New Crystal Policy Stifles Added Discounts

Crystal Cruises has announced a new policy to protect its price integrity and the business practices of its travel agent partners. Effective immediately, Crystal Cruises will apply "stiff" commission penalties to any agency that is found offering any cash rebate, discount or payment in kind or in any other manner to a client who books a Crystal cruise, if it reduces the fare below Crystal's published savings rate. Agencies may continue to offer value-added, non-cash amenities provided that the total value of the amenities does not exceed the 8 percent limit. Under the new policy, gift cards or certificates having a cash value are not permitted.

Crystal's decision was sure to elicit travel agent response, which was as much appreciative and understanding as it was ambivalent.

"I think it's great," says Scott Caddow, owner of Legendary World with offices in San Diego, Tucson and Overland Park, KS. "We see it all the time. The decision was sensible."

Bob Kerby, owner of Bob's Cruises in Toronto, while not turned off byCrystal's declaration, was less enthusiastic. "I admire them for making a decision and taking a stand," he says. "But to tell agents they can't sell for a lower price, I'm not so sure. That's for them to say; however, it's foolish to try and control distribution."

Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch states of the new policy: "We at Virtuoso applaud Crystal Cruises for taking a stronger position against cruise rebating. This new policy, an industry first, preserves their brand and stabilizes pricing, while safeguarding the integrity of the frontline travel advisor profession from unethical practices that compromise the entire industry."

For more detailed information on the policy and penalties, visit []. (DE & MA)

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