Enhancing its "Onboard with You" pledge to travel advisors, Carnival Cruise Line has announced two big steps to enhance agencies' revenue.
The line will pay an additional 1 percent bonus commission on any new retail bookings—including those using future cruise credits (FCCS) issued by the line for cancelled voyages—made through GoCCL.com or other online booking tools through June 30, 2020.
In addition, Carnival also said it will maintain agencies’ current 2020 commission rates for 2021, regardless of whether they meet the necessary criteria for this year. So agencies don't have to requalify, given the difficulties of maintaining those sales levels in a period when the industry has "paused" operations.
Coinciding with the expansion of the "Onboard with You" pledge, Christine Duffy, Carnival's president, Ken Tate, chief commercial officer, and Adolfo Perez, senior vice president of global sales and trade marketing, were joined by the line's special guest, Shaquille O’Neal, Carnival's chief fun officer, to record a video message to travel partners thanking them for their support and echoing their commitment to the agency community.
In the video, Duffy said, "These are tough times. That is undeniable. But our shared commitment to delivering shared vacations is as strong as it's ever been."
Perez, who spoke with Travel Agent Monday morning, said that now more than ever, the message of "Onboard with You" is so important "as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times. We want our travel partners to know how much we value and appreciate them and that they are not in this alone."
He said that travel advisors have always played a key role in Carnival’s success and "we want to ensure that we are taking care of them and helping them to continue to grow and succeed now and in the future.”
To take advantage of the enhancements, including the bonus commission, Carnival is asking advisors to visit its trade site, GoCCL.com, and "opt in." Perez told us that while the line has created trade programs over the past few years that both do and don't require an "opt in," through past experience it's learned that those advisors who do formally opt in, "understand what they're getting" and, overall, program awareness is improved.
The new "Onboard with You" pledge builds upon the company’s previously announced commitment to protecting travel advisors’ commission on all fully paid bookings cancelled due to the industry's voluntary pause in operations.
Carnival was the first cruise line to offer full commission on the value of the future cruise credits (FCC), providing advisors the opportunity to earn commission on their original booking and compensating them for working to rebook their clients using their FCC.
Perez added, “We understand how hard agents worked for the first booking and rebooking their clients using the FCC involves additional work. We want to recognize this effort and ensure that agents get commission on both bookings.”
Tapping Into GoCCL.com
Carnival has also made significant investments to enhance GoCCL Navigator, the line’s online booking and service tool, which received a major overhaul in 2019. It now has a mobile-friendly version, too.
Perez says that essentially advisors can do most anything on the site, which helps cut the need to talk to a person on the phone and avoids advisor frustration in waiting on hold. He acknowledged that phone hold times have been longer across the industry based on the extension of pauses in cruise operations.
Are consumers still booking 2020 voyages despite the rolling "pause" announcements? "We're still getting bookings for 2020," said Perez, who added that 2021 bookings were described recently by Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, Carnival's parent company, as "very strong."
As part of the "Onboard with You" pledge, the line remains focused on its Why Use a Travel Advisor program, a consumer-focused program to reinforce the value of using travel advisors, providing additional support to attract new customers.
Additional information on enhancements to Carnival’s "Onboard with You" pledge and training courses on how to use GoCCL Navigator features are located on GoCCL.com.
Separately, Perez told Travel Agent that all Carnival Corporation brands, such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Seabourn and Cunard Line, had all agreed to maintain 2020 commission rate levels into 2021, so advisors do not have to requalify.