Agents get a commission based on their volume with the cruise line. It can range anywhere from about 8% to 20% depending upon the cruise line, the volume that TA or his consortium does, and other incentives.
You should always use a TA, IMO. It's rare that the cruise line will be cheaper on their own booking.
This is interesting. I have checked with two local travel agents, who said they were getting me lower "group rates" and they were from $22-$65 higher per person than RCI normal rates. Does anyone know if RCI includes taxes and port charges in their prices? Also, it seems that travelocity and other similar travel websites are listing the same prices as RCI. I like to be well informed and sometimes I wonder if people are trying to screw me because I am young and thus they assume that I am inexperienced. Oh well, I guess I'll keep looking until I find a good deal...I've got a year to find it.
If you book with a travel agent, here are some good questions to ask (all of these came from this message board):
Does the agency charge an additional cancellation fee (on top of cruiseline cancellation fee)?
Is there a travel agency fee for the booking?
Will the agency monitor the cruise price and adjust it if it goes down?
I can only give you my input but I checked with 3 separate travel agents for our next cruise and all 3 quoted me a higher price than RCI was offering. Went ahead and called the 800 number and booked straight through them. We are going with my in-laws and two grown daughters. My in-laws had already booked with an agent and gotten thier room number,so we just printed a map of that deck and were able to pick and choose the other two cabins that were close but not too close(if you know what I mean). They also gave us a great deal on airfare hotel and transfers as we will be arriving a day ahead.This was all done in the comfort of my own home with a 20 minute phone call with a very nice and helpfull young man. I personally would never use a travel agent again.
Brilliance of the Seas 2/14/05
P.S While I was booking the cruise he also signed us up for the Club membership and so far we have saved 100 dollars on each room.
Kamy you will definately save money through an agent. Of course you must find the right one. There are many here on @'s that will surely beat RCI's prices. I always check with RCI on pricing before I book but always book with my agent and get a lower price.
If you want the name e-mail me and I'll pass it along.
If you shop around, you can get better prices than what RCI will give you. Heres what I suggest, if you dont already have a trusted travel agent. Choose the cruise you want, and book it with RCI directly. This way, you will get exactly what you want as far as dates and cabin location, etc. Then look around, espeically online. Even though you have already booked and paid a deposit, if you find a lower price elsewhere or an agent that you would like to have handle your booking from that point on, the booking can be transfered to that agent. Theres no fee for this, you will keep the price you were originally quoted, and if the agent has a better price, you will get the lower fare. Always get a bottom line price including all taxes and fees from anyone providing you a quote. Sometimes as well as better prices, agencies can get you free upgrades, shipboard credits (applied to your onboard account), or perks like that. I have always had better luck online in regards to pricing than at my local TA's. You just have to spend some time to save some money.
Try mycruiseclub.com and work with Mitch...the owner. I have booked four cruises with him and a friend did two group deals through him. He is great and you get discounts. He also honors coupons, helps watch for price reductions, gives general advice, and has no problem responding almost immediatly to any questions. I had booked my son's honeymoon through him, saw the air drop to 1/2 price and we we immediatly in a 3 way call to RC to get the reduction.
I wonder what you all do for a living - except of course for Beanie who, by the way, is not allowed to solicit business on this board! Watch yourself please? Do you sell cars? What would you say if someone said - General Motors is selling their cars directly and charging less than the dealership. Bet you'd be a happy non-sale person. What about you folks who sell clothing for a living .... Mr. Jax is selling direct to the public now and is giving away the clothing. I'm never going to buy a dress again at a store, WHY put money in someone else's pocket. You know - Travel Agents are just trying to make living, just like the rest of you (I was going to say Cheap .......ds) but I know this will get pulled anyway soon. I can't believe you people ... it's the almighty buck and that's all. You don't see that everyone has to make a living. I hope you never feel the sting of not having enough to eat or losing your homes because direct to public has taken over the world. I'm sorry if I offend anyone but I have many good friends who are TA's and it sickens me when I read - why book with a TA when I can get such a great deal with the cruise line ..... hope you save $50. Laurey ps boB you can remove this post, no problem from me!
The most important point here is that you should shop around. Don't necessarily just say going with the cruise line is the easiest. We have a wonderful local TA that we deal with. I do most of the leg work, shopping for the best price and then take that price to her. She doesn't deal in large volume so I know that she would not be able to get a better deal for us.
I commend all the TA's in the business today. It is a dog eat dog world out there and getting tougher and tougher. I think it is only fair that we, the consumer, pursue the best deal for our dollar. We booked about 4 months ago and at one point our cruise was $10 cheaper per person. Now I was not about to contact my TA to get the better deal for a total of $40. But, there has been times when the price has changed closer to $100 per person and we certainly pursued that better deal.
WCoastCdnCruisers - What do you expect? This is a free market society, at least here in the US. People are encouraged to shop around! In fact, I consider it a responsibility of the consumer to compare prices before deciding on what price they'll pay.
Most TAs are not starving, last I checked. From what you've posted, those that earn more money should pay for those that don't. Does that really make sense? Where's the initiative to work toward higher pay then? Sounds a bit Communistic to me. =dunno
Communistic? Boy that's a pretty harsh word. I am not advocating that we all need a "middle person" for travel, I do agree that we should all get the best deal ... but does that best deal not include service and trust. I have called cruise lines directly and they don't know ME and don't always care what I want. Sorry I was so riled up yesterday but I truly don't believe I'm a Comunist, just a Canadian. Laurey
We agree that each of us should pursue the best deal and that we should always keep in mind the "buyer beware" fact. If a deal appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.
You have to decide the kind of service you expect after you make the deal. Are you done with the TA. My father and his wife cruised with us one year and because of flight delays, barely made it to the ship on time. Their luggage did not make it. We contacted our TA and she coordinated the effort towards insurance limits, working with the airlines to locate the bagagge and pass all of this back to us. It was awesome having an advocate at that time.
:lol Laurie. :lol Okay, I agree with your last post, I just don't like reading about the "poor TAs" or anyone else for that matter. I believe people have a little more control over their destiny than that. You're right about the cruise line not knowing who you are - you're just a voice on the phone. A TA will have a little more invested in you and your booking.
When I found our cruise at $1450 less on a website, I asked our excellent TA if she could match that price. She couldn't. She totally understood that we had to cancel and re-book with the other agency. We sent her $100 for her trouble over the 9 months that she had our booking and felt bad about cancelling with her, but heck! that's a big chunk of money.
Shopping around for the best price saved us a bundle. I highly recommend that everyone do it as long as they take into account the service and reliability of the company they choose to do business with.
Yes, $1450 can you believe it? Even our TA was shocked. I don't know what the reasoning is and even though I used to be a cruise only TA years ago, I couldn't figure it out, but that's what it was. I don't think it was just a ballooned original price because many other websites had a price comparable to our original price. For some reason, BPC was able to get the cruise for that much less. This is why I say it really pays to shop around.