are the travel agent with those prices and what you can sell it to the public for - a whole lot cheaper than anyone else.

A good travel agent (the person) is worth their weight in gold. The larger the agency, the more buying power but also larger overhead so they may not pass on their cut. A good tarvel agent have trade secets that we would not know about.

Best story I can tell you about the worth of a good travel agent. It happens 5 years ago. I met some people at a crusie and as it turned out, we were all staying after the crusie (in Florida) and are being transported to the same car rental agency. We were all in line (3 couples) at the car rental place, we all had made reservation from home, get the same identical cars but all 3 of us paid different rates. Why? The travel agent. I paid for a mid size and get a free upgrade to a full size. (I have asked for a full size but the travel agent told me that she will book me a mid-size and she assured me that I will get the upgarde to a full size) One booked pn his own on the internet and get 15% off the full size price. The other one paid what the travel agent booked for him at full fare. The price? big difference.

The story gets better. with luck have it, we were all booked at the same hotel. We all paid different room rates at the same hotel for the same type of room!

Since it was such a coincidence that we were all together again at the front desk that we decided to meet at the bar and share our travel plans, what stops we will be making. It all started when the person who booked his trips via the internet direct boosted about his savings and that's when we found out what everyone else is paying.

Needless to say, my travel agent came out smelling like a rose as she did the work and I get the service and the best price. The one who booked via the internet did not too badly but he had to do all the work, research prices etc. The on ewho used a full service agent ended up paying the most.

The moral of the story? It is the person and not the compnay. After the trip, I sent her a thank you note with a gift card. She changed her work place and I moved my business with her. The compnay gets the commssion from the Crusie line etc and all she gets is a fix wage and her "commission/incentive" from the company she worked for.

Go a find a good travel agent and don't worry about the travel agency. You get what you paid for.
Eschew is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 02:36 PM
  #13  
 
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I just wanted to add my two cents worth...I can completely understand why your TA would want to charge a cancellation fee...it takes twice the amount of work to cancel a trip usually, then it did to book it in the first place, and all the commission is recalled, so the TA would make nothing. That being said...my agency does not allow me to charge a cancellation penalty, and I think many don't. If you book direct through the cruise line, you may not get as good as service. An experienced agent works for you, not the cruise line, so they make sure your trip goes as smooth as possible.

The other thing is the cruise only has a refundable deposit usually until 75 days prior, and in my experience, people usually have to cancel closer to departure, when there are penalties from the cruise line, which is why I always recommend people purchase insurance.
LissaJ is offline  

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